Lurrus of the Dream-Den left the building, and we have to reconfigure the way we build decks in Modern. However, the companion mechanic remains very powerful. Lurrus arguably required the least effort to accommodate as most Lurrus decks already had a wild low curve and the Cat just slotted perfectly in there. The other nine don't make things as easy, but it's worth it to explore the options for each.
Gyruda, Doom of Depths is a Demon taken for a spin from time to time. Due to its very specific and peculiar ability, it requires the deck to be built in a specific way. Traditionally, it's been used in both the main deck and as a companion as it does not break its own restriction. The deck will most likely revolve around big mana and/or combo to fully utilize the trigger. Let's take a look at one shell.
|Black-Green Gyruda by Eotoi, 5-0 in Modern League|
This is a classic ramp deck with a very solid late game. At its core, green mana provides a way to accelerate in Sylvan Caryatid and Sakura-Tribe Elder. When your Satyr Wayfinder or Witherbloom Command mills you, you can use Persist to recur any milled creature. Collective Brutality and its escalate mechanic also allow you to discard potential reanimation targets. And we've got some really solid ones. The deck runs Grave Titan, Sundering Titan, Grief, and Archon of Cruelty—all powerful, some straight-up game enders. Even before, the deck offers a bit of hand disruption and land destruction.
One curious aspect of the deck is the inclusion of Cabal Coffers, which combines with the main-deck Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to produce copious amounts of mana and hardcast the threats. If the amount of mana reaches a point that there is nothing to spend it on, our Gyruda will come in handy.
This is the most widely applicable companion. The reason, however, is rather prosaic. It's just easiest to add Jegantha to your deck and call it a day. What's particularly boring about it is the fact that it does not add anything to the games—it's just going to be a 5/5 creature. But then the question is why not. Why not play a free 5/5, which can bail you out in some games? For whatever it's worth, it cannot be killed with Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt, or (usually) Prismatic Ending. While no one would make changes to their deck specifically to accommodate the Elk, there are plenty of decks where it just slots in.
This is an example of a deck where Jegantha just fits. However, there could be versions which do not support it, for example if you run Dismember or Force of Vigor. Be mindful of that. But here Jegantha is completely free and simply adds a 5/5. It's especially good in Tron where there is a ton of leftover mana so you might as well.
|Blue Affinity by GoblinYoshi, 5-0 in Modern League|
A monoblue deck using a red-green companion? Yes please. It is of course castable in the deck thanks to Springleaf Drum, Glimmervoid, and Silverbluff Bridge. It's another case where it adds nothing to the deck other than a beefy body. If you opt to go for cards such as Urza, Lord High Artificer, you'd lose the Elk so be careful. You might want to add something to the sideboard that breaks the restriction as well.
|Jeskai Ascendancy Combo by Nilsfit, 5-0 in Modern League|
Jegantha is arguably best utilized here. It's a creature like everywhere else, but this deck wins by tapping and untapping a mana producer repeatedly, and Jegantha, while not the best, certainly qualifies. On top you're adding the fact that it's an additional card in hand when you pay the initial three mana. Why does that matter? The deck loots through its hand pretty aggressively with the namesake Jeskai Ascendancy so having another card to discard is actually significant. Cheeky combo players get to experience companions as well, just on a different axis.
Kaheera, the Orphanguard is an interesting case where the wording on the card makes all the difference. While the condition prohibits you from playing any creatures that do not share the specified types, you can absolutely use it with decks that don't include any creatures at all. You know where this is going. The best and most free place for Kaheera are white control decks. White-blue comes to mind, and there is another lucky break here in Solitude. Most white-blue control decks use this, often a full playset, often as the only creature. This is where the text comes back and we read on to find "Elemental" among the listed types. Solitude conveniently abides by the restriction. In addition, you can pay three to get Kaheera and then pitch it to the aforementioned Solitude.
|White-Blue Control by MrCafouillette, 4th at Modern Challenge|
While I highly doubt you can make a functional Cat, Nightmare, Dinosaur, or Beast tribal deck in Modern, Elementals have been pretty strong. You can incorporate Kaheera there, and it actually plays a meaningful role.
|Elementals by Derk714, 16th at Modern Challenge|
Bad news for Keruga lovers. I've scoured the results and there is nothing to be found. I am afraid there is nothing to suggest even as a reference here.
