Wizards of the Coast has banned Agent of Treachery and Fires of Invention in Standard, suspended them in Historic, and errata’d the companion mechanic to add a new mana cost.


The companion mechanic was introduced in April with the release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths on exactly 10 cards, all rare creatures, and it immediately upended every single Constructed format. So much so that it even managed to get a card, Lutri, the Spellchaser, banned in Commander on the same day that card was revealed.

Since Ikoria’s release, Wizards has realized that “decks using companions have too high of win rates and metagame share in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern,” and their win rates in Eternal formats “have already necessitated bans in Legacy and Vintage.”

“This trend represents a long-term problem for the health and diversity of all formats,” they continued. “Rather than go down the path of making several individual adjustments to the banned list for each format, we feel the better solution is to reduce the advantage gained from using a companion across the board.”

Wizards’ goal is to “reduce the metagame share of companion decks while still capturing the spirit of the mechanic’s design and still having companions be worth building around in many cases.” To that end, they are changing how the it works with a functional errata:

“Once per game, any time you could cast a sorcery (during your main phase when the stack is empty), you can pay 3 generic mana to put your companion from your sideboard into your hand. This is a special action, not an activated ability.”

“We expect that this new version of the companion mechanic will result in a deck-building challenge and means of self-expression that some players can opt into, rather than being a huge part of the competitive metagame,” Wizards concluded.

Despite the changes to the mechanic, Lurrus of the Dream-Den will remain banned Legacy and Vintage, where it had been omnipresent—nearly half of the top decks included it as their companion before Wizards banned the card two weeks ago. The same goes for, Zirda, the Dawnwaker, which will remain banned in Legacy, and Lutri, the Spellchaser, which is still banned in Commander.

Companion appears to be the first mechanic in Magic’s history to be errata’d due solely to its power level, and the fact that it was changed a month and half after its introduction indicates just how disruptive it ended up being. Other mechanics have functionally changed as Magic’s rules have evolved—substance, for example, was a keyword ability that was created (and eventually retired without appearing on a single card) to fix mechanics from Mirage, which was released in 1997.

“It’s rare that we use a rules change to address metagame balance,” Wizards said, “and this isn’t something we have plans to do in the future. In this case, the issue wasn’t with one individual card but rather the companions as a group. We believe this solution is preferable to potentially needing to make multiple bans across different formats over time.”

Fires of Invention

Decks featuring Fires of Invention have been among the best decks in Standard since the card was released with Throne of Eldraine last Fall. It made up three of the Top 8 decks at Mythic Championship VII in December, made the finals of the World Championship and the finals of the DreamHack Arena Open in February, as well as making the finals of MagicFest Online’s Season 1 in April.

Despite its enduring popularity, Wizards believes that something has changed since the release of Ikoria in April. “Over the course of the last several weeks,” Wizards said, “Fires of Invention decks have risen to have a dominant win rate and metagame presence in Standard, achieving a 55% win rate and having even or favorable matchups against each of the other top ten archetypes. This indicates that metagame forces alone aren’t sufficient to keep the deck in check.”

Not only that, but Wizards found the card “to be a significant design and balance constraint” when designing new cards for new sets. Similar to other cards that provide free mana via cost reduction, Wizards believes that “Fires of Invention decks would continue to gain power as new high-mana-cost spells are added to the environment.”

As such, given the deck’s high win rate and metagame share, combined with the design constraints the card places on Magic’s design teams, Wizards is banning Fires of Invention in Standard. They also said that the same reasoning also applies to the card in Historic, where it is has been suspended.

Standard Jeskai Lukka

Companion (1)
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Creatures (3)
Agent of Treachery

Planeswalkers (12)
Narset, Parter of Veils
Teferi, Time Raveler
Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast

Spells (4)
Aether Gust
Shatter the Sky

Artifacts (1)
Glass Casket

Enchantments (24)
Omen of the Sea
The Birth of Meletis
Omen of the Sun
Fires of Invention
Elspeth Conquers Death
Shark Typhoon
Lands (36)
Castle Ardenvale
Castle Vantress
Fabled Passage
Hallowed Fountain
Raugrin Triome
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Temple of Epiphany

Sideboard (14)
Aether Gust
Dovin’s Veto
Glass Casket
Deafening Clarion
Mystical Dispute
The Wanderer
Dream Trawler

Agent of Treachery

After the release of Ikoria, one of the main uses of Fires of Invention in both Standard and Historic was to play Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast and use its minus ability to tutor up an Agent of Treachery. Similarly, Agent was a frequent inclusion in Historic Winota, Joiner of Forces decks, stealing opponents’ permanents as early as Turn 3.

In both cases, Agent of Treachery served as a payoff for two powerful enablers from Ikoria: Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast and Winota, Joiner of Forces. “[T]he design intent of [those enablers] was to provide creative ways to deploy powerful high-mana-cost creatures,” Wizards said.

However, Wizards believes that the core of the problem lies with the consistent, early stealing of permanents, rather than the ability to cheat in large creatures with paying their mana costs. They have “observed that using [the enablers] to play an early Agent of Treachery can be uniquely frustrating to play against and difficult to come back from” and they believe that “[t]he effect of stealing any lands or key cards, when at a high play rate, reduces diversity in the metagame.” It does so by reducing the chances of success for decks “built around unique permanents or big creatures…when opponents can steal their key cards without specific deck-building intent.”

Therefore, Wizards has decided to ban Agent of Treachery in Standard and suspend it in Historic, rather than addressing either of its mythic enablers—Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast and Winota, Joiner of Forces. While the accompanying suspension of Fires of Invention in Historic is likely to reduce the dominance of decks featuring Lukka, Winota decks had already moved beyond including many (if any) copies of Agent in their decks, instead preferring Angrath’s Marauders as their main payoff.

Historic Naya Winota

Companion (1)
Umori, the Collector

Creatures (36)
Winota, Joiner of Forces
Adanto Vanguard
Angrath’s Marauders
Bonecrusher Giant
Haktos the Unscarred
Legion Warboss
Llanowar Elves
Fauna Shaman
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Gruul Spellbreaker
Lands (24)
Clifftop Retreat
Rootbound Crag
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Ancient Ziggurat

Sideboard (14)
Knight of Autumn
Shifting Ceratops
Baffling End
Redcap Melee
Remorseful Cleric
Goblin Ruinblaster

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