Liesa, Shroud of Dusk| Illustration by Slawomir Maniak
Commander Legends gave us several new possibilities for the Commander format, including a new and exciting legendary creature in the form of Liesa, Shroud of Dusk. It’s a commander that brings something new to the table, and one of the few that lets you circumvent commander tax.
How do you build around Liesa for success? How can you hit everyone slowly enough that they don’t realize they’re dead until it happens? Let’s jump in and find out!
Damn | Illustration by Lucas Graciano
Kaya, Intangible Slayer
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Astarion, the Decadent
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Archangel of Thune
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
Angel of Vitality
Giada, Font of Hope
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Torment of Hailfire
Dawn of Hope
Black Market Connections
The Meathook Massacre
Talisman of Hierarchy
Vault of Champions
Path of Ancestry
Temple of Silence
Vault of the Archangel
Caves of Koilos
Liesa, Shroud of Dusk is a big flying angel with lifelink in Orzhov () colors, also known as a “Baneslayer-type card.” Whenever any player casts a spell, they lose two life. Your opponents are on the clock just by staying on the battlefield. You also lose life when you cast your spells, but hey, you have a big flying lifelink angel at your side.
Another defining characteristic of Liesa, Shroud of Dusk is that it gets around commander tax by paying life. If it dies once, you cast it with five mana and two life rather than seven mana, and so on. Commanders that negate commander tax like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow are very powerful and popular. Liesa is solidifying itself as one of the most popular Orzhov commanders from the looks of it.
What do you need in this Liesa deck? Lifelink in healthy doses to upset the life loss, and a bit of angel tribal goes a long way toward making Liesa hit harder and gain life for you. Since angels are associated with lifegain and your commander is one of them, it makes sense to play creatures that benefit from that.
The nice part of this deck is that it’s secretly a bleeder deck. You want to damage your opponents and gain life while casting less spells yourself.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse adds to your commander’s effectiveness while punishing opponent card draws. The same goes for Underworld Dreams and Polluted Bonds.
Palace Siege can be used to drain opponents or recover a creature from your graveyard.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel isn’t the machine it is in black devotion, but it works well regardless.
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose is a no-brainer in a lifegain deck, and the activated ability can kill someone.
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim and Marauding Blight-Priest help you go in the same direction, slowly draining everyone’s life and giving you lifegain triggers.
Lands and artifacts like Radiant Fountain and Pristine Talisman give you some life, as does The Celestus.
Vault of the Archangel is always nice in Orzhov decks since it gives you life and makes even the smallest of creatures a threat.
Big lifegain flying creatures like your commander, Lyra Dawnbringer, and Steel Seraph give you big chunks of life.
Steel Seraph is a big creature that buffs your other creatures giving lifelink, flying, or vigilance.
You have ways to give your creature lifelink in your lands and creatures with cards like Lyra Dawnbringer, Vault of the Archangel, and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose.
You want your creatures to have something to do with lifegain since that’s the operation axis of this deck.
Cards like Markov Purifier and Indulging Patrician give you cards when you gain life.
Dawn of Hope gives you cards and creatures.
Resplendent Angel can cause a beating and make more Angels for you.
Giada, Font of Hope is a nice 2-drop that ramps you and strengthens your other angels.
Archangel of Thune, Righteous Valkyrie, and Angel of Vitality are incentives to gain life.
The Win Conditions
Besides the bleeding aspect of your commander, the main win conditions are cards that convert the lifegain into lifeloss.
Felidar Sovereign can win the game in a turn, if it lives (it’s hard, I know, but it can).
Kaya, Intangible Slayer won’t outright win the game, but it drains all your opponents for three while acting as removal or card advantage.
Aetherflux Reservoir will kill someone if you have a very high reserve of life. The main purpose of the card is to gain you more life, though.
Strionic Resonator can copy triggered abilities and can lead to a win. Let’s say you gain 10 life and drain your opponents for the same amount. That goes to 20 with an activation. The Resonator is useful at any point in the game, like copying the triggered abilities of your commander, for instance.
The Interaction and Sweepers
Being a white/black deck, you can’t have any kind of counterspells. But you do have access to good spot removal and sweepers to compensate.
Spot removal includes Swords to Plowshares, Mortify, Utter End, and Erebos's Intervention. The Intervention can gain life or exile graveyards.
