Eldrazi Winter? Yes, we’re currently in the midst of the epic battle between the Spaghetti Monsters and the Robots, but all is not lost. It turns out that Living End has a pretty good shot against the Devoid menace. Sure, Eldrazi decks can spit out four 2-powered creatures on turn one; but we can use Simian Spirit Guide to cast Living End on turn two, wiping away all those unfairly free threats. The Eldrazi can do bonkers things, and so can Living End.
In preparation for the upcoming Modern Grand Prix in Detroit, I’ve been analyzing all of the likely match-ups. Based on my experience in three recent Grand Prix Trials (10th, 8th, and 2nd after Swiss, respectively) and my relentless practice on MTGO, I have compiled a basic sketch of the format’s most common decks and how Living End should approach them. Included in each deck review is a list of the match-up’s most dangerous cards, and a suggested list of sideboard cards to bring in.
NOTE: These are vague generalizations based on a variety of experiences and discussions. Every game and every deck should be considered independently, and not all decks will have the same cards detailed below. Pay attention to your surroundings and your opponent, and act on your instincts!
The match-ups are listed in alphabetical order, based on the deck’s common name (ex. Affinity, Kiki-Chord, etc.)
Deck Archetype (Strength of match-up for LE) % of SCG Louisville Day 2 meta game
Sample Deck List
Watch List: Cards to look out for/play around
SB: Potential sideboard cards for this match-up
SIDEBOARD NOTE: As a general rule, I first side out the match-up’s dead cards (ex. Shriekmaw against Affinity). Then, my first preference for board-outs are any Architects of Will, since they serve a more generalized role in the deck and can be replaced by something more matchup-specific for games 2/3. After that, I consider siding out Simian Spirit Guides, depending on the match-up and whether I’m on the play or draw. On the play against most decks I will take out at least one, and I generally only keep them all in for post-boarded games against Eldrazi, Tron, and blue-based control (when boarding in Ricochet Trap).
Also, it is difficult to provide a direct sideboard plan given the flexibility of Living End decklists, so when applicable I have provided suggestions on the cards that should be cut.
Abzan Collected Company Combo (fairly weak) 4.6%
Ari Lax’s Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch list
Watch List: Kitchen Finks, Viscera Seer, Kin-Tree Spirit, Voice of Resurgence, Scavenging Ooze
SB: Faerie Macabre, Jund Charm, Leyline of the Void, Shriekmaw, Dismember
When you first sit down to play against this deck, you might think you’re facing a fair creature deck, but this archetype has a hidden combo behind all of its normal-seeming creatures like Noble Hierarch, Kitchen Finks, and Qasali Pridemage. The real strategy for the “CoCo Combo” deck is to power out a three-card infinite combo with the help of Collected Company and Chord of Calling. It’s the same combo that existed in the Birthing Pod combo decks, just with a different approach to assembling it.
Although the combo requires three different pieces, two of them have more than one option. Here are the components needed to go off, and an explanation of the combo:
1. The Persist creature – Kitchen Finks (for infinite life) or Murderous Redcap (infinite damage)
2. The sacrifice outlet – Viscera Seer
3. The Persist counter negator – Melira, Sylvok Outcast or Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
How it works: sacrifice a Finks or Redcap to the Seer, then when the creature comes back into play from the Persist trigger, Melira prevents the -1/-1 counter or Anafenza bolsters that creature to cancel out the -1/-1 counter, making it a fresh, counter-less creature ready to be sacrificed again and again.
The best way to approach this match-up once you’re aware that you’re facing it (sometimes an Overgrown Tomb and a Noble Hierarch is actually a Kiki-Chord deck that didn’t lead with a red source) is to think about how bad it would be if they hit all their combo pieces with a Collected Company this turn. Don’t use a Living End enabler if they have the mana to cast CoCo into an easy win after you’ve spent everything.
This deck is very resilient against Living End, not only because it can play Collected Company after a LE and replace two decent creatures, but also because it plays a graveyard game with Viscera Seer similar to the one Affinity plays with Arcbound Ravager (sacrificing everything to the Seer with Living End on the stack so everything comes back into play). Faerie Macabre, Jund Charm, Leyline of the Void, or any other graveyard hate cards will do well for us here. Macabre is great for pulling out Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap when the Persist trigger is on the stack (remember that they are in the graveyard until the trigger resolves and brings them back to life with the -1/-1 counter). Slaughter Games naming Viscera Seer is a legitimate play as well, as it will remove one of the main combo pieces that doesn’t typically have secondary options.
Voice of Resurgence and Scavenging Ooze are also issues in this match-up, so plan to bring in Shriekmaw, Dismember, or other ways to dispatch those creatures quickly and early. The slower cycling creatures can come out along with Simian Spirit Guide, since we aren’t looking to rush into an early (and small) LE as much as we want to in other match-ups. This is a creature deck, but it isn’t a quick and aggressive one. Consider it a combo deck than can Plan B into a 3/2 and 2/2 beater strategy.
Ad Nauseam (sketchy) Part of misc. 7.7%
Mark Angelo Naldo’s GP Trial 1st place list
Watch List: Pact of Negation, Phyrexian Unlife, Angel’s Grace
SB: Slaughter Games, Leyline of Sanctity
The Ad Nauseam match-up is almost entirely based on whether we are able to interact with the deck early in the game. At minimum, the combo requires five mana to cast Ad Nauseam if Phyrexian Unlife is already in play from a previous turn, but it can all be done on the same turn for six mana. If you can keep the opponent from ever getting to those mana milestones, you will significantly increase your chance of victory.
The Ad Nauseam combo works like this:
1. Cast a “you don’t die” enabler like Phyrexian Unlife or Angel’s Grace.
2. Cast AN and draw the entire deck (the opponent’s life total will be like -30 or lower at this point).
3. Exile three Simian Spirit Guides to cast Lightning Storm targeting your face.
4. Discard 7-10 land cards to pump Lightning Storm’s damage up to 20-25 (each land represents 2 damage)
The deck can use Spoils of the Vault to find Ad Nauseam or the alternative win condition of Laboratory Maniac – the deck uses Spoils of the Vault to look for a card that isn’t in the deck, resulting in exiling the entire deck. A Serum Visions or a draw step then wins the game. To speed up mana production, the deck uses Lotus Bloom, which suspends for three turns, and Pentad Prism. Blowing up these artifacts and as many lands as possible will cripple the deck from going off. Destroying Phyrexian Unlife only delays the combo, since the deck can cast Angel’s Grace the same turn as Ad Nauseam and win without us being able to interact. Destroy the lands, destroy the mana rocks, and destroy the opponent.
Slaughter Games (naming Ad Nauseam) and Leyline of Sanctity help post-board, but we’re still vulnerable to the Laboratory Maniac Plan B win condition. Ingot Chewers are a must to help blow up Pentad Prism and Lotus Bloom, which should be enough to delay the combo and give us time to Living End a pile of creatures for an alpha strike (or an early concession from a frustrated opponent). Take out anything that interacts with creatures (Shriekmaw), and Faerie Macabre won’t matter in this match-up. The opponent will likely bring in Silence to cut off the cascade. Surgical Extraction is also common, so be careful how often you let a Living End get into the bin.
