Legacy Jeskai Lurrus Deck Guide

Jonathan Anghelescu

Jonathan Anghelescu

Introduction

Ikoria’s new “Companion” mechanic has arrived to Magic Online with a bang! Dominating the premier play landscape on release weekend, providing a free threat as an 8th card of your opening hand at worst, and a game-ending combo-engine which can’t get discarded at best, has pushed the Companions to the top of the metagame in almost all major formats.

Companions in Legacy

《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》

Delver of SecretsLurrus of the Dream-DenMishra's Bauble

After Ikoria’s release on Magic Online, due to extremely high demand and low supply it took one or two days for everyone to get their hands on their new Companion of choice. Legacy experts Daniel Goetschel and Edgar Magalhaes found a powerful Grixis Delver shell for 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》 and went on 15-0 and 20-0 League runs, respectively, while Daniel also Top 4ed Thursday’s Legacy Super Qualifier.

《Zirda, the Dawnwaker》

Grim MonolithZirda, the DawnwakerBasalt Monolith

Meanwhile, other Companions reinvigorated old archetypes and spawned new decks alike. John Ryan Hamilton aka xJCloud found a perfect home for 《Zirda, the Dawnwaker》 in Bomberman, pairing the fox up with 《Grim Monolith》 and 《Basalt Monolith》 to create infinite mana.

《Yorion, Sky Nomad》

Omen of the SeaYorion, Sky NomadIce-Fang Coatl

《Yorion, Sky Nomad》‘s Companion requirement of an 80-card maindeck made deckbuilding more interesting, but, thanks to redundancy of removal, counter-magic and threats, fit very well into Miracle Control and 4C Snowko lists. GP Bologna winner Marc Vogt‘s 80-card Miracles list, using full playsets of 《Omen of the Sea》 and 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 to increase Yorion’s ETB-trigger-impact, Top 8-ed Saturday’s Legacy Challenge in the hands of MTGO player lynnchalice, who posted a perfect 7-0 swiss record.

《Gyruda, Doom of Depths》

Altered EgoGyruda, Doom of DepthsDragonlord Kolaghan

Saturday’s Challenge also saw 《Gyruda, Doom of Depths》 spawn an entirely new 1-card Reanimator combo archetype, capable of winning on turn 1 in Belcher-style, with the added ability of uncounterability with 《Cavern of Souls》.

We couldn’t monitor Gyruda’s impact on the format further than that, since it got temporarily banned on Magic Online due to a bugged interaction with 《Leyline of the Void》 and 《Rest in Peace》 effects (they are not supposed to affect Gyruda’s ability to reanimate, unlike 《Grafdigger’s Cage》). Therefore, it is not clear yet how much of its power the deck loses once it is a known entity.

The combo itself is disrupted rather easily, if you get the chance for it. While 《Cavern of Souls》 can protect Gyruda itself from counter-magic a reasonable amount of games, you can still use your counterspells on their acceleration, especially 《Lion’s Eye Diamond》, which provides both the most amount and the most crucial kind of (colored) mana. Furthermore, removal on Gyruda, such as 《Swords to Plowshares》 or even 《Karakas》, with its enter-the-battlefield-trigger on the stack will force them to hit another 1 of 3 Gyruda’s in the Top 4 cards or fizzle otherwise.

My Own Testing

GriselbrandKarakasEmrakul, the Aeons Torn

As for my own testing, it quickly became clear to me that I wasn’t feeling confident on Sneak & Show or other Show and Tell strategies anymore. Grixis Delver has historically been one of the most difficult matchups for any 《Show and Tell》 deck, and it was shaping up to be the most played and hyped deck of the new format. The fact that not even only Grixis Delver, but most other new decks, were playing 1-2 《Karakas》 in the main-deck to protect their own Companions from removal and make opposing ones stick less often, lowered my confidence even further and I didn’t even spend time to come up with a new Sneak & Show list.

