Wild Research: Esper Living End

by Hapless Researcher on 09 August 2017, Wednesday

Hapless Researcher


Esper Living End


Living End


With the release of Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation, the cycling mechanic made its triumphant return. In modern, there is one deck that truly cares about cycling - Living End. It’s time for us to revisit Living End on this installment of Wild Research!

Within the actual cycling creatures themselves, blue made it out big. With River Serpent, Striped Riverwinder and Curator of Mysteries, blue now has some of the biggest one-mana cyclers in modern right now. The problem, then, is that blue doesn’t naturally lend itself to either of the cascade spells currently played in Living End, as Violent Outburst and Demonic Dread are shared between red, blue and green. This conundrum, then, leads us to another Amonkhet card - As Foretold.


As Foretold

With As Foretold in play, you are free to cast Living End from your hand when you have it, which is a different challenge from finding the cascade spell to cast it from your deck. Fortunately, a third, much-maligned Cascade Spell exists as well.


Ardent Plea

Between Ardent Plea, As Foretold, and cycling, we should have no trouble getting to cast Living End, be it from our deck or hand. Let’s look at what we can put into this deck!




River Serpent Striped Riverwinder Curator of Mysteries

As mentioned, Striped Riverwinder and Curator of Mysteries are great targets, and upgrades over Deadshot Minotaur and any 2-mana cyclers that used to exist. 

Playing Esper colours also gives us access to Winged Shepherd, Horror of the Broken Lands and technical 1-mana cycler Vizier of Tumbling Sands to go along with old mainstays Architects of Will, Street Wraith and Monstrous Carabid. White also gives us Glassdust Hulk, but the 3/4 body is by far the worst of the bunch. Obviously, not all of these cyclers will make it into the deck, so we’ll have to pick and choose what we want to play.



Far // Away Consign // Oblivion

Aside from As Foretold and Ardent Plea, a recent rule change regarding split cards also aids our cause. Because split cards now technically have a converted mana cost of both sides of the card totaled up, it means we can run split cards without fearing cascading into them! For example, Far // Away is now playable, as well as new Aftermath cards. Of these, we’re most interested in Consign // Oblivion, which allows us to bounce problematic permanents such as Chalice of the Void, Eidolon of the Great Revel and Eidolon of Rhetoric (but not Grafdigger's Cage - don’t be that guy!). 

We’re also interested in Grind to Dust, as it’s good against decks with many 1-toughness creatures, such as Affinity and any Noble Hierarch deck. Esper colours also give us Detention Sphere, Lingering Souls and Dismember, depending on what we want to do. I’d also like to take the time to mention Vendilion Clique, which allows us to tuck away extra copies of Living End, while also potentially providing a quick blocker and disruption. In multiples, extra copies even go to the graveyard, waiting to be brought back by Living End!


Nimble Obstructionist

The new block gives us a few interesting options as well. Nimble Obstructionist, while costing way too much to cycle, gives us a surprise flash option while also randomly countering abilities, such as fetch land activations, Expedition Map, Arcbound Ravager, Snapcaster Mage, Primeval Titan triggers and so on. It’s the first time such an ability is available in Modern, so it might also be worth noting that you can cycle Nimble Obstructionist to stop a card with suspend from being cast, by targeting the ability on the suspend card that states that the spell is cast when there are no more suspend counters after the last one is removed. This can come in useful against Lotus Bloom and Ancestral Visions. It’s also cool to note that you can also counter cascade triggers. 

Aside from that, Supreme Will also gives us either card selection or countermagic, depending on what we need, while Doomfall can provide us removal or discard. 




Esper Living End

Putting the pieces together, we get something like this:



I’ve also chosen to include Tolaria West! This allows you to mostly transmute for Living End, though in rare cases you also want to search up a land for the color you need. For an extra greedy manabase, we can also include ludicrous utility lands such as Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, Vault of the Archangel, and so on. 


Simian Spirit Guide

One thing this list loses compared to most conventional lists is Simian Spirit Guide. It’s possible that it may be correct to play Modern’s #1 Monkey in this list, even if it doesn’t provide any of the right colors, given the explosiveness it provides. However, I have traded it for slots that allow you to play a more fair game and durdle around while setting up for the big Living End. All in all, only time, testing and tuning will tell.


Leyline of Sanctity Leyline of the Void

In the sideboard, we can play any amount of nonsense, ranging from 8-Leyline (Sanctity and Void) types of sideboards, to more Lingering Souls for more aggressive decks. Wispmare could also make an appearance, as it destroys Eidolon of the Great Revel and Eidolon of Rhetoric

More Detention Spheres are also a possibility, as is Shriekmaw. Damping Matrix works as the poor man’s Stony Silence, while also hitting other types of combo decks (looking at you, Devoted Druid). If you REALLY want to be spicy and try to go off at instant speed, however, Leyline of Anticipation is also worth a shot. There’s so much worth exploring, so tune it according to your local metagame!

And that’s all I have for this installment of Wild Research, I hope you’ve all enjoyed this new take on an old deck!

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