There has been so much news in the realm of Magic: The Gathering information lately that we here at Bleeding Cool could not contain all of our content for October into the month. It's been one hectic month. I may have nearly worked myself to death! I even missed the chance to concoct a final "Oathtober" tech for the Oathbreaker format, a format created by the WeirdCards Charitable Club. I'd already done four of them (Tibalt, Arlinn, Ashiok, and Sorin – not necessarily in that order), so I thought a fifth would be easy to write for, but with the end-of-month news we have been given, it's been a toughie to get it done. So…
Today's somewhat-overdue Oathbreaker deck tech features a name-brand Planeswalker we have all come to know and either love or despise: the necromancer Liliana Vess. Specifically, we are going to look at her card from the Eldritch Moon expansion set: Liliana, the Last Hope.
Liliana is absolutely no stranger to demonic pacts – she has made four of them in her long, long lifespan as a pre-Mending Planeswalker, if you don't count her contract with the dragon Planeswalker Nicol Bolas. She made deals with the powerful demons Kothophed, Griselbrand, Razaketh, and Belzenlok before her soul was forfeit to Bolas. That's a lot of demonic tutors. With this in mind, Demonic Tutor is Liliana's Signature Spell for this deck. It provides us with endless utility and tons of options.
Our gameplan is not actually to bring out a ton of Demons, believe it or not. Rather, we want to flood the board with Zombies, both of the token and nontoken variety. To this end, we want to make sure Liliana's final ability goes off. This doesn't necessarily mean we need Liliana to survive getting her ability to go off, but it would be much nicer if she did survive it. To this end…
The Elderspell – This is your first Demonic Tutor target almsot always. This should insure that activating Liliana's final ability is feasible as soon as humanly possible. All it takes is two other Planeswalker cards on the field, and luckily for us, Oathbreaker is typically full of Planeswalkers ready to be slain by you.
Zombie "Lords" – The specific cards Cemetery Reaper, Lord of the Undead, Zombie Master, Lord of the Accursed, Death Baron, and Undead Warchief all serve to boost you Zombie army in power and toughness while still augmenting their value and abilities. These are cards you want to have sticking around on your side of the board.
Gravecrawler combo cards – Gravecrawler, Phyrexian Altar, and Vengeful Dead or Plague Belcher make for some very dead opponents. Alternatively, Liliana, Untouched by Death makes any Zombie a Gravecrawler stand-in for the purposes of this combo. All you need to do is sacrifice the Gravecrawler to the Altar and then recast it from your graveyard with the mana you just made by sacrificing it. The third piece will ensure your opponents lose life until they meet their sweet collective demise. How devious!
Ghoulcaller Gisa – Sometimes a combo isn't quite enough to win you the game. Occasionally you'll need to attack your opponents with your mindless rank and file Zombie minions and defeat them that way. To ensure you have more Zombie to do this with, Ghoulcaller Gisa makes at least two Zombie tokens out of a typical token. This will add up almost as quickly as Liliana's ultimate with enough Zombies already in play. Either way, it's a good way to produce a legion.
Unholy Grotto – Sometimes you may find yourself in need of reinforcements. Fortunately, your graveyard is the best and most fitting place to find Zombies often in these situations. For this deck with the exception of Gisa, Unholy Grotto acts as a Volrath's Stronghold in that it returns any one of your Zombie cards back to the top of your library. It even costs one generic mana less than Stronghold to do so! Amazing.
This deck was fun to strategize with and build. I haven't tested it but I did play against someone with the same Oathbreaker, Signature Spell, and strategy, and it worked well… Almost too well, to be frank. Try it and see for yourself! Let us know how it does.