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Thread: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

  1. #1

    Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Hello to everybody,
    i've finally found the time and volition to open this thread, about my favourite legacy-legal card: Living Death
    I've been playing with it for almost two years (i mean, not exclusively) on modo -maybe you have seen me against famous streamers, some of these matches was hilarious- in different shells with fine results (lots of 3-2, a minor number of 2-3 and 4-1, sadly a lot of missed 5-0 for different reasons, as usual), and it offers a unique gameplay that i love: being a grindy deck with a cc5 card that wins almost any board.
    I often discussed (and played against) people that underestimated that: you can not expect to cast a cc5 spell in legacy, cmon. But that's not true, and the fact that we have relegated these costy spells to niche tier with specific ways to "cheat" them has obscured other cards borderline playbale (like Living Death).

    But i'm only one developing it, and i think i'm far from an optimized list: so i wanted to discuss with other people, hopefully provoking someone to join me/give a try.

    I would like to start with the three major builds i've been working on, in order of results/how much test i've put in, just to give you a clearer view [last one is the less refined and more combo focused]:



    Common points:
    -Cabal Therapy: obvs it's almost an auto-include, since it's a good combo weapon in both offense and defense while putting creatures in the grave. It's almost perfect
    -Skelemental: Another almost perfect card here, since it does lots of damage while paving the way for Living Death. Skelemental is a borderline card by itself, but when you can reanimate multiple of it in a turn it's really awesome
    -Some sort of acceleration: pretty obviously, since Living Death is still a cc5 card

    Then, what we need is a good amount of etb advantage body: in this field goblins are perfect, bc Munition Expert is the kind of removal this deck wants (kill something, chumpblock, then come back again), matron is good and Sling Gang/Skirk are already awesome, even better in this shell. Overall they have less raw power than elementals and no synergy with Pyromancer, another awesome card in this deck.

    I'm not really sure about what i should add in this post, ask me anything if you are interested and i will be grateful to every constructive opinion/ideas: as said, i think that Living Death is an awesome card that nobody expect, and even postboard the point of these decks is that the opponent can't ignore it anymore or board in too much grave hate bc the rest of the deck is perfectly functionable without LD.

    Thx to everyone that has read all this
    Memories

  2. #2
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    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Which of these 3 shells has performed the best for you?

    I like the synergy between Lightning Skelemental + Cabal Therapy and reanimation. That's a lot of damage to their hand. Combining Ball Lightning and Blightning seems powerful and I'm glad you've found a way to abuse it.

    Do you want maindeck graveyard hate? The biggest risk to me is that they get back too many good creatures too (discard, chump block, your removal, etc). Giving Bant back their Coatls and Uro ETB triggers seems dangerous. Endurance fits this role well.

    I like the Elemental synergy in that build, with Thunderkin returning both Skelemental and Risen Reef for a lot of value. Even without resolving Living Death, you can do a lot with those creatures.

    I also like the NicFit Grief Reanimator shell. It gives you a lot of ways to attack their hand, it can ramp to 5 easily, and it can pitch Living Death for value, so it has the means to reliably cast and protect a 5cc spell.

    I don't get the appeal of the Goblin shell. It seems like a worse version of what Goblins already does with Lackies and Muxus. You could arguably just cram Living Death into an Ignoble Goblins shell, without needing Skelemental and the other stuff. Unless that build has been performing really well for you, the other directions look better.

    If you want ETB value creatures to return with Living Death, you can look outside of those tribes. You could always go the traditional route: Baleful Strix, Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, Ice-Fang Coatl, etc. Combined with some removal (Shriekmaw, Plaguecrafter) you would be able to control the early game and then get powerful effects when resolving Living Death.

  3. #3

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Quote Originally Posted by FTW View Post
    Which of these 3 shells has performed the best for you?.
    I've spent much more time on the goblin build before muxus and missed a lot of 5-0 with it, but yeah after him it's a bit redundant as effect, but in this deck I can play both skelemental and cabal md, having a better combo mu.
    Plus, a lot of board states (example, against a lethal regent or other flyers, or plague engineer) can only sometimes be resolved with a muxus.

