"Comp-letely Nuts," or the apparent consensus surrounding Ikoria's flagship mechanic. Two weeks back, we looked at the interesting new decks popping up using companion, because why wouldn't they? Today, we'll explore the rest of May's entrants in a final goodbye to companion in Modern as we know it.
Mo' Mana, Mo' Problems
You of anyone should know that, Modern! Regardless, the next two decks found new, companion-centric ways to produce and enjoy heaps of mana.
"If you print it, they will built it," or however that old adage goes from Field of Dream-Den. Nowhere does it ring truer than in Jund Field, a deck built around the too-good-for-Pioneer Field of the Dead, albeit in an unconventional way: no Primeval Titan shenanigans here. Instead, the cheaper, one-time Hour of Promise gets the nod, with caution thrown to the wind re: Confidant flips, a move enabling everyone's favorite companion.
As for Confidant itself, the creature serves to immediately pressure (via card advantage) the counterspell-packing interactive decks, namely UGx, that would otherwise have a field day against someone looking to resolves five-mana sorceries. So does Wrenn and Six, another two-drop that plusses every turn upon resolution and guarantees the land drops needed to hit Hour on-curve.
In the meantime, the more surgical Fatal Push and Inquisition of Kozilek, as well as the more general Assassin's Trophy and Thoughtseize, are all included in high numbers to give the deck a fighting chance against whatever faster thing opponents happen to be doing.
Zirda Abundance employs a simple philosophy: run 4 of everything and get to the combo as quickly as possible. The combo? Zirda, the Dawnwaker and Umbral Mantle, a no-frills package that turns any number of un-sick mana creatures into lumbering death machines. Lending that artificer's touch is Stoneforge Mystic, which not only tutors half the combo (the other half, of course, awaits patiently in the sideboard if it can't just be found by Collected Company) but provides an alternate gameplan with Batterskull.
In a deck full of mana dorks, why not run Leyline of Abundance? Provided it starts in the opener, the enchantment turns every dork into two, yet another interaction that was deemed a little crazy for Pioneer and only recently caught on in Modern.
The sideboard is also full of four-ofs; Path to Exile disrupts other creature decks, Ranger of Eos adds grinding potential and a more reasonable combat plan, and Veil of Summer stops anyone from messing with the Plan A.
Just Swingin' Thru
Don't be fooled by all that big-mana bombasticism---Moden's still plenty friendly to attackers. After all, Mono-Red Prowess sits stubbornly on top of the metagame. But of course, not even the top dawg is immune to the spirit innovation.
Prowess is accommodating Lurrus at any price; usually, that means splashing black, as seen in BR and Jund versions. Grixis Prowess continues the trend, with black for Lurrus (and, it supposes, Unearth/Fatal Push) and now blue for Sprite Dragon. No other blue stuff here. But if we're comfortable stretching into green for just Tarmogoyf, why not stretch into another color for a different beater?
Sprite offers a few perks over Goyf---the haste; the evasion. And it doesn't use the graveyard. Not that people are bringing in grave hate just to combat Lurrus, but the companion's presence has certainly exacerbated the amount of incidental hate floating around, not to mention that Lurrus itself boasts palpable synergy with Nihil Spellbomb. It's at least nice that Sprite is a threat that can't be incidentally shrunken mid-combat by a mainboard Spellbomb.
Splashing black into Prowess isn’t the only way to run Lurrus. The card’s hybrid mana symbols also allow white to be chosen as the splash of choice, a move that comes with Seeker of the Way for a lifelinking edge in the aggro mirror and Path to Exile for Modern’s notoriously chunky creatures.
Here to diversify the aggro section is UB Slitherwisp, a deck built around the mostly shrugged-at creature from Ikoria. So long as players deploy a flash spell each turn, Slither does a fine Dark Confidant impression. While it's practically as fragile and a full mana more expensive than Bob, Slither also dangles the possibility of more cards in front of pilots, and this deck is built to draw 2-3 off the Nightmare per turn cycle. Of course, more draws means more flash cards, which keeps the wheels turning. Most impressively, UB Slitherwisp doesn't feature any companions!
(Full disclosure: this deck is not as good as Prowess.)
Companions are strong. What if they also had cascade? Well, one of them does, and it's starting to make a name for itself in Modern.
The standard Gyruda Combo attempts to cast the Demon Kraken from the sideboard or otherwise by reaching six mana on turn four through even-mana'd means including Sakura-Tribe Elder and Sylvan Caryatid. Then, the deck starts cascading, with Restoration Angel and Phyrexian Metamorph copying Gyruda for additional triggers. It eventually hits a fatty such as Ashen Rider, which breaks the chain once the deck has hopefully generated a huge board.
Madcap Gyruda follows a similar principle, but dips into Madcap Experiment to attack opponents from yet another angle. Khalni Heart Expedition is also employed here to help with ramping, while Dragonlord Kolaghan aids in ending games on the combo turn.
Big Green Gyruda takes the Primeval package featured in the previous two decks and makes it a central focus of the strategy, maxing on Castle Garenbrig and supplementing Titan with other big green dudes like Terrastrodon. Wurmcoil Engine becomes especially attractive given Castle, which builds cleanly into six mana. The artifact is great at stabilizing an aggressive board before going for the combo.
Take It All In
Love 'em or hate 'em, companions are probably not going to stick around in this capacity for much longer. Wizards' announcement in a couple days should put an end to their reign of terror in Modern. As always, we'll have the scoop on that once the news drops. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, cast as many Dream-Den-dwellers as you can this weekend!