Of all the Magic: The Gathering characters we've been introduced to, there is perhaps none more famous than the necromancer Liliana Vess. This dark seductress has captured the eyes and imaginations of many players, and her journeys throughout the Magic story in making a pact with four abhorrent demons for great power just to go on to defeat the same monsters later is admittedly compelling.
Like the color her character represents, Liliana is a misunderstood creature who is simply trying to get what she wants by whatever means necessary. Considering this, it's no wonder why her character has become so popular within the Magic community. All of that aside, though, Liliana has had many incarnations since her original printing in Lorwyn. Today, we'll rank them all from worst to best.
13 Liliana, Death Wielder
This version of Liliana comes from a preconstructed Amonkhet planeswalker deck. These decks are printed for beginning players, and the cards inside of them aren't really printed to be considered for serious competitive play. As a result, this planeswalker is a bit lackluster.
There's no situation in which you should consider sleeving this version of Liliana up unless you're interested in introducing someone new to the game. For that exact purpose, the Liliana Amonkhet planeswalker deck as a whole will suit your needs perfectly.
12 Liliana of the Dark Realms
Dark Realms Liliana was printed all the way back in the Magic core set for 2014. She does have the notable ability to remove a creature by giving it negative power and toughness equal to the number of swamps you control, but this nearly necessitates playing her in a Mono-black deck. Her plus ability also allows you to put swamps from your library into your hand, which isn't particularly useful.
Lastly, her ultimate makes it so that your swamps give you an absurd amount of mana. However, if you're in a place where you're able to ultimate her, you probably don't need all that extra mana anyways. Additionally, good planeswalker ultimates should end the game nearly all on their own. This one does not.
11 Liliana, Death Mage
Liliana, Death Mage has a higher mana value than she's worth. If you're paying six mana for something, it should be a devastating card for your opponent to deal with. Examples that come to mind include Inferno of the Star Mounts and Primeval Titan.
For all intents and purposes, this is pretty much an overcosted removal spell that drains your opponents of two life. Her +1 loyalty ability to return a creature card from your graveyard to your hand seems useful, but, again, it's just not a good enough effect to be worth all this mana. The ultimate on Death Mage should lead to victory against a single opponent, but it's highly unlikely it will ever go off looking at its high loyalty cost.
10 Liliana, the Necromancer
Liliana, the Necromancer is pretty much a better version of Liliana, Death Mage. She has the same loyalty ability to return creatures from your graveyard to your hand but is able to do it much more efficiently due to her lower mana cost. Furthermore, this Liliana serves as a good way to pressure opponents with life loss thanks to her +1 loyalty ability.
Finally, the Necromancer's ultimate ability is a bit better than her Death Mage contemporary since it doesn't require your opponent to have creatures in their graveyard, and it serves as an answer to their biggest threats.
9 Liliana Vess
Liliana Vess comes from the Duel Decks Anthology, Garruk vs. Liliana product. This is yet another separate from packs product that isn't truly suited for competitive play. Nonetheless, this is at least a passable planeswalker. Her +1 loyalty ability is good for draining an opponent's resources.
Her -2 ability could come in handy in a combo-based deck specifically but also has use in just about any deck, and her ultimate should lead to victory as long as your opponent isn't holding up a board wipe somehow. However, Liliana should have discarded their entire hand already, so it's a pretty unlikely scenario that your opponent will have an answer.
8 Liliana, Waker of the Dead
Waker of the Dead is the first Liliana on this list that's truly worth considering for competitive play. However, she's still far from a sure bet. She can protect herself with her -3 loyalty ability, but it requires that your graveyard is already filled with a handful of cards. Unless you're already playing other cards that fill your graveyard, this can be a difficult requirement to fulfill reliably.
Her +1 loyalty ability does provide a win condition thanks to a clause that your opponent loses life if they don't have a card to discard. This is the best reason to play Waker of the Dead, but her total mana value of four makes her a bit expensive for this effect. Of course, if you manage to get Waker of the Dead's ultimate off, victory is pretty much a sure thing unless graveyards end up being exiled. The issue is your opponent will already have an incentive to play graveyard hate due to how her -3 loyalty ability works. All things considered, this Liliana is a bit too susceptible to graveyard hate to truly be a reliable card.
7 Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Liliana, Dreadhorde General is a very powerful-looking card at first glance. That being said, you would probably be surprised to learn that it never saw all that much play while it was in Standard. This is due to a couple of reasons. For one, the static ability on the card is good, but Dreadhorde General offers you no way to trigger it aside from chump blocking with the Zombie tokens she makes. Any clever opponent will simply skip going to combat until they can remove the planeswalker another way.
Secondly, her -4 ability does remove two creatures from your opponent's side of the battlefield, but it gives your opponent the choice of which creatures. Sacrifice effects are known to be weak for this exact reason. Lastly, her -9 ultimate is a far cry from winning you the game on the spot. In fact, it's likely to not change much in games where it actually becomes an option seeing as your opponent gets to choose which permanents they wish to keep. All things considered, you probably shouldn't be taking this General to the front lines.
