The Timeless format has been out on MTG Arena for almost a month now, and the metagame has been evolving continuously ever since. Towards the beginning of the format, it appeared as though combo decks might have a dominant edge. It also quickly became apparent that black was one of the best colors available to utilize. With the existence of Dark Ritual, it was difficult to ignore the possibility of playing Necropotence as early as turn one.
This past weekend, a cool tournament filled with highly skilled content creators was dominated by black decks, too. Players like previous World Champion Nathan Steuer and Grand Prix aficionado Arne Huschenbeth battled for glory in a 16-player tournament. Out of 16 players, 6 finished the Swiss rounds with records of 3-2 or better, with all 6 players making use of powerful black cards in some capacity.
Interestingly, though, only one of these six decks made use of Necropotence. In fact, the lone undefeated player at the conclusion of the Swiss rounds as well as the players that met in the finals after the top cut were not playing the powerful Enchantment. While this may seem a bit strange, there’s a very logical reason for doing so. Cutting cards like Necropotence allows you to maximize Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a Companion.
If anything, this tournament showcased just how powerful the three-mana Companion is, even in a format with plenty of strong card options to play with. Today, we are going to zoom in on two of these strategies that each had breakout performances within the tournament and go over what makes them so strong in a field with lots of elite options.
Rakdos Breach Dominates Swiss Rounds
During the tournament, two players made use of Underworld Breach as a value engine and combo piece within a Rakdos Lurrus shell. At the conclusion of the Swiss rounds, the players had a combined record of 9-1, with the one loss coming in the mirror match between the two players themselves. In a field with a variety of strategies ranging from Primeval Titan shells to Sneak Attack builds and beyond, this dominant performance is certainly not one to ignore.
At its core, the Rakdos Breach decks are combo oriented. The goal is to use cards like Stitcher’s Supplier alongside Fetchlands and cheap pieces of interaction to help fill your graveyard. In conjunction with Stitcher’s Supplier, you can use Diabolic Intent to find Breach and further fuel your graveyard. From there, Underworld Breach becomes a reliable way to cast lots of spells in a turn. To ensure that you have the requisite mana to continue casting spells, Dark Ritual plays a vital role in keeping your engine churning.
With access to Ritual, Supplier, and Diabolic Intent, it’s relatively trivial to build up your Storm count. After casting enough spells, you can find your one copy of Tendrils of Agony and win the game that way.
While this may sound like a heavy setup cost, what makes this archetype so strong is its ability to generate value over the course of the game. The combination of Lurrus and Mishra’s Bauble keeps the card advantage flowing. Additionally, Lurrus can help re-cast Breach later in the game against decks with counter magic. Lurrus is simply an unbelievable weapon to have at your disposal, and this cannot be overstated.
Dimir Control’s Breakout Performance
Despite Rakdos Breach’s excellent showing in the Swiss rounds, the finals of the event featured none other than a Dimir control mirror match. Dimir control in its current form plays very few win conditions. In fact, the winning decklist from the event, as shown above, plays a playset of Orcish Bowmasters as the only Creature and win condition in the maindeck.
With a solid group of card draw and card selection, counter magic, and removal, this deck plans to play a very long game. Counterspell and Drown in the Loch help make sure no problematic cards from the opponent, such as Necropotence, ever hit the table.Brainstorm and Sauron’s Ransom allow you to sculpt your hand over the course of the game and continue to hit your Land drops. Small Creatures that could get under your counter magic, such as Deathrite Shaman, are easily answered by Fatal Push. Dig Through Time helps pull you even further ahead and is rather easily enabled by Fetchlands and cheap interaction.
With the playset of Orcish Bowmasters added in, your opponent will have a tough time making use of their sources of card advantage without letting your Bowmasters run rampant. In order to effectively close the game, this deck even plays a single copy of Commit//Memory. Commit can help answer any non-Land permanent that slips through the crack, albeit in an efficient manner.
However, at some point, you can cast Memory from your graveyard, forcing each player to draw seven fresh cards, which can be deadly if you have Orcish Bowmasters in play. Add in Lurrus to rebuy your Bowmasters repeatedly and you’ve got a gameplan.
How Lurrus Excels in Dimir Control
As strong as Lurrus is in the Rakdos Breach decks, it’s arguably even stronger in Dimir control. Obviously, being able to buy back Bowmasters out of Dimir is strong, but so is getting to replay Breach and Bauble out of Rakdos. Instead, what makes Lurrus such a devastating card in the Dimir Control decks is the ability to protect it in an effective manner.
Between Counterspell, Drown in the Loch, Archmage’s Charm, and Thoughtseize and Spell Pierce out of the sideboard, it can be quite difficult for the opponent to ever get Lurrus off the table. As the game goes long, Lurrus effectively provides a huge level of inevitability as a threat that is immune to opposing copies of Thoughtseize for as long as it stays in your sideboard.
It’s important to be patient with this archetype to help maximize your chances of untapping with Lurrus, as the payoff is certainly there. This is where the edge lies in Dimir control’s favor when playing against Rakdos Breach. Being able to counter Lurrus and Breach from the opponent while your opponent can’t counter your copy of Lurrus is a huge boon. That being said, the matchup is far from a slam dunk, as both Rakdos Breach players managed to beat Dimir control during the Swiss rounds. Both decks are strong and attack on different angles.
Read More: Best MTG Arena Timeless Decks
How to Fight Against These Decks
While both of these Lurrus archetypes are very powerful, they are not unbeatable. The best course of action to take against these decks is almost certainly to interact with the opponent’s graveyard in some way. For non-Lurrus decks, cards like Ashiok, Dream Render can keep Breach, Lurrus, or Dig Through Time in check, all while shutting off tutors when necessary.
Even this, though, is relatively weak to counter magic or discard spells unless you can cast it early with Dark Ritual. If Lurrus strategies continue to grow in popularity, consider running Leyline of the Void. Rakdos Breach decks effectively can’t remove it, and if it’s in your opening hand, it gets around counter magic quite nicely.
For Lurrus decks, running extra copies of low-cost Artifacts like Soul-Guide Lantern or Tormod’s Crypt is a reasonable idea, considering you can replay them thanks to Lurrus. Lurrus truly is one of the best cards ever printed, and this tournament did a great job reminding the world of that.