Commander Showdown - Liesa vs Liesa
You Are Tearing Me Apart, Liesa!
Welcome to Commander Showdown, where we compare and contrast commanders with similar abilities to discover the overlaps, differences, and nuances of their strategies!
For years, Magic players had seen the trio of, , and , and wondered about their long-lost, unnamed sister. Theories were crafted, stories were explored, and guesses were made. Then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, we got not just one answer to that question, but two! quickly rose to prominence with the release of Commander Legends, and now the new from Midnight Hunt is here to cause even more commotion!
I wasn't at all surprised to see this pair win the poll from last month's article! Both of these Angels sport a powerful set of abilities, but how do they differ? What different deckbuilding directions does each iteration of this character encourage you to travel down? Let's find out!
Let's start with, who immediately appealed to players by introducing a new take on commander tax. Rather than paying two extra mana each time this commander is cast from the command zone, Liesa requires you to pay life. She's eternally cheap to play, but she forces players to pay costs in other ways. This is compounded by her life-loss triggered ability, nickel-and-diming everyone every time they cast a spell. However, this is a black-white deck, which means the odds are, of course, stacked in our favor: Liesa's natural lifelink mitigates these costs by supplying us with her most valuable commodity.
The more time I've spent brewing around this commander, the more I've become impressed by her versatility. If you'd like to build a straightforward lifegain deck, the ingredients are all here:, , and just fit right in. is both an enabler and a payoff. We're already incentivized to gain life to stay ahead of our commander's drain effects, so why not pair up with a ?
Alternatively, you can go extremely punishing with this deck. The pestering effects ofand will add up swiftly. Some players even dip into effects like and , which won't be the direction I'm taking today, but definitely have merit. Liesa can cause so much life loss in such a short amount of time that a or are genuinely huge deterrents.
Personally, I wanted to lean a smidge more into Liesa's Voltron-ish capabilities. She's just an efficient attacker, and she's always easy to recast. The bigger she is, the more life we'll gain, and the more we'll be able to stay ahead of her downsides while our opponents struggle to stay afloat.and grow as she does, and scales up and up and up. If the card is available to you, it's extremely deadly when used on a lifelinking commander, since the payment is immediately refunded.
No matter how you build her, Liesa brings the heat. Here's a build that I think will be just as fun as it is fierce:
Liesa With An S, Not Lieza with a Z
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We've got the classics, of course:and are lifegain regulars, as are and . I want to briefly shout out a few of my favorites, though.
First,is good to draw cards, but it's also just a good finisher. This card can very genuinely end games by targeting an enemy for X = 5. That's how hard Liesa's life loss can hit. This is the type of deck where ing an opponent is an actually viable strategy. I also have to shout out , a modal spell that does some of its very best work in this exact deck. Gain twice X life? Cool, just made it quadruple instead of double, and just clocked someone for 16. Alternatively, it's amazing removal. I like pairing it with to also tag the occasional creature or planeswalker!
Finally,is just funny. Attack someone for a bunch, and gain it back. Get attacked for a bazillion, but crack the Sigil to invalidate the damage. Did someone cast five spells while Liesa was in play? Casual Sigil for 10 life, no biggie.
Over time, I realized my favorite cards in this deck all had the same thing in common, the same thing I praised about Liesa just a few short paragraphs ago: they're versatile. Liesa is so unexpectedly flexible, and so are her spells. They might be there to help out as med kits, but just as easily could flip around and become rocket launchers. It's easy to spot the inherent versatility of classic commanders like, but Liesa's a lot more subtle about her diverse strategic options, which was a terrific thing to discover, even if it cost a lot of life to learn.
That was just the first version of Liesa, though. What do we have to learn from her second iteration?
An Angel's Favorite Font is Sans Seraph
is also a beefy five-mana Angel with flying and lifelink, but she plays with life force in a different way. Her ability is somewhat reminiscent of , who can also return dying creatures to hand by punishing his enemies.
Athreos is famously associated withs, since their multitudes can sacrifice themselves en masse, summon out huge Demons, and return right to their owner's hand. Athreos is also famous for using sacrifice outlets, s, and effects to cause super-deadly loops with those Apostles, too.
Since Liesa's ability operates on a delay, we aren't invested in creating those types of loops, but this similarity is certainly strong enough to inspire the direction I'm most excited to try out with Liesa:
Liesa is nothing if not a friend to the creatures that her pious sisters despise., like s, are made all the more terrifying when your commander returns them to your hand over and over and over. Naturally, we can invite to this party as well for extra redundancy, in case Liesa gets held up.
A non-singleton deck also begets the usualand , of course, and I'm definitely a fan of . Since this gathering is full of Rats, we can't forget to ask for help with catering, and will liven things up with a little music.
However, there are a few other friends Liesa definitely wants to make sure we add to the guest list.and friends keep us safe from setbacks by refilling our hand. Combined with Liesa, is a repeatable protective spell for our big board. Oh, and who doesn't love a one-sided board wipe? won't affect a single copy of .
Let's see what Liesa's up to when she lets a few Rats take over the kitchen:
Liesa Liesa and Cult Jam
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I'd like to quickly shout out two of my favorite black-white cards for non-singleton decks.and often get overlooked, but they keep a hand full. decks will swell the battlefield, which means it's key to be as relentless as possible. The thing that stops us in our tracks is a well-timed board wipe. Liesa will mitigate this issue, but efficient hand-refill effects will too.
Not only that, but Liesa even synergizes with some hilarious aggro cards.gives our huge beefy army evasion and indestructible, but requires a sacrifice to stick around every turn. Liesa's recursion keeps that ability extremely well-fed.
You may also notice that I'm keen to try out the newin this deck. If a bunch of Rats do end up in the graveyard, it sounds pretty good to bring them all back, where they'll pump each other up anyways, and they'll even get evasion, to boot!
A Web of Lies-a
I'll admit, neither of Liesa's cards immediately appealed to me. EDHRECast as our Commander Legends preview card, and I was content to never bother looking back. I'm glad I did, though, because Liesa turned out to be an astounding brewing experience, and no matter which version of her you pick, you'll find surprises waiting just around the corner.stole my heart away when it was given to the
Liesa plays fast and loose with traditional rules and the usual expectations. She's an Angel, but doesn't need to conform just to tribal strategies if she doesn't want to. She loves the classic Orzhov lifegain, but she also loves to put her own spin on it. She'll even cheat death, but if enemies are expecting just another Aristocrats deck, they might be digging their own graves before the battle even begins.
So, which version of Liesa are you most interested in? More than that, how would you build that version? This feels like a Commander Showdown I could repeat in one month, and come up with entirely new 99s for both commanders, and it's not every day we see that from such a terrific pair of cards, or from such a terrifically enigmatic character in the lore.
PS - don't forget to vote on the next Commander Showdown you'd like to see!
Til next time!