Affinity (slightly favorable) 7.7%
Austin Holcomb’s SCG LOU 1st place list
Watch List: Arcbound Ravager, Cranial Plating, Inkmoth Nexus
SB: Ingot Chewer, Krosan Grip, Faerie Macabre, Anger of the Gods, Kolaghan’s Command (Out – Shriekmaw)
Affinity can be a pleasant match-up for Living End, or it can be a scary one, depending on how the Living End maindeck is built. The match-up essentially comes down to a fight over one card – Arcbound Ravager. Without Ravager, the Affinity deck plays like a fair creature deck, spewing a bunch of 1/1s and pseudo-lords like Steel Overseer to pump the team – easily swept away by Living End. But with Ravager, things get a little tricky. When LE hits the stack, the Affinity player can sacrifice all of his/her artifacts in play to the Ravager, allowing them all to be in the graveyard when Living End resolves; Ravager will be the only creature that dies, the rest will come back into play, and Ravager’s Modular trigger will be on the stack to resolve on one of the freshly-returned robots. This means that when Ravager is in play, you can expect that Living End will just be bringing back your creatures from the graveyard, instead of also being a free board wipe.
Faerie Macabre will help by exiling the two most threatening creatures, usually Vault Skirge and Steel Overseer. Not-so-good Affinity players will also sacrifice the Arcbound Ravager to itself, so that should be considered the #1 priority to Macabre away. It’s tricky here, but pay attention to how you communicate with your opponent during the Macabre/Ravager interaction. Your opponent may help you out by grabbing a pile of creatures and sacrificing them all at once, which happily indicates to us whether he/she intends to also sacrifice the Ravager. But generally in a competitive event the opponent will sacrifice them one at a time. Announce that you’re letting each ability resolve before thinking whether to use the Macabre’s ability. Generally, if Ravager is the only creature on the table, you should use the Faerie at that point, since if you say ‘ok’ or do anything that indicates you’re passing priority, and your opponent doesn’t sacrifice the Ravager, you missed your chance to use the Macabre. The short version: when using Faerie Macabre against Ravager activations, get as much value as you can but don’t be greedy!
The other two cards to care about are Cranial Plating and Inkmoth Nexus. Plating helps pile on the damage, while Inkmoth is a Plan B to slowly poison you when regular damage can’t get there. Plating on a Nexus is even scarier. Steel Overseer is an early target that its removal will help delay a quick start (especially those games Affinity pukes out its entire hand on turn 1). Also consider whether a Mox Opal or Springleaf Drum are playing a bigger role in the match-up (ex. if you see they’re playing colored cards like Thoughtcast or Galvanic Blast). Sometimes it’s a good call to destroy those when the creatures in play aren’t too threatening – remember that only creatures come back during Living End, and those noncreature artifacts will become damage through Cranial Plating and Arcbound Ravager activations.
Post-board you should have a full set of Ingot Chewers, giving you a pile of one-mana Vindicate, and Krosan Grip helps wipe out Arcbound Ravager without letting the opponent activate it (yay for Split Second!). Shriekmaw is a totally dead card here, so get all of them out.
Black-White Tokens (really good) %N/A
Sample list from MtgTop8.com
Watch List: Rest in Peace, Eidolon of Rhetoric, Surgical Extraction, Discard spells
SB: Krosan Grip, Leyline of Sanctity, Faerie Macabre, Jund Charm, Anger of the Gods
Our match-up against the declining-in-popularity tokens deck is really strong. The deck creates numerous small token creatures, mostly at sorcery speed, and pumps them with enchantments like Intangible Virtue. Our creatures are behemoths in comparison and can easily overtake the game with even a few coming into play from Living End. Tokens can recover from Living End fairly well, using 2-for-1 or better token generators like Lingering Souls and Raise the Alarm. But as long as they remain 1/1s or 2/2s (by keeping multiple Intangible Virtue off the table), we will have plenty of time to fill up our graveyard and find a cascade enabler.
Along with its barrage of tiny creatures, the Tokens deck attacks us with a high number of discard spells. Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize will surely be played during early turns, so consider your opening hand without its best card. A bad game for us is one where the opponent rips out our cascade cards before we can cast them, and then we don’t draw another one before being overrun by a bunch of tokens.
For games 2/3, watch out for the typical white-based hate cards like Rest in Peace and Eidolon of Rhetoric. Surgical Extraction sometimes makes an appearance as well, so be mindful of what ends up in your graveyard. Bring in the mass creature removal cards like Jund Charm and Anger of the Gods, as well as some Faerie Macabre or other light graveyard hate to prevent second castings of Lingering Souls. Mana acceleration is not an issue in this match-up, so you can take out Simian Spirit Guide, in addition to any main deck artifact hate (Ingot Chewer) you’re running.
Blue-based Control (somewhat bad) 6.2%
Benjamin Nikolich’s SCG LOU 24th place list (“Blue Moon” R/U Control)
David Mcnamera’s SCG LOU 28th place list (U/W Control)
Rambo88’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list (Grixis Control)
Watch List: Blood Moon, Remand, Supreme Verdict (U/W), Spreading Seas, Rest in Peace (U/W)
SB: Ricochet Trap, Krosan Grip, Jund Charm, Faerie Macabre
Not all control decks are the same. Some have more creatures than others (ex. Grixis often has Tasigur and Gurmag Angler, U/W has Sun Titan, Wall of Omens, and Kitchen Finks occasionally, etc.). However, there are many commonalities that allow to prepare for them together. First, Remand is a serious problem for Living End. Nothing is sadder than cascading into the spell and then having it put in our hand. Counterspells in general are annoying for us, but we can learn to play around them. Suspending LE is usually the better plan over trying to force in a cascade. By suspending LE, we have three turns to make the board more supportive of our key spell – blowing up lands, luring out other counterspells, and drawing more cards to follow up LE coming off suspend. Often in those three turns you will draw a Violent Outburst that you can play after the suspended LE is countered, allowing you to try two Living End attempts in the same turn.
Supreme Verdict (Wrath of God/Damnation too) is also a concern for us. The opponent can just let Living End resolve (or play in a way that baits us into casting it) before untapping and clearing the board. If you suspect a Wrath spell coming, it might be wise to suspend a second Living End to potentially recover from the creature wipe.Between the mass removal and counterspells, sometimes our best play is to just cast our creatures and make our opponent play around a possible cascade at any time. I have won games with a 2/2 Simian Spirit Guide attacking for six turns in a row while my opponent plays defensively, working to prevent a Living End cascade opportunity.
Pay attention to the opponent’s mana base – if Blood Moon could be played without harming him/her too much, assume it is in the deck, and plan your land fetches accordingly. Sometimes it will be more obvious – Blue Moon decks play tons of basic Island and Mountain cards, and they love slamming down a turn three Blood Moon. If this deck continues to trend upward in popularity, we really should be using Verdant Catacombs instead of Bloodstained Mire to ensure we can easily get both basic Swamp and Forest cards.