    Never wanted a md grave hate, I've lost only one games in two years due to oppo having a better grave than me :) for example, oppos won't block a skelemental with a coat or other creature almost never.

    Endurance has been a problem, obvs, but the good news is that endurance control deck are those against which I'm encouraged to wait a skelemental or a cabal before resolving a living death.

    The nic fit grief build is cute but lacks another angle of attack (I'm trying some pw, greist van be reanimated too with ld...).

    Elementals are really cool (I have some hilarious screenshots for this version too) but lacks voice of resurgence /other cc2 creatures that can curve before the massive amount of cc3 I have to play, and I don't know if we can play 5c

    For the last part I think elementals and goblin version already have many etbs, what the nic fit version lacks is something like munition expert too

  4. #4
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    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Yeah, the curves of the Elemental and Nic Fit decks are too crowded at 3. But that could be fixed by running more 2s. I was just thinking at the broader strategy level which kind of engine would support your plan better. Once you decide on a strategy, you can always adjust mana curves or add removal creatures.

    For the Nic Fit version, what about something like this?


    //Creatures: 19
    4 Veteran Explorer
    1 Chevill, Bane of Monsters
    2 Shriekmaw
    2 Plaguecrafter
    2 Endurance
    4 Lightning Skelemental
    4 Grief

    //Planeswalkers: 2
    2 Grist, the Hunger Tide

    //Spells: 15
    4 Cabal Therapy
    3 Reanimate
    2 Village Rites
    3 Assassin's Trophy
    3 Living Death

    //Enchantment: 1
    1 Sylvan Library

    //Lands: 23
    1 Dryad Arbor
    1 Phyrexian Tower
    1 Nurturing Peatland
    4 Verdant Catacombs
    3 Prismatic Vista
    2 Wooded Foothills
    1 Bloodstained Mire
    2 Forest
    2 Swamp
    2 Mountain
    2 Bayou
    1 Badlands
    1 Taiga


    You can make room for more removal and interaction. You could also clean up the manabase a bit.

    If you're willing to let go of Lightning Skelemental, then the 3rd splash color could be blue for Baleful Strix and other interaction.

  5. #5

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    This sort of reminds me of an old Vintage deck called Bombs Over Baghdad that utilized Bazaar of Baghdad and Living Death with huge beats that went to the yard. In this case Faithless Looting could replace Bazaar since it's banned. Just a random thought.
    "WaaaauuugghhhaaaauuugghhhaauuugghhhaaauuugghhhW" -Chewbacca

  6. #6

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    I donít know if you consider it too simple, but why arenít we just porting modern living end? Cascade seems the easiest way to cheat on the cost and lets us find it more reliably.


    Creatures (29)
    4 Shardless Agent $ 4.00
    4 Architects of Will $ 1.92
    4 Curator of Mysteries $ 1.24
    4 Grief $ 61.56
    1 Monstrous Carabid $ 0.38
    4 Street Wraith $ 13.48
    4 Striped Riverwinder $ 1.40
    4 Waker of Waves $ 1.20
    Spells (11)
    3 Living End $ 25.26
    4 Force of Negation $ 329.52
    4 Violent Outburst $ 33.04
    Lands (20)
    4 Botanical Sanctum $ 25.88
    2 Breeding Pool $ 51.44
    1 Island $ 0.00
    4 Misty Rainforest $ 139.92
    2 Scalding Tarn $ 79.06
    4 Spirebluff Canal $ 95.60
    2 Steam Vents $ 34.70
    1 Sunken Ruins

    Is the modern version.

    Trade in fon for fow, some lands for ESG, water of the waves for river serpent and go to town.

  7. #7

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Quote Originally Posted by Reeplcheep View Post
    I donít know if you consider it too simple, but why arenít we just porting modern living end? Cascade seems the easiest way to cheat on the cost and lets us find it more reliably.


