Friday 23 December 2022

Top 10 Cards to Have With Lurrus


Lurrus of the Dream Den is infamous to say the least. Not only hailing from one of the most infamous cycles of all time but also generally regarded as the most oppressive of the ten overall. Lurrus is the only card to have achieved a step above the likes of Black Lotus and Ancestral Recall in brokenness having received a ban in vintage! In addition to a rules errata and a ban in most other formats as well... Certainly Lurrus is a nutty card but how does he look in cube? 

Lurrus suffered least in the change from 0 mana extra cost to 3 mana for putting in hand. This is because Lurrus offers an effect you actually want rather than just being a free card as is the case for most of the others. When they cost 0 mana extra it was pretty much a case of how easy their pre condition is to fulfil and how detrimental that was to the power of your list as to how good a companion was in cube. This left Lutri as the clear champion. Indeed Lurrus, of those companions that actually saw cube play, was one of the least used as a companion as it was very hard to build a deck with only low cost permanent cards. You remove most of the pool for your various colours. Further to that Lurrus is a value card who's precondition pushes you towards tempo cards. These nuances and complications all resulted in it taking a lot longer to work out how to Lurrus optimally. As time has gone on I am seeing more and more Lurrus-as-a-companion builds. They are a nicely different archetype and are fun to build and play with. 

There are two big things you want to consider with such a deck. Obviously you can just throw Lurrus into most main decks that can cast him and he is usually good to fine. The threat of him alone is often enough to bait out removal. When however you are attempting to play him as a companion you need to draft and build with these considerations at the front of your mind. Firstly, you need mana sinks. Your curve is going to be far lower than usual and even if you get to cast stuff from the bin each turn, if it is all low value one and two drops you are going to be out of gas and wasting mana fast. You can build aggro decks and you can build mindrange and control too, I lean on the latter types as it is typically easier to fulfil your various needs in addition to it marrying up better with Lurrus being a value tool. Aggro decks will need less mana sinks than the midrange and control but not by as much as you might think. I do tend to find that regardless of where I start out or think I am going I do tend to wind up on the midrange side of things which isn't really surprising given the nature of things. I think it is the best fit for Lurrus in addition to the notable advantage of having the biggest pool. The biggest pool in an archetype with a much reduced pool is significant.  

Secondly you want to consider how you are going to win. It turns out that it is really hard to push through and close a game with just cheap permanent cards. All the game ending stuff typically sits rather higher on the curve. This means you can swarm and win that way but that is generally only an aggro game plan. Evasive dorks can be a thing although again, this helps the aggressive decks most. The last time I played this archetype I splashed for Celestial Colonnade and Creeping Tar Pit as they gave me decent game ending threats and mana sinks. 

Lurrus lets you play instant and sorcery cards that cost three or more. These rarely end the game but do allow you to make a more sensible looking curve and cram more punch into you list. I am a particular fan of Wretched Confluence as it can buy back Lurrus. Having just the two toughness while being such a dangerous card to leave around means you often just get the one use out of Captain Dream Den. If you are building your deck around him this feels like quite the let down. Things that protect and recur therefor have that extra bit of appeal to them. Lingering Souls is another fairly big spell that works well in the list in what is a surprise to no one. Mostly because it is very powerful, but also specifically because it offers a way of ending the game, is on colour, and develops the board in a proactive way. 

Lurrus is incredibly flexible in colours. You can build your decks any of the two colour pairing with the exception of Gruul, Izzet, and Simic. Equally you can build it Mardu, Abzan, or Esper, as well as mono white or black. My favourite is of course Orzhov but this is not to say that this is the best. You don't need to worry all that much about colour intensity. You don't want Lurrus as a splash but beyond that you don't need it to be heavily supported. You are typically playing Lurrus late in the day by which point you should be able to muster two black or white mana. Mostly I like Orzhov Lurrus as it looks neatest and it is a cool way to make a boring guild fun. 

For the sake of this list we will focus on exclusively cards that could be played in an Orzhov commander deck. We will also only look at permanent spells. It seems pointless to use up valuable space talking at length about the few expensive instant and sorcery spells that there are. There are so few of them and they are sufficiently obvious and powerful that they are mostly just getting played. There is no unusual stipulation on them either so much the same sort of things apply. It is the restricted types that jump about in value that much more and as such merit discussion. There is naturally one important honourable mention of a non-Orzhov card that is great with Lurrus. This is of course Seal of Fire which was doing great work in modern back when Lurrus was rampant there. It is cheap and direct and reusable. It is interactive and provides reach. It is simply one of the best and most roundidly useful cards to have with Lurrus. You can save it up for a turn cycle and take out 4 toughness dorks. It is just great. Relatively low power but absolutely spot on for function. 

