Welcome to as pure of a mono-black reanimator experience as you're likely to find in EDH!

First, a note on philosophy: this is built as a Competitive EDH deck; budget is not an obstacle, and all cards are included for the purpose of optimization. That said, if you're solely focused on winrate, Sidisi, Undead Vizier is likely a stronger mono-black commander, as her game plan is more compact and focused. ("Literally resolve Ad Nauseam or Buried Alive ").

Second, then--why Liliana, Heretical Healer  ? Three reasons: first, I wanted to build a mono-black deck that wasn't Ad Nauseam-based. Second, Liliana allows for a degree of greater resiliency than Sidisi at the cost of a slower average draw and a drop in raw power. And third, once we've decided we're not on the Ad Nauseam train, that leaves three competitive options for mono-black win conditions: Razaketh, Mikaeus, and Necrotic Ooze; I believe Liliana is arguably an optimal choice for a Razaketh deck, and can slot in Mikaeus + Ballista at virtually no additional deckbuilding cost; in fact, this strategy features an absolute minimum of 'dead' card slots compared to alternative mono-black strategies; no cheerio creatures or awful Necrotic Ooze enablers like Phyrexian Devourer needed.

Now, then: what is the deck's gameplan? An apt comparison would be to Legacy Reanimator, where the main thing you're trying to do is cheat some horrific, overcosted monster into play by abusing the graveyard; Razaketh, the Foulblooded is the strongest of these, and the deck's plan A, as Razaketh is able to immediately win the game with a minimum of additional resources.

A rough rule of thumb is that after dumping Razaketh into play, you need either two additional bodies on the field, or one body and two floating mana in order to win, with some edge cases.

Two throwaway creatures on the field, no mana floating:

  1. Sac your first creature for Lake of the Dead, assuming you have two swamps in play and your land drop available. If not, you'll need additional resources in the form of either one mana or one creature.

  2. Sac your second creature for Gravecrawler. Cast Gravecrawler (BBB floating) and sac it for any one-mana zombie.

  3. Cast your zombie (BB floating), then cast Gravecrawler (B floating) and sac it for any one-mana ritual. (Dark Ritual, Songs of the Damned, Rain of Filth; use whatever gets you the most mana at the time.)

  4. Cast your ritual. Recast Gravecrawler, and sac it as many times as necessary to fetch sufficient mana in order to cast Phyrexian Altar and any way to generate additional bodies so that Gravecrawler + Altar + third card generates infinite mana. If Phyrexian Altar has been exiled, Pitiless Plunderer and an unrestricted sac outlet (Viscer Seer, Carrion Feeder, Altar of Dementia) works as well.

  5. Win with your outlet of choice, as you have infinite mana and tutoring only bound by your life total.

Now, the individual steps here are very flexible, depending on your resources (creatures and mana) available, cards in hand, and whether or not FlipLili is in play; notably, Lili +2 can allow you to discard Bridge from Below, saving on mana, or -X can put an additional body into play for another Raz tutor.

The major backup win condition if you can't put Razaketh into play involves Mikaues, the Unhallowed; Mikaues + Walking Ballista + unrestricted sac outlet results in infinite damage to as many targets as you'd like.

Of course, you can also manually assemble any combination of triggers that results in unbounded resources, rather than doing so via Razaketh; for example, Phyrexian Altar (or Pitiless Plunderer and a sac outlet) + Nether Traitor + Pawn of Ulamog/Bridge from Below in the yard results in infinite mana and death triggers; with any of the draw-on-death creatures (Grim Haruspex, Midnight Reaper, Harvester of Souls, Skullclamp) this lets you draw into an outlet to win. The primary philosophy of the deck is that each individual piece should be advancing multiple game plans, in order to minimize dead draws.

Individual card analysis:

Apprentice Necromancer -- If you're playing with the Urza's Destiny printing, note that the creature type line was errata'd to be 'Zombie Wizard,' which is rather important for the minor Zombie synergy in the deck. Even without the synergy, this is a solid card, functioning as a (temporary) Reanimate effect that's very useful with Razaketh, Rune-Scarred Demon/Sidisi, Meteor Golem, etc. Additional bonus points for the self-sac flipping Liliana, and being cheap enough that Lili -X functions without killing her; saccing on an empty board to flip Lili, then immediately using her -2 to bring the Necromancer back is a play that will sometimes come up.

Baleful Force -- Value reanimation target in a color that has fairly lacking options for them; drawing four additional cards per turn cycle is incredible.

Blood Pet -- Not flashy, but very useful. Flips Liliana, can bank mana for additional turns, allows Lili -1 to add an additional mana on a critical turn, triggers draw effects from Grim Haruspex and friends.

Bloodghast -- Mostly noteworthy as part of a Buried Alive pile with Razaketh for a free body.

Bridge from Below -- Commonly pitched with Liliana -2, or Lion's Eye Diamond on a Razaketh turn. Don't be afraid to discard it early for value, since there are enough interchangeable pieces to assemble a win with!