    Creatures (29)
    4 Shardless Agent $ 4.00
    4 Architects of Will $ 1.92
    4 Curator of Mysteries $ 1.24
    4 Grief $ 61.56
    1 Monstrous Carabid $ 0.38
    4 Street Wraith $ 13.48
    4 Striped Riverwinder $ 1.40
    4 Waker of Waves $ 1.20
    Spells (11)
    3 Living End $ 25.26
    4 Force of Negation $ 329.52
    4 Violent Outburst $ 33.04
    Lands (20)
    4 Botanical Sanctum $ 25.88
    2 Breeding Pool $ 51.44
    1 Island $ 0.00
    4 Misty Rainforest $ 139.92
    2 Scalding Tarn $ 79.06
    4 Spirebluff Canal $ 95.60
    2 Steam Vents $ 34.70
    1 Sunken Ruins

    Is the modern version.

    Trade in fon for fow, some lands for ESG, water of the waves for river serpent and go to town.
    Modern goes all-in for the GY plan which is a bust in the Endurance meta.
    Bonus points for losing against 1 counter if you can't disrupt it.

    This walks the fine line between stuff that is good to hard cast and to reanimate.
    No idea if it's worth it though.

  8. #8
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    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Quote Originally Posted by Reeplcheep View Post
    I donít know if you consider it too simple, but why arenít we just porting modern living end? Cascade seems the easiest way to cheat on the cost and lets us find it more reliably.
    Living End is a fragile combo deck that gets wrecked by grave hate, Force of Will, anti-cascade like Deafening Silence, and other things. It's also limited to running mediocre cycling creatures. It relies on Modern lacking Legacy's level of interaction.

    If you just want to combo big creatures from the graveyard, Entomb+Reanimate does that faster and better.

    I think the appeal here is to be able to play a fair deck that has lategame Living Death to completely swing the game, much like the old Goblin Bidding decks with Patriarch's Bidding. You don't ever need to cast Living Death, but if you do it's very good (Wrath + mass Reanimate).

    It could potentially work in some 80-card Yorion deck with a lot of ETB creatures.

  9. #9

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Quote Originally Posted by FTW View Post
    Living End is a fragile combo deck that gets wrecked by grave hate, Force of Will, anti-cascade like Deafening Silence, and other things. It's also limited to running mediocre cycling creatures. It relies on Modern lacking Legacy's level of interaction.

    If you just want to combo big creatures from the graveyard, Entomb+Reanimate does that faster and better.

    I think the appeal here is to be able to play a fair deck that has lategame Living Death to completely swing the game, much like the old Goblin Bidding decks with Patriarch's Bidding. You don't ever need to cast Living Death, but if you do it's very good (Wrath + mass Reanimate).

    It could potentially work in some 80-card Yorion deck with a lot of ETB creatures.
    [Another variant that i've played was a dirty kitty with b.wish to have access to the usual storm stuff and living death in the sb, hilarious]

    ...A yorion deck, i hate you, now i have to try it :v A yorion version could maybe run gsz and some other big creatures,but without some reliable tutor maybe it's too diluted to have access to Living Death?
    Yeah the appeal is exactly that, we are played a grindy deck with a late game bomb that absolutely flips over the match. Pushing too much to the combo part is a no-go imho.
    Moreover, the -theoretically- best version is probably something like the dirty kitty one (and elementals too), a functional deck by itself as much as we can that can have a sinergy with LD.

    About your Nic Fit list i like it, but as threat it still counts only 4 skelemental and 4 grief, and i fear that it's too few (in my list i also have street wraith, good as both ld and grief fuel).
    Ah, Seasoned Pyromancer is an absolute blast here, and you don't really want non creature removal (trophy is the best one at that point bc it solves many non creature problem). Plaguecrafter could have been good but i fear it would be too slow too often and it's a cc3 again.
    I've also tried mode midrangy version with strix/coatl and yawgmoth, but it's too durdly and without skelemental closing the game is a nightmare.

