Enjoying Life From The Loam

Legacy is a format that is wide open to innovative approaches. Gene Richtsmeier shares his updated Life from the Loam list and why he thinks it’s well-positioned in the current Legacy metagame.

Legacy, as a format, is wide open to innovative approaches. This is partly because of the rise of linear strategies. If you haven’t read Carsten Kotter’s article on the rise of the linears, I suggest you do so.

Beating these strategies involves more than just playing a bunch of hate cards and hoping they get there. Players tend to dilute their decks with hate cards that prevent their opponents from winning, but at the same time they are losing sight of the point of the game, which is to actually win. We have all seen or heard the stories of the Dredge player winning by simply beating down with Narcomoeba and winning through all the hate. Deck strategies that are able to incorporate hate while still being proactive after taking over the game state are the decks that can thrive in this current metagame. This is part of the reason, as of late, I have been playing Life from the Loam-based strategies, because they can do just that!

It’s a well-known fact that mana plays a big role in how our games play out. In Legacy your mana doesn’t only allow you to play your spells, but also wins you games. Life from the Loam gives you access to those lands while generating card advantage. This is also a great way to protect your mana and prevent mana denial strategies of your opponent’s to work. If you have a Wasteland, you can just simply keep re-buying Wasteland and Stone Rain your opponent every turn. There is almost nothing they can do about it. This is why, in certain control mirrors, the deck with Life from the Loam and Wasteland tends to win especially when we’re talking about grinding control decks. I have seen a lot of BUG control decks take great advantage of Life from the Loam, especially when it came to protecting their dual lands since many builds run so few basics.

That is just one example; think of all the different scenarios where a simple land draw is the difference between winning and losing. Need to deal with Emrakul? Drop a Karakas. Dredge opponent getting out of hand? Play a Bojuka Bog. Too many creatures on the field? Play The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. The list goes on and on. I understand cards like Knight of the Reliquary and Living Wish tend to fetch these lands, especially since they are usually a singleton, but Life from the Loam guarantees that they stay on the field and greatly increase their chances of being drawn naturally through its ability to dredge land cards into the graveyard.

David Price B/G Lands deck is a great example of a deck that can really take advantage of the potency of Life from of the Loam.

I personally am a huge fan of this list, and I have a lot of respect for what it’s trying to do. To me it’s probably the best Black/Green strategy I have seen in a long time. Raven’s Crime is a card a lot of us have been getting familiar with lately, especially for those of us who have been playing Modern. Good old beatdown with Treetop Village and Mishra’s Factory is awesome. Along with some of the best Black/Green sweepers like Damnation and Pernicious Deed, what’s not to love about this deck?! Entomb works beautifully in this deck, whether it’s fetching up a needed Life from the Loam target or a win condition.   

Personally, I’ve been playing a lot of Aggro Loam in Legacy, which as an archetype has a large number of different builds and all are very potent in what they’re trying to do. This is an updated list of the Toolbox Loam deck I’ve been playing lately and, all things considered, I’ve been very pleased with it.

I’ve been playing around with different builds for a while and this is the one I’ve been enjoying the most. With so many decks running eight Plow effects, I’ve been preaching that people need other ways to win besides creatures in this current Legacy environment. With decks like U/W Stoneforge not going anywhere anytime soon, having alternate game plans is going to stay important. Seismic Assault and Punishing Fire give that reach and an alternate game plan that’s not available for so many midrange strategies.

Cards like Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, and Innocent Blood are a big reason why I’m keen on Chalice of the Void being in the deck. Playing Chalice for one has been the difference between winning and losing many games because it gives me the ability to shut down so many of my opponent’s cards and paves the way to keep my 10/10 Knight of the Reliquary from getting killed. It’s always fantastic when you live the dream and Chalice for one on turn one against any blue deck, shutting down their best spells like Brainstorm for the rest of the game.