You have a few sweepers like The Meathook Massacre, Farewell, Toxic Deluge, and Kaya's Wrath. You could play even more!
You can play staples like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots to protect your commander and give it haste.
The Mana Base
For only two colors you can play as many lands as you want, and some Orzhov mana rocks like Orzhov Signet. Your deck is a midrange deck that wants to play 3- to 6-mana value cards.
You have staple lands like Vault of Champions, Godless Shrine, Tainted Field, Isolated Chapel, Orzhov Basilica, Temple of Silence, and more.
You can play slow lands that come into play tapped like Scoured Barrens and Shambling Vent.
Commander staples like Opal Palace, Command Tower, and Path of Ancestry round the list.
This deck plays like a kind of prison deck that wants to slowly establish board presence with enchantments that bolster your lifegain or start draining your opponents. You want good lifelink creatures to defend yourself, hit someone, and gain life. But you don’t want to be the target of the table, so it’s usually unwise to start attacking someone with a 6/6 Serra Ascendant on turn 2.
Enchantments that do the same thing (draining life, paying life to draw cards or obtain resources) tend to add up. There’s limited mass enchantment removal, so that’s good. The problem is the tempo because enchantments usually can’t fight back.
Your commander doesn’t incentivize you to play many spells per turn and this is a deck with a lot of expensive cards, so it can be slow in the beginning. It has cheap removal and interaction to compensate. The game will often be decided in your favor by a huge turn where you deal damage with evasive creatures, gain a bunch of life with lifelink creatures, and drain opponents accordingly.
Combos and Interactions
The deck plays like a standard Orzhov midrange/control deck that’s very fair overall.
If you want to play two spells a turn, one of them being your commander, play it after the spell. You won’t lose life and there’s no incentive to do it the other way around. Keep in mind that there’s lots of incentive to gain a big chunk of life in a turn and drain the other players accordingly.
Cards like Archangel of Thune, Dawn of Hope, and Angel of Vitality benefit from small recurrent triggers.
Resplendent Angel and Indulging Patrician care about the amount of life gained.
If you have Marauding Blight-Priest or Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose around, opponents lose life if you’ve gained life, just in different amounts.
Rule 0 Violations Check
This is a very fair and casual deck. There are no tutors or infinite combos. It’s just mildly annoying to play against and have your life drained, but this shouldn’t raise any problems with playgroups.
A quick search on deck prices and cards shows you which are the most expensive cards from this list. There are a few Standard/Pioneer staples here, so you can replace them to lower the deck price.
Smothering Tithe is a white EDH staple, so I’ll let it live. But you can totally replace it.
Serra Ascendant, Resplendent Angel, and Archangel of Thune are all white creatures that see play in other formats and are huge casual hits. You can replace them with Inspiring Overseer, Creeping Bloodsucker, and Cliffhaven Vampire.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and The Meathook Massacre are responsible for how good black is in formats like Standard and Pioneer. Let’s replace them with Drana's Emissary and Erebos, God of the Dead.
Torment of Hailfire and Toxic Deluge are popular sweepers/win conditions that need reprints. You can replace them with Debt to the Deathless and By Invitation Only.
Godless Shrine and Vault of Champions are expensive Orzhov dual lands. Let’s replace them with Kabira Crossroads and Orzhov Guildgate.
Polluted Bonds and Black Market Connections are expensive enchantments. Polluted Bonds in particular has never been reprinted, so let’s use Bolas's Citadel and Sanguine Bond instead.
Other strategies for Liesa, Shroud of Dusk include angel tribal decks, aristocrats decks, prison/stax decks, and flier tribal decks. The deck can be built on a low, low budget if needed.
Farewell | Illustration by Seb McKinnon
Liesa, Shroud of Dusk is one of the most popular commanders by decklist submitted, and that’s not surprising because it has some themes that players love. You get a big flying angel with lifelink that doesn’t get more expensive with commander tax, gives you something to do with extra life, and punishes players all-around.
There are different ways to build the deck, but lifegain is the most popular. Players do love their lifegain (beware of toxic, though). Give this Liesa deck a try and you’ll have some “lifegaining” fun.
What do you think of my build? Which cards would you take out or swap in? Let me know in the comments below or hit the discussion in our Draftsim Discord.
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