Liliana of the Veil – Innistrad
Date Reviewed: August 25, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a decade since the original Innistrad set blew all our minds. That span of time makes it easy to forget just how transgressive, aggressive, and devastating Liliana of the Veil was on release. Remember, for the early history of planeswalkers, most of them cost four mana or more – this card and Jace Beleren were exceptions, and both got a lot of attention because of their comparative speed to cast. While the first Jace card supports glacially slow decks that want to shore up advantage over multiple turns, Liliana of the Veil occupies an ideal part of the curve for decks that want to get in an opponent’s face and disrupt them – and it turns out there are many more of those in various formats. She notably helped power Jund decks in various formats, not least because they generally don’t care about discarding an additional card here and there, and getting extra sacrifice effects while saving card slots gives them space to be even more well-rounded. And the fact that Bloodbraid Elf can cast her with cascade is deliciously brutal icing on the cake. She’ll make you cry, make you break down, shatter your illusions of love – and win games while doing it.
Commander [EDH]: 3/5
Liliana of the Veil might be one of the most famous planeswalkers ever printed, and she may well be among the most played. She doesn’t read as a lot on the surface, but three mana for a Diabolic Edict that sticks around to rip apart an opponent’s hand is pretty potent, and ticking up to four loyalty if you don’t need to out a creature forfends her against a lot of burn spells. Coming down at three mana is what made her backbreaking in Innistrad‘s Standard and in Modern since then, able to out a turn two (or three) threat and make it harder for an opponent to recover. She’s rarely played for her ultimate, but it is an unreliable way for mono black to get rid of permanents they would normally have trouble getting rid of, so it’s worth mention (even if only for deeper formats).
Remember: planeswalkers are less defined by their big abilities and more by their day-to-day advantage. If you get rid of a massive threat, it’s not too hard to ensure they have a hard time seeing and keeping another with her +1 ripping cards out of their hand, and while it’s ostensibly symmetrical, symmetry always exists to be broken. Liliana of the Veil’s scheduled return to Standard in Dominaria United is going to be an interesting sort of litmus test; she’s still potent, but cards have gotten better since then. There’s a reason she was consistently $70+ prior to her reprint, though: she’s efficient and vicious, a cheap planeswalker able to protect herself (albeit imperfectly), and an excellent way to stabilize.
Constructed: 5 (she’s more than earned this for being playable for over a decade without falling off)
Limited: 4 (more likely just a three-mana Edict, but removal always commands a premium in Limited)
Multiplayer: 3.5 (her +1 says each player, which is pretty neat)
Commander [EDH]: 3.5
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