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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Feb 25 2013 12:42pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  This time we are looking at Living End in Modern.

This decklist is lacking in a few respects.  The Molten Rains are a poor man's substitute for Fulminator Mage, which would be much better in that slot.  Also, I'm missing a Stomping Ground for the mana base though thanks to Gatecrash picking one of these up shouldn't be too expensive soon.  Overall the main card choices are pretty similar and the list doesn't play too bad.

This list wasn't my idea but I can't seem to find the decklist I took it from to give proper credit.  However, I do have another budget friendly Living End list for anybody who is interested:

This list isn't using fetchlands and only plays 1 Ravnica Dual so is even more budget friendly than my list above.

DECK TECH

The Combo

Living End
Living End
Living End is the centrepiece of the deck.  Living End is a card that has no casting cost and in theory can only be cast using the suspend mechanic.  That was until the Cascade mechanic came along.  The deck is built so it doesn't have any spells that cost under 2 mana, therefore all cascade spells will cascade into Living End.  You can then play Living End and each player returns the creatures in their graveyard to play and wipes the board of what is already there.  Thanks to a series of cycling creatures you can spend the early turns filling your graveyard and then drop a cascade spell filling your board while emptying your opponent's.

It's important not to count out the possibility of Suspending a Living End if necessary.  Usually it's better to cascade into it but if you happen to draw a Living End it is possible to play it with suspend, if not ideal.

Violent OutburstDemonic Dread
Violent Outburst/Demonic Dread
These are your cascade spells.  Violent Outburst is by far the best as it allows you to play it at Instant speed meaning you can Wrath your opponent's board on their turn and be ready to attack with your creatures when the turn passes back.  It also allows you to dodge any Wrath effects that your opponent might be playing, at least for one turn.  Demonic Dread is not quite as good as not only is it sorcery speed but it also requires there to be a creature on the board for it to target.  However, thanks to Beast Within and Dryad Arbor which you can search up with your Fetchlands, you can usually make a creature to target with Demonic Dread.

Another thing to note, though it hasn't come up a lot in my time playing the deck is that you don't have to play the spell you cascade into.  Therefore, if your opponent casts a large creature that you really need to get past you can simply play Demonic Dread for its actual effect which is to prevent target creature blocking this turn.  Equally, you can use Violent Outburst to give your creatures enough power to alpha strike and win the game.

Creatures

Avalanche Riders
Avalanche Riders
Avalanche Riders is the only creature in the deck that doesn't cycle but instead disrupts your opponent's manabase (which is sort of sub-theme of this deck).  Disrupting manabases is particularly powerful against Tron and Valakut decks but also powerful in general due to the rather greedy nature of a lot of manabases in Modern.

Deadshot MinotaurMonstrous Carabid
Deadshot Minotaur/Monstrous Carabid
Deadshot Minotaur and Monstrous Carabid have a lot in common as they both cycle for 1 mana and if for whatever reason your Living End strategy fails they are among the easiest creatures to hardcast at only 5 mana.  If your opponent drops a Rest in Peace you can't deal with or you can't find that cascade spell these are the guys you want to see so you can drop them and have a reasonably sized creature on the board.

Street Wraith
Street Wraith
Street Wraith is another 5 cost creature but Wraith cycles for 2 life rather than any mana.  Sometimes you need to be careful with this as you can run a risky game with your life total cycling Street Wraiths too often, however, usually it's just a Gitaxian Probe of sorts and digs you that one card deeper for no additional mana.  As with Deadshot Minotaur and Monstrous Carabid, Street Wraith is another reasonable creature to hardcast if times get tough and Swampwalk means that it will be unblockable against a significant number of decks.

Pale RecluseValley Rannet
Pale Recluse/Valley Rannet
Pale Recluse and Valley Rannet do very similar things.  In all honesty, there isn't a massive reason to play Pale Recluse over Valley Rannet but there are upsides to each.  Pale Recluse is more resilient to damage spells due to it's high toughness and is also just a more solid creature if you have to combat your opponent's creatures, whereas Valley Rannet has more power and makes it easier to swing in for the win with 1 attack.  I'm tempted to mix with these numbers as we don't really need white mana in the deck except for hardcasting Pale Recluse and our manabase might be better without running Temple Garden.

