Liliana in Eldritch Moon
Now we get a chance to talk about the second planeswalker in Eldrith Moon: Liliana, the Last Hope!
At first I didn’t think too much of this new version of Liliana. Sure, she is 3 mana, which is usually pretty decent. I initially felt that her +1 didn’t do much to protect her, her -2 didn’t have that amazing of an effect, and her ultimate didn’t win the game on the spot like many others. Then I started to think about her more. The +1 lasts until the beginning of your next turn, which means another way to look at it is “+1: Gain 2 life.”. On a 3 mana planeswalker that isn’t too bad, especially in . On top of that it works as removal against some things, and having that on a builder is absurdly good. Lastly, it makes your opponent have to think about blocking a lot harder. Suppose you attack with a Sylvan Advocate on turn 3, having yet to have played a land, and your opponent has to decide to block with his Advocate or not. If he blocks and you drop Lili, you just killed his creature at zero cost. If he doesn’t block, he takes two and his Advocate doesn’t get to attack at all on his turn, even if he has removal for your vigilant blocker. It can quickly make combat a nightmare for your opponent, which seems pretty ideal.
Her -2 helps set up Delirium to an extent and allows you to win grindy matchups. While the true strength comes from getting back value creatures, the fact that you can even get back some of the more powerful creatures in Standard is insane. Sylvan Advocate is a prime example here, but others include Tireless Tracker, Den Protector, and the new Grim Flayer. All of these are great to play early, and they get more powerful later in the game. Other standouts include Hangarback Walker, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Goblin Dark-Dwellers.
Her -7 wins the game pretty hard, it just takes a few turns to do so. The turn you get your emblem you likely make 4 power in two bodies. Next time it’s 8 power in four. Then it’s 16 power in eight. It’s like an Assemble the Legions that ramps up way faster.
I think I touched on most of the reasons she’ll be good in Standard above. She seems solid as repeatable removal against the white weenie decks and is a nightmare for the midrange decks due to recursion. The only spot where she doesn’t seem to excel is against control, where building towards her ultimate likely doesn’t do much and your best option is to just -2 her immediately. The big question is what kind of deck wants to play her, and can it compete with the power combination that has been top dog in Standard for the past 3 months?
The more I thought about this card, the more I actually decided I like it in modern. She is very different than Liliana of the Veil, as she is good in very different matchups. I think that Jund is not a deck that really wants her, but any combination of x would be great. The reason: Snapcaster Mage. You can gain a ton of value from your graveyard with her -2, and it’s quite possible you can protect her pretty well with the cheap interaction found in modern. Her +1 is also a bit more likely to be useful as removal against certain decks, where it can do very bad things to Infect, Affinity, Abzan Company, or any other deck that has a lot of x/1 creatures. Even against Jund you can kill Dark Confidant or make Tarmogoyf a bit more manageable…..