Knight of the Reliquary, Green Sun’s Zenith, and Burning Wish allow you to fetch key cards to delay or beat certain linear strategies. One of the reasons I like Gaddock Teeg in the main board is because game 1 it is much better against ANT decks since they’re less prepared for him. Game 2 they have many more ways to deal with him. These cards help you beat particular matchups, but have general purposes help you win all your games, not just one particular match.

Bojuka Bog is great against Dredge, but it’s also great when your opponent swings into you with what looks like a favorable attack with their massive Knight of the Reliquary. Then you quickly fetch your Bojuka Bog with your own Knight, after blocking theirs of course, to make their attack just awful.

I have played against my share of Enchantress decks on the StarCityGames.com Open Series, however I still don’t want to jam four Reverent Silence just on the off chance I might play that deck. Burning Wish gives me that catch all answer, but at the same time Burning Wish can just fetch me a solid win condition in Worm Harvest or even another option to get Life from the Loam. Burning Wish has always been one of my favorite cards, but sometimes I’ll admit I just get carried away when I put Wish sideboards together. I was trying so hard to force Devastating Summons and Devil’s Play in my Wish package, until my friend Ryan Overturf asked me if I’ve actually played any of these cards and gave me a pretty hard time about it. All I could think of was destroying him with Devastating Summons in Legacy or casting Devil’s Play against him, but sadly after some self-reflection I don’t know if I could seriously recommend playing those cards.

Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows got the axe in Modern for good reason. For that same reason, the combination is amazing in Loam: great recurring direct damage that can be frustrating for any Zoo or Goblins opponent. You obviously don’t care too much about your opponent’s life, especially when you’re spending most of your time building up one or two good swings with Knight or Terravore or a Seismic Assault/Life from the Loam lock. This combination will give you the time you need to get there. Also, it’s a great way to deal with those pesky Jace, the Mind Sculptors that get played so much in Legacy. It can be a frustrating time for your opponent who feels they should have you Jace-locked but you just keeping bringing back Punishing Fire and aiming it at Jace’s forehead.

Another little-known interaction this deck has access to is tacking Sylvan Library and Life from the Loam. This interaction is very sweet. Sylvan Library states that you draw three cards during your draw step, then you must put two of the three cards back in any order unless you pay four life for each additional card you keep. Where this gets interesting is you can use Sylvan Library to protect cards you don’t want to dredge into your graveyard. Since the dredge mechanic replaces a draw, you can chose to dredge the first draw, resulting in the top three cards of your deck being put in your graveyard, and draw the last two; draw the first card from Sylvan Library and dredge the second draw, resulting in the second, third, and fourth cards on the top of your library being put into your graveyard; or draw the first two cards from Sylvan Library and dredge the third draw, resulting in the third, fourth, and fifth card on top of your library being put in your graveyard.

The reason why this is so great is that sometimes when you Sylvan Library the turn before you want to dredge and see two or three cards you want to keep, but don’t want to pay four-to-eight life to keep them, you still can by stacking your dredge correctly! Please remember though: if you dredge one of the draws from Sylvan Library, you have to pay four life to keep either of the two extra cards you drew; otherwise they have to be put back on top of your library. Big props to Ben Stepka for bringing this to my attention. 

Zuran Orb and Tormod’s Crypt are just a result of a consensus that Burn and Dredge are real decks and this deck could use the extra help to deal with them. Be mindful of Price of Progress. Worst case scenario: you can Wasteland your own lands in response to a Price to reduce the damage you take, if needed.

The Metagame in Magic changes all the time, so it can be hard to keep up with it at times. These cards, in general, have been good to me. If you’re interested in more of card-by-card breakdown, I recently wrote about Loam here.

If you have the opportunity to try any of these decks or have any interesting builds that you’ve had success with, please share. Diversity is one of the best things about Eternal formats. It’s more exciting, in my opinion, to see how people attack diverse formats like Legacy. There are so many different approaches that people can take with this archetype, and it’s fun seeing different successful approaches.

Thanks for reading!

Gene Richtsmeier

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