Shaun McLaren, two-time Pro Tour finalist, has some important words regarding Magic: planeswalkers are good. But that’s not all! He’s putting together some great synergies with Eldritch Moon’s new heroes that will make your opponents delirious!

I’m Shaun McLaren. Eldritch Moon looks great. I’m going to talk about some of the new Magic cards and what I think might be a strong new archetype in Standard.

Yup, that about covers the small talk. With that out of the way, let’s get right to it.

It’s difficult to evaluate three-mana planeswalkers, but it’s rare that they fall short of great, and I don’t think Liliana, the Last Hope is going to alter that trend since it seems very good to me.

+1: Up to one target creature gets -2/-1 until your next turn.

It’s easy to compare Liliana, the Last Hope to a flipped Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy; instead of being focused on rebuying instants and sorceries, Liliana, the Last Hope is more interested in bringing back creatures.

Liliana costs an extra mana compared to Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and doesn’t loot, but she has the advantage in that she starts as a planeswalker, which makes her immune to creature removal, and she doesn’t have summoning sickness.

Her +1 to give -2/-1 to a creature is great for protecting your life total and her loyalty, similar to Jace.

But as we all know, creatures have a specific weakness: if this drops the creature’s toughness below one, the creature is dead. Getting to pick off creatures with one toughness outright, thanks to her “ping,” makes Liliana extra appealing.

It can also push your Languish that little bit extra to kill a five-toughness creature, making your opponent think thrice before blocking your Sylvan Advocate with their Sylvan Advocate if you’re threatening to cast Lilana, the Last Hope post-combat. It just makes combat more favorable in general.

A protective plus ability that’s also occasionally straight-up removal on a three-mana planeswalker is nothing short of fantastic.

-2: Put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard, then you may return a creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

I thought Liliana, the Last Hope and Emrakul, the Promised End were supposed to be fighting, but to me, it looks like they’ll be playing nicely together.

“Let me tell you ’bout my beeeest friend!”

Liliana, the Last Hope helps enable delirium and casting Emrakul, the Promised End, not only because she is one of the rarer card types when she’s in the graveyard but also because she helps fill up your graveyard with her -2 ability. It’s also looking like there will be plenty of incentive to enable delirium (but we’ll get into that more in a bit).

Liliana, the Last Hope does strongly incentivize you to play a deck with a reasonable creature count. Still, even if we were to just blank out Liliana’s -2 ability completely, she would probably be good enough to see some play in current W/B Control lists just by running interference and threatening to ultimate.

Her -2 is especially nice if you are already self-milling and have a nice selection of creatures in your decklist to return to your hand. That way, you’ll be more likely to have access to whatever creature you need.

-7: You get an emblem with “At the beginning of your end step, put X 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is two plus the number of Zombies you control.”

As far as the ultimate goes, it’s not particularly powerful or fast to tick up to, but it is a solid win condition if you’re there.

Just equip your “Emblem of Zombie Summoning +2,” and before you can say “exponential growth,” you’ll have more Zombies than an overrated AMC series.

“I, for one, enjoy Mad Men.”

It’s nice that you immediately get some Zombies at the end of your turn to block with, and if you already have a Zombie or two, you’ll get out of control even faster.

Your opponent’s going to need a better plan than going to the Winchester, having a pint, and waiting for all of it to blow over. Maybe just a Virulent Plague.

This is the card I’m most excited about in Eldritch Moon.

Even by comparing it to Hornet Queen, it doesn’t look half bad, and it costs a whole two mana less.

Assuming you have delirium, you’re getting 6/11 worth of stats spread over four bodies and 32 legs.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow has more defense than power and the baby spiders are not going to do so well fending for themselves, so it’s going to be best on defense. It should make attacking very awkward most of the time, which will create battlefield stalls. Ishkanah, Grafwidow comes with built-in reach, not only reach to block fliers but reach to end the game once the prospect of attacking has gotten hairier than her unshaven spider legs.