UB Stiflenought

Phyrexian DreadnoughtStifle

I followed the developments of the new format on social media and finally bought my own copy of Lurrus on Saturday, shortly before the new Saturday Legacy Challenge started. Not keen on slogging through a bunch of Grixis Delver mirrors, I quickly brewed up an UB Stiflenought list with Lurrus, finishing at a mediocre 4-3 in the Top 32. The list was solid in the mirror, but 《Phyrexian Dreadnought》 itself had to be boarded out against 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 decks and I was sorely missing red for 《Lightning Bolt》, 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》 and 《Pyroblast》 effects.

Jeskai Lurrus

Swords to PlowsharesMeddling Mage

Between rounds of this Legacy Challenge, I started constructing a Jeskai Lurrus list, porting most of the configuration from Daniel’s and Edgar’s Grixis version. While I hadn’t tested Grixis much, I did not like the look of 《Thoughtseize》 in a world of non-discardable Companions and 《Veil of Summer》. 《Swords to Plowshares》 seemed like the perfect removal spell at the time, not only for the mirror, but also to combat 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, hinder Gyruda Combo and deal with 《Auriok Salvagers》 from Bomberman. The main reason to try Jeskai was 《Meddling Mage》, which even seemed main-deckable to me, with Companions revealed at the start of each game and additional information provided by 《Mishra’s Bauble》. Max Gilmore aka maxtortion and MTGO player Ark4n came to similar conclusions during Saturday, but we worked on the deck independently from each other.

I played two Leagues on Saturday to 4-1 finishes each, used my results to tweak a few slots and was quite happy with the final list. On Sunday I managed to win the 8-round Legacy Challenge with it, and continued the winning streak by 5-0ing and winning Monday’s Legacy Preliminary, too!

Let’s have a look at the configuration and see what makes Jeskai Lurrus a great choice in this early new metagame.

Current Decklist of my Jeskai Lurrus

Configuration

Companion: 《Lurrus of the Dream-Den》

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

The power-level of this card is something I have rarely seen in 8 years of Legacy gameplay. It completely changes the way you approach the game as a Delver-player. You don’t have to strike a correct balance of threats, disruption and mana in your opening hand anymore, since you will always have Lurrus as a threat and value-engine at your disposal. While Lurrus can act as a classic beater, he is most devastating at enabling you to play a value-game via recurring 《Mishra’s Bauble》s and even creatures later on.

Jeskai Delver used to have the conflict of padding opponent’s life totals via 《Swords to Plowshares》, while also trying to kill them fast with aggressive 《Delver of Secrets》 draws. Thanks to Lurrus, this is no longer a problem. I have mostly found the opponent’s life total to be irrelevant, since my game-plan almost always revolved around sticking Lurrus and gaining control from there. Very rarely would I struggle to close out the game from there.

Creatures

4 《Delver of Secrets》

Delver of Secrets

4

It is very possible that Delver is not even necessary in a Lurrus shell. However, alternatives such as Stoneforge Mystic lose Batterskull and therefore a lot of their potency, due to Lurrus’ Companion requirement. Early Delver starts are still very powerful, and can put your mirror or Snowko opponents into awkward spots, where they have to decide whether to use their removal on Delver and fear to drown in Lurrus later on. Still, I have found my previous play patterns from outdated Delver decks to have changed. Where before you would almost always lead with 《Delver of Secrets》 on turn 1 to put on pressure instead of casting cantrips or waiting, you now often have to plan the next turns ahead with the goal of taking over with Lurrus. How this changes your decision to deploy 《Delver of Secrets》 is very matchup-dependent, but for me, it is not the same as before, especially in Jeskai colors, which are even less aggression-oriented.

4 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》

Dreadhorde Arcanist

4

A beautiful fit alongside Lurrus, since they don’t hinder each other’s graveyard targets. Against fair decks, your opponent will have to get rid of Arcanist immediately, but will now have to dread an incoming Lurrus, sometimes on the following turn. Combo decks mostly won’t have ways to remove 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》, and he can help you amass enough disruption against them, although not as effectively as in Grixis, due to lack of 《Thoughtseize》s.

