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Liliana Oathbreaker, Take Two


Liliana is a gem, the kind you find in a lich's secret lair, glowing with twilight, swirling with an inner darkness, cursed and bitter cold, and too tantalizing to resist. Last week we delved into three Oathbreaker decklists of hers, three different facets of her character: a morbid preference for zombies, a desire for control, and an ambition to slay her own demons.

This week, we tiptoe deeper into her darkness with two decklists focused on discard, and for a finale, a list replete with seven Liliana cards, a coven of one. We couldn't leave well enough alone, no, not with the recent discard synergies previewed in Commander 2019 such as Bone Miser.

Bone Miser

First pictured in the Magic 2015 card Waste Not, this ragged lich thrives on what others toss aside. If you've never cast Mind Twist with Waste Not in play then you haven't felt the heady rush of violet power pulsing with illicit radiance. Liliana lives on it and so too does the Bone Miser. Another's trash is his triumph. In the list below, Liliana can consult her Demonic Tutor to find him or other discard payoffs.

Liliana of the Veil is the queen of enabling discard synergies, especially madness. A curve of her into the new Curse of Fool's Wisdom will take a foe's breath away. Followed quickly by their sanity. This deck plays few creatures to avoid losing anything to board wipes and to make best use of them itself. By never committing to anyone, Liliana will never be disappointed.

Once, she did care for another, her brother Josu. She plumbed forbidden magics within the shadows of Caligo forest, led astray by a mysterious Raven Man. He betrayed her, and the potion she brewed to heal her brother instead killed him.

Then he came back as an undead scourge, cursing her name. She had given up all decorum for him, broken all the rules to save his life. Now his corpse screamed for her death. Her anguish fractured away the girl's trust, blackened her innocence, and cauterized her heart with pain. That much hurt could've killed her, if she had let it. The agony could've bowed and broken her. Instead she saved herself, Planeswalked to Innistrad, and became a woman strong enough to never feel so helpless again.

Liliana of the Veil can endure more than others, more grief, more hurt, more maddening terror. In game mechanics, that's represented by discard. She has learned to harness such despair, and her +1 ability will harm her less than others at the table because she's the one with agency.

Never wishing to feel helpless again, she values power above all else. This decklist too favors the greatest printing of Liliana and the strongest tutor as her signature spell. Liliana makes no apology for her power, and you shouldn't either. Sweep the board, perhaps with the new Nightmare Unmaking, imprison everyone beneath an Ensnaring Bridge, leave them with no cards in hand and no hope, and then use the Planeswalker kill spells to strip away their last friend. It's no more than Liliana once endured.

Liliana will befriend anyone, after she kills them and reanimates their corpse. Specifically, she has a soft spot for specters. Their keening hisses are lullabies to her, and she falls asleep to them circling outside her stained glass windows. A midnight of specters fly through this next decklist, which enables discard synergies from a new angle.

Whereas the first list avoided creatures, this one embraces them. To Liliana, the touch of a specter feels like a caress of silky mist. If you ever cackled when casting turn one Hypnotic Specter off a Dark Ritual, this Oathbreaker deck is for you. Or, if you heard tell of this infamous play pattern and wish to relive one of Magic's darkest pleasures, do so.

Most of these creatures lack the individual power of cards in the Liliana of the Veil deck. But creatures are inherently useful in Oathbreaker to frighten off opposing Planeswalkers. Also, the discard in this deck is more targeted, and your Locket is less cutthroat. The table is less likely to ally against you like a band of foolish heroes, and you may win more games even with weaker cards. Keeping a single mana open for your signature spell of Defile will discourage aggression further, and you can use it to clear the night skies. Let nothing fly between your foes and your wings of despair.

From zombies to specters, we've fathomed all of Liliana's facets, save one. The Raven Man has saved her, or at least claimed to, and the Gatewatch has been most useful. But the one person Liliana can truly rely on is herself.

This deck brings all the power of Liliana together. Remember, having multiple Planeswalkers at the same time is not a flavor fail. It only means they are bringing more of their skillsets to bear. You can read more about that here.

Liliana faced down an Eldrazi titan, devoured her demon master with undead crocodiles, and challenged Nicol Bolas in the War of the Spark. She personifies power, and she's not afraid to stand alone. With this deck she can dominate and Snuff Out any creature that dares threaten her.

For the Oathbreaker, Liliana Vess can rise any other aspect of herself to the top of your deck. Even better, she can tutor for one of the first cards you may have thought of when considering the 'Walker-centric format.

The Chain Veil gave Liliana the power she needed to rip her contract from the claws of her first demon lords. Kothophed, Soul Hoarder, bid her give it to him, and she did, in a matter of speaking. The artifact wields the power of the Onakke, a race of ogres gone extinct from brutal magics. Now they haunt the Chain Veil, killing the weak-willed who don it and twisting others into demons, as happened to Ob Nixilis. They will deal two damage to you, unless Liliana is in play to master them.

As she slew her horned overlords, the Onakke will ever fight her for supremacy. Liliana doesn't wince away from the challenge. She understands it's better to grasp all the power she can, even if it means a life of strife. Better to grapple for supremacy than cower helpless. Better to command others than be commanded. Better to rely on yourself than be betrayed. Better to die never. Better an immortality of twilight brilliance and sepulchral grandeur.