Magic players across the nation are going to be taking a test this weekend and won’t end up doing well if they don’t study and take practice tests.
“What? I am not going to be taking the SATs. I made sure to not sign up for that this weekend. That way I can go to…”
That’s right, States is this weekend. It is always one of the most fun yet competitive tournaments. You always get a nice variety of decks to play against in a relatively fresh format. Personally, I have Top 8ed twice, once with Mono-Green Aggro when Lorwyn came out and another time with Blue Bird when Zendikar came out. So, what will I be playing this weekend?
The answer is (as of Tuesday): I don’t know!! There are so many spicy new cards out there; I want to play with them all! Good thing Battle of Wits isn’t legal to sway me away from doing so. However, one thing I do know is that I’m very well studied for the Liliana Test. For those of you who want a quick review session, I’ll be your teacher today. This is a dream come true! In all of high school, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. As Mr. Sukenik (sorry Dad, I’ll be using that name today), I will be addressing this matter in a question and answer format. Here we go!!
Q: What creatures should I consider playing to be stronger against Liliana of the Veil?
A: The quick and easy answer is creatures that have dying triggers or bring along other creatures.
First, let’s look at some dying triggers. Doomed Traveler can be the perfect Human to protect your team. Viridian Emissary will die and help accelerate you, maybe into Koth of the Hammer or Hero of Oxid Ridge?
You don’t even have to be playing green or white to have dying triggers. Perilous Myr is not only for those aggressive decks anymore. If someone uses Liliana of the Veil’s minus two on you when you have Perilous Myr, you get to trade your two-drop with their $70 planeswalker. I’d take that trade any day. Solemn Simulacrum can really stop Liliana of the Veil from creating too much of an impact by being at least a two- or three-for-one. Wurmcoil Engine will surely kill Liliana of the Veil one way or another. If they plus one, Liliana will only have four loyalty. If they minus two, you have two 3/3 Wurm tokens that can kill Liliana and even prevent a second Liliana from having much of an impact.
Next, there are the creatures that like to bring along buddies. I have been a big fan of Blade Splicer for quite some time now, which probably has become apparent through these articles. Please allow me some time to reiterate how well Blade Splicer deals with Liliana of the Veil. If they plus one, you have four damage on the board to kill Liliana of the Veil. If they minus two, you can sacrifice the Blade Splicer and kill Liliana with the Golem token.
Two of the M12 Titans do a great job of dealing with Liliana as well. Grave Titan brings along two Zombie tokens as trade fodder and provide enough attack force to kill Liliana even if they Go for the Throat your Grave Titan. Sun Titan can bring back… well… any creature, including Blade Splicer!
Q: Well, those were all kind of obvious answers. How about some cards that we didn’t necessarily think of?
A: Fine guys, I will try to come up with a few creative examples.
Cards that can come back from the graveyard are at a premium these days, between Liliana of the Veil and Forbidden Alchemy. Chandra’s Phoenix and Reassembling Skeleton are ones that come to mind. Chandra’s Phoenix already sees play in Red Deck Wins, but it should probably be played in control as well. Geistflame is probably one of the best removal spells against Red Deck Wins and complements Chandra’s Phoenix very well.
On the other hand, Reassembling Skeleton is perfect against other control decks. It can wear Sword of Feast and Famine very well and will always give you something good to do with your mana. If they plus one Liliana, you can pitch the Reassembling Skeleton, and if they want to minus two her, they need to make sure you are not just sacrificing Reassembling Skeleton.
With at least two mana up, you can also always threaten Snapcaster Mage or Ambush Viper depending on your colors. Your opponent may think that their Liliana will be safe at two loyalty or that they will be killing your “only” creature when they minus two you. Flash creatures are at a premium right now, so players running Liliana of the Veil should be playing Gitaxian Probe to know what’s in their opponent’s hand, and to make my teammate Aaron Petronico very happy.
Planeswalkers and lands can be very good at dodging Liliana of the Veil’s minus two and will give you the ability to fight the advantage your opponent may have from building around Liliana of the Veil. Gideon Jura is the best creature to not be a creature! If your opponent does not have a creature to block Gideon Jura or an instant-removal spell, they can kiss their Liliana of the Veil goodbye.