Speaking of honourable mentions it would be remis of me to ignore Black Lotus. The card was obviously foolish in vintage where you could freely have access to +3 mana a turn from the get go. Even post companion mechanic nerf the Lotus Lurrus combo is pretty oppressive. A great card by itself, arguably the greatest, and a card that is free and always in your opening hand? Sounds like the best combo imaginable. In powered cube Lotus is obviously great and doesn't really need the win more of Lurrus to help it. Much as it is nutty in power it is also both win more and polar. Often it is hard to find a way to spend a billion mana when all your stuff costs two or less and Lotus becomes overkill, likely only recurred a couple of times and then only if it is the early game. While having one of the highest ceilings on offer it is not actually a combo that I find very fun or exciting. I prefer just having things to do with my Lurrus rather than expanding upon my capacity to do. 

My last honourable mention is more cute than anything else. I am yet to properly test the card by itself, let alone feel like I am in a position to judge it in concert with other specific cards. That is because it is from Warhammer 40K and I was very late to the party on those cards and unsure if I would be including them in my cube in the long run. The card in question here is Triarch Pretorian which is a kind of black unearth take on Muldrifter. The card is a very playable and nicely rounded one by itself that has a little jump in power when you can deploy it from the bin other than with the unearth. Lurrus does just that and so you have this fine little filler card that turns into a card advantage monster with Lurrus. A bit overkill but almost certainly worth it. If you fear your Lurrus is biting the bullet then getting a nice cheap two cards into hand for a mere two mana is going to help fill in for that ongoing Lurrus value.


A word of warning, often people pursue an aristocrats strategy with Lurrus as it seems like it would all line up nicely. Cheap stuff, the right colours, and a lovely bit of security and redundancy as part of the Lurrus package. And indeed, when it all lines up it is a savagely good list. The issue is that you are leaning so hard on a couple of cards. You are doubling down on narrow by not only wanting good aristocrat cards but also having a low curve. No Yawgmoth for you. No Woe Strider. No Midnight Reaper. You need to have every sac outlet on offer and every Blood Artist effect you can play as well to have enough given the two or less CMC restriction. Generally I think you are better off making a good generic Lurrus deck or a safe and consistent Blood Artist deck. You can of course just jam a bare naked Blood Artist into your Lurrus deck as it is a very powerful card and offers a nice bit of reach. Just don't go building around it too hard. If you must have a build around plan I do rather rate Urza's Saga. Lots of nice cheap filler artifacts kicking around to help pad out a list and Saga nicely solves the lack of fatty problem. Right, on with this top 10!


10. Student of Warfare and Kytheon, Hero of Akros

Some aggressive white one drops with decent threat and the capacity to have mana sunk into them. Normally I wouldn't consider Student outside of a very heavy white deck, nor Kytheon outside of a very aggressive deck. In Lurrus however I am happy enough running both of these cards is less than ideal conditions. Kytheon is your best sniff at getting a planeswalker in play. Both of these dorks are fine to get you going, they attack, block, crew stuff, hold things, provide options, all that good stuff. Then they pop back into play late in the day and represent a more serious threat. Ideal. I should likely now include recruitment officer in this little group. It is certainly going to hit all the creatures in your deck! Value isn't exactly what you are after on the back of your recursion targets but you do not want to lean too hard on Lurrus being your source of value as he is slow and vulnerable. You are likely better off activating an in play Officer than you are paying three to put Lurrus into your hand. Officer does do a great job of ticking a few boxes and for a one drop that is otherwise already playable that is good going. These are not that often cards you are super pleased to be playing, they are just the sorts of cards you will wind up playing in order to make up the numbers, they are the first you go to out of the cards that intuitively seem off-brand. Ordinarily I wouldn't want an aggressive one drop in my midrange deck but in my Lurrus deck you do what you have to and when you do, these are the ones you want to reach for first from whites pool. 

9. Mishra's / Urza's Baubles

While these were all the rage in modern Lurrus decks they are less important in cube. Or at least, the value of them is in them being nicely playable cards that pad out deck space rather than how good they are with Lurrus directly. Yes, it is lovely to be able to have a 0 mana thing to do with Lurrus. Drawing an extra card is amazing, but, it is from your Lurrus deck so these cards are pretty low power. Getting on with something direct and with purpose is going to serve you better. The Baubles let you get online with a Lurrus quicker than other cards and they are repeatable which is also lovely. Sometimes a surviving Lurrus can run out of steam in the mid and early game. It might have a couple of targets, play them both, and then sit around doing nothing much further. At least with a Bauble you get to put it back into the bin so that you can redeploy it next turn. 

