Today, we’ll take a look at Liliana, Death Wielder and the black & green deck that she has to support her, including 4 cards exclusive to this deck. This Liliana and the other four cards are Standard-legal for as long as Amonkhet is in the format, so it’s worth taking a look at them all to see if they are actually playable.
Her +2 allows you to put a -1/-1 counter on up to one target creature. This doesn’t seem all that exciting until you read her second ability. Her -3 is to destroy a target creature with a -1/-1 counter on it. With the many -1/-1 counter interactions that can be seen in the Amonkhet set, these are very relevant abilities. Her “ultimate” ability costs a whopping 10 loyalty, but it allows you to return all creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Honestly, for a Planeswalker deck exclusive, this gal is pretty good. She gets better, though, when you consider another one of the exclusive cards in this deck, Liliana’s Influence.
Not only do you get to seek out your library or graveyard for a copy of Liliana, Death’s Wielder, but also the ability to put a -1/-1 counter on each creature you don’t control. This works very well with Liliana’s first two abilities, allowing you to easily do away with a 2 toughness creature once she comes into play with her +2 ability, or destroy a bigger creature with her -3 ability.
The other exclusive card is Foul Orchard, which is a land that comes into play tapped and allows you to tap for either black or green mana. It’s hardly exciting, but with 4 copies in the deck, you get some instant mana fixing.
As a whole, the deck has some really other interesting cards. Here’s the list:
1 Liliana, Death Wielder
1 Festering Mummy
2 Dune Beetle
4 Tattered Mummy
1 Channeler Initiate
2 Baleful Ammit
3 Desiccated Naga
1 Crocodile of the Crossing
2 Giant Spider
2 Decimator Beetle
2 Liliana's Influence
2 Splendid Agony
1 Edifice of Authority
1 Luxa River Shrine
1 Oracle's Vault
2 Trial of Ambition
2 Cartouche of Ambition
2 Cartouche of Strength
1 Gift of Paradise
4 Foul Orchard
1 Grasping Dunes
Before I get into the creature line-up, I really need to touch on Grasping Dunes. It’s a colorless land that not only can tap for a colorless mana, but also has an additional ability. For just one mana and a tap, you can put a -1/-1 counter on a target creature. You can only play this ability at sorcery speed, but that’s some pretty effective removal early in the game.
Festering Mummy is a cool little one-drop creature that allows you to put a -1/-1 counter on a creature when he dies. It’s a may ability, which is neat. There is only one copy of this guy in the deck, which is a shame.
Dune Beetle is a 1 / 4 vanilla creature for 1B. You’re not going to see this guy played in Standard, really, but is decent value for 2 mana in an introductory-type deck.
Channeler Initiate is one of the two other rares in the deck. He’s a 3 / 4 for only two mana, which is great. But when he enters the battlefield, you must be 3 -1/-1 counters on a target creature you control. Usually this is going to be himself, but that’s okay. He has an ability to tap and remove a -1/-1 counter from himself to add one mana of any color to your mana pool. He’s a pretty neat creature, actually.
Baleful Ammit is yet another creature with above average stats, a 4 / 3 with Lifelink for only 3 mana. But you have to put a -1/-1 counter on a creature you control when he comes into play. Of course you can just put it on himself. Still, this is a decent creature, especially when you pair it with something like Channeler Initiate.
Gravedigger is an older Magic card that’s been reprinted in Amonkhet. He has a simple ability, return a target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. There are plenty of creatures you’d like to get back in this deck, so it makes sense to include two copies of the Gravedigger.
Crocodile of the Crossing is a lot like Baleful Ammit in that he’s an above average creature that comes along with a -1/-1 counter you have to stick on someone you control. But the difference here is that he comes with haste. A 5 / 4 with Haste for 4 mana is nothing to sneeze at!
Giant Spider is yet another old Magic card reprinted for Amonkhet. This one is one of the first Magic cards ever printed! Being a 2/4 with Reach for 4 mana isn’t great by today’s Magic standards. But in this deck, to be able to block flyers is enough reason for this classic Spider to hang out in this list.
The last creature in the deck is two copies of Decimator Beetle. Like many of the creatures in this deck, you have to stick a -1/-1 counter somewhere when he enters. However, when he attacks, he can actually move a -1/-1 counter from a creature you control onto a creature that the defending player controls. This stag beetle is actually pretty cool!
There are only two instants in the deck, two copies of Splendid Agony. For 3 mana, this card allows you to distribute two -1/-1 counters among one or two target creatures. This is a pretty flexible card, particularly good in this deck. The only two sorceries in the deck are the two copies of the aforementioned Liliana’s Influence.
The artifacts in the deck are all pretty interesting, featuring the “brick counter” mechanic new to Amonkhet. These cards all feature a first ability that costs a mana to do some minor thing and puts a brick counter on the card.
The first is Edifice of Authority. It costs 3 colorless mana to cast. The first ability stops a creature from being able to attack that turn, which is helpful. But once you get 3 brick counters on the Edifice, you get to stop that creature from attacking, blocking, or activating its activated abilities. It’s a rather defensive card, but cleverly designed and useful in this deck.
The second brick counter card is Luxa River Shrine. Paying 1 mana to gain 1 life seems underwhelming, but it’s worth doing to get to 3 brick counters. Once you do, you get to tap for a free 2 life every turn, which is great for tempo.
The last of the three artifacts in the deck is also the other rare in the deck, Oracle’s Vault. Gaming Successfully has reviewed the Vault before, and found it to be an extremely useful card. Its first ability is decent, if not exciting, allowing you to exile the top card of your deck and play it that turn if able. But once you get to 3 counters, you get to use the second ability to play that exiled card for free! That could even be Liliana herself!
The Enchantments in the deck are very solid, too. It features two Trials and four Cartouches. One of the cooler interactions in Amonkhet, the Trials are enchantments that do something and stay in play until you play a Cartouche, when you can then return them to your hand. In this deck, we have two copies of Trial of Ambition. This 2-mana Enchantment forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature. It then just sits in play until you get to play a Cartouche.
The Cartouches are Aura Enchantments which are pretty cool. There are two copies of each Cartouche of Ambition and Cartouche of Strength. The Cartouche of Ambition gives you a chance to put a -1/-1 counter on a target creature, as well as giving one of your own creatures +1/+1 and lifelink. The Cartouche of Strength allows the enchanted creature to fight an opponent’s creature and gives it +1/+1 and trample. Being able to reuse the Trial of Ambition multiple times in a game is a powerful play.
The last non-creature spell in the deck is Gift of Paradise. It costs 2G to cast and enchants a land. When it enters play, you gain 3 life, plus that land can now produce 2 mana of any one color you choose.
Thoughts on the Deck
Overall, for an introductory deck, the Liliana, Death Wielder Planeswalker Deck has lots of great synergies in it. It plays well with the -1/-1 counter theme of the set, while giving you ways to accelerate your mana production to get to your Liliana. Also, the creatures are overall aggressive, and there are ways to gain life back in the deck. So while your big pieces in the deck are higher-costed, the deck has ways to keep you in the game while you prepare Liliana, Death Wielder to hit the board.
While I don’t ever seeing this deck actually profiting you in regards to what the cards in it are worth, this is a nice start to a black/green deck that’s certainly playable at your kitchen table. Compared to the Gideon, Martial Paragon deck, this deck is the one I would choose between the two Amonkhet Planeswalker decks.