Living End at Modern PTQ Little Chalfford (Deck Tech)
I’ve been asked a lot these past couple of days, about the Living End list I played at the PTQ last weekend which got me into the top8. So I thought, why not write an article about the deck and do my best to give you lovely readers the low down!
Let’s start with why I decided to play the deck, actually let’s start with why I played the PTQ in first place.
Many people asked me why would I attend a PTQ if I will be Gold for the next season and will have invitation to the Pro Tour anyway. For those interested in the whole benefits of the different levels (Silver, Gold and Platinum) you can follow this link.
For those of you looking for the quick answer:
Gold gives you the invitation to the Pro Tour and a 500$ appearance, but it does not pay you for the ticket. Since this season is for the Pro Tour in Honolulu and the ticket is worth around £1000-£1200, I gave myself a shot of saving that money.
Now I would normally hate myself for stealing an invitational slot from another player trying to qualify, but I guess under these circumstances I have to be selfish. I mean getting to the tournament itself only takes 1 hour via the London underground, and the purse is affectively worth £1000 to me; I had to play it.
Okay, now back to the deck. I’ve been playing Tron in Modern since Modern began. I was even playing Tron when it was in Standard a long, long time ago. I still feel that Tron is very powerful and well placed in Modern, but I wanted to try something new this time.
I believe that the format really rewards those who have a in-depth knowledge of their deck, however I also believe that only knowing how to play one deck really well will one day turn into a disadvantage. I was thinking long term.
So after happily casting Karn Liberated on Turn 3 many many times, what else would I like to be doing in this format? Well, casting Kitchen Finks or Liliana was definitely not very exciting. Also, I was mindful that my friend Matt Light had just won the first PTQ of the season with Tron. As a result, I was expecting many people to either jump in that boat, or simply be very prepared to play against it.
That’s how I figured out that the right metagame choice could be Living End. The deck in theory is very good at killing green creatures and replacing them with your monsters from the graveyard.
The right build could also be very good against decks that are over-reliant in their manabase; three-colour slow decks like UWR could get in to a lot of trouble if they start losing the right land. And of course, nothing is more painful for a Tron deck than when they start to get of their vital lands destroyed.
I didn’t have much time to prepare for the event, so most of my preparation work involved asking loads of questions to a couple of friends of mine who I know have play the deck a lot, and certainly know it better than me.
Apparently the bad matches are Twin (I am not completely sure yet why, but it’s definitely worse than playing any green deck like Pods or Jund) and very aggressive decks: Mono Red, Zoo, Affinity. Basically whatever that could convincingly kill you by turn 3-4 (considering you help them out a lot by doing damage to yourself with fetchlands, shocklands and Street Wraith).
I am sure that anyone who has been playing Modern events in the UK recently would agree that there are far more green decks, UWR decks, mindrange decks and slow decks played than aggressive ones. Yes I know that there are still a lot of aggressive decks around, however the format is quite big and in terms of percentage; there are not as many as people may think.
The list – Living End
3 Slaughter Games
3 Anger of the Gods
3 Ingot Chewer
2 Faerie Macabre
2 Ricochet Trap
1 Avalanche Riders
The numbers and the why
The Mana Base
Now we all know how powerful Kessing Wolf Run can be, it does however still only produce colourless mana. In my personal opinion, you can not afford to keep a two-land opening hand, whereby a Kessing Wolf Run is one of the lands. And with only 19 lands in the deck, I felt it was simply too risky. A Mountain seems to fit better in this slot, however with some Blood Moons floating around I decided that I would be better off having another basic source of non-red mana in my deck instead.
The Cycling Guys
The cheaper, the better. If they are not cheap to cycle, let them be big at least. I wanted to try out Architects of Will, but didn’t dare to without the proper preparations. I was very concerned about how big the downside could be, by the fact that you don’t have any blue in the deck, and therefore you can only cycle it with black mana.
The Open Slots
I wanted to make sure that I was prepared for the metagame of this PTQ, and as a result I wanted to have a small element of Land Destruction in the deck. Fulminator Mage is just great at doing this, Avalanche Riders are slower but also the best option after the mages.
Beast Within works as an instant speed Stone Rain, and you should play it in their Upkeep to prevent the Beast from attacking. It also offers the flexibility to take care of anything troublesome that may slip through the net. Finally, it also gives you a target for Demonic Dread in the matches where it lacks targets.
Dismember is not as great in this deck as Shriekmaw, but the instant speed provides surprise against Twin and Pod decks, and in general people don’t expect you to do anything when you just have one mana open.
This card is great against those combo decks that are just faster than you: Scapeshift, Storm, Ad Nausseam, Ambulet and other weird combo decks around.
This is not only good against Affinity but also against anyone who you expect could bring in Relic of Progenitus from the Sideboard. It used to be better when Pod was playing Cannonist, but now they run Eidolon of Rhetoric instead.
Good at dealing with some annoying creatures that could hit the graveyard and you don’t want to see coming back.
I thought this was only for countering a counter spell, but I found out playing a daily on MTGO that it’s also good at stealing extra turns from the Mono Blue Howling Mine deck.
I wanted to have three of this post board against Tron, UWR and Scapeshift.
I was originally running two of this in my main deck instead of the second Avalanche Riders, but when I got to the venue I heard people around talking about how many Trons are playing the PTQ, so I made a quick change and include a second Rider in the Main and moved this to the SB. It’s mostly against Twin, but there are other matches you could bring it in if you feel it right.
People often (very kindly) make sure to remind me of how I’ve been winning everything recently, that I must have forgot what its like to loose a match in Magic, and that how every tournament I’ve attended I would make top8 after the swiss.
Yes, I know. The lucky streak I’ve been having (appreciating) makes no sense at all– and guess what? this PTQ was no exception either. I got good match-ups all day long, I barely mulliganned and I drew very well every game; even top-decked a couple of cards when needed and had some opponents with bad mulligans.
The decks I beat: Merfolk, Jund, Tron, Melira Pod, Kiki Pod, WG Hate Bears, UR Twin. I ID the remaining two matches of the Swiss.
I played Tom Law with the Tarmo Twin deck.
Even if it just happens 1% of the time, I can also fall on the wrong side of luck sometimes. This time, despite the two very good hands that I’d kept; I drew very poorly both games, flooded horrible and had no chance against Tom.
Thank you so much
This was the third PTQ I play in Little Chalford and the third quarter finals I’d lost, also the forth PTQ top8 out of the last four I’ve played. Some people were kindly congratulating me for it and I would like to thank everyone again; I really appreciate the support that you guys have given me and my recent success in the game.
I will do my best to carry on and hopefully I will improve enough to keep consistently winning once my luck finally runs out. I hope that I can continue to share my way of thinking, my knowledge, the lessons I’ve learnt and my experiences with you, here.
One more thing, because I know a lot of people will ask…
Do I think this deck would be a good option for the upcoming PTQs?
What I really love about Modern is how well you could do with different decks if you play well and know them inside-out. I think there are many good options in this format that you could take to help you get your ticket to Hawaii. Living End is for sure one of those options.
If I had to play a PTQ this weekend I would probably play something different, not because I don’t like the deck, but because it inspired within me the desire to try out more new and fun decks.
So those of you wanting to give it a shot, then go for it! The deck could reward you very nicely. And to everyone else; give yourself a chance of trying something new, think of how the metagame could change after this PTQ and try to stay ahead of the curve. Don’t be afraid to try and surprise people with something that has not seen play in a while, but that could still surely take a tournament down.
Just remember to practice the deck, know the ins-and-outs and don’t get outplayed.
Good luck at your next event, and hope to see some of you in Milan in a couple of weeks!