6 Professor Onyx
This incarnation of Liliana sees her disguised as someone entirely different. Similar to Dreadhorde General, though, while it appears good on the surface, it ends up falling a bit flat. That being said, there may be some kind of Dimir (blue/black) control deck out there yet to be discovered that can really take advantage of her static Magecraft ability. After all, it's the most enticing reason to play this card.
Onyx's -3 loyalty ability is better than most sacrifice effects since it forces the opponent to sacrifice the creature with the greatest power. Her +1 loyalty ability is incredible for a control deck, but the life loss does seem a bit scary, especially in matchups against aggressive decks. Finally, her ultimate is likely to win you the game if you can get it off. However, it will take many turns for you to accumulate enough loyalty to actually use it.
5 Liliana, Untouched by Death
For those of you interested in Zombie tribal, here's a potential planeswalker to put into your deck. Liliana, Untouched by Death is arguably the most interesting planeswalker on the list due to her interactions with Zombies. Her -2 loyalty ability is a reliable removal spell as long as you have enough Zombies on your side of the battlefield.
Her +1 loyalty ability serves as good pressure on the opponent while also potentially filling your graveyard with more Zombies. Additionally, it combos nicely with the card's ultimate, which comes at the low cost of -3 loyalty and allows you to play Zombies from your graveyard until end of turn. It's nice to think that Liliana, Untouched by Death might be a part of a powerful Zombies tribal deck someday, but that day has yet to arrive. If this deck does ever rear its head, it will likely be in Pioneer.
4 Liliana, Death's Majesty
Now, we finally come to the truly proven powerful printings of Liliana. If you're an absolute die hard Liliana fan that just has to have a copy of her in your deck, it's best to aim for one of these four. Death's Majesty is another Zombie related planeswalker, but she's not entirely reliant on playing Zombies like Untouched by Death. Her +1 loyalty ability makes a Zombie token and mills (puts into your graveyard) the top two cards of your deck.
The mill effect is especially important because of how her -3 loyalty ability works. This ability brings back a creature card of your choice from your graveyard, but turns it into a black Zombie along with its other types. This second feature is yet again important as it combos with her ultimate. Liliana's -7 loyalty ability destroys all non-Zombie creatures. Consequently, the fact that Death's Majesty makes all Zombie creatures is very good since her ultimate becomes a one-sided board wipe that will likely win you the game on the spot. This is a card that fits great in any Reanimation based deck. It should also be noted that Death's Majesty is an especially good inclusion for a Reanimation-themed Commander deck, or any creature-based Commander deck that plays black, for that matter.
3 Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
The flip planeswalkers from Magic Origins are some of the most interestingly designed cards in the game. This goes doubly so for Heretical Healer, as flipping her can be achieved relatively easily in the right deck. Furthermore, she creates a Zombie token blocker to protect her when she flips.
Playing Heretical Healer alongside cards like Collected Company, Shambling Ghast, and Sepulcher Ghoul seems like a good place to start. Once she's flipped, Defiant Necromancer's +2 loyalty ability will quickly deal with whatever cards your opponent has in hand. Furthermore, her -X ability can be used to great effect if you're playing the right creatures. Grim Flayer is one card that immediately comes to mind. Finally, her ultimate might not win you the game on the spot, but it's powerful and easy enough to reach, thanks to how quickly Defiant Necromancer adds loyalty.
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
This version of Liliana saw a decent amount of play in Modern before the advent of Modern Horizons. Additionally, she was a constructed staple throughout her time in Standard. With the abundance of one toughness creatures running around in Modern currently, it might not be a bad time to test her out there again. Her +1 loyalty ability is great at staving off attacks from larger threats and even better when you're able to get some straight-up removal out of it.
Meanwhile, her -2 is a reliable source of card advantage, and her ultimate will win you the game in just a handful of turns after it triggers. Like Heretical Healer, this is a card that's best when played alongside a suite of creatures that can make good use of her -2 loyalty ability.
1 Liliana of the Veil
Last but certainly not least, Liliana of the Veil from original Innistrad remains a powerful key player in Modern Jund (black/red/green) builds. Her +1 loyalty ability is incredibly efficient at stripping away an opponent's hand, and she offers a method of self-protection thanks to her -2 ability. While sacrifice effects aren't generally very good, they become a lot better when played alongside a bunch of removal spells that allow you to pretty much pick and choose your opponent's sacrifice target.
Finally, her -6 ultimate takes four turns of added loyalty to trigger, but if it does go off there's almost assuredly no way your opponent can win the game after sacrificing half of their permanents. Furthermore, since you are the one who gets to create the piles, it's easy to make it impossible for your opponent to stay in the game no matter what pile they choose to keep. At this point, it's hard to imagine that Liliana of the Veil would ever be dethroned as the queen of all Liliana planeswalkers. That being said, it's very conceivable that the future of Magic might still hold some surprises for Liliana. After all, she is one of the most popular and venerated characters in the entirety of the game.
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