Jungle Weaver
Jungle Weaver
Jungle Weaver is one of your bigger cycling creatures.  I'm always happy to have a Jungle Weaver in my graveyard as it is extremely difficult to deal with once it is in play.

Other Spells

Beast Within
Beast Within
Beast Within is a really great card in this deck.  It's an answer to any permanent and there are plenty you want to deal with, particularly hoser cards like Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace etc.  The fact you give them a token is largely irrelevant as when you wipe the board with Living End it will be gone and won't be coming back.  Sometimes, the token is actually even beneficial to you as it gives you a target for Demonic Dread where you might not have had one before.

Molten Rain
Molten Rain
Molten Rain is not ideal here.  Fulminator Mage is a much better card but Molten Rain does a reasonable impression of it.  Though running Molten Rain does make me want to add a Stomping Ground to the deck.

Lands

Dryad Arbor
Dryad Arbor
The creature that is a land.  Dryad Arbor is pretty annoying in your opener as it suffers from summoning sickness and can't tap the turn you play it.  However, the reason it is here as I've already mentioned is to give you a target for Demonic Dread if you opponent hasn't presented you with any targets.

Copperline GorgeBlackcleave Cliffs
Copperline Gorge/Blackcleave Cliffs
The Scars lands are very good particularly as if all goes to plan we shouldn't need much more than 3 mana.  The Scars lands are also still very cheap and so if you are interested in getting into Modern they are some good lands to add to your collection.

Temple GardenBlood CryptOvergrown Tomb
Temple Garden/Blood Crypt/Overgrown Tomb
The Ravnica duals are staples and they are very useful here as they enable us to access all our colours.  I've mentioned that there should probably be a Stomping Ground in the deck and that you could drop the Temple Garden and the Pale Recluses for a Stomping Ground or two and more Valley Rannets.

Verdant Catacombs
Verdant Catacombs
Verdant Catacombs allows us to search up all our Ravnica duals and so we can access the colours we need when we need to.  It can also search up the lone Dryad Arbor if we need a target for Demonic Dread.

Rootbound Crag
Rootbound Crag
Another land that gives you access to GR.  Honestly, these could just as easily be a Stomping Ground or the fourth Copperline Gorge.  I suppose it's nice to have a little variation.

Sideboard
The sideboard is a little rough around the edges but this is what I'm working with currently.

ShriekmawBrindle BoarLeyline of the VoidRicochet TrapIngot ChewerFaerie Macabre

  • Shriekmaw helps you to deal with problematic creatures.  It doesn't seem like it has great synergy with Living End as you are putting the creature in your opponent's graveyard, which is precisely where you don't want their creatures to be, but as Shriekmaw will come back when you cast Living End you will be able to destroy the creature again.
  • Brindle Boar is useful against Burn decks and fast aggro decks.  It can chump and sacrifice itself to prevent some damage and gain you some life which can buy you time to find your cascade spells.
  • Leyline of the Void in theory is a great card as it prevents your opponent from putting creatures in their graveyard and therefore guaranteeing they will get nothing out of your Living End.  In practice I've found it quite annoying.  Maybe I've been unlucky but I rarely seem to get one in my opener when I side them in and sometimes it's really not worth the aggressive mulligan.
  • Faerie Macabre fills a similar role to Leyline and I'm considering playing four Faeries over the Leylines.  Faerie Macabre isn't as permanent an answer but it does add to your overall strategy whilst also achieving the main aim of running the graveyard hate cards.  Nihil Spellbomb could be another potential card to use in this spot too.
  • Ricochet Trap is card that I have yet to use and I'm not really sure how good it is.  In theory it can be used to protect your Living End from counterspells, I have yet to see how well that works in practice.
  • Ingot Chewer is artifact hate to use against cards like Relic of Progenitus/Nihil Spellbomb/Ethersworn Canonist as well as any more general problem artifacts like Birthing Pod.  Ingot Chewer obviously doubles up as another creature that goes into your graveyard to return with Living End.