3 《Meddling Mage》

Meddling Mage

3

As mentioned above, I definitely see 《Meddling Mage》 as a main-deck card in our new world of Companions and 《Mishra’s Bauble》. The idea originally came to me when I lost round 7 of the Saturday Legacy Challenge against Gyruda. While Gyruda got temporarily banned shortly afterwards, 《Meddling Mage》 still became one of the most impactful cards over my following tournament success. He can be awkward in the Delver mirror, but even there you will have scenarios where your Lurrus has been cast or removed and you can put 《Meddling Mage》 on an opposing Lurrus, which is still in their Companion zone, often forcing them to spend removal on your 《Meddling Mage》. I am a little unsure if 3 or 4 《Meddling Mage》 is the correct number, but I have been happy with the impact of 3.

1 《Lavinia, Azorius Renegade》 (+1 in the Sideboard)

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

1

This might as well be the 4th 《Meddling Mage》, but I have been very impressed with Lavinia as a meta-call. She is most impactful against the 《Lion’s Eye Diamond》 – powered Companion decks Bomberman and Gyruda, but is also surprisingly useful in the Delver mirror. If she resolves, you don’t have to worry about opposing 《Daze》s or 《Force of Will》s anymore, which makes it much more convenient to execute your game-plan of take-over via Lurrus. Even an opposing 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》‘s ability is turned off by Lavinia! She also occasionally prevents a Miracle-triggered 《Terminus》 from your Yorion Control opponent.

Lurrus-Support

4 《Mishra’s Bauble》

Mishra's Bauble

4

Any time I have had a 《Mishra’s Bauble》 in my opening hand I have felt much more favored than without one. While the deck is very capable of playing a slower Lurrus game, the runaway ones with turn 3 Lurrus most often involve 《Mishra’s Bauble》. As mentioned before, Bauble also provides additional utility for 《Meddling Mage》 naming. It also helps improve your chances of flipping 《Delver of Secrets》 (explained concisely by maxtortion on Twitter). Still, the most common use I have found was to pop it immediately, to have the additional card on my opponent’s turn. Rarely will you be in such a comfortable position to not fear any plays your opponent could make, so an additional counter or removal spell will often make a difference.

You will most often target your opponent with Bauble, although you should target yourself if you have a fetch-land on board and want to dig for something specific or try to avoid certain draws. However, be careful of targeting yourself on turn 1 of game 1 against an unknown opponent and fetching on their upkeep to shuffle away the seen card, since you don’t play any basic lands and might get hit by annoying 《Wasteland》s. Undisrupted mana development is very important and a common way to lose the mirror, although most Delver lists have cut down to 3 《Wasteland》.

Removal-Suite

4 《Lightning Bolt》

Lightning Bolt

4

Opponent’s life totals, 《Karn, the Great Creator》, Lurrus, Delver, Arcanist – Bolt gets them all. In the new Delver mirrors, whoever draws the most 《Lightning Bolt》s often wins, since untargetable or unkillable threats such as 《True-Name Nemesis》, 《Hooting Mandrills》 or 《Gurmag Angler》 are not playable alongside Lurrus.

2 《Swords to Plowshares》 (+2 in the Sideboard)

Swords to Plowshares

2

As mentioned before, STP is no longer awkward in Delver, but actually completes the removal-suite very nicely. It not only gives you more outs to creatures in the mirror, but also disables any 《Reanimate》 / 《Unearth》 plays your opponent might make to get their 《Lightning Bolt》ed Lurrus back. Furthermore, Swords provide additional disruption against Gyruda and Bomberman (most importantly 《Auriok Salvagers》).

Counter-Magic

4 《Force of Will》, 2 《Force of Negation》

Force of Will

4

Force of Negation

2

These are your safety valves and help mitigating the risk of tapping out on turn 3 for Lurrus + Bauble takeovers. The Companion-reveal makes it easier to evaluate Force-heavy opening hands, although you should be aware that an opposing Lurrus in the Companion zone might not only mean you are playing the Delver mirror, but also, although less likely, a Storm variant or Steel Stompy. The card disadvantage from using Forces is less relevant than before, since Lurrus’ ability and the Companion mechanic itself provide card advantage.