    About the Elemental version, it has the problem that vial doesn't help to cast LD but it's at the same time too strong with reef etc, while you usually are really happy if your opponents uses their fow to counter your creatures for obvs reasons. I don't think we can have a pure jund list in elementals and both Reef and Voice have their benefits both requires a 4th color.
    I don't know what cc2 we can play here, blazing effigy would be so classy but it's not reliable without more sac effect. smokebraider is redundant and doesn't help in casting LD. Maybe best shot here is to play more maw? Seems bad as power level now, but maybe it's correct: delver is a good mu anyway, uninteractive deck like Urza/artifact, post, depths and lands are worse mu (and i don't see how to change that), bc we need at least 2 skelemental and LD to close the game faster than them.

  10. #10
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    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Quote Originally Posted by Memories of the Time View Post
    About your Nic Fit list i like it, but as threat it still counts only 4 skelemental and 4 grief, and i fear that it's too few (in my list i also have street wraith, good as both ld and grief fuel).
    4 Skelemental + 4 Grief, but also Endurance (3/4 reach, better body than Street Wraith) and Shriekmaw (3/2 fear).

    You mentioned the problem with the Nic Fit build is it was cute but lacks other angles of attack. Grief + Skelemental + Therapy already attack the hand heavily. What its missing (that the Goblins one has) is enough interaction with the board. If they resolve a threat under discard or topdeck something dangerous, you need to attack that too. I tried to fix that weakness and also the curve issue by adding removal for the 2-mana spot. Trophy + Shriekmaw gives many interactive 2-mana plays, both lowering the curve and increasing your early interaction. You could increase the Shriekmaw count if you think Plaguecrafter is too slow. It fills the "Munitions Expert" role while also attacking as a bigger body. It also works as LD and Grief fuel, but is not filler like Street Wraith (start the game at 18 life, worse mulligans).

    Seasoned Pyromancer seems good at goldfishing and linearly setting up a big Living Death, but it seems worse at interacting with the game. How does it perform in your Nic Fit build? Do you want to spend turn 3-4 in Legacy on Faithless Looting? I wonder if that contributes to the deck feeling clogged at the higher curve slots, by spending that turn without interacting with the opponent's development. Pyromancer also increases the demand for red mana (RR), which is awkward when the deck naturally wants BG colors first (Veteran Explorer + Cabal Therapy, and no 1-2 mana red plays). To make the color requirements work, you were forced into running a high dual count and walking into more manabase hate, which is big in the current format. So I was trying to reduce mana pressure a bit.[/quote]


    Quote Originally Posted by Memories of the Time View Post
    About the Elemental version, it has the problem that vial doesn't help to cast LD but it's at the same time too strong with reef etc, while you usually are really happy if your opponents uses their fow to counter your creatures for obvs reasons.
    Yeah, I didn't understand the point of Vial there. It doesn't cast LD or let you Evoke creatures. Another form of ramp may be better there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Memories of the Time View Post
    depths and lands are worse mu (and i don't see how to change that)
    Sudden Edict in the SB. You need an answer to EOT Marit Lage, because you cannot race it. Edict is also good against blue decks.

    Alpine Moon beats Urza's Saga, Cloudpost, Dark Depths and other dangerous lands without hurting your own mana development (like Blood Moon would).

  11. #11

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)

    Quote Originally Posted by FTW View Post
    Yeah, I didn't understand the point of Vial there. It doesn't cast LD or let you Evoke creatures. Another form of ramp may be better there.
    In my experience with the deck, Vial is simply too strong to not be played when the curve is so dense around cc3 and with reef you can have a stream of CA, even if the things you said are true.

