Modern is great because it's one of the most diverse formats in Magic. From Merfolk to Tron to Tezzeret to Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and everything in between, there is just so much going on in Modern there's always something new and fun to check out.
Of course, by now Modern is a bit different than it was three or four years ago. Sure, it's by no means "solved," and it still gets shaken up by new releases, but it's pretty rare for an entirely new archetype to show up on the scene and be good, though as Death's Shadow proved it obviously can happen, even without any major new addition to make the deck possible.
You may see where this is going. You might say I foretold the punchline here. As much as I could, anyway.
Yeah, my pun game is mediocre. I'm a new dad. I'm working on it. Anyway, this is Mono-Blue Living End. It's nutty.
I found this list from 1310Hazzzard, who went 5-0 with it in a competitive league on Magic Online. I worked Grand Prix Oklahoma City over the weekend – which was Modern and dominated by big mana decks – looking for Mono-Blue Living End to pop up. I heard quite a bit of buzz about it, but it was nowhere to be seen.
So I had to give it a shot for myself. And I have to say I was both impressed and incredibly amused by what I found. 15 cyclers, four As Foretold, four Living End and Four Ancestral Vision – all backed up by a host of countermagic – and you've got yourself a deck.
I've played a lot of traditional Living End. While the deck does some things exceptionally well, it's relatively straightforward in its gameplan, and as a result can suffer when players come prepared for it or are simply too fast. And combo decks are a race that can be very difficult to win.
This build looks to solve a lot of those problems by removing the need to play cascade spells that can only hit Living End, heavily restricting the type of one and two-mana plays you can make. By relying strictly on As Foretold to cost Living End, which works because the converted mana cost of Living End and Ancestral Vision does exist – which is certainly less than zero. Or something. Either way, As Foretold allows you to cast either card immediately without paying its mana cost. This means you can cycle creatures on the first two turns, then cast As Foretold and immediately play Living End. Or you can wait until the next turn and do so with heavy countermagic backup, something traditional Living End could never do.
In addition, it turns out that playing a bunch of counters means the deck is far less vulnerable to random strategies than before. In exchange, it has to assemble some very specific combinations to "go off," as opposed to traditional Living End playing essentially seven copies of its one-card combo of a cascade spell. Is the tradeoff worth it? I'm not sure, but the success the mono-blue build is finding online certainly makes it worth exploring. My own experiences with the deck made it feel a little clunkier in the creature matchups where you need to go off quickly, but in exchange you get cards to buy yourself near-infinite time against the slower decks. This would seem to make it a metagame call, but I can most certainly see plenty of scenarios where this deck is correct to sleeve up over regular Living End. Tron is all the rage right now, and while this version doesn't have Fulminator Mage one thing you might consider to improve the matchup is swapping out a few of the counters for Spreading Seas.
Thanks for reading,