4 《Daze》

Daze

4

Setting yourself back a turn to use an early 《Daze》 is more painful in the new Lurrus Delver deck, but your curve is still low enough that 《Daze》 is a good fit. It is also great at stopping an opposing Lurrus, and easy to set up since you can anticipate it more easily due to them always “having it”. It is one of my favorite cards in the mirror, even on the draw.

Cantrips

4 《Brainstorm》, 4 《Ponder》, 1 《Preordain》

Brainstorm

4

Ponder

4

Preordain

1

These are the classic Legacy cantrips and either need their own article or not much explaining at all. With the playset of 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》s it would be nice to increase the number of 《Preordain》s, but you simply don’t have space with 《Mishra’s Bauble》, which supports your more important plan of Lurrus takeover.

Manabase

Tundra

3

Volcanic Island

3

Plateau

1


Flooded Strand

4

Scalding Tarn

4

Karakas

1


Wasteland

3

The manabase is a direct port of the “stock” Grixis Lurrus manabase. Similarly to 《Daze》 setting you back a turn, you rarely want to 《Wasteland》 your opponent early on, unless you are on the play or can gain significant tempo with it otherwise.

《Karakas》 is in a great spot at the moment and can both protect your own Lurrus as well as disrupting opposing Companions, maybe most importantly Gyruda. In Jeskai it provides even more utility than in Grixis, since it can not only cast Lurrus, but also your other white cards. It might be correct to make room for a second copy somewhere in the 75, but I would leave it at 1 for now.

《Plateau》 might seem awkward in a Delver deck, but it never was and is crucial in post-board games where you have 4 《Lightning Bolt》 and 4 《Swords to Plowshares》 in your deck. Also, this is more a Lurrus deck than a Delver deck, and you want the option of having 《Tundra》《Volcanic Island》《Plateau》 as your three mana to cast Lurrus; you almost won’t be able to get mana-disrupted from that spot.

Sideboard

2 《Engineered Explosives》

Engineered Explosives

2

A very versatile removal spell and sometimes board-sweep that can be returned with Lurrus. With Jeskai you don’t have the same option as Grixis to even cast it with blue, red, black and 《Karakas》 to hit permanents such as 《Karn, the Great Creator》 or 《Thought-Knot Seer》, but I have not found that to be relevant yet. Note that you can’t cast it for more than 2 with Lurrus’ ability.

2 《Seal of Cleansing》

Seal of Cleansing

2

This could be 《Serenity》 for higher impact instead, but Seal has been doing its job very well for me. Crucial part of your disruption suite against Bomberman and any 《Chalice of the Void》 strategy.

2 《Tormod’s Crypt》

Tormod's Crypt

2

Losing 《Nihil Spellbomb》 out of Grixis Delver has hurt quite a bit, since Spellbomb was a great part of the value plan against Snowko strategies. Still, 《Tormod’s Crypt》 gets the job done very well if you need graveyard disruption. As with all the other permanents in the deck and maybe not necessary to say, but you can return it with Lurrus for additional activations.

2 《Winter Orb》

Winter Orb

2

Your most important sideboard card against control / Snowko strategies. You rarely want to just jam it as early as possible, but rather wait for a situation where your opponent has tapped multiple lands on their turn. It will often be devastating there and can help you run away with games.

2 《Red Elemental Blast》, 1 《Pyroblast》

Red Elemental Blast

2

Pyroblast

1

My Challenge-winning list still had 3 《Pyroblast》, a remnant of an earlier iteration which still played 《Sprite Dragon》. It is possible that you even want the full 3 《Red Elemental Blast》 for the added opportunity of naming 《Pyroblast》 with 《Meddling Mage》, but I am unsure if it outweighs the nuanced benefits of a 2-1 split.

Sideboard Guide

I am still figuring out the optimal sideboarding strategy, so please take these guidelines with a grain of salt.

Grixis / Jeskai Delver

Against Grixis / Jeskai Delver

Out

Meddling Mage Meddling Mage Meddling Mage
Force of Negation Force of Negation Force of Will

In

Red Elemental Blast Red Elemental Blast Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Pyroblast

I would not fault anyone for making space for 《Engineered Explosives》 and 《Tormod’s Crypt》, too, and I have brought them in at times. However, this is my favorite boarding plan in the mirror at the moment and I have yet to lose a mirror match.

