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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jun 05 2023 11:34am
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Back in the day when we had Extended as a format, Hypergensis was a very feared archetype and for good reason as it was extremely fast and extremely hard to handle. It did not last long however, because in June of 2010, it received the dirt nap and got banned. Then, from the very inception of Modern as a sanctioned format, it was put on the ban list there as well.

All was not lost however, as Living End still remained. Living End has been an archetype for quite some time in Modern and was quite popular for a time when it was in its Jund form. It then died down for sometime, but when people switched it to a Sultai archetype, it began to pick up speed again a few years ago. Since then, it has been a put up plenty of good results. It isn’t the perfect deck in every meta, but when it is right time to play, it can be considered one of, if not, the best deck in the tournament. It is a fairly basic deck, but it takes a lot precise play and a lot of discipline to pilot correctly.

Living End is basically a combo deck. The combo is you cycle big creatures and build up your graveyard quickly. You then play a card like Violent Outburst to Cascade into Living End to return all of your big creatures. You then turn them sideways and win the game. While it sounds simple, it can be quite hard to navigate in games 2 and 3.

The list we will be covering today placed 5th in the Modern challenge that took place on 5/12/2023 and was piloted by the player ohN. Alright, get your graveyard hate ready, for it is time for the dead to live again. I tried my best to be funny and deep, but I am sure I failed. Let’s Rock!

 
Street Wraith – Wraith isn’t only known for being played in Living End, but Wrath definitely plays a big roll in this deck being that its cycle cost is mostly free and having Swampwalk can come up.

Curator of Mysteries – Curator is one of the best creatures in the deck. It only costs 4 mana to cast and its quite a good beater with flying. You will mostly be cycling it, but it is a good alternative to be able to cast it. The ability it has is also quite helpful.

GriefGrief really helped put this deck over the edge as now it gives you a form of hand disruption attached to a creature with decent stats. Much like Curator, Grief also costs only 4 mana, but in this version there are no lands that produce black. Some lists play a copy of Sunken Ruins and I do not like that it is absent from the list personally.

Striped Riverwinder – I am sure Pauper players will recognize this card. Riverwinder is quite good in its own right and its cycle cost only costs 1 blue, making it a perfect creature for this archetype.

Waker of Waves – Waker is quite the monster. It has 7 power and has a static effect that lowers all of your opponents creatures be 1 power. Waker does not have cycling per say, but it does have a discard ability that gives you a mini version of Impulse. The best part is it puts the card you don’t pick into the graveyard. This means you can add 2 creatures to graveyard in 1 turn which can help speed up your process of casting a juicy Living End.

Architects of Will – Architects might not look impressive compared to the other creatures of this deck, but it can be a great way to sure up the win because its ability can target your opponent as well as you. Its cycle cost is also only 1 which is main theme of this deck.

Shardless Agent and Violent Outburst – Here are your cascade cards for the deck.

Living End – Your combo piece. Do keep in mind that it also returns your opponents creatures as well. It also is a board wipe of sorts. Things like this make the mirror extremely hard to navigate.

Force of Negation – The perfect counter spell for this deck because it virtually free. Just remember, you cannot use it for free on your own turn, only your opponents. This is why Violent Outburst is the best Cascade spell to use, as it is an instant.

The Manabase

Boseiju, Who Endures and Otawara, Soaring City – Otawara is just a good card in general to have so you can bounce a hate piece such as Leyline of the Void or Teferi, Time Reveler, while Boseiju is a Naturalize effect that cannot be countered. A very problematic and popular hate piece for this deck is Chalice of the Void and Boseiju is perfect for that.

Botanical Sanctum and Spirebluff Canal – Having duel lands that do not cost you 2 life can go a long way. It is also nice that they cannot be blown up by Sundering Titan as well in certain scenarios.

The rest of the manabase is to be expected with having as much access to your colors as possible. This is made up of 7 fetchlands, 4 shocklands and then 2 basics. Your main colors are blue and green with a small splash of red for Violent Outburst, so with this in mind, we do not see copy of Stomping Ground because you mainly need blue at all times and none of your fetches get mountains. One big issue for this deck is Blood Moon, which is one of the reasons we don’t see a basic Mountain in the deck. I personally would try to find room for a copy or maybe 2 of Sunkin Ruins so that you have the option of casting some of your creatures if need be, but that might be my personal bias.

The Sideboard

Dismember – One of the best removal spells of all time in the game and a great option for a deck like this.

Endurance – This is the best piece of graveyard hate this deck can play and it is fantastic in the mirror.

Force of Vigor – For the most part, this is a free way to deal with 2 problematic artifacts and/or enchantments. The only issue is that both of your green cards are your Cascade outlets. This is why we only see 1 copy.

Foundation Breaker – A great Naturalize effect that can come back with Living End.

Mystical Dispute – This is the best counter spell this deck can play and it is quite good.

Subtlety – As I have said in the past, I see the merit in this card, but from personal play I just don’t like it. I never feel like it does enough, but it might be that I don’t play against the specific matchups where it shines often enough. I personally would not fault anyone for going down a couple copies in favor of a few more copies of Dispute.

Verdict and Conclusion

I love Living End. On the surface, it seems like a simple deck. However, if you dive deeper into it, it is actually quite a hard deck to pilot correctly. If you are a Dredge player in Vintage, I am fairly certain you will enjoy this deck quite a bit.

The mirror match is one of the toughest you can play as you are both trying to do your game plan, while trying to make your opponents Living Ends as weak as possible. Then after sideboard, you are both trying your hardest to play around Endurance. If you pick up this deck, I highly suggest practicing the mirror a lot.

Just like Dredge in Vintage, there are a ton of good hate options for this archetype. An extremely popular one is Chalice of the Void, but there are others such as Leyline of the Void, Rest in Peace, Endurance and many more. I am surprised to not see any copies of Brazen Borrower or sometimes you see a copy of Colossal Skyturtle, but I am sure they aren’t needed for every meta/tournament. Just some good options to think about. However, despite all of this hate, Living End still puts up results just like Dredge does.

One good aspect of this deck is that it can just cast some of its creatures, but that isn’t a fool proof plan. This is why cards like Boseiju, Who Endures and creatures like Brazen Borrower are so important. Just some food for thought.

Should you play this deck? I think this deck is great, but just like any other combo deck, it will not shine well all the time. There will be tournaments or leagues you walk into and everyone is packing a lot of hate for this deck. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but Living End can be quite resilient, you just need to practice!

However, with all this being said, as always, do remember my words are not gospel. I will always encourage you to try a deck that I bring you despite my personal feelings. Remember that results will vary and always remember to practice!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to Gatherling.com on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

Thank you so much for reading. Best of luck to you in your next tournament and I’ll catch you all next time!