For an in-depth analysis of the archetype:
The conditions that a TE deck must meet:
1. A TE at all times
2. A yard with answers to the current situation and a means to reach more answers
for future situations.
3. To live to set up 1 and 2
4. To re-setup 1 and 2 after being hated on in games 2 and 3, hell, or even 1
Right, so for February 2020 this is what I decided to start testing. Now, it seems to me that some light ought to be shone on what precisely I mean by testing. Number's don't lie. The way I test decks - though particularly this cumbersome sexy archetype - is by outligning slots I need to fill (e.g. removal, card advantage, silver bullets), filling them, and then, during each game, taking notes on whether I - for the purposes of either entire games or specific situations - prefer the card I decided to fit into the slot as opposed to all other candidates.
In the case of TE the most contested of these slots is the "1-2 drop that helps me survive" with roughly 40 candidates of which roughly 12 are *actually* worth consideration. It turned out recently, for example, that Wild Mongrel, whilst invaluable in situations when a Tortured Existence was nowhere in sight, was on the whole worse than both Steve and Deadly Reculse. The only thing it was better at was making the deck work without a Tortured Existence for 2-3 turns. However, 12 of the 15 games in which this occurred were lost despite the fact that Mongrel provided me with the ability to use Grave Scrabbler without having a TE in play.
Furthermore, I have been sold on running low numbers of sac outlets alongside Butcher and Fiend. Well, I shall withhold judgment until the numbers speak for themselves. But the fact that Lampad of Death's Vigil can *actually* block and gains us life (and not virtually worthless +1/+1 counters) is - in my mind at least - hugely relevant.
Furthermore, Faerie Macabre *is* the best answer we have against Tron. It makes Walls useless, Flicker fair, Pulse irrelevant, and the deck's win condition fragile. The fact that it blocks Mulldrifters - which are often in absence of Horror flickered 15 times their only real win condition - and that it provides an uncounterable answer to their endgame loop may well be reason enough to maindeck one. It *is*, however, reason enough to sideboard 3.
Lastly, Gurmag Angler is amazing tempo. A fact I never doubted, I just assumed that a Spore Frog or Crypt Rats could make up for the tempo that was lost by playing Tilling Treefolk and Steve in the early turns. And while this is absolutely true, it turned out that in most games I wanted an Angler around turn 5 irrespective of the matchup, and that, furthermore, I virtually never wanted a second one (as there are rarely 12 cards to exile prior to turn 10). Turns out that having an opponent take the tempo and resources to deal with a 1 mana 5/5 can give a slow durdling dredge deck the time it needs to get its ball rolling.
The definition of attrition in a brand new edition; you obey Day9 - you don't die. Once you do that for long enough you'll find yourself the equivalent of space Hitler riding a T-Rex! Which is just the (likely) stupidest way of saying immensely powerful. Most of your losses will be due to your own incompetence or horrid luck (which is really a metaphor for life in general (as is the name of the archetype)), most of your wins will be due to your competence or the lack of luck on your opponent's part (that's life again).
Really, the "How to play" on TE is divided into two parts; The one that is too easy to explain in any way that isn't entirely condescending. And the one that is too complex to cover (like what to do against Boros tokens when you need to both survive and amass enough swamps to eventually wipe the board after you find and use a Spore Frog for 4 turns straight). So I shall speak on neither and let you lovely devils figure this shit out on your own.