Hello, all you wizards out there!
On Monday, WOTC made an announcement in which they banned Fires of Invention and Agent of Treachery from Standard, alongside a fundamental Companion rules change: “Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability“.
Now for the questions on everyone’s lips, that this article will be addressing: what will that change in Standard? Who got hit the most? What decks will shine now? After Office TTV already provided us an overview and insights on what we can expect, and in this article we will be going over the individual decklists in more detail as a follow up.
Lurrus of the Dream Den
Lurrus was part of aristocrat-type decks like Mardu or Rakdos Sacrifice, but also the completely new Deck that came with Ikoria: Boros Cycling. Also, there have been rises of various weenie-type decks like Mardu Knights.
For typical aggro decks like those, this change basically kills the choice of playing Lurrus, who was important because you got to rebuild your board after getting swept. Spending 3 mana for this is not something aggro decks can afford, but, for sacrifice decks, it could be fine. Those decks tend to have a grindy plan B where you outvalue your opponent, so I can see Lurrus still being relevant there.
Cycling also doesn’t lose too much because that deck basically has no opportunity cost in including Lurrus. That deck don’t even need Lurrus that much to begin with because you are busy spending your mana on cycling a lot of the time anyway.
Obosh, the Preypiercer
There is no chance that Obosh Aggro decks survive this nerf. Those decks wants to play a lot of small creatures and make them relevant by curving out into Obosh and doubling their damage. Paying 3 mana essentially helps your opponent because you don’t spend those to develop your board.
Keruga, the Macrosage
The only reason why Keruga was playable is because it could abuse the power of Fires of Invention and it fit perfectly into the Jeskai Cavalier version. Now that Fires is gone, Keruga will be as well unless something like Temur Keruga decks (with or without Adventure cards to take advantage) becomes relevant in the metagame though it will likely still be a fringe player.
Umori, the Collector
Just like the Obosh decks, Umori decks want to curve into their namesake Companion, in order to make all your expensive stuff cheaper. Now that you have to pay 3 more mana to make your future creatures cheaper, I think you should pass on this one.
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Yorion was by far the most impactful and most popular Companion in Standard: Sultai and Bant Yorion were strong, but they all got pushed out by an even stronger deck: The boogeyman of the format, Jeskai Yorion.
The Companion nerf was huge for some of them, but it will not be for Yorion. Why?
- Companions were meant to be balanced by restricting your deckbuilding options. Technically speaking, Yorion is the only Companion that does not restrict your options; it wants you to include cards into your deck. This is why Yorion is considered as a “freeroll” in a lot of decks; there are so many easy inclusions out there.
- Most Companions require you to spend additional mana to use their power. Yorion creates immediate value when it hits the battlefield, therefore being better at catching you up.
- Yorion is completely fine to play later in the game. You don’t have to play him on turn 5 and most decks that play Yorion are slower lategame decks anyway.
As a result, Yorion will still be a freeroll in the decks he is in. Granted, Jeskai Yorion is dead with Agent of Treachery and Fires of Invention banned, but that just means that other Yorion decks will rise to shine again.
Losers of the Bans and Changes
Obviously, Companions got nerfed and so all of the Companion decks got hit. Let’s talk about the other losers:
Winota, Joiner of Forces
Winota just lost their biggest payoff (cheatoff?) spell: Agent of Treachery. With one of the best ETB-cards in standard gone, this deck is now way more susceptible to sweepers and I doubt it will see much more play in Standard.
Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast
Just like Winota, Lukka got collaterally hated with the ban of Agent of Treachery. That being said, Lukka can just include strong beaters like Yidaro, Wandering Monster, and he will just wait until the next best expensive thing to cheat into the game appears.
Elspeth Conquers Death (ECD)
This Saga was just absolutely absurd together with Yorion. If you faced an ECD and didn’t get rid of it immediately, you risked getting another trigger to take out your next best permanent. This will not be so easy now that you need to pay 3 extra mana for Yorion.
There is also a chance that aggro decks might be on the rise and ECD is usually not great against those.
Now, ECD is still an exceptionally strong valuecard and it saw tons of play even before the Companions came out, so I wouldn’t count it out, but it is worth noting that it;’s a little weaker.
Omen of the Sun
This card was played in Yorion because it was just such a wall against aggro decks if you slammed Yorion turn 5, made another 2 blockers and got another 2 life. With this line being way harder to do, I don’t think it will be too popular anymore.
Winners of the Bans and Changes
Aggro decks. Believe in the Cleave! Jeskai Fires is gone. Jeskai Lukka is gone. What does that mean? It means that one of the best tools against aggro, Deafening Clarion won’t be that present anymore! Also, we just discussed how good Omen of the Sun was with Yorion and how it just got nerfed. This is a huge win for aggro decks, especially Embercleave decks, who were not able to punch through so many tokens and life-generators maindeck and could often just scoop to a turn 3 sweeper.
Those decks were strong before Jeskai Lukka came (which was essentially just the stronger version of the Yorion decks), and they won’t magically get worse now.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Just a short inclusion, because he is the big player in Bant and Sultai Yorion and since those decks win, he wins.
This deck was tied in Tier 1 even with Companions, Lukka, and Agent in the format. The strongest decks all got weaker, so naturally the deck that lost nothing will be a huge winner.
Aristocrat/Sacrifice decks (without Lurrus as a companion)
Although those are not your typical Aggro decks and are a bit more resilient to removal, Deafening Clarion was still a strong swing against them. Also, with the potential rise of other Aggro decks, Sacrifice decks will get another good matchup. Now that Uro might be played more often, Claim the Firstborn also gets substantially better.
I am not sure about this one. It lost their best matchup in Jeskai Lukka, and that’s always bad, but it also lost nothing with the bannings and never used Companions anyway. We’ll have to keep an eye out for this deck for sure.
You might think this is a weird one, because Lurrus just got nerfed, but hear me out. This deck was considered to be one of the better aggressive options against Yorion because it had huge reach and some really fast starts with Flourishing Fox. The newer Jeskai Lukka Yorion versions just slammed the door on Cycling though because they adapted with Clarions and Omen of the Sun and had more anti-aggro tools in general.
As discussed before, Boros Cycling didn’t exactly “need” Lurrus; for the most part he is just for free in that deck. Jeskai Lukka is gone and, with that, the good matchup for Cycling in Bant Yorion will return.
Example Decklists of the Winners
If you guys want to have some decklists for some of the winners to give a quick overview, I got you covered:
Bant Yorion Ramp by Sorquixe – Post-Fires Ban Standard
Boros Lurrus Cycling by Sorquixe – Post-Fires Ban Standard
Mono Red Aggro by Sorquixe – Post-Fires Ban Standard
Rakdos Sacrifice by Sorquixe – Post-Fires Ban Standard