Why is Lutri banned in Commander?

Why is Lutri Banned in Commander?

Jacob LacknerCommander

While Commander’s grassroots origins make it different from many other Magic formats, it still has a ban list like the rest of them. However, since Commander is not a format with tons of tournament data to back up banning certain cards, some players are unsure why certain offenders end up on the list. Today, we’re going to look at Lutri, the Spellchaser, examine why it’s banned in Commander and whether it would be safe to take it off the list.

Lutri, the Spellchaser with the original reminder text | Lutri, the Spellchaser with the updated Magic Online reminder text

Lutri is a three-mana 3/2 with Flash, and when it enters the battlefield you can copy an instant or sorcery you control, and choose new targets for the copy. While that is certainly a nice card, the real problem here is the Companion mechanic. Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths featured a cycle of rare two-color Legendary Creatures who started the game in your sideboard if you met a deck building requirement. If you want Lutri to be your Companion, your deck can’t include any nonland cards with different names. In other words, Lutri requires you to play a singleton deck. Originally, you could cast these creatures directly from your sideboard. However, the mechanic proved to be enough of a problem across multiple formats that they nerfed it just a few months after the release of Ikoria. Now you have to pay three generic mana to put your Companion into your hand before you can cast it. 

Why is Lutri Banned in Commander?

Lutri is famously the most rapidly banned card in Magic history. Mere minutes after it was previewed on April 2, 2020, the Commander Rules Committee announced that Lutri would be banned. It was never given even a tiny bit of time to see play in the format, but it isn’t hard to see why the Rules Committee acted so quickly. Unless someone’s playing Persistent Petitioners or Dragon’s Approach, every Blue-Red deck naturally meets Lutri’s requirement. This would give an unfair advantage to Blue-Red decks in Commander, since all of the other Companions had significantly more difficult requirements.

Make no mistake, starting the game with a Companion is a massive advantage. This was particularly true before the mechanic was nerfed. Having a Companion in those days effectively allowed you to start with one of the best cards in your deck in your opening hand. While Lutri was the first Companion to get the ax in a format, three others are banned or have been banned in at least one format. Zirda, the Dawnwaker is banned in Legacy. Yorion, Sky Nomad is banned in Modern. Lurrus of the Dream-Den was restricted in Vintage before the errata, and is currently banned in Pioneer, Modern, and Legacy. Keep in mind, there are only 10 companions. This means a full 40% of them are banned somewhere!

Companion was one of the biggest design mistakes over the last decade, as evidenced by the mountain of bans and eventual errata that were required to keep these cards under control.

Should Lutri be Unbanned in Commander?

No, it shouldn’t. The whole point of Companions is that you go out of your way to make your deck in a very specific way to unlock them. This isn’t the case at all in Commander, where virtually any Blue-Red deck can run Lutri as a Companion without paying any real cost. Even with the mechanic now significantly weakened from where it was when the Rules Committee issued the ban, Lutri is still too easy to use as a Companion.  

I suppose we could create a “Banned as Companion” rule, in which case Lutri would be perfectly fine, but that’s a specific and nuanced enough type of ban that I don’t think we want to head down that road. If the “Banned as Commander” rule ever returns, it would seem like less of a stretch to ban Lutri as a Companion. For the time being, it is better to simply keep Lutri out of the format.

End Step

What do you think? Should Lutri remain banned or be set free? Is “Banned as Companion” a good idea? You can hit me up on Twitter with your take, along with suggestions for cards you’d like to see me address in the future.