Post-sideboard Ricochet Trap helps redirect counterspells, and Faerie Macabre/Jund Charm helps eliminate Snapcaster Mage targets from the opposing graveyard. Note that Ricochet Trap CANNOT target Cryptic Command if the chosen modes are counter and bounce. Those two modes both have targets, and you can only cast the Trap on a spell that has a single target. If the Command modes chosen are counter and draw, then only one target exists and Trap can redirect it.
Krosan Grip is relevant against Blood Moon and Spreading Seas (and Rest in Peace in some builds), and I usually throw in one or two Ingot Chewer just in case Relic is part of the opponent’s sideboard plan (or if you think Blue Moon kept in Batterskull or Vedalken Shackles). The worst cards in the control match-ups are any cards that interact with creatures, so cutting Shriekmaw and a few Demonic Dread will open up slots to bring in what you need. If you know you’re playing against the Blue Moon deck (you’ll see tons of basic lands) you can side out a few Fulminator Mage if you need space.
Bogles/Hexproof (one of our best) % N/A
nathanb1992’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list
Watch List: Sigarda, Host of Herons, Rest in Peace
SB: Krosan Grip, Brindle Boar (Out – Shriekmaw, Faerie Macabre, Ingot Chewer, Demonic Dread)
I don’t think I can be more excited to play Living End than against the Bogles/hexproof deck. All you need is to get a Violent Outburst and you’re at least 90% to win. Occasionally this deck can have an explosive start and put you on a 4-5 turn clock, but often that is enough time for you to find the right enabler. Not all of the threats have hexproof, fortunately, so often you will get to cast a Demonic Dread on a Kor Spiritdancer to start the cascade.
Game one against Bogles is very straight-forward. They are trying to race you to Violent Outburst by loading up a hexproof creature with a ton of auras like Rancor, Ethereal Armor, and Spider Umbra. Expect to take 10-12 damage before you get to enable Living End, but you should be in great shape after you wrath the board. Most Bogles lists have Path to Exile main, so you might need to have more than one creature in the bin to win. But usually the first Living End will win the game, considering you’re wiping away all those auras too.
Post-board you want to remove any dead cards like Shriekmaw and Ingot Chewer, and Faerie Macabre isn’t relevant here either. One or two Demonic Dread can be cut too, since this match-up has few targetable creatures. Krosan Grip is a great board card, and if you have extra space I would recommend Brindle Boar/Gnaw to the Bone to help extend the game until you find Violent Outburst. Rest in Peace is a common bring-in for the Bogles player, so be mindful of the possibility of losing your hard-earned graveyard. Unfortunately, we are near-dead to a Sigarda, Host of Herons, considering it prevents Living End from forcing the opponent to sacrifice his/her creatures, but luckily this is not a very common sideboard tech.
Burn (really bad) 3.1%
tehutehu’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list
Watch list: Eidolon of the Great Revel, Skullcrack, Atarka’s Command
SB: Brindle Boar/Gnaw to the Bone, Leyline of Sanctity, Shriekmaw (Out – Street Wraiths)
This match-up is rough – we barely have time to interact with the deck while it quickly burns us down. Avoid fetching for untapped shock lands at all costs, and hope for good variance in the first game. Fulminator Mage does good work blocking, and blowing up your own land with Beast Within for a 3/3 blocker will help, since most of the creature threats in Burn are 2/2s (Goblin Guide, Eidolon of the Great Revel). This also means that you can generally have an effective post-Living End defense with a single Deadshot Minotaur, so there is no need to be greedy with filling up the graveyard before cascading. You’re getting pummeled by face spells like Lava Spike, so it is vital to quickly clear away creatures and prevent repeatable damage.
Post-board we can shore up the match-up with Leyline of Sanctity, although that only helps against the spell assault – we can definitely still die from a creature onslaught. Brindle Boar is my life gain card of choice for this battle, since they also block and won’t make you choose between playing a Fulminator Mage to block or filling up the yard to get more value from Gnaw to the Bone (either one is fine, personal preference). Be alert for Skull Crack and Atarka’s Command, as they prevent life gain for the turn.
I also like Jund Charm as another way to clear out the 2-toughness creatures at instant speed, and Krosan Grip will help take care of an Eidolon of the Great Revel. Speaking of Eidolon, keep in mind that it will trigger TWICE when you cast a cascade enabler like Violent Outburst. The enabler will trigger for two damage, and then Living End (which has a CMC of 0) will trigger it a second time. So you have to be ready to take four damage to Living End off of cascade. Sometimes you might just have to wait and hardcast your Minotaurs and Carabids. Shriekmaw also helps eliminate the early Goblin Guide and takes care of Eidolon without triggering it (Shriekmaw, even when evoked, has a CMC of 5).
All the Street Wraiths come out for games 2/3, since you never can afford to cycle them. I would also prioritize removing the 2-mana cycling cards (Jungle Weaver) before removing 1-mana ones like Architects, just to keep the deck speed as high as possible (plus a 3/3 does the same amount of work as a 5/6 in this match-up, but the one extra cycling mana will make a difference).
Delver (50/50) %N/A
Todd Anderson’s SCG Classic 1st place list
Watch List: Remand, Spell Pierce, Snapcaster Mage, Blood Moon
SB: Ricochet Trap, Shriekmaw, Dismember, Brindle Boar
The Delver decks play a hybrid strategy, combining control elements with a tempo/burn-like approach. A turn one Delver of Secrets starts the clock, followed often by a second Delver and Tarmogoyf. Thought Scour helps fill the graveyard for Snapcaster Mage targets and allows the opponent to quickly play powerful delve creatures like Hooting Mandrils and Tasigur, the Golden Fang (depending on the build’s colors). While you’re taking 3-4 damage per turn from these cheap creatures, the opponent is standing guard with the cheap countermagic spells, Remand and Spell Pierce. Remand is one of the worst cards in Modern for Living End, especially in this archetype. We don’t really have three turns to wait for LE to be suspended, so it will be worth playing around the counterspells.
Fortunately, nearly all of the creatures are non-black in every version of the Delver list. Delver of Secrets, Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique, Young Pyromancer, Snapcaster Mage, and many others are perfect targets for Shriekmaw. Additionally, the Delver decks run very few mana-producing lands; most of the 18-20 land cards are fetch lands. Fulminator Mage and Beast Within can help cripple the opponent’s mana to make it easier to resolve a Living End. Note that some blue-red lists run Blood Moon, so plan accordingly with your lands if you see lots of basics.
Ricochet Trap will be excellent in this match-up, as well as Shriekmaw, Dismember, and any other cheap/quick creature removal. Faerie Macabre, Jund Charm, and Leyline of the Void will be great at stopping any Snapcaster Mage shenanigans, and can prevent follow-up delve creatures. Brindle Boar or other life-gain cards can extend the game and put you out of double-Lightning Bolt range.
