Gyruda, Doom of Depths Art by Tyler Jacobson

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Companion Theorycraft and Ratings

Companion is a revolutionary new mechanic in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. There are a total of ten legendary companions introduced in this set, and if your starting deck follows the deck building rule stipulated on the card, its available for you to cast from outside of the game (similar to Commanders in Brawl). Some are saying that it could change the dynamics of how Magic: The Gathering is played because the mechanic is so powerful. You will be balancing the restriction imposed by the companion and the power level offered, as essentially an additional card in your hand. The best part is that you only need a single copy to complement your deck (and can include more copies in the main deck if desired)!

We will have a look at the ten companions today in more detail, give a rating (for Standard, and relative to each other) and a sample decklist that showcases each one. We’ve already featured a few companions in the previous theorycraft sessions, but for the ones we have not covered already the decks will be from various sources but mostly from expert deck builder yoman5. Be sure to check out all 50 of his early Ikoria brews here.

Gyruda, Doom of Depths


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Gyruda is the most expensive out of all the companions and its deck building restriction is the most challenging one but is also quite powerful. It can get immediate value when it enters the battlefield, and can even steal your opponent’s stuff. In Standard, it slots nicely into the Azorius Blink deck archetype to make the most out of its ability and it can even provide contribute to Devotion as a bonus. Being able to chain the ability through cards like Charming Prince and Spark Double seems like a good scenario!

Sample Decklists

Jegantha, the Wellspring


Jegantha’s deck building requirements is one of the more loose ones out of all the companions, and its stats and ability is also mediocre at best. As an example, it has been noted that the stock Rakdos Sacrifice decks can include this card with no penalty (but noting that you cannot use the new Fiend Artisan) and can act as an immediate upgrade for a top tier Standard deck. Otherwise, the most obvious candidate to build Jegantha around would be Niv-Mizzet Reborn that can act as a massive 5 mana ramp spell.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sample Decklists

Kaheera, the Orphanguard


Rating: 3 out of 5.

We featured Kaheera in the Elementals Theorycraft already, but it should be noted it can also buff a wide range of creature types. It is an aggro-centric tribal card that you are always guaranteed to draw – it just depends on whether the creature types that it supports form a good team together. Though Elementals seem like the strongest tribe out of them all, there is also a surprising number of decent Cats, Nightmares, Dinosaurs and Beasts even in Standard, so it is worth exploring.

Sample Decklists

Keruga, the Macrosage


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Keruga comes with a reasonable deck building restriction, and is even better with Adventure and some Mutate cards as their spell component can still be cast for less than 3 mana (e.g. Sea-Dasher Octopus, Bonecrusher Giant, Brazen Borrower). As an example, it is almost a perfect fit for Jeskai Fires that can take advantage of all this.

Sample Decklists

Lurrus of the Dream-Den


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lurrus is probably better in formats with a larger card pool that has better quality cards and all the different combos you can potentially do. In Standard the restriction here is large enough that Lurrus may not have a suitable home as we must give up Embercleave or Mayhem Devil – a pretty big ask if we want to be on the aggro side and battle against Uro and Hydroid Krasis.

Sample Decklists

Lutri, the Spellchaser


Rating: 1 out of 5.

Lutri is already banned from Brawl, and having a singleton deck in Standard which sacrifices the consistency greatly and having an average ability will mean this will likely be a casual and limited card.

Sample Decklists

Obosh, the Preypiercer


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Obosh is basically a finisher card that you are guaranteed to draw, albeit slower and a bit weaker than Torbran and Embercleave (which we cannot play together anyway). The restriction is also much more reasonable than Gyruda, because you can play more than one spell each turn to fill the even turns. Loading up on the one drops seem like what you are meant to do here – too bad Standard’s one drops are not that good.

Sample Decklists

Umori, the Collector


Rating: 4 out of 5.

There are numerous combinations of cards that we can build Umori around. Coming from Theros Beyond Death, we have Enchantments we can build around with Abzan looking like a good combination of colors to accommodate for cards like Doom Foretold and Setessan Champion. If all else fails we can go for creatures, since nowadays we can do everything with them (Adventures are strong here, yet again). The key thing would be to exploit the mana reduction ability though, which work really well with Artifacts.

Sample Decklists

Yorion, Sky Nomad


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Yorion is certainly the most intriguing out of all the companions. Having 80 cards does not necessarily mean your deck will suffer, as you can still include four copies your deck’s key cards – that means playing about 8 extra lands and 12 nonland cards. The ability can be used in all sorts of ways, as Standard has a lot of enter the battlefield effects that can be easily exploited – where we return to the Azorius Blink and Temur Elemental decks as examples again. It’s not just creatures though, it can even reset Enchantments and Planeswalkers back to their starting point and is a solid evasive flyer that will threaten to end games once its job is done.

Zirda, the Dawnwaker


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Last but not least, Zirda is a decent companion that has a medium powered ability and not a huge restriction to include, since a lot of cards come with activated abilities. For example, Cycling is one and Planeswalker abilities are activated as well. Ikoria comes with some decent Cycling build around cards as well.

Sample Decklists

Wrapping Up

It looks like the companions will be a part of many decks during their life in Standard and likely in other formats as well, similar to Planeswalkers. Having access to an extra guaranteed card is too good to pass up and it will be interesting to see how they impact the Magic: The Gathering as a whole. What are your thoughts? Do you have some spicy decks lined up for the set release? Let us know what you think below!

Remember, you can tune into the Early Access Streamer Event on Twitch right now, where streamers have access to an all-access account to play with the new cards and see how they play out.

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