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Much Abrew: Living End (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Living End has been an archetype in Modern for a long time. Sometimes, it's pretty good; sometimes, it's pretty bad. But it usually exists in the meta in some form or other. But now, thanks to the release of Modern Horizons 2, Living End might be more powerful than it's ever been before, thanks to new additions like Shardless Agent, Grief, and Subtlety. How good is the Modern Horizons 2 version of Living End in Modern? Let's find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Living End

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, Living End felt solid. We finished our league 4-1 and had a chance at the 5-0 before dropping our last round to a super-fast RW Magecraft deck that ran us over before we could get things set up (which is pretty impressive because Living End usually does something powerful on Turn 3, if it isn't hated on). 
  • The idea of Living End is surprisingly simple: we have Violent Outburst and now Shardless Agent, which we know will cascade into Living End every time since there's nothing else cheap enough in our deck for the cascade to hit. Ideally, we'll spend our first two turns cycling big creatures like Striped Riverwinder, Street Wraith, Architects of Will, Curator of Mysteries, and Monstrous Carabid; cascade into Living End on Turn 3; wrath our opponent's board; and put three or four creatures into play, which should kill our opponent in just one or two attacks. 
  • While the primary plan of cascading into Living End has been the same since Living End became a deck a decade ago, Modern Horizons 2 greatly increased the deck's power. By far the biggest challenge of Living End is that for the cascade plan to work, we can't play anything that costs two or less mana outside of Living End itself. But recent sets have given us a bunch of ways to cheat on this, with spells that technically have a high mana value but, in practice, can be cast for cheap or even free. Grief is the biggest example. Technically, it's a four-drop, but we can evoke it into play for free, giving us a Thoughtseize to get a counterspell or sweeper out of our opponents hand while also adding a body to the graveyard to be reanimated by Living End. Subtlety gives us a pseudo-counterspell, Force of Negation offer a literal counterspell, and Brazen Borrower can get rid of a hate card (like Chalice of the Void or Void Mirror) for a turn so that we can resolve a Living End and (hopefully) win the game. Basically, in the past, Living End was more or less a glass-cannon combo deck. You cycle, hope to dodge graveyard hate and counters, and, if you do, probably win the game by cascading into Living End. Now, thanks to Modern Horizons 2 and some other recent sets, Living End can play a more real game of Magic and protect its combo, which is a huge boost of power for the archetype! 
  • This trend carries over to the sideboard as well. By far the easiest way to beat Living End is to play graveyard hate or something that stops Living End itself, like Chalice of the Void or Void Mirror. Most Modern decks will have at least some of these hate cards in their sideboard, but we have a ton of answers to our opponents' answers in our sideboard. Foundation Breaker offers a cheap way to snipe a Rest in Peace, Chalice of the Void, or Soul-Guide Lantern. Force of Vigor does the same. Ingot Chewer is even more efficient, as a one-mana evoke creature, but only hits artifacts. Oh yeah, and now we also have Endurance to hate on our opponent's graveyard (which is key since Living End is symmetrical, so if our opponent is playing a deck that can quickly fill its graveyard with creatures, they can benefit from our Living Ends as well). 
  • If you decide to play the deck, it's mostly straightforward, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind, with the most important being Violent Outburst being an instant. Being able to cascade into Living End is huge in some matchups. Not only does cascading on our opponent's turn allow us to dodge our opponent's Force of Negations, but it also allows us to protect the combo with our own Force of Negations. Oh yeah, and Grafdigger's Cage doesn't actually do anything against Living End because of how our namesake spell is worded. Rather than putting creatures into play from our graveyard, it technically exiles them and then puts them onto the battlefield. Some opponents bring it in because intuitively it seems like it should work, but in reality, Grafdigger's Cage does literally nothing against our deck. 
  • So, should you play Living End? I think the answer is a clear yes. The deck felt incredibly powerful. It's fast and consistent, which has always been the hallmark of Living End in Modern, but now, thanks to the new Modern Horizons additions, the deck is resilient as well. If you like reanimator decks or combo decks, or just like winning lots of games, Living End feels like a really solid option for the current Modern meta!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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