Modern FNM with Splinter-End-Living-Twin, by Nathan Dennis
While browsing an MTG forum I came across an idea to mix two degenerate decks from the Modern format. The result is the monstrosity that is Splinter-End-Living-Twin.
Currently, my deck of choice for modern is Living End. I have had a lot of success at it at FNM and I would probably take it to a PPTQ. For those unfamiliar with the deck I will show you an example list that is pretty much the stock version of 75.
The way this deck works is you start the game by cycling your creatures to get them in the graveyard and then casting either Violent Outburst or Demonic Dread. The cascade effect will trigger and you will reveal cards from your library until you hit Living End, since it is the only card in the deck less than 3 converted mana cost (CMC). If you play this deck, you will have a lot of opponents want to read most of the cards in the deck, because what deck plays Demonic Dread?
Now, to make this deck even more fun to play, we can add the most notorious (and arguably broken) combo in the format.
3 Ingot Chewer
1 Jund Charm
2 Faerie Macabre
2 Slaughter Games
2 Ricochet Trap
2 Gnaw to the Bone
I took out all of the removal and toolbox cards such as Shriekmaw and Beast Within, as well as 3 copies of Pale Recluse. In the place of those cards I added the Splinter Twin package of 4 Splinter Twin, 4 Deceiver Exarch and 1 Pestermite. You can see that there is nothing to protect the combo. This is because of the fact that this deck cannot run cards less than 3 CMC.
Onto the FNM!
Round 1 – Jeskai Tokens (Standard)
We had a new player this week (though, he wasn’t new to the game) and he didn’t know it was going to be modern for this FNM. He had a Standard-based Jeskai Tokens list, minus Treasure Cruises, of course).
Game 1, he beats me down with Mantis Rider a few turns while I struggle to get a cascade spell. I finally do and save myself a turn. He then plays another Mantis Rider and Lightning Strikes to kill me.
-1 Shriekmaw – he is running a lot of burn and not enough high impact creatures.
-1 Pestermite – it dies to any burn spell in his deck.
+2 Gnaw to the Bone – in this deck you can gain a lot of life, especially with flashback.
Game 2, I cycle and play a few copies of Fulminator Mage for the first few turns, however all he plays is basics. Lucky for me he finds no red sources of mana and I cast Gnaw to the Bone to gain 10 life. Next turn I cast Living End to get 10 power worth of creatures into play.
Game 3, at this point in the match he saw me playing a typical Living End deck, so he taps out on turn 3 to cast Mantis Rider. This allows me to cast Deceiver Exarch at the end of his turn and I combo on my next one. Surprise!
Round 2 – Affinity
Game 2, he plays a turn 1 Ornithopter and a turn 2 Steel Overseer. I evoke Ingot Chewer, targeting Steel Overseer. Fulminator Mage takes out one of his lands and then I cascade into Living End next turn, which leaves him with no permanents. He scoops.
Round 3 – Naya Midrange/Aggro
So after this game I think that he is playing a Bant Hexproof deck I helped him brew a few weeks back. I don’t side in anything since I am pretty confident with my main deck for this match up.
Game 2, I get a hand with three lands, Deceiver and two Street Wraiths. He plays Experiment One and passes. I play a land and pass. He attacks and bloodrushes Ghor-Clan Rampager onto the Experiment One.
>>> fast forward a few turns >>>
I have Fulminator Mage out with Splinter Twin enchanted onto it. I create a copy and destroy a land, then on the next turn I make a copy and sacrifice both Fulminators to destroy two more lands. Then I cascade into Living End to bring back a Fulminator to destroy his last land. Plus an army of other creatures. He scoops.
Round 4 – Ad Nauseam
Game 1, he mulls to six and has a turn 1 Leyline of Sanctity, so he effectively mulls to five. The game itself isn’t that exciting. I get a turn 2 Fulminator Mage and destroy his only land. Next turn I cast another Fulminator Mage, I do the same the next turn. After that I cycle and cascade. He scoops.
-1 Living End
+2 Slaughter Games
I have actually never beat Ad Nauseam deck before, because I have no way to interact with the combo. My two chances are to either deny resources like the first game (which is difficult because they have the ability to combo off turn 4), or just remove Ad Nauseam from the game with Slaughter Games.
Game 2, is even less exciting than the last one. He combos off turn 4 and there is nothing I can do about it.
Game 3, I keep a hand with 3 lands, Splinter Twin, a cycler and Slaughter Games. I hope he doesn’t go off by turn 4. He doesn’t – so I cast Slaughter Games naming Ad Nauseam. He casts Simian Spirit Guide trying to beat me down. I play Deceiver Exarch at the end of his turn and combo off on my turn.
Round 5 – G/R Tron
Game 2, he has a much slower start and I am able to pitch a few cards before turn 3. Then I cascade out a few guys, giving him a two-turns clock. He doesn’t draw anything useful and concedes.
Game 3, this was a very close one. I cycle a lot (I am at 11 life just from my own lands/Street Wraiths) and turn 4 he plays Oblivion Stone. Next turn I tap out to play Fulminator Mage and destroy one of his Urza lands, not allowing him to activate the Stone. I play Overgrown Tomb untapped and pass the turn. He does nothing and passes the turn. At the end of his turn I exile two Simian Spirit Guides, add two Red mana to my mana pool, tap my one land for Green mana and play Violent Outburst – putting 21 points of damage on the board. I swing for the win on my turn.
Score at the end of the night: 5-0
I had a ton of fun with the deck and it performed really well. I never struggled with the Blue splash thanks to 6 fetches (7, including Pale Recluse cycling for an Island in a form of Breeding Pool) and 3 shocklands.
I had a few close games and got lucky a few times, and most likely I made a few mistakes along the way. The Splinter Twin splash definitely helps against the graveyard hate. A lot of people thought it was okay to tap out on turn 3 to play something, not knowing I could win instantly.
I cannot say I would make any changes to the deck. This is not because I think it’s so good it’s going to break the meta. It is because there are no cards you can remove. It already plays all of the best cycle creatures, resource denial, acceleration. The rest of the deck is combo pieces. The mana base could be changed slightly to allow for less damage, or even something like Desolate Lighthouse could be sweet in this deck. However, I have a feeling something like that may be too slow for it since we don’t run cards that buy time.
Something like this makes me think about how easy would it be to implement the Splinter Twin combo in other decks. I am not talking about putting it in Abzan or Affinity, but something that at least has no problems casting Splinter Twin on turn 4. Would it be possible to play a deck like Skred Red and splash a few Steam Vents or Snow-Covered Islands for Deceiver Exarch? Or how about a 5-colour Midrange strategy with Siege Rhino, Splinter Twin and Decei… Too far? Fair enough but you get the idea.
Would play at a PPTQ.
Community Question: What fringe deck in Modern would get better by adding the Splinter Twin combo?
Thanks for reading,