October is finally here and Halloween approaches. I really want to keep on theme with the month and there are many cards in the world of Magic that are in line with the upcoming holiday; however, there are not that many that actually see play in Modern. The most on theme deck in Modern is probably Dredge, but I have already covered that one. I would have to say that the next best deck from a thematic standpoint is Living End. The deck gets its name from the card Living End, not be confused with Living Death which is unfortunately, mechanically similar. Both are pictured below, but Living End is the card you want, especially since Living Death is not legal in Modern. You will notice that Living End has no mana cost, only a suspend cost which means that it cannot be cast like a regular card. Even cards that technically don’t cost any mana like Ornithopter and Black Lotus still have a mana symbol which indicates that there is still a condition that need to be met to cast them: producing 0 mana. Sounds a little ridiculous, I know, but that’s how it works. Cards that don’t have a mana requirement to be cast like Living End are basically uncastable through normal means. It can be suspended for 4 mana and go off three turns later, but that’s not ideal for Modern since games don’t last that long. What Living End does is it exiles all creatures from all graveyards then each player sacrifices each creature they control and then puts the exiled cards into play. In an ideal game, you will have several creatures in your graveyard while your opponent will have very few or none at all.
Now you are probably wondering how you cast an uncastable spell. The answer is cascade. Cascade allows you to dig through the top of your library until you find a card that costs less than the cascade spell and you cast that spell without paying its mana cost. A cascade trigger sees Living End as costing 0 so this will go on the stack when it comes up. There are two cascade cards in this deck, one at instant speed and one at sorcery speed: Violent Outburst and Demonic Dread. At 3 mana each, these are among the cheapest cards with cascade and you don’t want a mana cost higher than that for your cascade spells, but more on that later. Violent Outburst is the better spell, as you can play it at the end of an opponents’ turn enabling the creatures Living End brings back to attack on your next turn. Demonic Dread is more for consistency in case you can’t get to Violent Outburst. All you care about is their cascade ability; nothing else on the card is really relevant. Once cascade resolves, the only possible spell to pull from this deck should be Living End.
That’s basically the combo right there. The only other thing you need is creatures in your graveyard and what better creatures are there than those that discard themselves like those with cycling: Horror of the Broken Lands, Desert Cerodon, Monstrous Carabid, Street Wraith, and Archfiend of Ifnir. All of these can discard themselves to draw another card, possibly a Violent Outburst or Demonic Dread. Archfiend of Ifnir is the only one whose cycling ability costs more than 1 mana so that would be the first card that I would recommend be replaced if we get something better someday. Notice how big all of these cards are. Their mana costs are too big to be accidentally cascaded into with Violent Outburst or Demonic Dread. Plus, they have some immunity to most of the top removal spells. Lightning Bolt can’t kill any of them on its own. Fatal Push can’t hit them even with revolt active. That’s two of the biggest removal spells in Modern rendered ineffective. Even Thoughtsieze can’t stop this unless they get lucky and make you discard a cascade card. All you are going to do is cycle cards until you are ready to go off.
There are more cards that you can include in this deck that discard themselves. Simian Spirit Guide can discard itself into exile, not the graveyard, to add a red mana to your mana pool enabling you to possibly cycle more that one card on turn 1 or get more mana for a Violent Outburst. Faerie Macabre can discard itself to exile two cards from graveyards. This is more of a sideboard card against decks that play off the graveyard like Dredge or the mirror match up. There is also Ingot Chewer that can be effective against artifact decks. You also have Shriekmaw for a little more removal. Those last two don’t have cycling, but they do have evoke which means that when you cast them for their cheap evoke cost they are sacrificed, but you do get to use their enter-the-battlefield triggers. Since they will be coming back into play when you go off, sacrificing them is no big deal.
The shell of Living End should look something like the following:
Living End x4
Violent Outburst x4
Demonic Dread x4
Horror of the Broken Lands x3-4
Desert Cerodon x3-4
Monsterous Carabid x3-4
Street Wraith x3-4
Archfiend of Ifnir x2-4
Simian Spirit Guide x3-4
The strategy is very simple and most of the core cards cost a few pennies. If it wasn’t for the fetch lands, because this is a 3 color mana base, it would be a budget deck. That wraps up Living End. What deck do you want to see next? Let me know in the comments down below.