Lurrus of the Dream-Den banned in Modern, Pauper bans Galvanic Relay and Disciple of the Vault

It's safe to run three-cost spells again.

Image via WotC

A surprise Banned and Restricted announcement today shook up three Magic: The Gathering formats, hitting some of their most problematic cards.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den was banned in Modern and Pioneer. Galvanic Relay and Disciple of the Vault were banned in Pauper, while Expedition Map was unbanned in Pauper.

The removal of Lurrus from Modern and Pioneer is a welcome change for Modern tournament grinders on Magic Online. With a 31-percent play rate in Magic Online in Modern, Lurrus is a powerful card with a format-warping impact.

Top-tier strategies like Hammer Time used Lurrus to boost its consistency with almost no deck-building trade-offs, something that the Companion keyword is supposed to have. Running only cards with mana value two or less isn’t a concern in eternal formats that are already skewed toward cheaper, efficient spells. It came to a point where decks looked at Lurrus as a no-brainer addition.

Lurrus was a key part of Grixis Shadow, a deck that dominated the most recent Magic Online Championship Showcase. Nathan Steuer and David Inglis piloted Grixis Shadow with a Lurrus companion to a first and second-place finish.

Pioneer had similar issues with Lurrus, but the ban came from a more predictive analysis on how Lurrus will continue to warp Pioneer as it grows.

“As Pioneer continues to grow over time, that incentive of non-rotating formats to pick and choose the most efficient cards from each release will become more pronounced and Lurrus will only serve to accelerate that process,” Wizards of the Coast said in the announcement.

Lurrus is now banned in Modern, Pioneer, Legacy, and Vintage. Commander and Historic are the only two major formats where it remains legal.

Pauper recently created the Pauper Format Panel to react quicker to problematic cards and shape the format after a tumultuous 2020 and 2021 with Affinity and Storm dominating the format. The first ban announcement from the PFP removed Atog, Bonder’s Ornament, Prophetic Prism from the format.

Storm decks have consistently been a problem in Pauper because of their many powerful rituals and a lack of answers that other formats have access to. Galvanic Relay was a key part of Black Red Storm, a deck with a 60-percent win rate on Magic Online events.

“The problem comes when the deck is quick, powerful, and difficult to interact with,” PFP member Gavin Verhey said in his explanation article. “This new Black-Red Storm deck is all of those and has been boasting a win rate accordingly.”

Disciple of the Vault was in consideration for the first Pauper ban announcement under the PFP’s guidance. Affinity remained strong after the removal of Atog with the help of cards from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Verhey said Affinity is a necessary deck for Pauper but wants it to focus on combat rather than dealing large amounts of burst damage.

Not every Banned and Restricted announcement is just about removing cards from a format. Expedition Map is now unbanned from Pauper. Originally, Expedition Map was banned to reduce the power of Tron in the format. Without Prophetic Prism and Bonder’s Ornament, Tron doesn’t have access to the mana fixing that allowed it to be a five-color pile. Expedition Map will help Tron find its key lands and ramp without giving it easy access to five colors.