Goodbye, Lurrus, My Old Friend

Lurrus of the Dream Den has been banned from Pioneer (and Modern). The PlayingPioneer community reacts here.

Surprise Ban

Lurrus of the Dream Den has been banned from Pioneer (and Modern). Some have seen this as a long time coming, while others are spending today mourning. Here are some takes from some of our authors:

Alex

I initially have pretty mixed feelings on the ban. I don’t think Lurrus of Dream Den is necessarily too strong, which makes me oppose the ban, but I do think Lurrus is incredibly boring and restrictive so that makes me feel a little bit happy about it. The reason Wizards of the Coast gave for the ban is that it might not be too good now, but it will inevitably be too good in the future. This also goes for cards like Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, and I would heavily oppose those bans if they were to happen now. As much as I dislike Lurrus, I am unsure if unnecessarily kicking aggro in the pants actually makes the format more fun to play, which is all that matters in the end. Arguably, one of the biggest losers on paper is Orzhov Auras. This is not because it was necessarily the best Lurrus deck (though Lurrus is very powerful in the deck), but because the card was as free as can be. The deck existed before Lurrus did and was already full of two-cmc and lower cards. This means the deck only stands to lose from this, while decks like Rakdos Sacrifice just start playing Karn, the Great Creator or Mayhem Devil (which they regularly did already). Decks that were interested in three-drops (but didn’t) are now free to run them to soften the blow while decks that ran Lurrus because their deck already met the requirements anyway lose the most if they cannot find three-CMC + cards to make up for the loss of power.

The Timmy inside of me is definitely glad I can finally add cool curvetoppers like Ao, the Dawn Sky and cool higher-CMC cards to my lower curved decks without having to feel too bad about it. That being said, I am a little worried about how the format will look in a few weeks with aggro taking this unnecessary hit while combo decks and UW Control are on the rise already. 

DarthJacen

Lurrus joins Oko, Thief of Crowns as a recent card wiped from competitive Magic in this latest ban announcement. Both Lurrus and Oko were cards well beyond the pale in terms of power level and ubiquity. I enjoyed playing with both in Pioneer, but the homogenizing effects of these cards on the format warranted the swift action of a ban.

With Lurrus now gone from Pioneer, I expect we will see new archetypes that were previously held down by Lurrus decks and a wider array of three-mana permanents in decks that were using Lurrus.

While bans can be controversial in nature, I think Lurrus was always living on borrowed time and this ban serves to end the cycle of players learning and relearning that Lurrus is a top five creature of all time, pre and post-companion nerf.

Goodbye old friend.

Ruckman

Welcome to a new era in Pioneer – one that we, in all honestly, should have been preparing for: Lurrus is banned. If you’re a long-time listener to Crew3, then you’ll know our stance on Lurrus, especially given the Lurrus Watch we’ve been issuing for the last several weeks. To be clear, I don’t think Lurrus was a power-level ban. It came down to a pure numbers game, and the numbers say that Lurrus generally makes up 33%+ of the reported challenge top 32 deck lists. Don’t get me wrong, Lurrus certainly was powerful, but ever since the companion rule nerf, she was always a shadow of her former self. Since that change, Lurrus stopped being part of the game plan in my eyes. No longer could Lurrus be relied on as the turn 4/5 game plan for the low-curve aggressive decks. Now Lurrus fell into two categories: extra fuel for the fire when ahead, or an act of desperation to right a sinking ship. 

So what’s the impact? Do the Lurrus decks cease to exist? Do Orzhov Auras, Blood, and Ensoul just disappear from the meta? Short answer: no. Well, at least in the case of Auras and Blood anyway. Both of these decks feature engines that are powerful enough to exist and build back with out the Lurrus fall back plan. Will they be tier 0? Most likely no, but they’ll still be tiered 1.5 to tier 2 at the very least. And then I don’t think decks like Boros Burn even bat an eye. What it does do to the format, though, is take the horse blinders off. Players will now be actively encouraged to try out higher-costing spells again without the 1% Lurrus Advantage Limiter being in place. Orzhov Humans is now encouraged to try out cards like Elite Spellbinder and Brutal Cathar, Feather might no longer be Featherless, the three-drop slot is open again and that’s exciting! Will these changes to those decks be good? Only time will tell, but it’s great that these are questions players can ask again with our being told, “can’t play Lurrus”. 

