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By: R Koster, Rob Koster
May 08 2020 10:30am
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Let me preface this by saying that this is what I think is the problem.

In the last few weeks, the Companions have taken over every constructed format. And while I don't like Wizards turning every format into Commander. I mean, I wasn't playing the format at all, ever, and that wasn't by accident. We are stuck with it now, and probably will be forever. There might even be more Companions coming. I would love some sweet ones that require a specific archetype to be useful. I think something like this could be very sweet:

Kumena, Lord of the Fishsticks
1WUG
~ Can only be your Companion when at least 25 Cards in your deck are Merfolk. (Changelings count as Merfolk)
Merfolk you control get +1/+1.
Merfolk you control get Islandwalk.
Merfolk you control get: "Whenever this Creature deals Combat Damage to a player. Draw a card."

When you play ~, Merfolk you control gain Hexproof until end of turn. With how they have been power creeping recently, I wanted to put more abilities on there. But my point is made, I think Kaheera, the Orphanguard is a fantastic design and I would love more Companions like that.

Onto the main point of this article, though.

Modern and Legacy have been overrun with Lurrus of the Dream-Den based decks. Legacy's last Legacy Challenge, I believe, had 22 Lurrus of the Dream-Den based Delver decks. I thought it was hilarious. I also thought it was unfortunate. Legacy is still very high on my things to learn list, but I'm not getting in while the format is looking like this.

In Modern, the Lurrus of the Dream-Den based decks aren't as dominating as in Legacy, but it's not much better there.

However, I honestly don't think Lurrus of the Dream Den is the problem. I believe that Mishra's Bauble is the problem here.

I know you want to skewer me with a pitchfork now. That's okay, but first, hear me out.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den Is a 3 Mana 3/2 Creature that brings back something once a turn. It's a buffed up Eternal Witness.It's also the type of card that Midrange decks dream about. A threat that you always get access to after you grind everything into a pulp. Sign me up.

The problem, however, is that when this turns into just getting a recurring 0 Mana look at your opponent's top card, draw a card. If you are both Hellbent, this means you just get to Gitaxian Probe your opponent. Every turn. And get a card from it. And don't have to pay life. It's just nuts.

And it's not like there's no precedent for banning a 0 card that has an actual effect on the game, whether it's making mana or drawing cards or giving information. I'm still kind of amazed that Manamorphose is still legal, but it hasn't been much of a problem at all. Not what I expected a few years ago, though. I still won't be surprised at all if I look back at this in 5 years and chuckle about Manamorphose still being a legal card back in the day.

Anyway, just look at all these Lurrus of the Dream-Den decks. Every single one of them is playing a bunch of copies of Mishra's Bauble, be it three, be it four. And when it's three, why not four? I would play ten if I could right now. Just chain them all together and go to town.

For Modern, I honestly don't see the problem with Lurrus of the Dream-Den after we remove Mishra's Bauble. I don't mind Midrange decks forgoing three drop permanents to be able to recur things like Seal of Fire or Engineered Explosives.  I've recast Hexdrinker and Death's Shadow earlier this week, and it was just pure sweetness. The problem right now, however, is that there isn't a decision to be made. You either play the Mishra's Bauble, or you miss out on drawing two cards a turn, every turn. However, when you take Mishra's Bauble out of the mix, you actually have to make decisions.

Do I want recursion? Do I want Liliana of the Veil and Bloodbraid Elf? It becomes heavily metagame dependant. Sometimes you want to cast Tormod's Crypt every turn. Sometimes you want to just get all the value on the planet.

Getting rid of a 50 tix uncommon also doesn't seem like a bad thing to me. Although it was the easiest, "lets cash this in" moment of my life when I heard how stupid expensive those things had gotten. I would miss the scry trick where you look at the top card of your deck and then time your fetch accordingly to if you want to draw the card. Little stuff like that is what makes this game great. But if that's the only cool thing the card does, I wouldn't mind getting rid of it to give Lurrus of the Dream-Den an honest chance at making Midrange a reasonable choice again. I mean, I got to play Sultai Delver this week. SULTAI DELVER! In Modern. And it wasn't a total embarrassment. That is AMAZING. I even picked up Willy Edel's Abzan list and gave it a spin, and I usually never play those decks. And you know what? It was sweet, and I loved what Lurrus did for these decks. Recasting Tarmogoyf or Hexdrinker, making Dredge a reasonable matchup with Tormod's Crypt recursion. It just was a ton of fun because what I usually dislike about playing these decks is that after your hand is empty, you just kind of go on rails for the rest of the game. But Lurrus just removes that.

Lurrus, on his own, just enables so much stuff for so many decks. The bauble is just a stupid cantrip. All the other good cantrips got banned in Modern, let's get rid of this one as well and be done with it.

So what I would do if I was in charge of the Banned and Restricted list for Modern would be:

Ban:
Mishra's Bauble
Veil of Summer
Arcum's Astrolabe

Unban:
Birthing Pod
Splinter Twin

Watchlist:
Yorion Sky Nomad
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Splinter Twin

And let's explain myself here as well.

The reason why I want to ban Mishra's Bauble should be evident if you've read this far. I think Veil of Summer is a miserable piece of cardboard that should have never been printed. I see people claiming all the time that this card is fine, but it isn't. It's a mana advantage for 0 cards. Worst case scenario, you counter something like a Thoughtseize. Best case scenario you destroy your Blue or Black playing opponent without even losing a card. It shouldn't be in the format or printed for that matter.

I have gotten to the point where I would ban Arcum's Astrolabe. It took a while, but the novelty of my opponent just getting to jam every card they feel like in every snow pile ever just is too much. It reminds me of the Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool mana bases of Lorwyn standard, and that novelty wore off fast. For those of you who weren't around back then. People curved Cryptic CommandCloudthresherCruel Ultimatum. Like, that is not okay. And the Snow decks just remind me of that. So I would ban the Arcum's Astrolabe. I would, however, love to see them print a watered-down version of this effect. Because the idea is cool, I just think the Astrolabe is a bit too much.

I would unban Splinter Twin because I like playing the deck. I could see it still getting to a point where it would be too good. But man, I would love to try it. It should start on a watchlist straight away. Birthing Pod I would unban because it's sweet and fun. I wouldn't be surprised if it wouldn't even see a lot of play anymore. The format's gotten a lot more brutal over these last few years.

So that's my two cents on the whole thing. And I hope Wizards goes for the Bauble first, at least let us fiddle around with Lurrus before they just kick it to the curb like a lot of players are asking for right now.