    Quote Originally Posted by FTW View Post
    I tried to fix that weakness and also the curve issue by adding removal for the 2-mana spot. Trophy + Shriekmaw gives many interactive 2-mana plays, both lowering the curve and increasing your early interaction
    Yeah your approach is probably correct -and thx to the precious suggestions, i really appreciate your inputs-. Trophy solves many problems that our sorcery speed interaction cannot reach and should be played in more copies, i agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by FTW View Post
    Seasoned Pyromancer seems good at goldfishing and linearly setting up a big Living Death, but it seems worse at interacting with the game. How does it perform in your Nic Fit build? Do you want to spend turn 3-4 in Legacy on Faithless Looting? I wonder if that contributes to the deck feeling clogged at the higher curve slots, by spending that turn without interacting with the opponent's development. Pyromancer also increases the demand for red mana (RR), which is awkward when the deck naturally wants BG colors first (Veteran Explorer + Cabal Therapy, and no 1-2 mana red plays). To make the color requirements work, you were forced into running a high dual count and walking into more manabase hate, which is big in the current format. So I was trying to reduce mana pressure a bit.
    Good point about the mana, it's pretty bad in this deck. I'm thinking that without cantrips or gsz -and a clogged cc3 important cards- maybe 4 Bop 1 veteran (or 3/2) is better than otherwise, lowering the number of basics. I've mulled a lot with this deck in my last league bc the mix of basics, high coloured requirements and the fact that veteran alone doesn't do anything.
    Pyromancer is waaaaay better than Looting, in this deck it's a divination on legs almost always. Bw all the discad and skelemental is really easy to empty our hand and at that point it becomes reeeeally good in my experience. I've progresively added more copies (now it's way cheaper too) and now i'm on 4x and i'm almost always happy to draw it, especially in mutiples. Adding more cc2 it would be even better i think.
    You see a lot of manabase hate? in which form? I see less of it, since BtB is less common now, and the same for other decks.

    Quote Originally Posted by FTW View Post
    Sudden Edict in the SB. You need an answer to EOT Marit Lage, because you cannot race it. Edict is also good against blue decks.
    Alpine Moon beats Urza's Saga, Cloudpost, Dark Depths and other dangerous lands without hurting your own mana development (like Blood Moon would).
    Yeah i've tried Moon and i've lost due to mana requirement (in an unlucky game, ofc, but still is a problem we need to consider). Alpine Moon can be a thing for sure, we already have enough power to opt for a cheaper-more precise card like that over moon.
    On discord someone has suggested Ashiok, Dream Render and the more i think about it, the more i like it: it covers many of these Mu while being good against Dday (a deck that we can often beat due to the huge amount of discard we play, but another option would still be good).

    Ok so, now i'm at this:

    Mana has been a problem in my last leagues, both flooding/screwing too much. Variance, ofc, but maybe i can cut a land for an Abundant Harvest?
    Still unsure if at least one moon/magus should be in the sb, and yeah 2 copies of Endurance Md wouldn't hurt at all (but i'm unsure what to cut at that point).

    Thx to everyone again for the suggestions!

  12. #12

    Re: Living Death, a hidden gem (???)



    Update: i've taken the deck again and just finished 4-1:

    Won against:
    Jeskai Standstill (g1 after a t1 otp ragavan, g2 with ragavan he founded my grief to discard LD otherwise gg despite both relic and cage, g3 he resolved 3 standstill but still can't beat cabal+LD).
    BW Bomberman
    U stompy
    Grixis Phoenix

    Lost against Silviawataru with Dday (i made a huge mistakes waiting the second main phase to crack a nurturing to have the carpet mana, found an otherwise winning Skelemental. They also found personal tutor the turn after i destroyed their hand).there

    Magus of the Moon md has overperformed, really an amazing card rn and we can bear the eventual problems to cast some cards. Bop has been great too, for a deck with no cheap manipulation it's better than Veteran enabling the chain of good cc3 a turn earlier.
    Shriekmaw has been pretty sad, due to being sorcey speed and not hitting many things, but it's probably correct to play 2 copies anyway. Maybe i can try a Chevil there.
    The 3 library has attenuated the flood problem but it's still present, maybe i can cut a land to add an Ignoble hierarch or another Veteran, or maybe a Harvest. What this deck lacks a bit is a coatl/strix thing, the closest is chevil probs.

    Overall, the deck felt really good. Living Death is such a powerhouse that can instantly win board already totally compromised, and we can plan for it really well. It's amazing how good it is against many combo/unfair deck, since it rewards us for playing cards like cabal and evoked grief that are good there while giving a gg button after we have prolonged the game. We obvs suffer topdeck a lot, especially for deck like Dday that can simply ignore our discards, but without blu i don't think we can't really have something for that.

    Alpine moon has been awkard, bc many urza's deck also play Chalice. I will play more moon effect in my next league.

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