March of the Machine’s spoiler season is coming to an end. The set is scheduled to release soon, so it’s not surprising that its full contents have almost been revealed. A ton of MTG cards have been spoiled over the past few days, but one bizarre detail that did not go unnoticed by many in the MTG community is the amount of banned cards that are showing up as reprints on the Multiverse Legends bonus sheet. MTG Companion cards are back in full force, even though many of them are banned in multiple formats!
The Companion mechanic originated as a part of the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths MTG set. This is, undeniably, one of the most problematic mechanics ever created in MTG’s 30-year history. Lurrus of the Dream-Den, as showcased above, is the only tournament playable card ever to be banned from Vintage for power-level reasons, making it one of the most powerful cards ever printed. The card is currently banned in Legacy, Modern, and Pioneer. Before the errata was added to the Companion Mechanic, Lurrus was a free body that could be cast with Black Lotus since Lurrus could easily recast the card from your graveyard. Past this point, any access to blink effects could lead to another Black Lotus.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den was unbanned in Vintage following an errata made to the Companion mechanic. This errata, notably outlined on the full-art version of the Companion card, grants an additional tax to the Companion mechanic. The occurrence of an errata alone is a testament to how problematic the Companion mechanic is, as these are incredibly rare.
For reference, before the tax was added to the Companion mechanic, as long as you upheld the deckbuilding restriction that the Companion requested, you could add your Companion from the Companion zone (your sideboard) to your hand at no cost – essentially allowing you to begin the game with a guaranteed extra card in hand. You must now pay three mana to move your Companion into your hand, making the mechanic more balanced.
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More Banned Companions
Lurrus of the Dream-Den is not the only Companion card to see a banning, but it is perhaps the most infamous one. That said, Lutri, the Spellchaser may hold the controversial title for many Commander players. As is made apparent with this second conclusion, all ten of the original Ikoria Companions will be returning with regular and Foil Etched treatments on the March of the Machine Multiverse Legends bonus sheet.
Lutri, the Spellchaser was one of, if not, the only card banned in Commander before the card’s release. This is because Lutri, the Spellchaser’s Companion restriction does not apply to the Commander format. Lutri’s deckbuilding restriction demands that all nonland cards in your deck have different names – something that Commander’s singleton nature already demands.
As a result, any Commander with an Izzet color identity that isn’t running Dragon’s Approach-related strategies essentially had access to an extra card in their opening hands for no additional costs (remember that the three mana errata was not in place when this card was banned). The payoff that Lutri provides is pretty strong as well, allowing you an extra body at instant speed that can copy any instant or sorcery that you cast.
The story only continues for some of the less offensive MTG Companion cards included in March of the Machine. Zirda, the Dawnwaker, is banned in Legacy because of an interaction with Grim Monolith that appeared to be problematic. Yorion, Sky Nomad got the boot out of Modern due to creating a strategy that constantly went to time in tournament play (the deck was also very powerful).
This doesn’t mean that every Companion card is banned in various MTG formats. Some, in fact, still see heavy play. Jegantha, the Wellspring is a very popular Companion in the Modern, Commander and Pioneer formats. Kaheera, the Orphanguard is a popular addition to many control decks. Yorion, Sky Nomad is still legal in the Pioneer format and Keruga, the Microsage and Obosh, the Preypiercer see some Modern and Pioneer play. Some companions like Gyruda, Doom of Depths see fringe play, while less popular companions like Umori, the Collector see none at all. Regardless, these are a shocking collection of cards to return in March of the Machine.
Legal for Limited Play!
Any Standard players worried about the return of Companion cards can rest easy. Cards that appear on the Multiverse Legends Bonus Sheet do not have their legalities affected outside of Limited play. These Companions are also quite a fun build-around in Limited play, but some may be very difficult to implement. Kaheera, in particular, may be a very difficult card to use as a Companion in the March of the Machine Limited format.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is another shocking reprint that was revealed to appear on the Multiverse Legends sheet early on in the March of the Machine spoiler season. Banned in Legacy, Ragavan is one of the most powerful one-drop creatures to ever appear in Magic. The card is so powerful that allowing it to connect even once in the early turns of a game of Modern can end the game on the spot. The mana advantage, as well as the card advantage, is simply too much to overcome.
One hit may not be the end of the world, but if Ragavan is allowed to snowball its advantage, it will, more often than not, be the end of the game. This has warped the format to demand multiple turn one answers to an early monkey. To the relief of many MTG players, Ragavan’s reprinting will keep it out of Pioneer and Standard formats while, hopefully, trimming the card’s absurd secondary market price a bit.
For those interested in acquiring these banned MTG Companion cards for themselves, the full-art Multiverse Legends variants will be available everywhere. The Etched Foil ones are only available in Set and Collector Boosters.