Companions in Standard

Chantelle Campbell Standard

Since the release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, companions have been shoehorned into every deck imaginable. Most prominently, the little sideboard buddies seem to have taken over Standard — over 65% of the decks in the recent Weekly Championship included a companion. There’s a Standard deck (and accompanying companion) to suit almost anyone’s fancy. Here are a few that you should keep an eye on.

Keruga, the Macrosage

Let’s start with the biggest boy on the block. Keruga’s restriction of playing only cards with converted mana cost three or greater made it an easy inclusion in the existing Jeskai Fires lists, which were already often taking the first two turns to play tapped lands and set up for a big midrange game. The fact that Keruga’s enter-the-battlefield ability lets you draw a card each permanent with CMC three or greater pairs wonderfully with Fires of Invention, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Elspeth Conquers Death!

Jeskai Fires, Weekly Championship 1 – Mirozel

3 Bonecrusher Giant
3 Cavalier of Flame
2 Kenrith, the Returned King
3 Narset of the Ancient Way
4 Narset, Parter of Veils
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
3 Deafening Clarion
3 Elspeth Conquers Death
4 Fires of Invention
4 Shark Typhoon
2 Castle Vantress
4 Fabled Passage
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
2 Mountain
1 Plains
4 Raugrin Triome
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents

Sideboard

1 Blast Zone
1 Bonecrusher Giant
1 Deafening Clarion
1 Elspeth Conquers Death
2 Flame Sweep
1 Keruga, the Macrosage
4 Mystical Dispute
3 Mythos of Illuna
1 Neutralize

Kaheera, the Orphanguard

Kaheera guards the motley crews of beasts, elementals, cats, nightmares and dinosaurs left parentless on Ikoria. But in Standard, these creatures are much more organized and ready to pounce on unsuspecting opponents. Kaheera has found a home in a more aggressive Fires of Invention shell, focused on ramping to Fires of Invention and running out a mass of four- and five-drops. Bonders’ Enclave provides a nice bit of card draw when you’re casting your spells for free, and Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate lets you go even bigger (as well as being a huge flavor win!).

Gruul Fires, Weekly Championship 1 – Lucajak

4 Arboreal Grazer
4 Cavalier of Flame
1 Gemrazer
3 Quartzwood Crasher
3 Questing Beast
3 Shifting Ceratops
3 Thrashing Brontodon
2 Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate
2 Embercleave
2 Fire Prophecy
4 Fires of Invention
1 Scorching Dragonfire
3 Bonders’ Enclave
8 Forest
3 Ketria Triome
6 Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon

Sideboard

4 Flame Sweep
2 Fry
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Kaheera, the Orphanguard
2 Scorching Dragonfire
1 Shifting Ceratops
2 Storm’s Wrath

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

The cutest Cat Nightmare has been popping up in a few sideboards in Standard, the most popular of which have been Rakdos and Orzhov sacrifice lists. These decks play a litany of one- and two-drops to get under opponents and use graveyard recursion to grind down opponents’ life totals. Lurrus provides a nice bit of extra reach here by letting you get even more value from cards like Fiend Artisan and Priest of Forgotten Gods

MagicFest Online April 20, Qualifier 4 – Chantelle Campbell

4 Cauldron Familiar
4 Cruel Celebrant
4 Fiend Artisan
4 Gutterbones
4 Hunted Witness
4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
2 Serrated Scorpion
4 Whisper Squad
1 Mire’s Grasp
1 Omen of the Dead
4 Witch’s Oven
2 Castle Locthwain
4 Fabled Passage
4 Godless Shrine
4 Plains
8 Swamp
2 Temple of Silence

Sideboard

3 Duress
1 Epic Downfall
2 Heartless Act
1 Heliod’s Intervention
4 Hushbringer
1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
2 Mire’s Grasp
1 Tymaret, Chosen from Death

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Yorion has a restriction that challenges the conventions of Standard deck-building: you must add 20 more cards to your deck than you’d be playing otherwise. Despite that, multiple Standard strategies with Yorion have been coming out of the woodwork, including Bant Ramp, Four-Color and Esper Fires decks, and even 5-Color Niv-Mizzet?! The card pool is already large enough that you can easily find 20 high-impact cards to include, and Yorion’s ability is worth making the room for. In my opinion, these archetypes have the most room for brewing and refinement, though it looks like Bant Ramp is the one that deck-builders are gravitating to the most.

Yorion Bant Ramp, Weekly Championship 1 – Kanister

3 Agent of Treachery
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
3 Narset, Parter of Veils
3 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
3 Aether Gust
4 Elspeth Conquers Death
4 Growth Spiral
4 Neutralize
4 Omen of the Sea
4 Shark Typhoon
4 Shatter the Sky
4 Breeding Pool
2 Castle Vantress
4 Fabled Passage
2 Forest
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
1 Plains
4 Temple Garden
4 Temple of Enlightenment
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Temple of Plenty

Sideboard

1 Aether Gust
1 Dovin’s Veto
4 Glass Casket
3 Knight of Autumn
4 Mystical Dispute
1 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
1 Yorion, Sky Nomad

Gyruda, Doom of the Depths

While Gyruda decks have quickly fallen out of competitive favor, they still represent an incredibly powerful combo shell. With Charming Prince, Spark Double, and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, you can copy and flicker Gyruda to amass a board big enough to drown many opponents. While the deck has been pushed out of the top tables recently, I expect to see Gyruda come back out of the depths again soon.

