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The Fourth Sister Revealed! | Liesa, Shroud of Dusk | Commander Legends Preview

Hey friends! Commander Legends preview season has started, so each day I'm selecting one brand new commander from the set that I'm excited about, break down the card, and give a quick take on how I'd build a deck around it along with some key cards. Today I'll be covering a commander that I'm SUPER HYPED for: Liesa, Shroud of Dusk!

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The Fourth Sister Revealed!

Before we dive into the card itself I need you to know that the Vorthos nerd in me is SO HAPPY to see Liesa finally be printed on a card. For those who aren't familiar with the lore, Liesa was one of the four angel sisters on Innistrad, the others being Sigarda, Host of Herons, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. Each sister led their own flight of angels that carried out specific tasks protecting the humans of the plane. Liesa and her entire flight was killed by Avacyn, Angel of Hope a millenium ago when they sided with a demon lord. Up until this point we knew almost nothing about Liesa, not even her name, but now we finally know a bit more about her from this card. Innistrad is one of my favorite MTG settings and I've been keeping up with every lore tidbit related to the plane so this card is a real treat to see. So yeah, Vorthos players rejoice! There's dozens of us! With the lore talk out of the way let's talk about the card itself.

Card Breakdown

Liesa, Shroud of Dusk is a 5/5 legendary angel that costs 2WWB and has flying and lifelink. She also has two unique and powerful abilities: the first is rather than pay 2 for each previous time you've cast this spell from the command zone this game, pay 2 life that many times. So basically instead of paying the command tax with mana you pay it with life, which is a huge upgrade since mana is a significant bottleneck to casting all the spells you want each turn and paying life is not just way easier to do in this deck but can actually be an advantage, as I'll cover later on. There closest comparison I could find to this ability is Netherborn Altar, which also lets you avoid paying the mana cost of the command tax by paying life instead but it's definitely not as good unless you have ways to remove the soul counters off it.

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The second unique ability is whenever a player casts a spell, they lose 2 life. This ability is incredibly powerful, quickly dropping everyone's life total as the game goes on. It's not uncommon for people to cast two or more spells per turn as the game progresses, and with Liesa making everyone lose 2 life each time they cast a spell this ability adds up quickly. This is what I'd call a Group Slug ability, where the goal is to hurt the entire table quickly. In terms of popular cards that see play and are similar to Liesa's ability, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is fairly similar, dishing way more damage but only triggers on noncreature spells.Painful Quandary is another but it only affects opponents. But the best comparison to what Liesa is doing is probably Kambal, Consul of Allocation.

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Like Liesa, Kambal is an Orzhov legendary creature that can be your commander and has a drain ability that triggers off spells and is inevitably the commander that Liesa will be most often compared to, so let's compare them. In some regards he's better at it than Liesa, costing less mana to cast at least the first time, only affecting opponents, and also gaining you life. However, he's also worse in some ways, requiring you to pay the command tax with mana so he costs as much as Liesa the second time you cast him and more any subsequent times. Plus his ability only triggers on noncreature spells, so he's far less effective against Creature-heavy decks. I like both Kambal and Liesa as commanders and I don't think either one is better than the other. I think both have their own unique strengths and weaknesses and while there's a lot of overlap between them, I do think the decks built around them will look significantly different. Regardless of which commander you like more, I think the other should slot easily into the 99.

Building Around Liesa

Alright, now that we know what Liesa does, let's start brewing around her. I think there's two directions we can go with her, though there's overlap between the two strategies:

  • Lifeloss
  • Lifegain

A Lifeloss deck is a rather obscure archetype that focuses on lowering their own life total for value. The deck spends its life total to fuel powerful spells like Necropotence and Snuff Out, then leverages their low life total for win conditions like Repay in Kind or Near-Death Experience. The face of the archetype is usually Selenia, Dark Angel, which I've written a primer about a while back. While Liesa can lead a Lifeloss deck, I think she doesn't beat out Selenia, Dark Angel's sheer efficiency at lowering your own life total, since you can activate Selenia's ability infinite times. Nonetheless I think there's a lot of sweet cards used in Lifeloss decks that you can put to good use in Liesa as well, like Vilis, Broker of Blood, which turns your lifeloss into sweet, delicious card draw.

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Where I think Liesa, Shroud of Dusk will shine brightest is as the head of an Lifegain Punisher deck. The idea is to gain a bunch of life off cards like Crypt Ghast, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and Soul Warden. We use that lifegain to fuel payoff cards like drawing cards with Well of Lost Dreams, making tokens with Crested Sunmare, or killing opponents with Angel of Destiny. We also use our high life total as a resource, paying the life cost of cards like Bolas's Citadel, wiping the board with Toxic Deluge, or blowing up opponents with Aetherflux Reservoir.

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In this deck, Liesa, Shroud of Dusk serves as a way to quickly deplete our opponents' life totals. She depletes our own too, but since we're a Lifegain deck we can keep our life total much higher than our opponents so it's irrelevant, plus she can gain us life thanks to being a 5/5 flyer with lifelink. She can even turn your opponents' lifeloss into insane lifegain thanks to Exquisite Blood!

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What Do You Think Of Liesa?

So those are my initial thoughts on Liesa, Shroud of Dusk. What do you think about her? Do you plan on using her and if so then how? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

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