A new Magic: The Gathering keyword introduced with Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has already had a massive impact on the metagame despite the set being less than a week old. Companions, creature spells that trigger a permanent effect by meeting pre-determined conditions, are not only dominating Standard play but almost every ruleset considered legal for competitive play.
The majority of top players participating in various Magic: The Gathering Online tournaments since Ikoria‘s release opted to build their strategy around one of the powerful cards, with Arena Decklists podcast co-host Bryan Gottlieb recently pointing out just how prevalent Companions have proven to be in such a short space of time. The number of top finishes taken by decks including any one of ten Companions available was as follows, according to Gottlieb:
- 1st and 2nd in the Vintage Challenge
- 1st to 4th in the Legacy Challenge
- The entire Top 8 of the Modern Challenge
- 1st to 4th in the Pioneer Challenge
- 6 of 8 slots in the Top 8 of Standard Challenge
Is the obvious prevalence of such a small number of archetypes a problem? That depends on who you ask (there’s always going to be a “best” deck), though generally speaking, CCGs can quickly become stale when top-end play predominantly consists of just a handful of decks. Variety is key to a healthy competitive scene, then, and Wizards of the Coast will undoubtedly be paying close attention to how events unfold in the months to come.
We wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a number of the most popular Companions, particularly Lurrus of the Dream-Den, be banned from various Magic: The Gathering formats in the near future, though we’ll just have to wait and see if the company decides such drastic measures are necessary. Watch this space for more.