MagicFest Online April 23, Qualifier 2 – Azulikin

4 Charming Prince
2 Dream Trawler
3 Elite Guardmage
1 End-Raze Forerunners
3 Gyruda, Doom of Depths
1 Kogla, the Titan Ape
1 Luminous Broodmoth
4 Paradise Druid
4 Spark Double
3 Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
4 Growth Spiral
2 Migration Path
2 Wolfwillow Haven
4 Breeding Pool
2 Fabled Passage
2 Forest
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
1 Plains
4 Temple Garden
2 Temple of Enlightenment
2 Temple of Mystery
3 Temple of Plenty

Sideboard

3 Destiny Spinner
2 Glass Casket
1 Gyruda, Doom of Depths
2 Loxodon Lifechanter
2 Negate
3 Shifting Ceratops
2 Wilt

Obosh, the Preypiercer

Certainly the oddest companion on the list (see what we did there), Obosh hasn’t quite found a home in any Standard deck yet. That said, Obosh’s ability to pack double the punch means that it can provide quite a clock in aggressive strategies. One of the best homes for Obosh is Rakdos Sacrifice; while you lose out on cards like Kroxa and Priest of the Forgotten Gods, you do get to double Mayhem Devil damage and hit even harder with Knight of the Ebon Legion and Gutterbones.

Rakdos Obosh Sacrifice – Ondrej Strasky

2 Call of the Death-Dweller
4 Cauldron Familiar
4 Claim the Firstborn
3 Gutterbones
4 Knight of the Ebon Legion
2 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
4 Mayhem Devil
4 Serrated Scorpion
4 Witch’s Oven
4 Woe Strider
2 Temple of Malice
8 Swamp
4 Mountain
3 Castle Locthwain
4 Blood Crypt 
4 Fabled Passage

Sideboard

2 Act of Treason
2 Bedevil
1 Cavalier of Night
3 Dead Weight
4 Drill Bit
2 Midnight Reaper
1 Obosh, the Preypiercer

Zirda, the Dawnwaker

One of the most challenging companions to build around, Zirda’s restriction requires very specific creatures, and creatures with activated abilities are not too common in current Standard. Lucky for us, you can choose not to play any creatures at all and simply get the value of a free eighth card in your starting hand. It’s important to note that Zirda decreases cycling costs, since cycling is an activated ability. This means that cards like Shark Typhoon and Raugrin Triome will be even more useful with Zirda on the battlefield. 

Jeskai Superfriends, Weekly Championship 1 – Satoshi Nakayama

2 Karn, the Great Creator
2 Narset of the Ancient Way
3 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Sarkhan the Masterless
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
3 Deafening Clarion
2 Essence Scatter
1 Inspired Ultimatum
2 Mystical Dispute
2 Neutralize
4 Omen of the Sea
4 Shark Typhoon
2 Shatter the Sky
2 Whirlwind Denial
2 Fabled Passage
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
1 Mountain
2 Plains
4 Raugrin Triome
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
2 Temple of Enlightenment

Sideboard

2 Aether Gust
1 Bag of Holding
1 Deafening Clarion
3 Dovin’s Veto
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Mystical Dispute
3 Scorching Dragonfire
1 Shadowspear
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Zirda, the Dawnwaker

Jegantha, the Wellspring

The WUBRG-focused companion doesn’t quite have the same popularity as some of the other companions on this list, but some players have found success using Jegantha to revive Izzet Phoenix strategies. The deck naturally included cards with different mana costs, and Jegantha provides a bigger body and additional mana at virtually no additional cost. The deck also gets a couple nice little additions like Sprite Dragon, Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor, Lore Drakkis, and even Rielle, the Everwise.

Jegantha Izzet Phoenix – Arena 14-1, Elonirak

1 Maximize Altitude
4 Opt
1 Unsummon
1 Maximize Velocity
4 Shock
4 Sprite Dragon
2 Radical Idea
4 Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
4 Cathartic Reunion
1 Lava Coil
4 Thrill of Possibility
2 Lore Drakkis
2 Rielle, the Everwise
2 The Royal Scions
4 Arclight Phoenix
6 Mountain
6 Island
4 Steam Vents
4 Temple of Epiphany

Sideboard

3 Aether Gust
2 Embereth Shieldbreaker
2 Scorching Dragonfire
2 Mystical Dispute
3 Flame Sweep
1 Ral, Izzet Viceroy
1 Jegantha, the Wellspring

Conclusion

With a wide variety of companions in a wide variety of Standard decks, there truly is something for everyone in the format. And while Umori and Lutri have not yet popped up in any Standard lists, I can’t imagine it will be long before they make a splash. In fact, I expect that we’ve only seen the tip of the companion iceberg, and we have barely begun to see the innovations that these new creatures will bring to Standard and other Magic formats.