The big issue is that Keruga, the Macrosage does the opposite of why Lurrus succeeded. The Hippo's condition is that your whole deck, permanents and spells, costs at least three mana, which encourages very suboptimal deck building for a format as fast as Modern. I won't leave you empty handed though. If you want to brew around it, you can try using split spells that "cheat" on their mana value: Fire // Ice, Dead // Gone, Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp, or Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft can all be played in such a Keruga shell. That's a starting point, but he problem remains what to do with the rest of the deck. Others combine these cards with cascade and Crashing Footfalls, while we get … Keruga?
The hottest companion on the list. It's the reason why some players prefer to keep the companion mechanic legal—to be able to play Lutri. It makes your whole spell suite one-ofs, which is clearly a disadvantage. The restriction thankfully does not apply to the mana base. For that handicap you're getting a 3/2 flash creature that can copy any of your instants or sorceries. The consensus, if I can call it that, shows that its best home is a control deck. There is one list that I played and streamed for Cardmarket some time back. I have to say that the deck was super fun and dynamic. Due to all the one-ofs, each game is different and unique in its own way. In addition, your opponents cannot play around anything because … your hand could contain almost any card imaginable!
However, when you look at the actual list, you'll notice that it's a collection of the best cards in the format. It's not a random assortment of cards just for the sake of it—they are all super playable, powerful spells.
|Four-Color Lutri by Collins Mullen|
The most aggressive companion. Its restriction is rather interesting—caring about the mana cost as even or odd. In practice, it simply means that your deck should not contain any zeros or twos. Most games will play out without Obosh becoming relevant. However, when it does come into play, the opponent has to fear all the burn spells as they gain a ton of mileage.
|Monored Midrange by MHayashi, 5-0 in Modern League|
This deck sits at the middle point between aggro and midrange. It can have some aggressive starts but can also grind a while.
|Red-Green Midrange by Hexdrinker9, 5-0 in Modern League|
Another midrange deck, this time incorporating Utopia Sprawl and Arbor Elf for some ramp. However, the idea is similar—play a classic Jund-style game.
|Red-White Midrange by Rhianne, 9th at Modern Challenge|
Another midrange strategy that abuses Blood Moon. We can see a pattern here.
|Red Aggro by Mogged, 3-1 in Modern Preliminary|
Finally, here's a true aggro deck that puts immense pressure on the opponent. While you have to keep containing each threat posed, you also have to have a plan for that Obosh, which may come down and turn various small spells into big problems.
Another companion that currently sees no play at all. On the surface it seems like Umori, the Collector should be an option for any green-based tribal deck. However, the drawback says that all nonland cards have to be of that type, which leaves you unable to play Dismember postboard, any hate like Nihil Spellbomb or Grafdigger's Cage, and most importantly—you get neither Aether Vial nor Collected Company. Most tribal decks, whether Humans or Elves, use one, and cutting yourself off is disqualifying.
The best fit for Umori instead proves to be Enchantress, where even the creatures are enchantments. But one needs to go all the way back to August of last year to find an example among published results.
|Enchantress by Tarrasque1, 5-0 in Modern League|
The most predictable companion remains a cornerstone of Modern. It's now the strongest one by a country mile. Take your midrange or control deck, add twenty cards, and Bob's your uncle. Most likely you'll have some permanents with enter-the-battlefield effects to take extra advantage of Yorion's blinking. Not much to add here—except an example list of which you've probably seen a million already.
|Four-Color Omnath by Ivan Espinosa, 3rd at NRG Series Trial|
Unfortunately, Zirda, the Dawnwaker does not see any competitive play because the condition is too restrictive. While Standard, Pioneer, or Historic players have rocked cycling decks with Zirda, they're way too weak for Modern. The hoops you have to jump through to get a 3/3 Fox are too big. It's much easier to either drop companions altogether or adopt a different one. Sorry, Foxxy!
This concludes the breakdown. What do you think? Will you be playing any of these? Have you tried the less popular ones in your casual kitchen table games? Let us know below!
As always, remember to hold my hand, and let's pass the turn together. Cheers!
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