I think the sideboard could use some work and this is sort of makeshift sideboard to see what cards I like.  I also think that as we are playing white we could add in some white sideboard cards to make that splash worthwhile.  Stony Silence might be a useful card in the sideboard to turn off Birthing Pod, Relic of Progenitus and Nihil Spellbomb, or maybe even Wispmare to deal with Rest in Peace.

COST
This deck is fairly reasonable to make particularly as Modern prices seem to have taken a downward turn recently (I understand it's the end of the Modern PTQ season).  Verdant Catacombs is the most expensive card in the deck but at around 6 tix a piece it's fairly cheap compared to it's previous prices.  I've also noticed that Fulminator Mage has dropped to around 7 tix since last time I checked, when it was around 15 tix so you might want to pick them up if you're seriously considering playing this deck.

Main Deck

4 x Verdant Catacombs= 23.20
1 x Temple Garden= 3.80
1 x Blood Crypt= 3.60
1 x Overgrown Tomb= 3.38
4 x Blackcleave Cliffs= 2.92
3 x Copperline Gorge= 1.47
1 x Rootbound Crag= 1.24
4 x Street Wraith= 1.00
3 x Living End= 0.93
2 x Avalanche Riders= 0.92
4 x Beast Within= 0.64
4 x Molten Rain= 0.60
4 x Violent Outburst= 0.32
4 x Demonic Dread= 0.32
4 x Monstrous Carabid= 0.32
4 x Deadshot Minotaur= 0.32
1 x Dryad Arbor= 0.30
3 x Jungle Weaver= 0.21
4 x Pale Recluse= 0.12
1 x Valley Rannet= 0.02
Total: 45.63 tix

Sideboard

4 x Leyline of the Void= 0.36
3 x Ingot Chewer= 0.24
1 x Faerie Macabre= 0.15
2 x Shriekmaw= 0.12
2 x Ricochet Trap= 0.06
3 x Brindle Boar= 0.06
Total: 0.99 tix

Grand Total: 46.62 tix

GAMEPLAY
I've been trying out some new recording software so please forgive any minor technical hiccups made by me when using it.


Our first matchup is against RG Tron.  Main deck land destruction in the form of Molten Rain, Avalanche Riders and Beast Within is obviously very helpful here.  However, RG Tron is surprisingly resilient and thanks to it's ability to search up Tron pieces with a variety of different cards.  This match was closer than I would have liked in a matchup I would consider to be favourable on paper at least.  Fulminator Mages would have helped but Tron certainly showed here that it wasn't willing to just roll over.


Our second matchup is against the dreaded Jund, or perhaps not so dreaded since the banning of Bloodbraid Elf.  In Game 1, I keep a rather slow hand but manage to cycle into my cascade spell in time to wipe my opponent's board.  After that my opponent only has Kitchen Finks, Deathrite Shaman and a Dark Confidant to play and my threats are considerably more sizeable.  In Game 2, we have to face-off against a turn 1 Deathrite Shaman which slows my progress somewhat.  I couldn't remember at the time of recording but I believe I was playing around Rakdos Charm when playing this game which is why I played quite cautiously.  I cycled enough creatures that a Living End managed to get me a couple of creatures, despite the Deathrite, and then I was able to hardcast most of the other creatures in my hand.  Again my creatures outclassed my opponents apart from a Tarmogoyf that dropped late which fortunately I had a Shriekmaw to deal with. 


Our third matchup is against Gifts Control.  This match was kind of weird really.  I think ordinarily this matchup is just really bad as your opponent can just wait for you to cascade into Living End and then respond by playing Gifts Ungiven to drop their fatties into the graveyard.  Mulliganing into Leyline of the Void would have helped but that can be a risky game as your opponent can still kill you using Lingering Souls etc.