Most important of all though, it shows that Wizards recognizes potential issue with the format and cares enough to act on it. And that alone is something I think is worth celebrating for the format’s future.

rose-emoji

As a player who has Lurrus in the sideboard of 80% of the decks I play, I am surprised to be as excited as I am about this decision. Lurrus was, of course, very powerful in my Rakdos Anvil deck, but I really wanted to run Mayhem Devil in it. Lurrus was also incredible in my Rakdos Arcanist and Rakdos Blood decks, but I really wanted to run Bedlam Reveler, Ox of Agonas, Liliana, The Last Hope or Chandra, Torch of Defiance. I’ve always wanted to run General Kudrow of Drannith or even Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in a slightly bigger Orzhov Humans build. Featherless Feather was really only Featherless because of Lurrus. All of these deckbuilding decisions were virtually prevented by the legality of Lurrus of the Dream Den.

As a frequent Lurrus player, my concern with the card was, of course, never about its high power level, but about the constant deckbuilding decision-making of “is including this card better than having Lurrus?”. The problem being, the answer was almost always “no”. 

As many are, I am very curious to see what decks that currently run Lurrus as a companion will look like next week. While some of those decks will take the ban as a straight nerf (pure aggro decks and decks that fulfill Lurrus’ deckbuilding cost without ever trying, like Alex mentioned) I’m optimistic that the upside of opening up the decks to the possibility of three-mana inclusions could offset the hit to some extent.

I share the concern that this ban will ultimately hurt the diversity of the format, though, and the format’s diversity has always been one of its stronger selling points for new players and converts alike. In the short term, I’m worried about Jund Food, Naya Winota and UW Control’s metashare and winrate all spiking and stalling out was was, up to this point, a rather healthy deck split. Even if Lurrus was in 20-odd percent of these decks, they were at least different decks entirely.

Overall, banning Lurrus in Modern and Pioneer at the same time and even going as far as to mention that the Pioneer side of the ban was almost entirely proactive signals to me a bit of laziness rather than genuine attention to the format. No matter the motivation, though, the level of shake-up in the community (and on the decks page of this website) feels equivalent to a new set dropping – which probably is a good indication that the cat was far too prevalent and probably had to go.

ServoToken

The effective unban on three-drops that many have assumed imminent is finally upon us and I, for one, am not surprised. The nightmare cat has homogenized formats since its release and, as a fan of innovation in deck building, I am a fan of this update. 

Many other authors are covering the format at large, so in terms of how this impacts budgets and brewing, I think that we can expect to see a greater depth of archetypes open up. Not only will people be more inclined to shift away from previously Lurrus-based builds (which should open those archetypes up to the more budget focused) but also players are now forced out of the hole that they were sitting in in terms of deck selection. Budget players can expect to see greater successes with control builds as the format presumably shifts more midrange-centric and curves generally get higher. As far as the rest of the player base is concerned, If something is the absolute best thing to be doing in the format, that thing stifles creativity. I expect that we’ll see a tremendous explosion of midrange-focused strategies similar to what we saw when Pioneer was first announced, as people begin to include the numbers three and four on their mana value Scryfall searches. I’m not legally a financial advisor, but this seems like a pretty good week to own Siege Rhinos.

TyrantofTales

Today is a sad day for aggro decks everywhere. Anyone who has known me in my time in Pioneer is aware Lurrus is one of – if not just my favorite -cards and has been since its printing back in Ikoria. While the cat nightmare has gone through some changes in power level already, due to an errata, I’m not sure if it was yet time for WOTC to pull the trigger on a no doubt powerful card. That all being said, I personally think this is going to lower diversity in Pioneer by a large margin. The power level of Lurrus brought a lot of decks that would not be playable on their own to the forefront of the format, such as UW Ensoul, RW Heroic and many others.

I am intrigued with where this unexpected change will leave the format, even if on a personal level this upsets me greatly. The biggest question on my mind is if pure aggro can stay alive in this format and if any of the Lurrus-based midrange decks such as RB Artifacts have the staying power to remain powerful contenders in the new metagame this shocking news will create. In closing, I have but two things to say. Personally, I am not a fan of proactive bans, and for those who keep up with my nonsensical brews R.I.P. Teshar’s Sagas 2022-2022.

