[MTG] Planeswalker Profile: Liliana Vess

[MTG] Planeswalker Profile: Liliana Vess


Hello everyone, I’m Nizzahon, and today
I’m bringing you another episode of Planeswalker Profiles here in Card
Kingdom’s YouTube channel. In the first two episodes we looked at Nicol Bolas and
Gideon Jura, and today we’re looking at the last major character and
Planeswalker to appear mythic rare in War of the Spark,
and that’s Liliana Vess – who had been roped into working for Nicol Bolas as a
master of his eternal army. But she, of course, eventually turned against him and
played a huge role in defeating him. In this video we’re going to look at the
various incarnations of Liliana over the years, talk about what these cards do, and
the impact they’ve had on Magic’s competitive history. Liliana has
appeared on 10 Planeswalker cards; however two of those were in
Planeswalker decks and those Planeswalkers are intentionally powered
down so there really isn’t much discussion to be had about them. But
we’ll be looking at the other eight. Liliana has consistently been pretty
powerfu,l with almost every version of her that we’ve seen finding its way into
the top decks – sometimes even in multiple formats. For Liliana’s first appearance
we have to go back further than one has to go for just about any other
Planeswalker. This is because she debuted in the very
first cycle of Planeswalkers in 2007 in Lorwyn, where Planeswalkers were printed
in each of Magic’s colors: Chandra for red, Jace for blue, Garruk for green, Ajani for
white, and black for Liliana. All five of these are the Planeswalkers
that have been in the game in the longest. This was back in a time before
mythic rares exist, if you’re wondering why this first version of Liliana –
Liliana Vess – is only a rare. In her first appearance Liliana could add to her
loyalty and make an opponent discard a card, lose two loyalty to tutor a card to
the top of your library, and she had an ultimate that reanimated all creatures
in all graveyards. If left unchecked Liliana’s +1 and her ultimate synergized
quite well together, because you make your opponent lose their cards as her
loyalty ticks up, and then if they’re creatures you can get them all back with
that minus-8 ability. All three of these things are abilities that are
quintessentially black and all three would be things that future versions of
Liliana would sometimes do. Like all good Planeswalkers she can generate some
serious card advantage. The first version of Liliana proved to be powerful with
a dominant showing at Worlds in 2007 where she appeared in six of the top
eight decks there. Liliana would be reprinted in Magic 2010,
2011, and 2015, and she would find herself in Grand Prix and Pro Tour
Top 8’s in all of those standard formats. Decks that played her included fairy and
elf decks in Lorwyn Standard, blue black control decks around 2011, and
Abzan mid-range decks in Khans of Tarkir Standard. Liliana’s second
appearance in Innistrad four years after her first appearance in Lorwyn is
probably the most powerful and iconic of all Liliana Planeswalkers. Liliana only
took three mana to a cast, and she was well worth that amount of mana. Her plus-one makes both players discard a card, her minus-two makes your opponent lose a
creature, and her ultimate makes a huge dent in your opponent’s board, to say the
least. Generally, if you could get her down on
turn three and your opponent only had one creature in play, they were going to be
in trouble, because you could use her minus-two immediately to get rid of that creature –
thus there’s no pressure on her – and then start taking up her loyalty. Most decks
that have played her over the years could usually get more of an advantage
out of discarding cards than their opponents,
so the symmetrical effect of both players discarding wasn’t fully
symmetrical. Liliana of the Veil has found success in Standard, Modern, Legacy, and
Vintage, with Modern being her most frequent home. In Standard and Modern,
Liliana was the most popular in Jund decks. In Modern one of the scariest
things to face down was a turn four Blood -braid Elf who cascaded into Liliana. This
was one of the dream scenarios of the deck and it happened pretty often. This
interaction was a big part of why Blood -braid Elf eventually got banned in
Modern. Liliana is so strong she frequently shows up in eternal formats too –
in Legacy she sees play in decks like Shardless BUG, and in Vintage she shows
up in a variety of control decks. Liliana of the Veil is a multi-format all-star, and
so far the best Liliana ever, and one of the best Planeswalkers of any kind. On my
channel, I did an MTG top-10 on the best Planeswalkers based on their successes
at highest levels of competitive play and Liliana of the Veil clocks in at number
four – showing that she deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best
