Eldritch Moon is a set with many powerful cards—Spell Queller, Elder Deep-Fiend, Grim Flayer, Bruna, Gisela, Voldaren Pariah, and so on. Among those, one card in particular caught my team’s attention—Liliana, the Last Hope. We really liked how it performed with value creatures such as Jace, Nissa, and Goblin Dark-Dwellers. The ability to kill things like Selfless Spirit, Hangarback, and Nissa tokens essentially for free, along with a game-winning ultimate, was enough to send us on a quest to find the best Liliana deck we could.
We tried many different Liliana builds—Esper Dragons, Grixis, BW Angels, and Zombies. Ultimately, we settled on BG Delirium, which was highlighted by another 3 powerful Eldritch Moon additions: Emrakul, Grim Flayer, and Ishkanah. We thought this deck had enough control elements to use the +1 ability on Liliana very well, and enough creatures to use the -2.
Here is the deck we played (with a couple of changes depending on the person):
This is a BG Delirium deck, but it’s a bit different than others of its kind because it’s extremely midrange—it uses creature-based card advantage engines such as Nissa and Tireless Tracker to pull ahead while applying pressure, but it does not play the more standard Mindwrack Demon that you see in most of the aggressive lists. Instead of that, it has Languish, a card that you mostly see in the control versions of the deck that don’t run as many creatures.
At first glance, the deck might look too creature-based for Languish to work, but in practice we found that it allowed you to play two different game plans—we could have a fast start with Grim Flayer and Tracker, or we could play the control game with Ishkanah and Languish. If you have to Languish away some of your own creatures, that’s not a big deal because they’ve either already provided you with enough value, or they’re going to come back soon because of Liliana. While we might not be as good at either plan as a dedicated aggro or control delirium deck, we thought that the versatility to adopt either role based on the matchup or your hand was worth it.
To round everything out, we have Emrakul, the Promised End. We only have 1 copy, but also have 4 Traverse, 4 Liliana, and 1 Den Protector. Emrakul usually costs 8 in this deck, sometimes 7, but there are a lot of grindy games in this format and the deck plays a lot of mana sources, so it’s not hard to get to it, at which point you just win the game against most of the field.
After sideboarding, you can tailor your deck to aggression or control, depending on how you think the game is going to go. One nice thing about this deck is that you have both tutors and recursion, so the power of your sideboard cards is magnified—Conclave Naturalists occupies only one slot, for example, but you effectively have access to 5 of them, and when it dies, you can bring it back, which is similar to sideboarding multiple copies.
Dark Petition is important to get bullets that Traverse can’t (Ruinous Path, Virulent Plague, Infinite Obliteration), and it also combos very well with the 1 Seasons Past we have, giving us good late game against other control decks (as well as making sure you’re going to find Emrakul if you need her).
When building this deck, we expected Bant to be the most popular deck by far, but we also expected a fair number of GW, RW Humans, and a wide variety of less popular control decks, such as Esper, Grixis, BG, Mardu, Seasons Past, and so on. I think we have a close matchup against both Bant and GW, but we can more or less beat anyone else because we have access to so many answers and the ultimate trump of Emrakul. The one strategy that I feel really unfavored against is ramp, but that gets a little better game 2.
Overall, I think this is a good deck, but not fantastic—it operates sort of like Jund in that it has a close to 50/50 matchup against everything. Outside of ramp, there’s nothing I truly fear, and outside of decks with multiple x/1 creatures (such as Humans and some versions of Spirits) there’s nothing I really want to play against. Our hope is that it’s closer to the 55/45 end of the spectrum against most things, and also that people will not know the deck or how exactly it operates, which would give us some advantage in certain situations (most people, for example, will not expect Languish out of a deck that played turn-2 Grim Flayer, turn-3 Tracker, and could walk right into it).
By the time you read this, the PT will be over already, and I guess we’ll know exactly how good BG Delirium was for our team!