Great Brisket is a challenge. Proper profiles and techniques are a must. There are several successful methods available. You can cook either flats or whole packers. I've had success with both. IMHO flats work better for the hot and fast process, while low and slow works better with whole packers.
Burnt ends are not necessary, but they are appreciated if done correctly. If you don't do them right, you are better off not including them. If you are competing with a great cooker who you know includes them, you are in second place if you don't.
If you are going to have a Barbecue, something has to die.
- Ted Nugent.