Planeswalkers we’ve ever seen. Liliana’s next appearance came in Magic 2013, where she appeared as Liliana of the Dark Realms, and she was also reprinted in
Magic 2014. This Liliana really loves swamps – her plus-one lets you search your
library for a swamp as she ticks up her loyalty,
meaning you never have to worry about missing a land drop again as long as you
have her in play. Her minus-3 lets you either pump or weaken creatures an
amount equal to the number of swamps you control, and her ultimate makes your swamps produce stupid amounts of mana. Liliana of the Dark Realms has no Pro Tour or Grand Prix Top 8’s to show for her efforts, however I think she really makes up for
that, because she is a staple in any mono black EDH deck. She is featured in almost
10,000 EDH decks on EDHREC, owing largely to the fact that her abilities
are the kind that play really well there. There aren’t very many cards that pay
you off more for playing mono-black, and as many swamps as possible. Games also
generally go longer in EDH and her ability to generate tons of mana and
kill things, and even find you lands all play a lot better there. So while she may
have been too slow for formats like Standard or Modern, she is a complete
powerhouse in EDH. Liliana next appeared in Magic Origins where she appeared in
the cycle of Flip Walkers. This cycle lets us see some of our favorite
Planeswalkers before their sparks ignited, and Liliana was apparently a
heretical healer on Dominaria. In other words, she broke rules to come up with a
cure for her sick brother, but her cure drove him insane and murdered people, and she turned those people into zombies to fight him, and that’s when her spark
ignited, and now she’s a necromancer. On her creature side, Liliana is a 3-mana 2/3
with lifelink – and that’s not great – but anytime another creature dies she
transforms into the Liliana, Defiant Necromancer side and immediately puts a
2/2 zombie onto the battlefield when she does. This was actually the first time
Liliana was given a zombie related ability – something that all subsequent
Liliana’s would do. This zombie is nice because it means your Planeswalker
Liliana comes down with some immediate protection – thanks to the zombie. Like
most versions of Liliana this one makes people discard cards, she can also
reanimate creatures from your graveyard, and she has an ultimate that gives you a
super powerful emblem that makes it so that anytime a creature dies you get it
at the end step and it doesn’t matter whose creature it is. This Liliana saw a
bit of success at the Pro Tour, appearing in a black green Aristocrats deck at Pro
Tour Magic Origins. This deck was built around a lot of sacrificing of creatures
so the deck had no problem finding a way to transform Liliana into her powerful
planeswalker form. in Liliana’s next appearance, she was once again a three-mana planeswalker: Liliana, the last Hope which was printed in Eldritch Moon. This
Liliana can kill small creatures and weaken large ones while ticking up her loyalty. She can also mill you some and return a creature card to your hand from
your graveyard, effectively being a draw a card effect, and she has an ultimate
that creates a never-ending zombie army. This Liliana was well positioned for a
Standard format where Delirium was one of the dominant decks. She could help you
quickly hit Delirium while drawing you cards and killing creatures, all for the
efficient cost of only three-mana. Like her three-mana predecessor, Liliana,
the Last Hope also sees a lot of play in Modern and Legacy. So far, Liliana has
been the biggest beneficiary of the change to the Planeswalker rule in 2017.
Originally you could not have more than one Planeswalker in play with the same
pPaneswalker Subtype – in other words you couldn’t have both Liliana of the Veil
and Liliana, the Last Hope in play at the same time. But this was changed in 2017
so that Planeswalkers were now all Legendary – so the rule now is just that
you can’t have two with the exact same name in play. But now two Lilianas, like
Liliana of the Veil and Liliana, the Last Hope can co-exist – and this was good news for Jund players in Modern, who can now play both of these powerful three-mana
powerhouses. She also sees play in other Modern decks that can really take
advantage of her mill ability, like Death’s Shadow. In Legacy she’s almost
exclusively played in blue/black Death Shadow decks, which like their Modern
variant, like loading up their graveyard to fuel their deck. Like Liliana of the
Vale, Liliana, the Last Hope appeared on my MTG top 10 on the best
Planeswalkers, clocking in at number 6 – a pretty impressive feat for a relatively
recent Planeswalker. Liliana next appeared in Amonkhet as
Liliana, Death’s Majesty. She came with a plus-one that makes a zombie token and
mills your library, a minus-3 that reanimates a creature as a zombie, and an
ultimate that demolishes anything that isn’t a zombie.