I think Delver is an easier match-up than straight control decks, but sometimes you just don’t get enough time to set up Living End. You can also just die to several Lightning Bolts (and then Snapcaster Mage, flashback another one) to the face. Once you do resolve a LE with a few large creatures, it will be very difficult for your opponent to win, assuming you are out of direct damage range.
Eldrazi (game 1 good, games 2/3 not so good; varies by version) 47.7%
Kent Ketter’s SCG LOU 2nd place list (U/W)
Jacob Dyer’s SCG LOU 3rd place list (U/R)
Zach Voss’s SCG LOU 9th place list (EldraziTron)
Colin Hartman’s SCG LOU 15th place list (Colorless)
Watch List: varies by version; Chalice of the Void, Relic of Progenitus, Warping Wail
SB: Shriekmaw, Ingot Chewer (Out – Faerie Macabre, Architects)
Ah, the Modern format Bogeyman, the spaghetti monsters, the most busted nuts of them all, whatever you want to call them. Regardless of whether a banning is coming, the Eldrazi decks will be here for at least the next month, which means they will be running amok at the upcoming Grand Prix. There are several variations on the Eldrazi deck, and there are probably other styles yet to appear. The general strategy for all versions is similar, with each style including a few special tech pieces. Let’s start with the general Eldrazi assault game plan, and then talk about each version’s unique aspects.
Eldrazi General Strategy – Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple create unfair amounts of mana to power out amazing colorless creatures. Endless One and Eldrazi Mimic lead the assault, often coming out in multiples as early as turn one. Then Thought-Knot Seer rips your Living End cascade enabler from your hand, and Reality Smasher barrels down for tons of damage. No matter which version of the Eldrazi deck you face, this is what’s happening for the first 2-5 turns of the game. Your job is to just stay alive and Living End as soon as possible to clear the board. The Eldrazi deck can look like a giant Affinity deck on turn one, but you can cascade into Living End on turn two with Simian Spirit Guide – the format’s nuts answer to the nuts threat.
We are fairly well-matched for game one, as most of the Eldrazi decks are no longer running Chalice of the Void or Relic of Progenitus main deck. As long as we can find a timely cascade into Living End, we can be ahead. Jungle Weavers are especially good to cycle, as they will win the blocking battle against Reality Shaper. Fulminator Mage and Beast Within should target Eldrazi Temple and not Eye of Ugin, generally, as the Eldrazi player is often stuck with a replacement Eye of Ugin in his/her hand – don’t give them the chance to regain the mana. Eye is particularly good during the first few turns, but after the initial onslaught the real work is done using Eldrazi Temple (<><> is more relevant than a reduction of cost; ex. can’t play Thought-Knot Seer without producing at least <>), so destroy those first.
Sideboarded games get a little trickier, as all Eldrazi decks come stacked with lots of Living End hate (the deck designers knew LE is one of their worst matchups). Expect Relic of Progenitus, Chalice of the Void, Rest in Peace from white versions, Warping Wail, and in some cases Surgical Extraction. Ingot Chewers will be your best friends, along with Krosan Grip, Jund Charm for an additional anti-Mimic/Endless One plan, and Shriekmaw. Remember that all cards with Devoid are colorless EVEN IF they require a colored mana to cast (ex. Displacer Mimic costs 2W, but is colorless because it has Devoid) – Shriekmaw destroys and cannot be blocked by Eldrazi! Dismember is also fine to bring in against Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer, just be careful how much life you give up so you stay out of hasty-5/5-death range.
Sometimes the Eldrazi decks will just outflank you with tons of creatures and a bunch of hate cards at the same time. It sucks, but that’s just the variance of the game. I lost a game where my colorless Eldrazi opponent played a Spellskite, Relic of Progenitus, Chalice of the Void for 0, and two Eldrazi Mimics by turn two. That game was instantly unwinnable. In those cases you have to remember that this deck is stupid, and it’s getting a banning (or two) very soon. Don’t tilt, and move on.
Now let’s talk about what each Eldrazi variant brings to the match-up.
Blue/White – The big change in this match-up is the addition of Path to Exile and Eldrazi Displacer. Displacer is not really a problem because we don’t plan on blocking much, nor are creatures on the table long enough for blocking to really be considered. Path to Exile is relevant because it makes our initial Living End less offensively powerful – that one or two creatures are probably getting exiled. That’s good for our mana development for later hard casting big cards like Jungle Weaver, but it makes the first LE less ‘auto-winlike’. The blue in this deck is generally for blue Eldrazi, not for counterspells, but do be aware of the possibility of a random Stubborn Denial.
This version also runs Rest in Peace in the sideboard, so be ready for that. It’s not all bad as long as you didn’t lose a giant graveyard, as RIP lets us focus on playing monsters for their full cost instead of concerning ourselves with playing around other hate like Chalice of the Void and Relic of Progenitus.
Colorless – Main deck Chalice of the Void and Relic of Progenitus makes this the worst Eldrazi match-up for us. Luckily, it’s the least good Eldrazi deck when talking about Eldrazi mirrors. We might just avoid it in the big events where people are focused on winning the Battle of the Eldrazi Mirror. Warping Wail and Spellskite (protecting Chalice and Relic from artifact removal like Ingot Chewer) come in from the sideboard, making it even harder for us to resolve a Living End.
Blue/Red– Slightly easier to play against than the blue/white version since they don’t have access to Rest In Peace. Stubborn Denial is a very common sideboard option that comes into games 2/3 in multiples. This Eldrazi variant relies even more on creatures than the other styles, which will make a timely Living End even stronger, although it gives the opponent more chances to top-deck a live threat instead of an otherwise-dead card. Vile Aggregate can get pretty big pretty quickly.
EldraziTron – This version has the same explosive start as all the other approaches, but takes a long-game strategy of casting the Eldrazi Titans (Ulamog and Kozilek) and wiping the board with All is Dust. This deck tries to assemble UrzaTron (Tower/Power Plant/Mine) after the initial Eye of Ugin/Eldrazi Temple-based start. After surviving the initial onslaught we have to interrupt the Tron assembly, while also fending off the usual Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. Crumble to Dust out of the sideboard will be helpful to stop Tron, and Ingot Chewers will do double-duty stopping Expedition Map and the graveyard hate (Relic and Chalice).
Elves (really good) %N/A
Nicoras’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list
Jesse Hill’s Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch list (Chord/Collected Company)
Watch List: Scavenging Ooze, Viscera Seer, Rest in PeaceSB: Jund Charm, Anger of the Gods, Shriekmaw, Dismember, Brindle Boar
The classic green-based Elves deck plays a fair game, spitting out tons of elves and generating card advantage…that all get eaten up by a timely Living End. Some lists have Collected Company and Chord of Calling to help recover from a board wipe. If you have removal like Shriekmaw (or even Beast Within), focus on the lords (Elvish Archdruid, Elvish Champion) to slow down the aggro damage, or try to hose the mana engine by killing Heritage Druid. Realistically though, our job is to just stay alive long enough to cycle our much-bigger creatures and Living End them all back for a few brutal swings. Be mindful that the second Living End will not be very good with your opponent’s bin overflowing with the little green guys from the first LE. Be patient, stay alive, and make the first one count.
