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Hey, everyone! I'm back with another video series, this time with Living End. Outside of some minor excitement about the printing of new cyclers in Amonkhet, Living End hasn't received a lot of attention of late. Nonetheless, Asger Thorsboe Lundblad was able to secure 19th place at GP Birmingham about a month ago with a few unique tweaks. At this point the added touch of Amonkhet is to be expected, and Lundblad's list is no different. His major innovation is the addition of a white splash for Vault of the Archangel, which also enables (at least in theory) hardcasting Leyline of Sanctity post-board.
The best part about Living End, at least in my opinion, is the consistency. With so many cyclers you see a ton of cards; land-light hands often easily hit their land drops, and hands that are lacking a cascade card can find one without much trouble. This, however, can also be a detriment. With the sheer number of cards you see, finding your namesake card is also not a terribly hard task, and as such has the propensity to punish you. Living End resides in the strange category of decks that never want to draw their namesake card; instead it prefers for cascade to do all the heavy lifting!
One of Living End's key components is Fulminator Mage, which the deck looks to abuse as much as possible. Not only can its namesake card bring it back sometime after an activation, the deck also has access to Simian Spirit Guide to turn your Fulminator into a Sinkhole! Fulminator is often a key card in the matchups where your opponent can effectively interact with a flood of huge creatures at once, principally Supreme Verdict decks. Restricting your opponent's ability to cast their outs is an integral part of this deck's strategy.
The deck can also be brutally fast. Most of the time you are looking at fourish creatures entering play on turn three (hopefully on your opponent's end step thanks to Violent Outburst), but once again our friendly Ape Spirit can come into play. Coupling the "free" cycle of Street Wraith with the mana acceleration of Spirit Guide we can often have a formidable board state as early as turn two. Most opponents are not equipped to deal with something like that—at least not in game one. Surprise, graveyard hate can be an issue for the deck. Certainly there are outs in Beast Within, Krosan Grip, and Ingot Chewer, but that doesn't mean it isn't irksome. Sometimes you are forced to hold back your cyclers to the best of your ability; sometimes you have to go with Plan B: hardcast your draft chaff.
Living End has not performed exceedingly well for me so far, but frankly, I think this list could potentially go through some changes to help alleviate that. I think the white splash is likely to be a hindrance far more often than it is helpful. Traditionally, some lists have looked toward Kessig Wolf Run for a utility land. That said, I'm more inclined to give up on the utility lands altogether and stick with a more solid manabase. In a deck with so few lands, I'm not sure I want to continue taking the risk that a colorless land gets in the way. I've seen some lists experiment with Blood Moon, and I am also interested to see where that might lead. It feels like the archetype could definitely support it when built appropriately.
Those thoughts however, are for the future. For now let's look to the games! As I said last time, I'm interested to hear what kind of content you'd like to see moving forward, so I can continue to evolve and improve my videos. Please let me know your thoughts, and any improvements you would like to see concerning formatting, presentation, or whatever else strikes your fancy. If you'd like to see similar content, check out my Twitch channel for some more live Modern!
2 thoughts on “Video Series with Ryland: Living End”
I’m with you – that manabase looks atrocious. That said, I’ve spoken to some players that have had some success with the approach of basically punting on trying to beat Blood Moon and jamming 5c lands like Mana Confluence and Forbidden Orchard (which forces your opponents to have a target for Demonic Dread), as well as blue cyclers such as Curator of Mysteries and Striped Riverwinder. Any thoughts on that?
I love your series, Ryland. You’ve moved to the front of my favorite content makers for MtG. I appreciate you lack of salt, your willingness to discuss lines of play patiently, and your interaction with chat. The background music is calm but appropriate and allows for me to watch past streams.
I have a love of all control decks, especially UW, so selfishly I’d love to see your take on more decks of the archetype: Skred Red, ESPer with Goryo and Ghost Council, and any way you can make Ancestral Vision good in Modern again!