Our fourth and final matchup is against WB Tokens.  This is a deck I covered a while back in the series and is much less popular in the format now for some reason.  This matchup ended up being closer than I would have liked but we managed to pull it out of the bag, even despite my opponent dropping a Rest in Peace in the third game.

CONCLUSION
My build of Living End could use some work but otherwise I found playing this deck to be pretty enjoyable.  The combo is very fun and there are a lot of nice synergies in the deck.  The fact that cycling creatures fills up your graveyard for Living End and digs you closer to your cascade spells is great.  I also think that Beast Within fits really nicely into this deck, getting rid of any threatening permanent while giving them a token that you rarely care about is amazing.  The other thing I like about the deck is that although it is a combo deck it can play fair thanks to your combo pieces being creatures.  The deck doesn't simply roll-over to Rest in Peace, Deathrite Shaman or Relic of Progenitus as I've shown in my videos.  This means that you can win even through the hate which is a nice contrast to a lot of the other combo decks in the format.

As I mentioned in my last article, I am preparing for exams at the moment, however, I couldn't stay away and ended up completing this article.  I plan for my next article to cover the Death & Taxes deck in Modern so look out for that.  Hope you enjoyed the article and feel free to check back over the other articles in this series

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law

7 Comments

Very nice read! One note by BlippyTheSlug at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 12:56
BlippyTheSlug's picture
5

Very nice read! One note regarding the Modern PTQ season: Modern PTQs are scheduled through March 17th. Still 3 weekends to go! (Including 4 online PTQs!)

Thanks for the info Blippy! by olaw at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 13:33
olaw's picture

Thanks for the info Blippy! I guess it's coming to the end at least. Seems like Modern prices are dropping at any rate.

I've never seen Pale Recluse by KaraZorEl at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 13:08
KaraZorEl's picture

I've never seen Pale Recluse in this list...the player I came up against in a paper Modern event recently used Architechts of Will in that spot. It isn't castable, but it does let you mess around with their deck and put the sweepers two turns away. I don't know if fetches are needed for this deck or not. Whenever I played it, I found that you just need three lands you're good.

I've been wondering if Spitebellows is playable in this build...seems like it might be a good idea if your opponent brought back a lot of creatures from their graveyard too.

On the downside, Slaughter Games can kind of ruin your day. I'm not sure what you can do against that if a Jund player casts it. Cry? Stand on your head and do the Pennsylvania Polka?

Yeah, I didn't realise how by olaw at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 13:45
olaw's picture

Yeah, I didn't realise how strange it was until I'd played with the deck for a while. I just picked up a list I'd had on my account for a while and not so sure of the source now. I think I'd recommend just running Valley Rannets.

I've seen Architects of Will used also though I'd never thought of stacking their library so they can't find an answer, that seems like a nice interaction.

Fetches aren't strictly necessary but they can help you fix your mana which is helpful.

Spitebellows is a fine card to use. It fills a similar role to Shriekmaw in the sideboard but obviously a lot better at achieving a one-swing kill thanks to its high power.

Slaughter Games is definitely an issue but if it happens you just have to hardcast your creatures and hope that it's good enough. Surprisingly sometimes it is.

Pale Recluse/Valley Rannet by Paul Leicht at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 13:57
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Pale Recluse/Valley Rannet are old tech. From before the deck became popular. So is Architects. Avalanche Riders seems underrated/played. Good call. :)

Where is the Fulminator? by sergnotsurge at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 14:30
sergnotsurge's picture

Most versions of this deck play Fulminator Mage. The guy is a total house. Is there a reason in particular why you didnt play him? I can understand for budget purpose if that is the case.

Yes. I think I wrote in the by olaw at Mon, 02/25/2013 - 15:21
olaw's picture

Yes. I think I wrote in the article somewhere that Molten Rain is filling in for Fulminator Mage in my list. The only reason I am not playing it is for budget purposes. It's dropped in price quite a bit recently but at the time I built this deck it was too expensive.