Playing fair is overrated.

It's something that people have been preaching for awhile now in Modern, and with the aggressive decks like Death's Shadow Zoo running around next to Infect, it's more true than ever. Those decks spam creatures onto the board and then protect them before finishing you off with a "combo" to shut you down. Not to mention things like Affinity that have been dumping their hand on the table on the first turn forever.

If our opponents aren't playing fair, why should we?

Living End is the real deal. It's been around for a long, ever since Cascade was introduced in Alara Reborn. Living End, and others in the cycle, like Restore Balance and Hypergenesis, were immediately broken with the mechanic, allowing cards with Cascade to be cast and hit the Suspend spell immediately rather than having to wait a few turns. For a time in Extended, first-turn Hypergenesis was a thing to contend with.

That particular combo was rightly deemed too powerful for Modern, and it's never left the banlist. Its younger cousin Living End has floated in and out of contention, though, reaching as high as the finals of Grand Prix to nearly unplayable at times based on the prevalence of graveyard hate.

The deck is straightforward ­– fill the graveyard with creatures via cycling on Monstrous Carabid, Deadshot Minotaur, Street Wraith, Jungle Weaver and Architects of Will, and then cascade into Living End to wrath away your opponent's board and bring all of your creatures back. An attack step or two ends the game from there, or Fulminator Mage locks them out of mana for good. If things go wrong, Faerie Macabre allows you to clean up their graveyard while adding to your own, while Beast Within and Shriekmaw pick off problem permanents and the inevitable graveyard hate after sideboarding.

Sideboarding with the deck is one of the tougher parts, since there will almost always be some type of hate cards coming in for you. That said, Grafdigger's Cage has become the go-to graveyard hate card of choice, and because of the fact that Living End exiles the graveyard before putting them into play, Grafdigger's Cage actually whiffs entirely. Multiple times, I've seen opponents bring in Grafdigger's Cage, not understanding that it doesn't do anything.

The core restriction of the Living End deck — that no card besides Living End cost less than three mana, so every cascade is guaranteed to hit Living End — limits sideboarding with the deck, but you'd be surprised how many ways around that there are. Ricochet Trap, Ravenous Trap, Ingot Chewer, and Shriekmaw all have built-in ways to get around the converted mana cost issue, while Brindle Boar, Anger of the Gods and Slaughter Games help shore up certain matchups.

Living End excels against creature-based decks. The fact that for three mana — at instant speed with Violent Outburst — the deck can wrath away a board makes those matchups extremely lopsided, and in those matchups the deck will perform well, even against graveyard hate. That said, you are still playing a deck weak to sideboard cards, and fighting through them round after round can eventually catch up to you. But if you expect a creature-centric metagame or know there's a lot of Grafdigger's Cages running around rather than Relic of Progenitus, you should feel comfortable sleeving up Living End. It's the first competitive deck I ever played – my first ever Pro Tour Qualifier saw me finish in a heartbreaking second place with this deck – and it's a consistent machine that is also pretty fun to pilot.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter/Twitch