For games 2/3, you’ll want to bring in any creature interaction cards you have, like Shriekmaw, Anger of the Gods, and Jund Charm, as well as some Brindle Boar or other life-gaining card to help extend the game. Cards that help eliminate the graveyard will also support you in casting Living End more than once, but they really aren’t necessary. The caveat to this is if your opponent might be boarding in Viscera Seer. It isn’t very popular, but I have seen it run in decks on Magic Online, and it all-but-negates Living End (see the explanation for Abzan CoCo combo above). Fulminator Mage is probably your least playable card in this match-up, given the frequency of basic Forest here, so cut all of those to make room for creature removal.
Also, be aware that some decks play Scavenging Ooze in both the main and sideboards (which is something to watch out for whenever you see green mana and creatures). Hopefully you see Rest in Peace come in, because it helps us in this match-up much more than it hurts us. As I said above, the second Living End is generally bad, but RIP makes all of our LE easy board wipes. Then we just cast our creatures and play some classic Magic.
GriShoalbrand/Through the Breach (fairly good) %N/A
kogamo’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list (non-Shoal Goryo’s Vengeance)
Jan Mannaerts’s GP Trial list (GriShoalbrand)
Watch List: Izzet Charm, Remand
SB: Spells that exile graveyard cards, Shriekmaw (for Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy), Slaughter Games
The goal of this deck is to cheaply cheat out a powerhouse Legendary creature to steal the game. It’s a combo deck that has two plans of action to bring out a threat – Goryo’s Vengeance to reanimate a graveyard resident, or Through the Breach to bring out a creature from the hand. Most decks play two primary threats, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Griselbrand, but the green-“splashing” GriShoalbrand version also has Borborygmos Enraged as an extra win condition. The rest of the deck is card draw, discard, and manipulation spells to find each combo piece and fill up the graveyard for later shenanigans.
Our strategy against this deck is fairly straight-forward – disrupt the win-condition. To stop Goryo’s Vengeance, we have to interact with the graveyard with cards like Faerie Macabre, much in the same way we would play against a Snapcaster Mage. If the target is no longer legal when Vengeance resolves (i.e. the creature has been exiled), then nothing happens (yay!). The other way to fight is to let Through the Breach or Vengeance happen, then Violent Outburst into Living End to destroy the threat. Griselbrand will probably still net seven cards, and Borborygmos might be able to toss a few lands at your face, but the immediate problem will be gone.
While the deck mostly goldfishes, watch out for Izzet Charm if you see blue mana. It’s mainly used to cycle through cards, but the mini-Negate is relevant to stop you from casting Living End. Post-sideboard, some blue-splash decks will bring in a Remand or two, so don’t always assume the coast is clear of counterspells. Most of the time it is, though, as the deck usually has to tap out to play its namesake spells.
It is best to plan on interacting with the graveyard in games 2/3, as Jund Charm, Leyline of the Void, and Faerie Macabre can completely shut off the Goryo’s Vengeance threat. Slaughter Games can take out Through the Breach to shut down that line of play as well. For decks running Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy, consider keeping in a few Shriekmaw to quickly stop the value the blue planeswalker can create. Keep your Beast Within and Fulminator Mage in to help slow down the opposing mana generation, and Beast Within can help destroy Griselbrand when it makes it into play. Simian Spirit Guide will also help you deliver a quick response to a turn 2 Vengeance. Slower cycling creatures and any maindeck artifact interaction cards can come out to make room for the graveyard hate.
Hate Bears (G/W) (slightly good) %N/A
kaelari’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list
Watch List: Scavenging Ooze, Voice of Resurgence, Eidolon of Rhetoric, Ethersworn Canonist
SB: Shriekmaw, Dismember, Jund Charm, Anger of the Gods, Ingot Chewer, Krosan Grip
The Hate Bears deck is a fair creature deck set up like a toolbox full of cards designed to disrupt common format strategies. Voice of Resurgence, Scavenging Ooze, Ethersworn Canonist, and Eidolon of Rhetoric are typically the anti-Living End cards we will see in this archetype. Almost all versions of the deck employ Aether Vial to help play more than one creature per turn, and some Hate Bears lists have Chord of Calling to find specific creatures. Remember that Vial or Chord can bring in Ethersworn Canonist or Eidolon of Rhetoric while our cascade trigger is on the stack, which will prevent us from being able to cast Living End (the cascade enabler has already been cast so we cannot choose to cast LE when we find it).
These decks have a secondary land destruction and mana lock-out plan. By playing library-locking creatures like Leonin Arbiter and Aven Mindcensor, the deck makes Path to Exile a clean one-mana removal spell and turns Ghost Quarter into a Strip Mine – plus our fetch lands become nearly-useless. Between the mana suppression and the various anti-strategy options, the Hate Bears decks tries to lock you out while it beats you down.
For a sideboard plan, bring in all the creature removal you have – Shriekmaw, Dismember, Anger of the Gods, and Jund Charm will all do great work in this match-up. Be sure to focus on the creatures that will impact your ability to effectively cast Living End, and save the rest (like Loxodon Smiter) for our namesake spell to handle. I suggest having a few Ingot Chewer for games 2/3 to help with Aether Vial and deal with Ethersworn Canonist (an artifact creature!). Krosan Grip can handle Aether Vial and Eidolon of Rhetoric, so it could be brought in as well. I would suggest keeping in at least two Simian Spirit Guide only to help provide mana if we start getting locked out. Cutting some two mana cycling creatures and Architects of Will should give you enough space for your sideboard tech.
Infect (fairly good) 6.2%
ryoko1337’s MTGO Modern Daily 4-0 list
Watch List: Vines of Vastwood, Spellskite, Apostle’s Blessing
SB: Ingot Chewer, Dismember, Krosan Grip, possibly Shriekmaw;
Infect is a combo deck revolving around the strategy to protect and pump one or two creatures with infect until you’re poisoned to death. The most common flavor of Infect is blue-green, although there are green-black and green-blue-black variations. Inkmoth Nexus is probably the biggest threat to us, since Living End will take care of any Blighted Agent or other Infect creatures in play. A timely Violent Outburst can be brutal, especially if the Infect player wastes a few pump spells on their activated creature land. Infect can poison you as early as turn 3, but it can hit you hard even on turn 2, so you might get a key turn 3 decision whether to cascade into Living End or play a Fulminator Mage.
Speaking of Fulminator Mage, that card is great in this match-up, but we have to be patient and wait for the best time to use it on Inkmoth Nexus. Vines of Vastwood and Apostle’s Blessing can protect the Nexus if it can be activated as a creature, and both spells cost only one mana, so you have to be sure those spells won’t be coming when you blow your Fulminator Mage (same with Beast Within). The upside of this match-up is that your life total is almost irrelevant, so you can fetch for shock lands and cycle all the Street Wraith with (near) reckless abandon. However, be careful when you use Beast Within and give your opponent a 3/3 (4/4 with a Noble Hierarch) that could turn into a Plan B damage race after you’ve done so much damage to yourself.