Temur Delver

Against Temur Delver

Out

Meddling Mage Meddling Mage Meddling Mage Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Force of Negation Force of Negation Force of Will

In

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Red Elemental Blast Red Elemental Blast
Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives Pyroblast

Bomberman

Against Bomberman (On the Play)

Out

Dreadhorde Arcanist Dreadhorde Arcanist Preordain
Mishra's Bauble Mishra's Bauble

In

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Seal of Cleansing Seal of Cleansing

Against Bomberman (On the Draw)

Out

Daze Daze Daze Daze
Preordain

In

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Seal of Cleansing Seal of Cleansing

Gyruda Combo

Against Gyruda Combo

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Dreadhorde Arcanist Dreadhorde Arcanist

In

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Red Elemental Blast Red Elemental Blast
Pyroblast Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

《Tormod’s Crypt》 and 《Seal of Cleansing》 are considerations, as well. Due to the temporary ban, I have not actually played against Gyruda with Jeskai yet.

Miracles (In Progress)

Against Miracles (In Progress)

Out

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Daze Daze Wasteland Wasteland

In

Tormod's Crypt Tormod's Crypt Red Elemental Blast Red Elemental Blast
Winter Orb Winter Orb Pyroblast Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

Snowko (In Progress)

Against Snowko (In Progress)

Out

Daze Daze Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Wasteland Wasteland Wasteland

In

Tormod's Crypt Tormod's Crypt Red Elemental Blast Red Elemental Blast
Winter Orb Winter Orb Pyroblast

Against both Miracles and Snowko (which overlap quite a bit) my boarding changes very dynamically and I haven’t figured out the optimal plan yet. The numbers of 《Swords to Plowshares》, 《Lightning Bolt》, 《Daze》, 《Wasteland》 and 《Tormod’s Crypt》 are heavily customizable and very dependent on play/draw. I am also unsure about 《Force of Will》 / 《Negation》, since they can get blown out by 《Veil of Summer》. They are, however, an important part of the Lurrus takeover plan.

TES

Against TES

Out

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Dreadhorde Arcanist Dreadhorde Arcanist
Mishra's Bauble Mishra's Bauble

In

Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives Seal of Cleansing Seal of Cleansing
Red Elemental Blast Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

You want the full playset of 《Lightning Bolt》s to have a clean answer for their Lurrus. 《Seal of Cleansing》 is excellent here, since it hits 《Defense Grid》, 《Wishclaw Talisman》, and sometimes even finds a window against 《Lion’s Eye Diamond》 or other artifact mana.

Steel Stompy / Eldrazi Stompy

Against Steel Stompy / Eldrazi Stompy (On the Play)

Out

Force of Negation Force of Negation Lavinia, Azorius Renegade Preordain
Force of Will Force of Will

In

Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares
Seal of Cleansing Seal of Cleansing

Against Steel Stompy / Eldrazi Stompy (On the Draw)

Out

Daze Daze Daze Daze
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade Preordain

In

Engineered Explosives Engineered Explosives Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares
Seal of Cleansing Seal of Cleansing

BR Reanimator

Against BR Reanimator

Out

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt
Plateau

In

Tormod's Crypt Tormod's Crypt Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade

Looking Forward

The new Companions have certainly had an immediate and heavy impact on Legacy, and the gameplay is very different from before. I am enjoying it a lot, obviously also thanks to personal success, but mostly because of new, fresh play patterns that can still be optimized. Still, I wouldn’t mind or be surprised to see one or more Companion bans. I was fond of every Legacy format I ever played, before and after bans, so whether I get to enjoy Jeskai Lurrus a little longer or get to go back to my beloved Sneak & Show, I will embrace whatever the future holds.

Jonathan Anghelescu (Twitter)

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Jonathan Anghelescu

Jonathan Anghelescu Jonathan Anghelescu is known as JPA93 on Magic Online as well as Show and Tell deck master. A lot of Legacy players pay attention to him. He is a finalist of Grand Prix Santa Clara 2018 and has top 4ed 2015 Magic Online Championship. Read more articles by Jonathan Anghelescu