MTG ban: Lurrus of the Dream-Den banned in Modern and Pioneer

Magic the Gathering ban: Lurrus of the Dream-Den card

On March 7, the latest round of Magic: The Gathering bans were announced, and Wizards of the Coast is saying goodbye to the Creature card Lurrus of the Dream-Den, banning it in both the Pioneer and Modern formats. You’ll still be able to play Lurrus of the Dream-Den in Historic and Commander (and in your dreams) but if this nightmare cat has been your constant companion since printing, ‘tis a sad day. On the other hand, if you were discontent with Lurrus’ dominance ever since its 2020 release, perhaps this is a dream come true.

The trouble is, according to the article on the official Magic website announcing the ban, that Lurrus is simply too popular. In Modern, the card “has remained a ubiquitous presence in the format across multiple archetypes”, even as the format experienced tectonic shifts in 2021, with the emergence of powerful Modern Horizons 2 cards.

The reason why the card is so powerful in non-rotating formats like Pioneer and Modern, but never saw the banhammer’s wrath in Standard, is simple. Lurrus allows you to play cheap two-mana spells from your graveyard. In formats with many cards to choose from (like Pioneer, and especially Modern) there are too many powerful examples of these cheap cards available.

Cards like Snapcaster Mage, Soul-Scar Mage, and Mishra’s Bauble, for instance, have such strength or versatility that Lurrus’ Companion ability, which prevents you from putting more expensive cards in your deck, barely feels like a restriction. 

Magic the Gathering Ban: Dinosaur artwork from Ikoria Lair of Behemoths set.

It must be said that while the card has always been a thorn in Modern’s side, Lurrus had been far less dominant in Pioneer. However, Wizards says “we expect that Lurrus’s metagame share will only grow as Pioneer’s card pool expands”. It appears the poor kitty’s been executed for future-crimes. 

The real power behind Lurrus lies not just in its resurrection powers, but in its notoriously troublesome Companion ability. A flagship mechanic for 2020’s Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set, Companion, which allowed you to start with an eighth card (your companion) in your starting hand if you met a deck-building requirement was a revolutionary step, venturing into brand new design space for Magic: the Gathering… However, it was also enormously overpowered. What proved a fun deck-building challenge in low-powered Limited formats became something far more apocalyptic in constructed formats like Pioneer, Modern, and Standard.

Even after Wizards of the Coast massively weakened the entire mechanic in a rare retcon, the level of consistency Companion enabled has still been a problem in Lurrus’ case. As Wizards’ article states: “There is not a significant enough deck-building cost to incorporate it into a wide variety of strategies.”

Lurrus’ addition to the MTG banlist may cause a major shakeup of Magic: the Gathering’s secondary market. Check out our guide to the rarest and most expensive MTG cards if you want to know more about the money in Magic. Or if you’re curious to know what gets a poor, defenceless card banned in other top card games, here’s our guide to the Yu-Gi-Oh banlist.