Chandra, the Firebrand and Sorin Markov can provide options to ping Liliana of the Veil. Garruk Relentless and Garruk, Primal Hunter are in charge of constantly making tokens, which will constantly threaten Liliana of the Veil. Koth of the Hammer can kill Liliana the turn it comes out, and Karn Liberated can kill any planeswalker.
As far as lands go, Inkmoth Nexus can team up with Kessig Wolf Run to kill a lot of planeswalkers. This combo was seen in Brian Sondag deck last weekend, and I’m sure it’s not the last we have seen of this breakout deck. Another land that has virtually no play is Stensia Bloodhall, but all I can say is now that Tectonic Edge is not in the format, feel free to run wild with your nonbasic lands. Do you see what I did there?
Lastly, Trinket Mage should get some attention these days. You get to play Nihil Spellbomb to stop graveyard shenanigans. Hex Parasite can kill all of these pesky planeswalkers. Elixir of Immortality can aid in giving you a few extra life, while Traveler’s Amulet can make your Trinket Mage into a pseudo Civic Wayfinder. Just some food for thought.
A: This is a very tricky thing to figure out and is very situational. The problem is that they will get to do things before you if they have all of the pieces together. If they have a Merfolk Looter out, you probably want to just Cruel Edict them. However, I think it can be right sometimes to just play Liliana of the Veil and not use her until it is optimal for you. This allows you to control the tempo of the game and allow things to get out of control unless you are doing the unfair things. I don’t think Liliana of the Veil belongs in every black deck for this reason. Doing unfair things with Liliana of the Veil takes up a lot of slots. Sometimes, these cards will not be good alone. It could be right to simply play Liliana of the Veil in the sideboard of some decks that want an extra Cruel Edict effect to kill Geist of Saint Traft or Dungrove Elder and to just sit there against other Liliana of the Veil fueled decks.
Q: What should I do with Liliana of the Veil in terms of trading/selling?
A: Please, just trade them away now before you regret it, in my opinion. I don’t think she really warrants a $70 price tag. I don’t think anyone wants to miss out on the next Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Tarmogoyf, so people will buy up a ton of a card to hope to hit it big. While there is no problem with this, I just hope that people don’t lose too much money if/when she goes down. We will see how her price is on Magic Online starting… today?
That’s right! Enough Liliana talk, let’s go back to my domain. Today, Innistrad comes out on Magic Online. Personally, I have been waiting for this moment for quite a while. It means that I can start grinding the updated Standard format on weekends, along with eventually starting my column on going infinite in Innistrad Block from 100 tickets. However, I would like to devote this time to help you guys with which events I would and would not play in.
Sealed events are 30 tickets to play in. 4-0 gets you 10 packs, 3-1 gets you 4 packs, while 2-2 gets you a measly 1 pack.
Drafts, on the other hand, are 20 tickets to play in and give you a 4-2-1-1 split for first to fourth respectively.
Packs will usually be around 4-4.5 tickets each when a set is still in its Prerelease phase. This means that sealed events will yield profit if you win all four of your rounds, and drafts just have horrible expected value.
Personally, I do not recommend playing in either one of these. I know that I did not factor in the cards that you open into the expected value of either event, but you should see the structure of the Sealed Release Events:
These are 24 tickets and give you a 13-8-3 distribution. So let me get this straight… if I were to just wait a week, I could pay six fewer tickets and get more packs? The answer is yes! Personally, I love Sealed Release Events and usually play a ton of them for the first three days they are up.
Warning: if you are trying to go infinite, I still recommend staying away from Limited events. If you do choose to enter one, expect yourself to open nothing and win nothing. With this mentality, you understand the risk of playing in a Limited event and will be happy with anything you open or win.
If you are really itching to play with these new cards on Magic Online and are still considering playing in Prerelease Sealed Events, let me try to make one more point. Magic Online Pro Tour Qualifiers start this Sunday, and they are Innistrad Sealed. For the same price of a Prerelease Sealed Event, you could have a chance to qualify for the Pro Tour! There is another Pro Tour Qualifier online on Tuesday as well. Just please don’t play in a Prerelease Sealed Event.
Well, that is going to be it for this week! Good luck to everyone at States and on Magic Online this weekend. I’ll have to start researching and coming up with some spicy Innistrad Block decks to live up to my word. If you have any questions about Magic Online, please feel free to message me as always 😀
Thanks for reading,
Jonathan “Watchwolf92” Sukenik