Drain the Table With Casual Oathbreaker: Liliana of the Dark Realms

Bleed the table until they’re broken.

Oathbreaker, like Commander, feels best when you try not to break it. There are lots of insanely powerful planeswalker and signature spell combinations that feel oppressive or even outright win the game immediately if they resolve.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Paradigm Shift

Market Price: $8.99

That’s not fun.

A multiplayer format feels at its best when players can actually do their thing and get to, well, play without dealing with constant oppressive forces or two card combos sitting in the command zone. With that in mind, I’ve been busily brewing some oathbreaker decks that, while far from fluffy grouphug strats, are still just trying to jam some games without breaking more than oaths.

Dark Realm Exsanguination

Liliana of the Dark Realms

Market Price: $15.32


My earliest “good” kitchen table magic deck was a “swamps matter” brew piled high with every Nightmare and Nightmare Lash variant imaginable. The deck would eventually Corrupt players down after beating them up with Korlash, Heir to Blackblade. Korlash would go on to be my first commander, and I’ve been making variants of that deck since.

Liliana of the Dark Realms is the planeswalker that best fits this niche, and while I was tempted to run Corrupt or Tendrils of Corruption as the signature spell, I’m on record with my favorite win conditions being lifedrain. Exsanguinate represents real inevitability with this iteration of Liliana, and I couldn’t help myself.

Swamps Matter

Tendrils of Corruption

I love mono colored strategies, and one of my favorite things that empowers those strategies is gaining strength based on the basic lands of that color. Black is the best at this, with cards like Defile, Mutilate, and Tendrils of Corruption scaling with the game as it goes on.

Nightmare Lash

Then it also has some amazing beaters that scale as the game goes on. Nightmare is the original and still works as a flying beatstick, but Nightmare Lash and Lashwrithe allow us to transform any creature into a Nightmare. A Vampire Nighthawk swinging around a lash is truly something wonderful to behold.

Big Mana

Crypt Ghast

Market Price: $13.40

Nirkana Revenant
Caged Sun

Directly related to that swampy synergy is something else that black is good at. In a perfect world we manage to ult Liliana, but that’s unlikely without some help from say The Elderspell. Instead, we want to juice our signature spell (and other scary X spells like Profane Command and Torment of Hailfire) with tons of mana doublers.

Market Price: $19.58

Cabal Stronghold
Magus of the Coffers

In addition, we run both Cabal Coffers and Stronghold to get some extra squeeze out of every swap, plus the creature version in Magus of the Coffers. I’m also running Expedition Map to hunt down either of those important lands. I’m aiming not to break the bank (or be too oppressive) so I’m not running Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth but if you’ve got the funds and inclination those are both very solid picks.

Bigger Beatdown

Sheoldred, Whispering One

Market Price: $12.08

Grave Titan
Rune-Scarred Demon

Sometimes the big mana plan won’t quite play out, so its important to include some beaters that can get the job done. Thankfully, equipped with a Nightmare Lash, any creature can become that beatdown but the deck still includes some of my favorite high mana value creatures.

Sheoldred doubles up as removal and recursion, while Grave Titan is still my benchmark for best value to body ratio. Getting out 10 power spread over three creatures, to start, just feels good. Rune-Scarred Demon is simple enough, but stapling a Demonic Tutor on a flying creature is pure value.

Dark Realm Value

Market Price: $11.09

Murderous Rider
Dimir House Guard

Speaking of value, let’s talk about how I’ve filled out the rest of the deck. Most of my creatures are efficient, recursive, or have powerful keywords, with the primary focus for them typically being to carry around one of those swampy whips. Murderous Rider and Hero’s Downfall take care of opposing oathbreakers while Dimir House Guard fetches up the various whips, including Whip of Erebos.

Sign in Blood
Phyrexian Arena
Beseech the Queen

I’ve then included a tidy little card advantage package, with my favorites Sign in Blood and the classic Phyrexian Arena standing out. While I’ve again gone for a more budget approach, avoiding Vampiric Tutor or Demonic Tutor, Beseech the Queen is a comparatively budget friendly option that’ll get the job done most of the time.

Wielding the Lash

All this together, we must answer the usual question, “How does it play?” Assuming you’re not in an Oathbreaker pod that’s out to break the format, quite well! Your early game is dropping value creatures and hunting for your mana doublers and swampy payoffs.

In the mid game, you should be able to assemble your beaters and have enough time to finally start ticking up your Oathbreaker. Start getting swamps, and set yourself up for your first cast of Exsanguinate. If the game has gone perfectly, you don’t even move into the late game— all of your mana doubling makes that first Exsanguinate your last, and you’ve bled out the table already.

However, people are not just going to sit there and accept the exsanguination, so instead you may need to move into a late game where you’re more reliant on your beaters and lifegain to stay in the game, potentially even using Exsanguinate as a life pad instead of as a finisher (at first, anyway). With that additional life padding and your beaters scaling into the late game, however, you can still eke out a win or even ult your Oathbreaker to fuel a big X spell finish. 

Freeform (Casual)

Dark Realms Exsanguinate – Swamps Matter Oathbreaker

Market Price:$169.44

Maindeck, 58 cards

Creature (18)

Sorcery (7)

  • 1Beseech the Queen
  • 1Corrupt
  • 1Mutilate
  • 1Profane Command
  • 1Sign in Blood
  • 1The Elderspell
  • 1Torment of Hailfire

Instant (3)

  • 1Defile
  • 1Hero’s Downfall
  • 1Tendrils of Corruption

Artifact (5)

  • 1Caged Sun
  • 1Expedition Map
  • 1Lashwrithe
  • 1Nightmare Lash
  • 1Whip of Erebos

Enchantment (1)

  • 1Phyrexian Arena

Land (24)

Sideboard (2)

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