Bradcifer

Good riddance!

In all seriousness, though, Lurrus is a card in which I find to be a part of a strange spectrum. On one side, Lurrus is undoubtedly the most powerful companion to see play and it was never even close. It created boring deck building philosophies in which you have to ask yourself, “would I rather have a less-than-optimal build of a deck by restricting myself to one and two-mana spells but have access to a free card in my opening hand, or allow myself an expansion on my deckbuilding and possibly a more optimal build, at the sacrifice of Lurrus?” Far too often, the choice was the former, and that is overall hurtful to whatever format in which this question is presented. So for that reason, I’m happy to see Lurrus go. 

On the other side of the spectrum, Lurrus was an incredibly interesting and curious card to see play in main decks rather than in the companion slot. Unfortunately, this rarely happened unless you had access to a combo, similar to how Kethis combo ran two Lurrus in the main deck a couple of years ago. Other than that, Lurrus almost never showed up outside of the Companion Zone, and that was disappointing to me. This ban stops the card from ever seeing play in a fair situation, which I think would be fine for any format it’s a part of. I understand banning it outright stops any level of confusion or further meddling of the Companion rule as is – especially since Wizards noted in their ban announcement that other Companions amount of play is in line with their idea of a health meta share – but I would have liked to see a potential “Banned as Companion” rather than outright ban. I don’t think it would be confusing for players in all honesty, but I can understand why Wizards would prefer not to go down this path. 

All in all, if you read my Two Ships article in our Mailbag section, you’ll know that my overall solution to any format – Pioneer or otherwise – to avoid becoming a Two ships passing in the night format, was to get rid of Lurrus. Well, that day has come, and it should be smooth sailing from here on out. 

  • Author

    Alex has been playing the Pioneer format since its inception and his love for the format has only grown since. After pulling two copies of Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh at his second prerelease in 2017, Grixis Control has been his deck of choice in every format. It’s rare for Alex not to include at least one Bolas in his decks, though he also doesn’t shy away from a good tribal deck. Alex has been part of the Pioneer Perspective since the first episode back in August 2020.

  • Author/Video Editor

    With a love for Ancient Egypt as a child, Brad’s card game of choice was always Yu-Gi-Oh! until the release of Amonkhet sparked interest in Magic. Ever since then he hasn’t looked back. Pioneer naturally became his favorite format of choice seeing that his starting point with Magic was Amonkhet. Rakdos is his favorite color combination but Kethis Combo will always have that special place in his heart as his favorite deck.

  • Editor-In-Chief

    Having started playing Magic shortly before the release of Return to Ravnica, Ruckman’s Magic lifespan covers the breadth of the Pioneer format. Despite not being a stranger to the Top 8 tables of the old IQ and PTQ systems, most of his competitive experience comes from the other side of the event space, where he served more than five years as a level-two judge, only hanging up the black shirt for good at the beginning of 2022. Currently, you can find him making Pioneer content for Crew3 on your favorite podcasting platform or on Twitch/YouTube.

  • Publisher

    ServoToken has been playing competitive magic since 2011, spending a majority of that time living in the shoes of a player on a strict budget. After investing a lot of time learning how to make the best of a bad situation, his goals today are to spread those lessons to the often-ignored population of Magic players who can’t afford to drop a car payment on a new deck every couple of months. His mantra is that “You don’t need to play mono-red to do well on a budget”. These days, you can typically find him deep in the archives of Scryfall searching for new cards to brew around or making tweaks to the Pioneer Budget deck spreadsheet on his unending mission to bring his favorite format to the people on the cheap.

  • Competitive Guide

    Darthjacen has been playing Magic since Dark Ascension and plays Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Limited. With a Grand Prix win in 2015 and an SCG Team Top 4 in 2019, he continues to pursue competitive Magic at every turn.

  • Distribution Manager

    Tyrant has been playing Magic in events since his first prerelease in Ixalan. Most of the time, he can be found in the various Pioneer Discord channels talking about anything Pioneer, from various meta decks to whatever new combo deck he has brewed up. When not playing Magic, he is getting cards in his collection signed by their artists or producing the occasional video for his YouTube channel.

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