8. Concealing Curtain

I have been generally impressed with Curtain in cube and Lurrus is certainly one of the places best suited to it. It is nice to be able to have effects you would normally find on instant and sorcery cards on permanents so that you can up your consistency and range on your Lurrus. Some hand disruption is always welcome in a black deck and Curtain would be my top choice for such things in a Lurrus setting although not the only consideration. Tourach, Dread Cantor as another very powerful option in this line. What both of them offer on top of hand disruption is also somewhat tricky to come by elsewhere and that is a meaty body! In a world of two mana spells a 4/3 that can grow or a 3/4 menace are just fat. They are going to be valuable assets on the board and can even help give you that extra bit of reach. Both also represent as pseudo 4 drops thus letting you have a somewhat more sensible curve. Pilfering Imp is a card that lacks the power of the other two but does at least put itself in the bin allowing you to soft lock. Imp isn't the cheapest of the options to do this with but it does at least have the upside of having some use in the earlier stages of the game to probably be the best in slot for that kind of discard Lurrus lock. 

7. Walking Ballista

Broadly I am including Hangarback Walker in this as well as both have their place and have a lot of overlap in what they offer. Mainly it is beefy mana sinks, both from hand at more than two mana or recurred from the bin. Ballista is generally the better card and offers lovely efficient direct damage pings to colours usually lacking such things. Walker however offers a lot more board presence for the mana and scales much better with a lot of what Orzhov midrange decks get upto, be that sacrificing stuff or buffing everything. While neither are what you would call big statted or mana efficient these are some of the bigger dorks you can expect to play in your Lurrus companion deck. When you need such things you are glad of having these versatile XX dudes at your disposal. These are also good extra support for Urza's Saga iterations of Lurrus builds, which are increasingly common it would seem. It is noteworthy, in this section especially, that while Luminarch Aspirant itself is not directly a synergy with Lurrus it has great synergies with a lot of the cards that also have Lurrus synergies, as well as helping with the issues of having no big dorks. 

6. Intrepid Adversary and Paladin Class

Anthems are very powerful in cube however most of the more playable ones tend to cost three or four mana. This rules them out for Lurrus. Only buffing white or black dorks is too narrow and so the two mana options fall out of favour. Adversary and Paladin Class however sneak under the radar representing Lurrus viability despite functionally being four mana Anthems. Both of these cards are nice mana sinks and offer a good amount of reach and power. They do require a creature count but I have found them to be fine even when I have fewer dorks and token generators than I would be comfortable with. They just add so much more to an archetype that struggles to push through and struggles to find meaty plays. One of these off the back of a Lingering Souls or Spectral Procession will carry a lot of games, especially if they are backed up by protection (Selfless Spirit / Duress) and removal.

5. Knight of the Ebon Legion  and Evolved Sleeper 

Black has a little less in the way of premium Lurrus one drop dorks but the two good ones it has are very good indeed. It is early days in testing Sleeper. It as seemed decent and indeed excellent in this archetype. It is a little bit recruitment officer in that it is a value tool, but it is also big growing fatty as well. Growing mana sinks are great and these are that. Knight is especially scary as it double grows, the slow permanent growth and the big mana powered one turn growth. Both make Knight a hard to stop threat and a surprisingly effective beater and master of combat in general. All in all these are good cards anyway, that shine in cube relative to other formats being one drops that scale so well into the late game. In Lurrus decks the capacity to act more recklessly with the lives of your scaling or value dorks adds nicely to their play pattern. These are so great I am somewhat taken a back that they are only 5th on the list. 

4. Cathar Commando Engineered Explosives 

Removal effects like these are especially good with Lurrus as they are reusable and can really shut something down. Portable Hole and On Thin Ice are both good card and ones that work with Lurrus. The thing is that they are not reusable with Lurrus as they stay in play and so there is relatively scant advantage to be had playing them over other higher CMC or simply more powerful instant and sorcery alternatives. Cather Commando and Engineered Explosives, much like Seal of Fire, put themselves in the bin on use and so are there and waiting to do so again at the behest of Lurrus. This is pretty tough and scary to face. Beyond these few facts these cards are very different. Cathar is relatively inefficient and limited removal but it is on a useful and proactive body. It might seem to have not been all that impressive to you but your opponent is sat looking at some terrible investment opportunities and lines in their hand that are as good as dead thanks to your simple line of fetching Lurrus, remaking Cathar, and answering the thing. Sometimes Cathar is just cheap padding, sometimes it is the out you needed, and other times it can dominate the game as it answers several things and keeps the opponent out of cards and threats. Explosives on the other hand offers no real proactive side to speak of but it can answer most permanent types and do so en masse. A perfect midrange tool to handle the aggressive and wide strategies. A nice mass removal synergy piece to pair up with Lurrus. Often used as spot removal but in a world where you can do that every turn at no card cost that is perfectly fine! The more towards the control end of the spectrum you are the better Explosives becomes. It helps you get to the late game and then really helps you win once there. 