The sideboard plan is all about making it easier to kill off the main threats. Dismember does a great job as a one-mana kill spell (pay attention for Vines/Blessing though), and Ingot Chewer will do work eliminating Spellskite to open the door for your removal to hit the real targets. Krosan Grip can be an all-star here, as it can hit an activated Inkmoth Nexus (it’s an artifact when it’s a creature) without giving your opponent the chance to protect it. It may be worth having a few Shriekmaw to take care of Noble Hierarch, Blighted Agent, and other colored threats, as well. Faerie Macabre and Architects of Will are the least good cards here, so they can come out in favor of the better stuff.
Jund (great) 4.6%
Dylan Jones’s SCG LOU 21st place list
Watch List: Scavenging Ooze, Leyline of the Void, Damnation
SB: Shriekmaw, Dismember, Brindle Boar (Out – Ingot Chewer, Simian Spirit Guide)
Jund is another one of our happy-to-see match-ups. Game one almost always comes down to whether the opponent has an early Scavenging Ooze to disrupt our graveyard shenanigans. Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek usually take our early Violent Outburst and Demonic Dread, but without any substantial pressure from Jund we have plenty of time to draw another enabler. Jund is the fairest of fair decks, and Living End eats fair decks for all meals. Fulminator Mage shines as an all-star in this match-up, especially if it comes back to destroy a second land post-Living End (try not to blow up the last Swamp and neuter Street Wraiths unless it’s a color-hosing!) Maelstrom Pulse is a 1- or 2-of in most Jund lists, so be aware that you could get 2- or 3-for-1’d post-Living End if you don’t have a diverse graveyard.
Post-board Jund brings in mass removal cards like Damnation, and occasionally Leyline of the Void or Slaughter Games will make an appearance to dampen our plans. When these cards are played, it just sucks for us as there just isn’t much we can do about them. However, Jund is generally a slow deck so there is time to win through the old-fashioned method of playing 4/4s for five mana. Dismember and Shriekmaw are good cards to bring in to help dispose of early Scavenging Ooze and threatening Tarmogoyf, and if you have the extra room from taking out Ingot Chewers (since some of us run 2-4 of them main now), Brindle Boar can help as to extend the game beyond Jund’s common ‘bolt you, bolt you’ win condition.
Kiki-Chord/Podless Chord (50/50) Part of misc. 7.7%
Jeff Hoogland’s SCG LOU 5th place list
Watch List: Voice of Resurgence, Chord of Calling, Scavenging Ooze, Eidolon of Rhetoric
SB: Shriekmaw, Dismember, Brindle Boar, Anger of the Gods
Kiki-Chord is a fair creature deck with a few unfair creatures, along with an enabler spell that lets them fetch any creature they want. It’s basically Birthing Pod but much slower and with more restrictions. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s an easy match-up. The deck’s ability to use Chord of Calling to find specific hate and good answers gives it the reach its needs to stay competitive. Some decks play Eidolon of the Rhetoric as a one-of in the main deck, and it will definitely be in most Kiki-Chord sideboards. Before you try to cascade into Living End, check to make sure your opponent can’t Chord for three (remember that Chord has Convoke, so count those untapped creatures as mana) and find the Eidolon. It will immediately cut off your ability to cast LE off the cascade.
Most of the deck plays fair, and is easily handled with a timely Living End – except for one annoying little elemental. Voice of Resurgence is a pain for us, because it makes our Living End significantly less good. If you LE on your turn, the Voice’s death trigger will create a token after our spell resolves, preventing a full board clear (plus that 1/1 will get bigger when the opponent plays more creatures next turn). If you try and Violent Outburst into LE on the opponent’s turn, Voice’s elemental-making trigger will resolve once before LE resolves, and once after; LE will kill the first token, but the second trigger will keep a token in play, along with another token created by Voice’s death trigger. In other words, cascading into LE on your turn leaves one token (1/1 or bigger), and LE on your opponent’s turn leaves two tokens (2/2s or bigger!).
In addition to Eidolon and Voice, the deck usually packs multiple Scavenging Ooze. It can also execute its namesake by connecting Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Kiki-Jiki makes a copy of Angel, which will enter the battlefield and blink Kiki-Jiki, allowing it to make another copy of Restoration Angel, and then rinse and repeat until there are enough flying, hasty 3/4 Angels to kill you. Violent Outburst, Beast Within, and any other instant removal (like Dismember) aimed at Kiki-Jiki will generally protect you (they will still get the token copy, but at least it’s only one instead of 20). Really, the combo isn’t the hardest part about the deck, since the hate tech causes us more problems.
Sideboard like you would against a fair creature deck. Anger of the Gods is especially good against Voice of Resurgence, as it will exile it and ignore the death trigger. Shriekmaw and Dismember are definite includes. Simian Spirit Guide can come out because we’re not facing a fast or early clock. I like bringing in Brindle Boar if they’re in my board, as it gives you some bodies to get in the way of bigger tokens and extend past the mid-game with some life gain.
Lantern Control (really good) Part of misc. 7.7%
Sam Black’s Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch list
Watch List: Surgical Extraction, Academy Ruins
SB: Ingot Chewer, Leyline of Sanctity
Lantern Control is a strange, artifact-based control deck that wins by grinding out your deck. It uses Lantern of Insight to see what you are about to draw, and mills the top card away with Codex Shredder and Ghoulcaller’s Bell. Ensnaring Bridge locks down any threat of attack, as this control deck often has an empty hand. Beast Within and other artifact hate, especially post-sideboard, will take care of Bridge, though.
Lucky for us, we love having cards put into our graveyard, which is why this match-up tends to be severely in our favor! However, there is the downside that sometimes Lantern Control has an arrangement strong enough to ensure we never draw a Living End cascade card. It also has Thoughtseize and Inquisition that help remove them from our hand early in the game, so part of our win condition is drawing them at the right time. It also doesn’t help that most lists run main deck Surgical Extraction, so it is possible to lose all of one enabler or even all copies of Living End within a few turns of starting the game. That doesn’t mean we lose; we just shift to a creature deck and play our 3/4 and 4/4 bodies in attack mode. Lantern Control has little to no removal, so we are good as long as Ensnaring Bridge is kept off the table.
It is a little tricky, but even when the opponent is controlling what you draw, you can time your cycling in a way to get the card you want. For example, you can cycle a card, and the opponent might try to mill the top card of the deck before your cycling ability resolves. With the mill ability on the stack, you can cycle a second card and get the top card before it is milled.
For games 2/3, bring in all the artifact hate you have in the sideboard. Ingot Chewer will be great and will often be worth waiting to cast for the full five mana to get the 3/3 body (see above part about possibly never getting to cast Living End). If you have any Leyline of Sanctity in your 75, that’s also a great card in this match-up. It will shut off all the opponent’s discard and you can’t be milled by Codex Shredder or made to shuffle your library by Lantern of Insight. Spellskite will likely come in against us to protect the lanterns and Ensnaring Bridge, but we have so much artifact hate it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Simian Spirit Guide can come out in full here, since we are playing a very long game, and board out any cards that need to interact with creatures (including a few Demonic Dread).