Seven mana might seem like a steep price to feast on your opponent for four or less life, but it’s a nice upside and plays well with the card’s defensive nature. Spin an impassable web and then drain the opponent dry. It’s also incredibly threatening if you’ve cast multiple Ishkanah, Grafwidows and have seven, ten, or more Spiders out. Remember that Ishkanah, Grafwidow, is legendary, though.

This strategy should be a complete nightmare for opponents, figuratively and possibly even literally if they stare at the artwork too long.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow pairs really nicely with Liliana, the Last Hope for enabling delirium and by being a top-notch target to return from the graveyard. It wants to have a planeswalker to sit in front of and protect.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow fits a delirium curve nicely, since cheaper delirium cards are less likely to be enabled early in the game.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow’s five toughness matches up nicely against plenty of the format right now, staring down a 4/5 Sylvan Advocate, an unflipped Archangel Avacyn, or even a Chandra, Flamecaller. It also provides a bunch of bodies to fight against Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s -2 trying to go for a tempo play or just spot removal in general.

It’s also a great blink target for Eldrazi Displacer. And last but not least, it’s one of the best cards to pair with Decimator of the Provinces as a sacrifice outlet that makes it cost a paltry 1GGG for emerge, while still leaving behind three bodies that will get +2/+2 and trample. Wilbur and Charlotte could make for a very formidable combination.

All this talk has got me wanting to fill up the graveyard. Here’s what I’d start with.

If this deck doesn’t make you deliriously happy, then I don’t know what will.

Right now, Vessel of Nascency and Mindwrack Demon will carry the brunt of enabling delirium. Vessel of Nascency is especially importan,t since it’s the only enchantment at the moment. It will probably take some serious work getting the exact right numbers of each card type, since you’re basically balancing running weaker cards like Vessel of Nascency to enable your powerful cards that are only good once you’ve turned on delirium. Right now the choice for artifacts to add is fairly weak as well.

Gnarlwood Dryad is particularly appealing and reminds me of Sylvan Advocate. It’s a great blocker even without delirium and then becomes a better Wild Nacatl in the late-game.

Pick the Brain is a consideration, along with Infinite Obliteration, to deal with problem cards.

To the Slaughter and Traverse the Ulvenwald look really appealing once you’re able to consistently enable delirium.

Whispers of Emrakul is a card worth trying in the archetype as well. Just casting it on turn 2 seems reasonable, and a Hymn to Tourach might just be worth it, even though it’s going to be significantly worse in the late-game.

Someone plans on getting cute and Harmless Offering you a Demonic Pact disguised as a kitten?

Emrakul, the Promised End is great at beating Demonic Pact decks. Just cast it at any point when they have Demonic Pact out and kindly choose for them to lose the game once you’re in control of their turn.

Right now a delirium deck looks promising, but it might take another solid enabler to really make it consistent enough to be a solid contender.

Now that we’ve seen what Liliana, the Last Hope can do, let’s take a quick look at the other planeswalker in Eldritch Moon.

I tend to evaluate planeswalkers from a defensive standpoint, and I thought Tamiyo, Field Researcher seemed a little underwhelming at first. But I think it is going to be very good in aggressive creature strategies that can support its casting cost.

But what deck could possibly want an aggressive Bant planeswalker? Hmmm…. Hmmmmmmmm…

It doesn’t take a Moon Sage to see that Tamiyo, Field Researcher could fit very snugly right into Bant Company. It almost appears to complement the deck’s modus operandi perfectly.

I think Tamiyo, Field Researcher will be ridiculously good at pressing an advantage, not so good at coming back from a deficit, which will likely make for more one-sided games.

The nice thing is it conflicts with Collected Company, both in mana cost and by lowering the creature count, so it might not be as simple as just running four Collected Company; four Tamiyo, Field Researcher; a bunch of creatures; and calling it a day.

Beyond its likely fit in Bant Company, it’s going to be harder to find a home. It could also find a way into G/W Tokens off a light splash and Oath of Nissa.

To The Moon!

That’s all I’ve got for today, though Eldritch Moon is fast approaching and I’m sure it will inspire more new strategies.

What are your favorite cards previewed so far? Do Liliana, the Last Hope and Ishkanah, Grafwidow stand a chance at reshaping Standard? Let me know what you think in the comments.