3. Selfless Spirit (and also Spellskite / Dauntless Bodyguard / Selfless Savior / Benevolent Bodyguard)

These various dorks are the perfect pairing for your Lurrus decks and can often soft lock the opponent out by themselves, especially in combination with "of Runes" one drops. Having these kinds of cards really help ensure your Lurrus will live to fight another day. Lurrus is one of those cards that typically puts the game out of reach if it sits about too long, that is assuming the deck supports it which is what we are trying to do here! If your opponent has to wait until they have two removal spells to play and the mana to do them together then Lurrus is going to steal the game. This kind of technology even lets you safely milk the lifelink should one of their only lines be to burn you out! Corner case for sure but certainly more reason that these effects (Spellskite excluded) are so strong. Mostly these just work with Lurrus while adding a healthy injection of safety and consistency to your game plan. Given that it is a powerful plan that you have made some significant build sacrifices to the nation of protecting it seems pretty obviously worthwhile. 

2. Umezawa's Jitte

The just does all the things you want. It is a mana sink and it is reach. A Jitte will close out a game for you, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly but if it is equipped and charging it is pretty inevitable. In a Lurrus deck they have to answer the Lurrus first else you will just replay the Jitte or the dork equipped to it. They cannot just kill all your dorks or answer it which are typically the best two ways to answer Jitte. They have to eat it for a bit while they handle Lurrus then see what they can do about it. This could then all be too late. Not only is Jitte this nice game ending threat it is also removal and lifegain which will help stabilize the game and do some of that nice interaction. Another massive thing Jitte brings to Lurrus decks is the ability to have the biggest dork again. A nice effective +4/+4 a turn, and as you require, ensures your little two drop dorks are likely the biggest potential thing on the board. Having the fattest dork usually gives board control which in turn translates to tempo advantages and more efficient trades. 

1. Dauthi Voidwalker

No shock that a Modern Horizons card is stealing the top spot. First and foremost, this card is just a monster of a card. Great in any deck that can pack him. It is terrifying to play against. It has that real jeopardy to it that Fractured Identity is so hated for. Basically if Voidwalker somehow hits one of your big cards it is likely going to win the game. This means you just really want to kill it as soon as possible so that it does just kill you randomly. This guy can shut down simple looting, you can't ditch top end early when digging for lands as you will just be conceding the game. Nothing is safe, if you play it removal can hit it, if you keep it in hand then discard is scary. Even stuff in the library is subject to getting milled. This is all just Voidwalker in a normal cube setting. Very oppressive but fortunately a double black card with two toughness that needs to untap to represent that fear all contributing to helping to keep it safe. Put it in Lurrus and this already pretty broken card gets better and helps out with some of those weaknesses inherent to the archetype. Voidwalker is one of the few ways you get to play with big permanents. Getting to deploy a four or five mana walker thanks to Voidy is so fun and powerful. Lurrus and any protection stuff you might have for him both help Voidwalker live and threaten with its ability. Even when you are not stealing big cards off the opponent Voidwalker is an evasive and passively disruptive pain in the arse. It hits something for 3 each turn and very cheaply. It is reach all by itself. Graveyards and on death effects are pretty powerful in cube and a part of most decks. Having all those things passively hated on by Voidwalker adds further power and tedium to things. Obviously the ceiling here is beyond stupid and involves having both Lurrus and Voidwalker and a lot of powerful things with void counters on them and getting to play one a turn. Not a lot is standing up to that, to the point that it isn't a realistic life goal, opponents will see the writing on the wall and concede long before you can do that sort of horror to them. 


  1. So insightful, as always. I was recently having similar thoughts about Emry, which is less powerful but can go Infinite.

    1. You had me tempted for a moment to do a top best Emry cards! Fortunately I think they are clear enough and typiaclly just the sort of artifacts you are already playing in that kind of a deck. I do love those decks where the blue artifact legends, namely Emry, Sai and Urza, all get together and break the various Baubles and Spellbombs!