SpartanNerd…For the Love of Liliana! (help!)

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I have put together a home-brew black discard deck built around Liliana Vess…and I have been playing it…competitively I might add, at the Tangled Web* for the past three weeks.

It has done reasonably well…averaging a win half of the time and splitting that other half with losses and draws.  The problem is, I want to make it a star.  I’m just not sure how?  Here is my decklist.

Lands

  • 22 Swamps

Creatures

  • 4 Black Cat
  • 3 Master of the Feast
  • 1 Erebos, God of the Dead
  • 2 Gray Merchant
  • 1 Abhorrent Overlord

Spells

  • 4 Thoughtsieze
  • 4 Despise
  • 3 Hero’s Downfall
  • 2 Sign in Blood
  • 4 Dark Deal
  • 2 Murderous Cut

Enchantments

  • 1 Whip of Erebos
  • 4 Waste Not

Planeswalkers

3 Liliana Vess

Sideboard**

  • 2 Dark Betrayal
  • 1 Hero’s Downfall
  • 4 Bile Blight
  • 1 Pharika’s Cure
  • 1 Nighthowler
  • 4 Staff of the Death Magus
  • 1 Master of the Feast
  • 1 Liliana Vess

How I’ve been playing the deck…

In my opening hand, I am looking for two lands (of coarse), 1 removal spell…probably Hero’s Downfall, Black Cat, Waste Not, and either Despise or Thoughtsieze.  I generally mulligan if I don’t have some kind of disruption…for instance, Master of the Feast might be good in an opening hand against some Jeskai chump decks.  But our meta-game has shifted away from that it seems.  And the Master is generally removed before he can get two attack phases.

I ideally want to get Waste Not online, and really stick it to my opponent.  Lately there has been ZERO enchantment removal in the meta-game.  And Waste Not seems innocuous, until three Zombie Tokens are staring at you.  The deck plays great against most aggro decks, and Master of the Feast makes sure that they have a card in their hand for you to discard and get value from your Waste Not in the mid-game…(The ideal mid-game has an opponent top-decking.)

A couple of cool things that happened over the past few weeks…Liliana ultimate-ed in three matches last week!  This week I was able to produce 20 Zombie tokens on turn five!  (two copies of Waste Not, into a Dark Deal).  Someone Aetherspout-ed Master of the Feast, and said “will he go to the top or the bottom of your deck.”  I chose option C, which was Dark Betrayal, sending him to the graveyard! And the first week I played this deck, someone tried to cancel my Murderous Cut, only to have me cast another copy on top of the stack!

The problem is a new deck has emerged…a near mirror that uses Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver instead of Liliana.  This deck has two big advantages…Dig Through Time, and the planeswalker herself.  I have played against “Esper” variations that also used Elspeth, Sun’s Champion but this past week it was “Sultai” that was taking the stage, featuring Kiora, the Crashing Wave and  Pearl Lake Ancient.  These decks basically are designed to hold off any strategy with Cancel type spells, get a lot of card advantage out of Dig Through Time and scry lands, and hope to eventually drop that bomb…casting the cards exiled with Ashiok, just good old Aertherling style beatdown with the uncountable and hard to kill Pearl Lake Ancient, or ultimate-ing either Elspeth or Kiora, which is generally Good Game.

The past two weekends I have bumped into these decks, and either lost or came to a draw with them.  Lilliana isn’t good against burn decks, and generally I have to side in removal for the small creatures like Goblin Rabblemaster for game two.  I don’t mind losing to those decks…they do what they do, well. What bothers me is what I am playing is pitting black based long form Magic the Gathering against other players who want to go long, but the losing and tie-ing should be able to be overcome.  My “Early Game” and “Mid Game” are good…the “Long Game” is what is in question.

I have made minor adjustments to get the deck where it is now…I added a second Gray Merchant to play this week.  And that was a good choice.  Someone might wonder why not a full four copies, but it stops being a discard deck and wants to become a full on devotion deck.  I specifically switched Brain Maggot out with Black Cat because the Brain Maggot is just a bad Oblivion Ring.  It is really better in devotion decks.  The Black Cat is deterrent.  Unless the person has a hand that they don’t mind getting randomly wrecked and activating Waste Not triggers.

I have found that four copies of Dark Deal are just unnecessary.  This is the first thing I am changing…bumping that down to two copies.  I am also considering dumping Master of the Feast.  He is great for getting cards in the opponents hand.  But he is usually removed after (or during) the attack phase in late mid-game.  I heard a seasoned player, correctly say…”You don’t want control players to have extra cards in their hands.”  He’s right.  That is why the enemy deck is running Dig Through Time and Jace’s Ingenuity.

I am considering switching the Master of the Feast out for Sign in Blood, and using that only to target my opponents when they don’t have cards.  (I am guilty of hitting myself with Sign in Blood.)  This would mean main-decking that other copy of Liliana Vess…or would it?  Another whip or another Erebos?  Erebos is good for that corner card advantage, generally a non-threat to the opponent but I love it when he activates.  I have never ran more than two whips.  Actually, I don’t ever want two of either in my hand, ever.  And that’s why.  Also, this past week for the first time, I really wished I had a Bile Blight to tutor up with Liliana main-deck.  So that will be added.

Hub City Geeks, HELP!  Send me your advice on how I might improve this deck. I’m not sure if I’m playing this Friday night or not…I have a class on Saturday.  Next time I get to play standard, I want Liliana to be at the top!

*Be on the lookout for brand new SpartanNerd Business cards!  If you played me, then you got one!

**(That sideboard is really to protect against Burn and some of the beatdown trick decks that have emerged.  Sometimes I have to side in over ten cards, depending on my opponent.  I am siding in Staff of the Death Magus, which makes it harder for them to be effective.  Usually I am taking out one copy of Waste Not, and this past week a couple of Dark Deals.  Also I prefer not to Thoughtsieze against that fast burn or Red Deck Wins.  Also, I usually switch out Murderous Cut for Dark Betrayal if I am playing another black deck.)

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