Note: this article has super TL;DR potential. If you’re interested in seeing the inner workings of the Living End Modern deck, then I recommend reading the whole thing. Otherwise, check out the two videos below, and the TL;DR is I went 4-0-2 in swiss, beating Burn, Bogles, Grixis Control, and 8-Rack, then beat Abzan CoCo combo in the quarters and lost to it in the semis.
Aside from its substantial financial barrier to entry, Modern is a fantastic format right now. The metagame is diverse and full of interesting deck strategies. You can win with aggressive creatures (Zoo, Elves), a midrange/tempo strategy (Jund, Abzan), control (Grixis Tasigur), or combo (Scapeshift, Amulet Bloom, Splinter Twin), with plenty of decks somewhere in between (Infect, Bogles, Black-red 8-Rack).
Speaking of combo decks, lately I’ve been messing around with the Living End combo deck. The Living End archetype was developed by Travis Woo of ChannelFireball.com a few years ago, and has gone in and out of popularity amongst fringe-deck players. The deck revolves around filling the graveyard with creatures by the using the Cycle mechanic to draw more cards, and then exploiting spells with the Cascade mechanic to cast Living End for free and bring all the graveyard to life while leveling the opponent’s board.
Before we get into too much detail about my recent play experiences, check out the video below for an analysis of the decklist I’ve been piloting.
It’s a great time to play a degenerate combo deck in Modern given how open the format is, and Living End is especially well positioned due to the sheer number of unknown cards and mechanics it throws at most players. It’s amazing how many players at in-person events have never heard of Cascade (thanks mostly to the banning of Bloodbraid Elf, one of the few constructed-playable Cascade cards), and thus play incorrectly in response to me casting Violent Outburst or Demonic Dread. Additionally, I have had many opponents not understand how the card Living End works, resulting in a small but favorable advantage.
For those unfamiliar with how the Living End combo works, check out the video below for a brief demonstration.
I recently lost in the semifinals of a PPTQ at Flat Land Games (great store, check it out if you’re in southeastern Michigan!) playing Living End, and I’ve included a round-by-round tournament report below. I was undefeated in the swiss rounds (4-0 then two intentional draws) and then played against the same deck archetype in both Top 8 rounds.