Buried Alive -- This is an extremely powerful card with a lot of options, and a lot of complexity in how to play it. Primarily used to assemble a win condition (Razaketh or Mikaeus), but depending on your resources available, the details can vary wildly. Roughly speaking, Raz + Bloodghast/Phyrexian Delver + Gravecrawler or Mikaeus + Phyrexian Delver + flex slot; this last flex slot depends on what else you have in play. If you have an unrestricted sac outlet in play, just get Ballista and win. If you have a one-time sac outlet and no mana available, get Sidisi; reanimate Delver, reanimating Mikaeus, one-time sac the delver, who undies and comes back; reanimate Sidisi with Delver trigger, have her Exploit herself and fetch Carrion Feeder/Viscera Seer, then Sidisi undies and Exploits herself again, fetching mana (Lake of the Dead/Lion's Eye Diamond). If you have no sac outlets available and Razaketh is exiled but you have 3 mana available, you can make a pile of Delver, Mikaeus, and Sidisi. Delver brings back Sidisi, who Exploits herself, tutoring Victimize. Cast Victimize, saccing Delver and returning both Mikaeus and Sidisi. Sidisi Exploits herself twice, and you tutor mana + reanimation. Reanimate Sidisi and Exploit-tutor into a sac outlet and Ballista to win. Simple, right? :)

Carrion Feeder -- Zombie synergy, cheapest available unrestricted sac outlet, and occasionally you'll just delete someone after assembling an infinite sac combo to make a huge/huge Feeder because you couldn't find another win condition. Go-to Zombie to enable Gravecrawler, since having a sac outlet available is better than not having it!

Collective Brutality -- Flexible little piece of tech often used to discard a reanimation target and clear the way from the blue deck at the table. Note that the discard is paid as a COST and is therefore uncounterable!

Cryptbreaker -- I love this thing, and it's basically always good; cheap, Zombie, discard outlet, AND a draw engine.

Dark Confidant -- You'll take 8 off the flip and like it.

Diregraf Colossus -- Borderline inclusion, and if it weren't a Zombie itself, it wouldn't be good enough and this slot would be Sifter of Skulls , Genesis Chamber , or Desecrated Tomb . That said, single-handedly enabling Gravecrawler and functioning as an alternate to Bridge from Below/Pawn of Ulamog for the combo warrants its inclusion, despite being totally dead with any other combination, like Nether Traitor lines.

Final Parting -- Mostly reads "Put Reanimate in your hand and Razaketh, the Foulblooded in your graveyard; this is your one-card, Ad Nauseam -esque win condition.

Fleshbag Marauder -- Flips Sidisi! Used over Merciless Executioner due to Zombie type line.

Graveborn Muse -- Payoff for the minor Zombie synergy all over the place that's necessary to make sure Gravecrawler is consistent. Phyrexian Arena at worst, and quite often significantly better, since Lili's Zombie token buddy is often around.

Gravecrawler -- Single-handedly responsible for this deck existing, and the fact that Lili creates a Zombie token on flip is INCREDIBLY relevant.

Lake of the Dead -- Best initial mana source off of Razaketh; incredibly underrated card. Greatness, at any cost.

Lion's Eye Diamond -- Second-best initial mana source, and the discard effect is often useful to pitch fat to the yard, or put Bridge from Below where it needs to be.

Meteor Golem -- Horrible card, but it's the best answer available in mono-black to solve two critical problems: Null Rod / Stony Silence , and Rest in Peace / Leyline of the Void , both of which are MASSIVE problems for this deck. Somewhat counter-intuitively, Null Rod actually shuts down every win condition in the deck; Phyrexian Altar and Pitiless Plunderer's treasure tokens are nixed, so no Gravecrawler/Nether Traitor loops, and Walking Ballista can't machine gun down the table. Can even be Reanimated (as long as it's Null Rod/Stony Silence rather than RiP/Leyline you're facing), making it a significant improvement over competing options. You can go without it, but your win condition becomes 'grind and hopefully kill someone by smacking them with a hardcast Rune-Scarred Demon or something'

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed -- Don't be afraid to Reanimate him early for value! Double death triggers are extremely powerful, whether you're just feeding Skullclamp or repeatedly Fleshbag Marauder-ing.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx -- Don't play Cabal Coffers , it's bad. This isn't.

Pawn of Ulamog -- Backup, castable/Reanimate-able Bridge from Below . Remember that you can sac the tokens for mana, as it's a fairly common line.

Phyrexian Altar , Pitiless Plunderer -- Primary combo pieces for the deck. Altar is cheaper and more useful, Plunderer can be reanimated to work through interaction, both get shut down by Null Rod.

Phyrexian Delver -- A couple of non-obvious points on this one: the Zombie typeline is very relevant, especially off of Buried Alive piles (Raz, Delver, Gravecrawler; Reanimate Delver, immediately turning on Gravecrawler), and 5 mana is a notable breakpoint for Liliana -X. After one turn of +2, Lili -5 immediately wins the game off of Buried Alive; this is a very common, and VERY powerful line of play.

Priest of Forgotten Gods -- Replaceable, but a solid little value/board control engine.

Skullclamp -- Common early-game tutor target.

Stitcher's Supplier -- Quietly an incredibly strong card; 6 cards milled is effectively card advantage the vast majority of the time, and only costing one loyalty to put it back into play off of Lili -X means that you can dig VERY hard with it. Zombie typeline is just gravy.

Victimize -- A little expensive, but serves a unique role in turning on some Mikaeus/Sidisi Buried Alive lines, and the sac trigger is nice for Lili flips.

Walking Ballista -- Main win condition for both Razaketh and Mikaeus lines. Don't be afraid to cast it for zero so the death trigger will flip Liliana; it's okay if it gets exiled! Also noteworthy that even if you don't have a sac outlet, if you have Mikaeus + Ballista + any draw-on-death trigger, you can have Ballista repeatedly kill itself to draw into a sac outlet for the win.

Waste Not -- Incredibly fun value engine, and makes grinding with Liliana +2 a legitimate win condition.


Updates Add


Date added 2 years
Last updated 7 months

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

13 - 0 Mythic Rares

41 - 0 Rares

21 - 0 Uncommons

8 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.54
Tokens 2/2 Zombie, None Treasure, Liliana
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