Modern is the format that keeps on giving, as is appropriate for the season.
Mono-Blue Living End is the newest spicy deck fresh out of the Modern oven and it has a lot of potential to be competitive. I’ve had my eye on As Foretold for a long time now and may or may not have 50 copies sitting in my Magic Online account, just waiting for it to be broken. Until now, As Foretold hasn’t been been broken, but it’s only a matter of time. It is foretold, after all.
I have to admit that I’m excited for the upcoming Modern Pro Tour even more now. If new decks keep popping up at this rate, Modern will be fresh forever.
The real question right now: is Mono-Blue Living End worthy of Ocean Men around the world, or already all washed up? Today we’ll find out. Here are two different takes on the deck so far:
- 2 Mana Leak
- 2 Serum Visions
- 4 Remand
- 4 Ancestral Vision
- 4 Living End
- 4 Cryptic Command
- 4 As Foretold
- 2 Supreme Will
This is very much a combo-control deck, and while it won’t be able to play a control game forever, it’s still is able to play both roles well. The ideal game consists of you cycling your creatures into the graveyard the first few turns and then casting As Foretold, which allows you to cast your Living End, which both removes all your opponent’s creatures and returns all of your own for a massive swing.
The difference between this deck and the more traditional versions of Living End (that cascade into Living End) is that this version has a much more robust backup plan for when you’re unable to resolve a Living End and that you’re able to play other spells in your deck that cost less than three mana.
The downside is you’re relying very heavily on drawing As Foretold at some point during the game.
The other As Foretold “combo” with Ancestral Vision is a powerful source of card advantage on its own and it allows you to draw into your other combo. Never be afraid to just suspend the Ancestral Vision on Turn 1, though, sometimes even if you already have As Foretold in hand and you aren’t sure you’ll be able to resolve it on Turn 3. Never forget that for most of Modern’s existence that very move was judged too powerful to be allowed to see play.
The deck is also geared to the teeth with countermagic and I’ve always been a big fan of Cryptic Command, Remand, and Mana Leak. Disallow might be going a little overboard, but in this case, I’ll allow it.
Tolaria West adds a ridiculous amount of power and versatility. It’s rare that a deck has so much power added to it from a seemingly innocuous land slot, since it can grab Ancestral Vision or Living End, both of your all-star cards.
Field of Ruin has been making a large impact on the Modern scene as of late. A Ghost Quarter that replaces itself with a land? Sign me up. A copy of Ghost Quarter adds to your toolbox of Transmute targets in case you need to deal with a quick Urzatron or Inkmoth Nexus. With the Top 8 of Grand Prix Oklahoma City featuring three Tron lists and two TitanShift lists, having Field of Ruin doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
The cycling creatures are all cheap to cycle, so they start taking the place of other cantrips such as Serum Visions in the deck. Don’t forget you can just cast them when the occasion calls for it, sometimes even with As Foretold.
After trying out the deck a little, I have some ideas on how I’d start to tech the deck out.
I’ll discuss card choices and give my thoughts on the options available.
In a deck that is basically mono-blue and has the Tolaria West tutoring package, you want to fit in special lands where you can. The downside to going overboard on Tolaria West tutor targets is that you already have some of the best cards in your deck, Living End and Ancestral Vision, to find.
Both of these lands allow you to cast your black cards for minimal cost in deckbuilding real estate. Since the deck already just happens to have Living End, Street Wraith, Architects of Will, and Dismember, you might as well give yourself access to casting them, even if it doesn’t come up in your ideal gameplan. I like Sunken Ruins, since you want to be able to cast Cryptic Command consistently and cycle your blue cards.
Being able to remove your opponent’s graveyard can be important even if they’re not a graveyard deck because it prevents them from bringing back their creatures when you Living End. Bojuka Bog has a small opportunity cost and is also sometimes the best card in your deck Game 1 if you’re able to have access to it versus a graveyard-centric deck such as Dredge or a Living End mirror.
This is pretty much a freebie. Well, a $20 dollar freebie. You can return this to your hand to discard to a Liliana of the Veil uptick or to dodge a Boil at the cost of being slightly weaker to Blood Moon.
I recommend playing this card for three main reasons.
1. It’s fun.
2. It will make you a better player. Playing a game of Modern with Nimble Obstructionist will really open your eyes to how many activated and triggered abilities there are in this game.
3. It’s hilarious to get your opponent with it.
I’m mostly drawing inspiration from a more traditional Living End deck here. I like Archfiend of Infir if you find you’re losing games after casting Living End and in conjunction with Sunken Ruins, since you can actually cast it. Transmute makes you discard Tolaria West, which is a sneaky way to trigger Curator of Mysteries and Archfiend of Infir.
More graveyard removal that you can reanimate with Living End.
This isn’t castable without seriously revamping the manabase, but depending on the metagame it could really pay off.
Good after sideboarding. Will allow you to put pressure on your opponent in the air while disrupting their sideboard hate against you.