Obviously this all worked quite well with her because she makes zombies. This
Liliana can provide protection for herself with that zombie or the
reanimation ability, and completely reshape the game with that ultimate.
That’s a great combination of abilities. Liliana, Death’s Majesty saw some modest
play in Standard, appearing in Dimir midrange decks, where she could serve as
a powerful win condition. We next saw Liliana in Core Set 2019 as Liliana,
Untouched by Death. while the previous two Lilianas certainly liked zombies, this
Liliana loves them, as all three of her abilities involves zombies. Her plus-one
lets you mill yourself, and if you happen to mill a zombie, you get to drain two
life from your opponent. Her minus-two gives -X/-X
equal to the number of zombies you control and ur minus three lets you just
start casting zombies from your graveyard and obviously that goes pretty
nicely with her plus one since presumably your graveyard is going to be
pretty nicely stocked by the time you use it. Pretty much every Liliana we
talked about has been an excellent card in Draft and Sealed – this Liliana, not so
much. She was pushed really hard to have zombie synergy, but in his set without
enough zombies. So Liliana is one of those strange Planeswalkers that
actually isn’t very good in Limited, which is a rare thing – at least before War of the Spark it was. Her all-in zombies plan has also made it hard for
her to find a home in Constructed formats – she was too late in Standard to
be part of the zombie decks that were powerful when both Shadows Over
Innistrad and Amonkhet were in Standard and there hasn’t been a powerful zombie
deck in any other format since then. You can bet though, that should zombies ever
find a way into non-rotating formats she’ll probably go along for the ride.
While this all in nature has been a problem for formats that are played at
Grand Prix’s and Mythic Championships, it does make her particularly attractive to
anyone interested in playing a tribal zombie deck on kitchen tables or in EDH.
And all of that brings us to Liliana’s most recent appearance in War of the
Spark as Liliana, Dreadhorde Genera.l This version of Liliana is the leader
of the Eternals on Ravnica and working for Bolas (though as we mentioned earlier
she does turn on him). This Liliana costs a whopping six mana, but boy, she carries
her weight. Like all War of the Spark Planeswalkers, she comes with a static
ability – her’s draws you a card every time one of your creatures dies, which is
quite powerful. This is because it means that your creatures will always replace
themselves. Her plus-one of course makes you a zombie token which nicely combos
with her static ability to mean that at the very least you can chump block and
draw a card with her on most turns. Her minus-four makes both players sacrifice
two creatures, which is an exchange you’ll always come out ahead in, because again
you draw cards for each of your creatures who died, even those that you
sacrifice to her ability. Then she has an ultimate that ends the game for your
opponent by destroying most of their permanents. So far, and it’s very early on
and War of the Spark Standard, this Liliana hasn’t proven herself on the
biggest stage – Grand Prix’s and Mythic Championships –
but it is hard to imagin e that she won’t find herself into a Tier one control
deck at some point while she’s in Standard. In the meantime she’ll just
have to settle for being one of the absolute biggest bombs and
War of the Spark Limited, since most of the time she comes down she just ends the
game for your opponent, between adding zombies to the board, drawing you cards
and removing creatures. Well that does it for Liliana’s Planeswalker Profile.
Thanks to Gideon, we know we will be seeing her on other Planeswalker cards
in the future. If you enjoyed this video don’t forget to like it and share it so
that others to enjoy it too. If you want to make sure to catch future episodes of
Planeswalker Profile don’t forget to subscribe here to the Card Kingdom
YouTube channel. Thanks for watching!