Lurrus of the Dream-Den Ban: Modern Winners and Losers

Michael RappModern

Goodnight, sweet kitty

On Monday, Wizards of the Coast made a bombshell announcement by banning Lurrus of the Dream-Den in Modern. Now, there could have been a number of different possible bans, but I’m not here to talk about that today. If you want to read my expanded feelings about Lurrus being banned, you can find them here. We can only play the game with the rules that are presented to us, so now that the rules have changed, how will the metagame adjust? My prediction is that there are a handful of winners, and a couple of losers, in a Modern without Lurrus.


When a pillar of a format suddenly is no longer there, the rest of the metagame adjusts. Depending on the specific ban(s) that took place, the directly affected decks are either weaker, leading to lower representation, or they’re gone completely. Naturally, there are some decks that are thrilled to see other cards banned. Usually these are decks that didn’t contain the banned card, and had a bad matchup against the affected deck.


Burn technically lost Lurrus, but Burn players couldn’t seem to consistently decide whether or not playing Lurrus was correct, so the loss isn’t going to be particularly impactful. Burn does gain a lot from players switching to Four Color Yorion in an effort to chase the best deck, as that matchup is good for Burn. Hammer felt like a positive matchup for Burn before the ban, and Hammer did just get worse, but is still good enough to be popular, which is another point for Burn. Murktide remains a close matchup to round things out. All in all I expect to see a bit more Burn in the next couple weeks as players often look to linear strategies during times of uncertainty.


Amulet is thrilled by any change that results in less Dress Down showing up in Modern. Since the inclusion of Dress Down in Death’s Shadow decks, Amulet Titan has had a negative matchup. I expect it to take some time for Shadow players to re-establish a cohesive 75 without Lurrus, which means at least in the short term, Amulet players are happy that one of their bad matchups is on the decline. Players may move off of Shadow and on to Izzet Murktide, which also isn’t a great matchup, but it is certainly better than the Death’s Shadow matchup. Amulet is also incredibly favored against decks like Burn and Jund Saga, which are also on the come up. I’d expect to see an influx of Primeval Titan and friends in the coming weeks.

Cascade Decks

Living End, Temur Footfalls, and Glimpse of Tomorrow all benefit from Grixis Death’s Shadow taking a step back, and that was a nightmare matchup for those decks. Discard spells, backed up by a fast clock, and counterspells is the recipe for how to make a combo player miserable. Honestly, it doesn’t extend much beyond the fact that Grixis Shadow is going to take a hit in popularity for the next week or two, so if you enjoy Violent Outburst and Shardless Agent, now is likely the best time to be doing those things. 

Jund Saga

It may seem odd that I consider Jund a winner despite having Lurrus banned, but of the midrange decks in Modern I believe Jund lost the least, relative to the format. The reason the losing Lurrus hits Death’s Shadow and Hammer Time as much as it does, is because those decks aren’t built to grind, but Lurrus gave them that ability at a very low cost. Jund Saga on the other hand already had the ability to grind with bigger decks thanks to Wrenn and Six and Urza’s Saga. Because losing Lurrus doesn’t have a large impact on Jund’s identity, it doesn’t have to spend time reinventing it’s plan. Furthermore, I think Jund is one of the better combat focused decks against Solitude decks, thanks to the abundance of creatures provided by Urza’s Saga.


When there are winners, there are often losers. In a situation when bannings occur, often the decks that lose the most are the ones that had cards banned from them, but also can be decks that have a strong matchup against a couple popular decks, which loses a lot of ground when one of those matchups goes away. In this case our two losers were both previously Lurrus decks. 

Death’s Shadow

Death’s Shadow decks across the board took a hit with the loss of Lurrus. Grixis Death’s Shadow had it all, it was low to the ground, efficient, and could grind if it needed to. Losing Lurrus took away a lot of the ability that Death’s Shadow had to stand up against bigger, more powerful decks. That being said, I think that the core of Death’s Shadow, Ragavan, Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Expressive Iteration, and Thoughtseize is powerful enough to be a contender going forward. However, Death’s Shadow needs to figure out which direction it needs to go, try to be faster with the addition of Street Wraith, or find a way to go bigger to be able to stand up to Jund and Four Color Yorion. This will be my project in the coming weeks, trying to find the next build of Death’s Shadow to follow in the footsteps of Lurrus.


Hammer Time also loses Lurrus, but that is much less impactful than it is for Death’s Shadow. Hammer Time has the built in ability to grind with Urza’s Saga and The Reality Chip, so they have some insulation from the ban. That being said, Hammer Time would prefer to have Lurrus, but Nettlecyst and Sword of Fire and Ice are solid additions to the Stoneforge Mystic package that can provide some additional raw power to the top of the curve. Much like Death’s Shadow, I believe the core of Hammer Time is good enough that the deck will remain competitive, but they also have some new questions they need to answer before they get back into the fray.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den getting banned is strange because I believe it is one of the most powerful cards to get banned in a long time, but also may have among the least impact when leaving the format. This is why I think that banning Lurrus may not fix things in the way that people hope. The next couple of weeks should be interesting, seeing how the metagame adjusts to the lack of Lurrus, and seeing how the Lurrus decks adapt to losing their cat friend. As always, you can find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne for questions and feedback. I’ll catch everyone back here next week when I’ll be talking about my deck for SCGCON Indianapolis!