Always a solid card but not really appropriate in a deck such as this. You don’t really have enough impactful cards to use it with.
Sneakily allows you to recast Ancestral Vision and Living End from your graveyard with As Foretold, unlike Snapcaster Mage… I think.
Can disrupt your opponent’s suspend spells and protect your own combo.
All cards that can assist on pushing your combo through against opposing disruption. I’d need to play more games to find the perfect mix, but right now I’m favoring the efficiency of Dispel.
Cards that specifically hate out other archetypes. The Hurkyl’s Recall is important specifically because Affinity is such a tricky matchup and there aren’t many cards for it otherwise.
Instant-speed card draw is especially interesting here because it allows you to double dip with your As Foretold, since the enchantment allows you cast something for free during your opponent’s turn as well. But that really isn’t your main gameplan with the deck. Quicken is likely too cute, as an instant-speed Living End really shouldn’t be necessary to win the game. Serum Visions is likely worth it since it digs the deepest and assembling your combo is what’s important.
Searches up all your most impactful cards, fills up your graveyard, and gives you late-game inevitability.
Only a combo with As Foretold and Suspend, so probably not quite worth it. I do like the idea of casting Living End and then Savor the Moment to effectively give your creatures haste, though.
Powerful if you can somehow get to seven mana and deals with problem cards like Chalice of the Void.
Additional hate against big mana decks.
The Rest of the Suspend Cycle
Both are viable transmute targets and could see play. The issue is they are both essentially worse versions of Ancestral Vision and Living End. I don’t think Wheel of Fate is necessary, as Ancestral Vision mostly performs the same role without giving your opponent draws. Restore Balance is great, but I think you’d want it in a deck more geared towards taking advantage of the land destruction aspect with cards such as Greater Gargadon and Flagstones of Trokair.
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 4 Ornithopter
- 3 Master of Etherium
- 3 Steel Overseer
- 2 Memnite
- 4 Signal Pest
- 3 Vault Skirge
- 1 Hope of Ghirapur
Difficult. They can sacrifice all their creatures to Arcbound Ravager in response to a Living End. Then, when Living End resolves, it will kill the Ravager and bring back their creatures to the battlefield, at which point they can target one of the fresh creatures with modular. Not fun.
This is why the Hurkyl’s Recall is a necessity.
- 4 Oblivion Stone
- 4 Sylvan Scrying
- 4 Chromatic Sphere
- 4 Chromatic Star
- 3 Relic of Progenitus
- 4 Expedition Map
- 4 Ancient Stirrings
- 2 Fatal Push
Tricky, since even if you resolve a Living End and make an army, they have ways of killing all your creatures, such as Oblivion Stone and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This is where you’d really like to have access to Spreading Seas. Make sure to hold up countermagic and hope that your Field of Ruins can keep them off Tron mana.
Another tricky one. With no real removal for Goblin Electromancer and Baral, Chief of Compliance, you’re going to have a hard time Game 1 without a really quick Living End. You’ll be relying on your sideboard cards here.
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 4 Mayor of Avabruck
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 3 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
- 4 Kitesail Freebooter
They are creature-based, so a resolved Living End should end the game. Getting it resolved is another issue. Meddling Mage naming Living End is the main thing to fear, but Kitesail Freebooter and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben are annoying as well.
This should be pretty reasonable, actually. They’re going to have problems with all your card draw and tutoring and you actually have a way to bounce their Ensnaring Bridge with Cryptic Command.
- 2 Golgari Thug
- 4 Stinkweed Imp
- 4 Narcomoeba
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Prized Amalgam
- 4 Insolent Neonate
- 1 Haunted Dead
If you’re packing the maindeck Bojuka Bog, you should be in great shape. Cryptic Command and Remand buy you a lot of time until you can get out all your bigger creatures while exiling theirs.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Eternal Witness
- 4 Devoted Druid
- 4 Kitchen Finks
- 4 Tidehollow Sculler
- 1 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Viscera Seer
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 2 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 1 Rhonas the Indomitable
- 4 Vizier of Remedies
Tricky in that Viscera Seer can blank your Living End in the same way Arcbound Ravager can. Also, be aware they can kill their own Devoted Druids in response to the Living End at any time.
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- 2 Endbringer
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 4 Matter Reshaper
- 4 Walking Ballista
Chalice of the Void on zero shuts off all your fun. Make sure to keep them off mana and buy tempo with your countermagic until you can bounce Chalice with Cryptic Command.
On paper a lot of these matchups seem scary. The thing about paper is, it’s weak. Even scissors can beat it! A quick As Foretold into Living End or Ancestral Vision is capable of beating pretty much everything, and that happens quite often.
I’d still classify the deck under “gimmick with potential” rather than broken, but it’s a ton of fun to play, and I’m interested to see the evolution of the deck.
It also suggests that it’s only a matter of time before As Foretold completely breaks the metagame…