Living End (mirror) %N/A
My list from a recent PPTQ
Watch List: Living End, Spells that exile graveyard cards (Jund Charm, Faerie Macabre, Leyline of the Void)
SB: Spells that exile graveyard cards
The mirror is extremely variance-based. The better player certainly has the advantage, particularly when it comes to deciding when it is the best time to Living End. But the hand with more Fulminator Mage and Beast Within in it will beat the hand with fewer. Remember that sometimes it’s perfectly fine to pay full cost for creatures instead of cycling them (especially Street Wraiths), but be sure to keep your graveyard as full as your opponent’s to balance out a Living End. It’s also nice if you’re main-decking some Faerie Macabre and your opponent isn’t, but luckily this isn’t as common of a match-up given how weirdly unpopular our deck actually is (I’ve played only two mirrors in over 200 matches on MTGO).
Post-board if you have the Leyline of the Void or the Jund Charm (or multiple Faerie Macabre) you probably win. You know what would happen if you Slaughter Games naming Living End. It’s all pretty straight-forward since it’s the mirror – play the way you wouldn’t want to be played against. Simian Spirit Guides won’t be as important here and can come out (they don’t go in your bin and going fast is irrelevant when their answer to your Living End is their Living End), and don’t cut any cycling cards. Shriekmaw is a 50/50 card since it only hits Deadshot Minotaur and Jungle Weaver, but if you have extra slots keep it in since it basically says “1B: put this card in your graveyard for later shenanigans.”
Merfolk (fairly good) 6.2%
Aaron Reed’s SCG LOU 8th place list
Watch List: Spreading Seas, Aether Vial, Cursecatcher, Spell Pierce
SB: Ingot Chewer, Shriekmaw, Jund Charm/Anger of the Gods (Out – Fulminator Mage)
For the most part, Merfolk is a fair creature deck with a few extra tricks and tools. First, Spreading Seas will cut off our lands and make their islandwalk creatures extra good, so make sure to lead with fetch lands to prevent a turn two Seas when you are on the draw. Be aware that one or two of your dual lands will probably become an Island and plan accordingly (note this will allow you to hard cast Architects of Will, so that’s a nice upside). Second, Aether Vial lets the Merfolk player play multiple creatures per turn and provides the opportunity to drop in a creature after we resolve Living End. The Vial is especially relevant against us when it has one counter on it, since it can lead to the third trick – Cursecatcher. While not really that much of a threat on its own, multiples of these guys will make us wait to cast Living End until we can pay the extra mana. The cascade card doesn’t need to care about this effect, since the cascade into LE happens regardless (we’re always happy when the cascade card gets countered when we’re going for LE!), but we will surely be asked to pay the Cursecatcher’s cost once we put Living End on the stack.
Finally, we have to watch out for Spell Pierce. Most decks don’t run counterspells main (other than Cursecatcher), but just be thinking about Spell Pierce anytime you see an opponent hold up a blue source (this tip goes for any opponent, not just Merfolk).
For the sideboard, we definitely want artifact destruction like Ingot Chewer to take out the Aether Vials. Shriekmaw is also great, as it hits all of the blue creatures. Jund Charm and Anger of the Gods or similar card can be helpful to clear out the army of 2/2s (3/3s with a lord, but kill the lord with the Pyroclasm effect and the rest will go back to being a 2/2 and die). Fulminator Mage is one of our weakest cards in this match-up, so you can cut a couple for games 2 and 3; but Mutavault is still a thing so it’s okay to keep one or two.
Scapeshift (fairly weak) 3.1%
James Wager’s SCG LOU 23rd place list
Watch List: Prismatic Omen, Scapeshift, Relic of Progenitus
SB: Slaughter Games, Krosan Grip, Crumble to Dust, Faerie Macabre, Ingot Chewer
There are a few different ways to play Scapeshift, but the most popular variant currently is a red-green Primeval Titan ramp style. This deck aims to use classic green mana ramp cards like Explore, Search for Tomorrow, and Khalni Heart Expedition to get as many lands into play as fast as possible. It then casts Scapeshift to sacrifice all its lands to find multiple Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and a pile of Mountain cards to blast your face with land-based Lightning Bolts.
Although Scapeshift costs four mana (2GG), at least seven lands have to be in play in order for the spell to have an effect – Valakut’s trigger only applies when there are at least five other Mountain cards in play. One Valakut and six Mountain cards (basic land or nonbasic like Stomping Ground) entering play at once means 18 damage (6 triggers x 3 damage each).
Prismatic Omen makes Scapeshift require one fewer land in play to be lethal, as the enchantment causes all the lands to count as Mountain (in addition to the other four basic land types), so each Valakut will count itself for its “when a Mountain enters play” trigger. This means that with Prismatic Omen in play, three Valakut and three Mountain cards would result in 18 triggers (each Valakut would see six total Mountain cards entering play – 6 triggers on each Valakut x 3 Valakut in play = 18 triggers x 3 damage = 54 damage). Even one Valakut and five basic Mountain would create six triggers for 18 damage, so you can see how easily the damage would add up.
This means that Scapeshift cannot be allowed to get to seven land (6 with Prismatic Omen) or we are toast. Luckily, we can sometimes fill a yard and get a two-turn clock going by turns 4-5, so it’s possible to outrace the combo. But it usually does not end well for us. Note that Living End also helps Scapeshift acquire more land from recurring Sakura-Tribe Elder, so be aware of how much your LE might lead to a faster death.
Post-board we have to watch out for Relic of Progenitus, which is really the only sideboard tech Scapeshift runs against LE. We can try to Slaughter Games naming Scapeshift and use Faerie Macabre and other graveyard hate to exile Sakura-Tribe Elders so they don’t get a second use. Crumble to Dust on a Valakut can be devastating, as it will completely shut off the combo threat (note you can’t name land cards with Slaughter Games), but Primeval Titan beats are a legitimate Plan B threat to consider. Krosan Grip (or Beast Within) is fun to use on Prismatic Omen in response to a Scapeshift with six lands in play, as it will prevent any Valakut from recognizing enough Mountain cards to trigger (subsequent land drops will likely be Mountain, so the threat is merely delayed, but hey, you’re not dead yet!)
Soul Sisters (slightly good) %N/A
killerfish’s MTGO Modern League 4-1 list
Watch List: Serra Ascendant, Ghostly Prison, Rest in Peace
SB: Shriekmaw, Jund Charm, Anger of the Gods, Faerie Macabre
Soul Sisters spends its time trying to gain an incredible amount of life, while beating you down with cheap, aggressive creatures like Serra Ascendant. It generally plays out its hand of 1- and 2-mana creatures early in the game, but it has several ways to gather new threats and develop significant card advantage. Squadron Hawk comes with three more friends, and each Ranger of Eos can fetch for two Serra Ascendant or Martyr of Sands. Most of the threats in the deck are only 1/1s, but Serra Ascendant will likely be a 6/6 flyer that can quickly close out the game. Make the Ascendant your removal priority, and a quality Living End should give you a decent creature size advantage.
