Oath of Liliana in BW Control

I usually like taking on cards that are more utility based or on the edge of being playable. While the Oath cycle has had less impact than we first anticipated, Oath of Nissa has been a lasting highlight. I believe Oath of Liliana will join Oath of Nissa in the playable category.

There’s a lot to like here. 3 mana isn’t unreasonable for a sacrifice effect. It’s overcosted, but something that at least impacts the board immediately. The passive effect of making a Grizzly Bear every time you play a planeswalker? That can get feisty in a hurry and accentuates your planeswalkers. Suddenly Liliana, the Last Hope becomes a real nice follow-up if you eat a creature and get a 2/2 blocker along with her. Gideon? If a single 2/2 was nice, what about a pair of them?

Against a slow start, eating their 3-drop and snagging a Zombie alongside your Gideon the next turn is going to be practically game-ending if you can continue to snowball that turn. It also provides a turn-3 kill spell that doesn’t make the turn-4 Languish particularly embarrassing. You force Bant to commit more board resources and still get the passive for the 2/2 later in the game. You also get your double-up with every other planeswalker down the line, which can easily be the difference between living or dying on contested boards.

The obvious home is BW Control, so I made a rough sketch of how I’d like to try it.

BW Control

I may be too conservative with my build here. Taking advantage of the new Liliana with a full playset could be the way to go. Post-board, her -2 makes rebuying Eldrazi Displacer or Kalitas all the easier, and her plus is already good if GW Tokens and Mono-White Humans stay popular. Rebuying your creatures makes opposing removal less of a concern in game 1. Still, starting from Owen’s deck seems like the smartest approach. Of course that’s just the most obvious starting point—BGx Control is another that springs to mind.

Is the current Standard metagame great for this card? Not particularly, which is the one thing stopping me from going BWx Control greed. GW Tokens and Bant Humans both have plenty of fodder to sacrifice and negate the value proposition. But Eldritch Moon seems to have a lot of playables for other colors. If the metagame skews toward Eldrazi or a midrange deck trying to play fair and go over the top in the late game, then Oath of Liliana looks far more promising.

Considering how many early brews I’ve seen (Elder Deep-Fiend doing a nice Mistbind Clique impression), seeing normal creatures on curve looks more likely. BX decks also line up well against many of these starts with turn-2 removal, turn-3 Oath, and turn-4 planeswalker. Emerge isn’t a very strong mechanic if you can keep the board clear for multiple turns and the strategy Oath of Liliana excels in is board control. This can be extended to any of the emerge cards and another favorite—Eldritch Evolution. If these decks are good against the “fair” Bant and Humans decks, it could open up the metagame for BX Control to succeed outside of Owen and Manfield’s hands.

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