New formats can be exciting to get into. They open up a whole world of new Deck building options and give homes to cards that didn’t have them before. This format hasn’t been “solved” yet, so there is more room to experiment with new designs.
As much as everyone is talking about Oathbreaker right now, it takes time for a format to catch on. People have to take time and money to design and build new decks, and many aren’t confident doing so before they’re sure the format is here to stay. There is a simple way to help your friends get started: build your own Battlebox.
A Battlebox is a collection of decks, pre-assembled for a specific format, that have been designed and balanced to play together. This is ideal for demoing a new format, as there is less chance of being “blown out” by one particularly strong deck and each player has the best chance to see their deck perform. Battleboxes can also be built cheaply, as the decks are not fully optimized for competitive play. Barbarians riddle and I have collaborated on some sample decklists you can consider for making your own battlebox, and I will be providing a deck tech for each of them in this article series.
For each deck, we have selected a member of the Gatewatch, and used their respective “Triumph” spells from War of the Spark as the signature spell. Since you can only play your Signature Spell when your Oathbreaker is on the field, and each of the Triumphs rewards you for having their namesake planeswalker on the field, you’ll always get their full effect!
Today’s Oathbreaker is Liliana Untouched by Death . Looking at all three of her loyalty abilities, it’s clear that Liliana wants to reward us for running a critical mass of zombies, and Lilianas triumph  will also clear away enemy creatures and hands. This list runs 25 creatures, most of which are zombies, which synergize with the themes our Oathbreaker and Signature Spell share of mass discard and sacrifice, filling and recurring graveyards, and mass life loss.
Mass Discard and Sacrifice
This deck leans heavily into making opponents rapidly discard cards. This is a classic approach to monoblack control, and there are just enough cards that fit this deck’s theme for it to work in multiplayer. Our Signature Spell is a good start, but we don’t want to make that our primary discard outlet- you really want to use it as creature removal and have the discard be an added bonus. Instead, we can play Miasmic Mummy  and Rotting Rats  ahead of Liliana, taking away some possible answers and early agro from our opponents. Rotting Rats  is an all-star in this deck because Unearth  will let you play it one more time if it dies, or from your graveyard if you discard it or mill it away with Liliana.
Beyond our Signature Spell, we have access to several cost effective routes of repeatable mass sacrifice. Fleshbag Marauder  was an obvious choice since it is also a zombie, but Priest of Forgotten Gods  brings the most value, letting you sacrifice two creatures to ramp, force opponents to sacrifice creatures, drain opponents for two life each, and draw a card. Many of our creatures, such as  and Undead Augur  reward you for sacrificing your own creatures, as well.
Filling and Recurring from Graveyards
Between Liliana’s loyalty abilities and your mass discard and sacrifice effects, graveyards will get full quickly as this deck advances its game plan. Even though Liliana’s ultimate ability can let you play zombies from the graveyard, that will not be our main battle plan. Creatures like Lilianas Elite  and Wight of Precinct Six  become bigger as graveyards become more populated, while cards like GhoulRaiser , Grave Scrabbler  help recur creatures. This lets us get more out of cards like Miasmic Mummy  and Fleshbag Marauder  to keep enemy boards clear of threats. Grave Scrabbler  synergizes with our strategy particularly well since they have madness and can be pitched to one of our mass discard effects.
Mass Life Loss
While everything so far has helped control the pace of the early and mid-game, closing out the game may be the trickiest part when piloting this deck. If you’ve been aggressively forcing sacrifice and discard effects, your opponents may be teaming up against you, or may have enough extra creature removal that they can target you with all of it. So, when you can’t win on the ground, you’ll want to get creative. Liliana’s first loyalty ability can chip at all of your opponents at once, and we have similar effects like Shepherd of Rot  and the classic Gray Merchant of Asphodel  to help you close out the game once everyone has their defenses up. Rank Officer  and Tattered Mummy  contribute to this as well, but in smaller amounts at a time.
Planning for Your Opponents
Though aggressively forcing sacrifice and discard may keep you safe, there are still a few things you need to be prepared for. Each opponent has at least one Planeswalker at their disposal, so cards like Ruinous Path  and Never//Return  can remove enemy Oathbreakers, but can also deal with problematic creatures in a pinch. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to include The ElderSpell . Late in the game, being able to wipe all Planeswalkers off the board and boost Liliana’s loyalty can drastically shift the game in your favor. One of the few non-zombie creatures I’ve included is , which allows you repeatable Planeswalker removal, which may cause your opponents to waste a removal spell.
Our creature removal package also includes Call to the Grave  which will keep enemy creatures off the board without hurting yours. Since we are in monoblack, Mutilate  is a cost effect board wipe that works best with a critical mass of swamps. Late in the game, Gloomdrifter  can clear the board for you as well, and is even another zombie.
As of this writing, you can secure this entire deck list for between $30 and $40. If you have some of these cards already, or are willing to go out of budget, I can recommend the following upgrades.
·Cabal Coffers  has been a staple of monoblack control for more than a decade, allowing you to cast this deck’s big spells like Josu Vess Lich Knight  more quickly.
· Liliana, Deaths Majesty  was my second choice to lead this deck. She costs a little bit more, but the fact her first loyalty ability makes zombie tokens and her second lets you resurrect creatures you’ve sent to the graveyard lets her be more aggressive.
· Waste Not  has the potential to really capitalize off of all the discards you’re bringing to the table, allowing you to create more mana, draw more cards and make more tokens. This card is an EDH favorite for a reason.
· Heros Downfall  is arguably the smallest upgrade, since it does what Ruinous Path  does, but at instant speed. If you find that versatility necessary in your meta, this is an easy swap.
Piloted correctly, this deck can slow opponents from fully developing their board state, allowing you to set up a commanding position for yourself going into the late game. If you’ve ever played monoblack control in a constructed format, this will feel nostalgic and familiar. Just remember that this deck is best played by laughing maniacally whenever the game turns in your favor.
If you enjoyed this deck list, please consider donating to Magikids. The people who brought us Oathbreaker also run this amazing charity, and both monetary submissions and magic card donations are accepted. If you are interested in picking up singles for this deck, you should also consider reaching out to them before an online retailer. They have a wide selection of cards available if you send them a list, and those proceeds would also help support the organization.
Accountant, Freelance writer and editor, MTG Oathbreaker and Commander player.