Ghostly Prison is often a main-deck staple for Soul Sisters, so it will be your primary Beast Within target. In the late stages of the game, you could probably be okay if a Prison sticks around, since you can just pay the two mana tax for each of your creatures; but multiple Ghostly Prison will pose a real problem to your offensive strategy.
For the sideboard plan, bring in creature removal, especially mass damage spells like Jund Charm and Anger of the Gods. I would also bring in Faerie Macabre to prevent Serra Ascendant from coming back after a Living End, and to neuter the decks that play Proclamation of Rebirth. Fulminator Mage is terrible against a deck full of basic Plains, so cut those first.
Storm/Pyromancer’s Ascension (AWFUL!) %N/A
teslashock1’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list
Watch List: Grapeshot, Past in Flames, Blood Moon
SB: Slaughter Games, Leyline of Sanctity, Faerie Macabre, Brindle Boar (Out – Shriekmaw, Ingot Chewer, Demonic Dread)
Avoid this match-up at all costs. It’s awkwardly terrible for us. Neither deck really interacts with the other, and they can storm off the turn that we are threatening lethal on our best draw. Storm plays a ton of mana producers (Manamorphose, Desperate Ritual) and draw spells (Slight of Hand, Serum Visions) designed to keep the chain going and increase the storm count before sending 15-20 copies of Grapeshot at our face. One of the deck’s biggest enablers is Past in Flames, so if you’re able to remove some important cards from the graveyard with Faerie Macabre before that resolves, you might be in better shape.
The upside is that very few, if any, Storm decks have counterspells in the whole 75, so you can Living End to your heart’s desire without worrying whether it will resolve. However, most Storm decks are packing Blood Moon in the main, so be careful how you sequence your land drops and fetch for basics whenever possible. Pyromancer’s Ascension halves the effort needed to raise the Storm count, so have a Beast Within ready for that, if possible.
Post-board, if you’re playing with Leyline of Sanctity in your sideboard, this is the time to mulligan aggressively for them. Slaughter Games naming Grapeshot is extremely brutal, but some decks will bring in Empty the Warrens. Luckily it’s a sorcery, so you get one turn to Living End them all away. Faerie Macabre will help reduce the flashback from Past in Flames, which can often kill the Storm chain – the deck generally relies on being able to play everything twice in a turn to win. Brindle Board helps add a little more pressure and makes your opponent play four more spells to kill you. Anything that interacts with creatures or artifacts can come out, so you can lose any maindeck Shriekmaw and Ingot Chewer, and you can shave 1-2 Demonic Dread due to the lack of targets.
Tron (RG – slightly good; monoU – slightly bad) 3.1%
Louie Falcigno’s SCG COL 3rd/4th place list
Watch List: Relic of Progenitus, Warping Wail (Remand in blue version)
SB: Ingot Chewer, Crumble to Dust, Krosan Grip
There are two flavors of the “UrzaTron” deck – a mono-blue version and the more popular red-green version. The blue version plays counterspells and is more interacting and disrupting, but fortunately for us it is the less popular one. The red-green style focuses solely on completing the Tron land trifecta – Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Mine, and Urza’s Tower -through the use of land finders (Sylvan Scrying, Expedition Map) and deck cycling cards (Chromatic Star, Ancient Stirrings). Once they assemble the three lands (the ‘urzatron’ referencing the assembly of Voltron), they can easily cast powerful colorless spells like Wurmcoil Engine, Karn Liberated, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
It’s obvious, but our game plan here is to stop the Tron. Blow up all the lands, and then blow up more. Fulminator Mage and Beast Within are our all-stars in this match-up, hoping to delay Tron long enough for us to Living End back a lethal force. Other than a 1- or 2-of Warping Wail (which will counter Living End because it’s a sorcery no matter when you cast it), the red-green Tron deck does not interact with us. Some decks play Relic of Progenitus in their main deck, but that has been getting less popular – be aware that Relic could still show up in game 1.
Post-board you want to bring in Ingot Chewers to take care of all the enabler artifacts like Expedition Map, the 100% guaranteed Relic of Progenitus, and possible late-game problems like Wurmcoil Engine and Oblivion Stone. Krosan Grip will also lend support and take care of Relic without it being able to activate. Crumble to Dust can be brutal if used on an Urza land, effectively closing the door on Tron for the game. They can still hit their land drops and eventually play the fair game with their powerful cards, so try to avoid going to a long game without having more land destruction. Simian Spirit Guides are good in this match-up, so I would suggest leaving them in, and remove anything that interacts with creatures. Shriekmaw, Faerie Macabre, and a few of the 2-mana cyclers can come out.
For the blue version, Ricochet Trap will be mandatory, and you’ll have to watch out for Remand. Otherwise the same game plan applies – stop the Tron. The blue Tron deck generally tries to Mindslaver-lock you (with Academy Ruins), so Faerie Macabre will be good here to remove those combo pieces.
A note about Relic of Progenitus – remember that the activated ability to exile graveyards can only be used once per Relic. The Relic is exiled as part of that ability’s activation cost, so the opponent cannot stack multiple activations like you could with Scavenging Ooze’s exile ability (there is no longer a Relic to activate at this point). This means that you can work towards getting him/her to crack the Relic and then cast Violent Outburst in response, resolving a Living End before the Relic’s exile ability resolves.
Zoo (fairly weak) %N/A
Maycun’s MTGO Modern League 5-0 list
Watch List: Voice of Resurgence, Scavenging Ooze, Blood Moon
SB: Shriekmaw, Anger of the Gods, Brindle Boar
Zoo is a pretty tough match-up. It combines the speed of a burn deck with the power of an aggressive creature deck, often being too big and too fast for us to set up a Living End reset. Most of the creatures in Zoo start at 3/3 and get bigger from there – Wild Nacatl, Loxodon Smiter, Knight of the Reliquary, etc. The creatures are cheap but powerful, and big enough that only a couple can pressure a quick clock; this is a big difference from the hyper-aggressive decks that need to fully commit to the board to be effective (like Elves). As a result, Living End is often only a 2-for-1 that is followed-up with the opponent playing more of the same creatures. This can be especially bad when our nemeses creatures Scavenging Ooze and Voice of Resurgence are also part of our opponent’s plan.
Luckily, most Zoo lists are draw-dependent and have little reach beyond a few waves of creatures. If you are able to cast a good-sized Living End and stabilize with a decent life total (7 or higher to prevent a double Lightning Bolt loss), your opponent will likely only play one creature a turn to against your large (hopefully) army.
For a sideboard plan, bring in creature removal cards, although most mass removal spells like Jund Charm and Anger of the Gods won’t be big enough to deal with Zoo’s 4/4 creatures (although it will handle Voice of Resurgence). Stick with targeted removal like Shriekmaw and Dismember, and consider bringing in Brindle Boar to extend the game. Some Zoo decks have Blood Moon in the board, so be sure to play around that, and you cut Fulminator Mage in those cases if you need to make more room for tech cards.