Ravnica block is over, and the block that was promised to be a huge set for the Legacy player overall has been somewhat of a dissapointment. While it gave us powerhouse cards like Dark Confidant, many of the cards didn't live up to expectations in the new format. One card in particular has caused many a Legacy player to scratch his head in wonder, and that card is Life from the Loam. Everyone knows the card is insanely powerful, and has absolutely loads of combo potential. In fact, no card in recent memory has sparked more deck building innovation, simply because there are so many different things you can do with the card. The problem is, none of the decks involving Loam seem to get over that hump between fun to play and legitimately competitive, and no Loam decks have placed in the top 8 of any major Legacy tourney. This article will hopefully give some ideas to discover all the possible things you can do with this card, and maybe even get a top notch deck out of the deal.
First, let's look at some combos with Life from the Loam that will most likely be included in these decks:
Cycling lands -- Usually using the lands from Onslaught since they can be cycled turn one, Life from the Loam with these lands instantly gives you a strong draw engine that can be used in nearly any kind of deck. The other advantage of the engine is that it's nearly impossible to stop, outside of massive amounts of graveyard hate. The cycling of the lands can't be countered, and if Loam is countered it dredges up and comes back for more next turn anyways.
Fetch Lands -- Probably the most obvious combo with Loam, with fetch lands you can easily thin out your deck of lands and strengthen your draws, as well as always increasing your land count. It also prevents any kind of mana screw since you can basically get a land of any color every turn.
Wasteland -- Another rather obvious combo, Life from the Loam with Wasteland gives you constant land destruction and tempo disruption on your opponent. Since most decks are built of over 50% non-basic lands, this is one of the more brutal things you can do with the card, and many times your opponent will be unable to recover from it.
Odyssey Threshold Lands -- These lands are also very good with Loam, as they give you powerful effects repeatedly. Cephalid Coliseum is probably the strongest of these, as you usually reach Threshold quickly with Loam and cycle lands, then basically get to Ancestral Recall every turn (since you just discard lands you returned with Loam). Barbarian Ring is also strong since it gives you a Shock every turn, and in some decks can even be used as a win condition.
Mass Land Destruction -- Cards like Armageddon and Wildfire get along with Life from the Loam extremely well. Wildfire is great especially because it removes the board, and Loam will allow you to recover from it extremely quickly. Armageddon is stronger against control decks because it removes all lands, and once again with Loam you hit your next three land drops easily.
Graveyard Filling -- Cards like Psychatog, Terravore, and Fledgling Dragon are also great. Psychatog can just be ridiculous with the combination of dredging and probably returning cards like Cephalid Coliseum, usually resulting in an early killing. Any card with Threshold also is strong, since you'll usually achieve Threshold extremely quickly with Loam. Terravore can also be strong as a kill condition in any kind of Loam-a-geddon deck.
Dodging Drawbacks -- The main example of this is with the card Solitary Confinement. Confinement plus Loam basically locks your opponent out of the game until they can answer one of the cards. If you add in cycling lands, you avoid Confinement's drawback altogether. You can even use something like Glacial Chasm to lock your opponent, since you can just not pay the cumulative upkeep, then return it to your hand, virtually making yourself untouchable.
5c Eternal Garden
Now that we know what kind of things we can use with this fabulous card, it's time to actually construct some decks. Several Loam decks are currently being tested by Legacy veterans, and have had fairly good runs. One such deck has been dubbed "5c Eternal Garden", and was created by Diablos at The Source.
This is probably my favorite of all the Loam decks so far, just because it goes absolutely nuts abusing the card. If you were just entering the format and decided you wanted a deck that just abused the ever lasting crap out of Life from the Loam, I would probably show you this one.
It's mostly a control deck, using Life from the Loam to abuse lands. 27 cards in this deck are lands, and it's the lands that make this deck work. The fetch lands fix and thin with Loam, and it runs some cycle lands too for a draw engine. This deck also abuses Intuition to search out the silver bullet lands and basically end the game with Loam tricks. Coliseum and Thicket draw out the cards, Nomad Stadium can lock the opponent, and Barbarian Ring can remove annoying attackers, or burn the opponent's face off. It also runs the 2 Wastelands to take out your opponent's lands.
One of the other interesting cards in this deck is Glacial Chasm. It's always been a card people thought could be broken, but nobody could ever seem to do it. Life from the Loam makes Chasm like a Solitary Confinement that can't be countered and is difficult to remove.
Overall, this is probably the most versatile control deck in Legacy. It can do so many things and has so many combos and tricks that it has what it takes to win just about any matchup.
One of the most obvious combos with Life from the Loam is Solitary Confinement, which basically creates a lock on your opponent. Gabriel Nassif piloted a build of this deck to the top 16 at GP Lille:
This Loam deck also takes a very controlling approach. Nassif uses removal like Swords to Plowshares and counters like Force of Will to hold off opponents until he gets the Confinement lock in. He also uses Squee, Goblin Nabob as an alternate to Loam so he has two ways of achieving the lock. The cycle lands help him dig through his library until he finds a Confinement or Loam, or eventually finds his win condition, Grave-Shell Scarab. They also allow him to completely dodge Solitary Confinement's drawback.
Another fun trick with Loam is Forbid, which Nassif used in his build. Life from the Loam and Forbid makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to resolve anything, going back to the old days when Forbid was used with Ophidian to create a similar lock.
Confinement Slide is another interesting deck that has surfaced recently. It uses the power of cycling lands with Loam, then adds Astral Slide and Lightning Rift, turning your draw engine into efficient removal and creature removal at the same time. Denis Bertrand piloted a list of this deck to day 2 at GP Lille:
This is another controlling Loam deck, using the cycling lands and Astral Slide to slow your opponent down. It also can combo Astral Slide with Wall of Blossoms, Eternal Witness, or Loxodon Hierarch. The Witness/Slide combo is particularly devastating in this deck, as it can either recur removal constantly, or lock you out with a Solitary Confinement on the table.
4 out of 5 dentists approve
the use of Dr. Teeth
with Life from the Loam
4 out of 5 dentists approve
the use of Dr. Teeth
with Life from the Loam
Loam decks don't necessarily need to just be running Loam to recover from land destruction, or to get infinite cyclers. Some decks like to use it just to fill up their graveyard, and draw through their library. One of these decks is Dredge Tog, a more aggro/combo version of classic Psychatog decks that looks to fill the graveyard quickly then swing in with a large Toothy Friend as soon as possible.
Once again the cycling lands are in, but this deck seeks to abuse the dredge aspect of Life from the Loam more than the recuring lands. By constantly cycling through and dredging into things like Stinkweed Imp, and eventually putting a Wonder or Brawn into the graveyard, this deck can easily win games as early as turn 4 or 5 just with a single Psychatog. It also runs Force of Will and Counterspell for counter backup, and Pernicious Deed to keep the board clean and let your Tog swing through. Like a lot of Loam decks, this one also uses Intuition to fill the graveyard and search out the dredge pieces needed to go crazy with the deck.
This one is a deck of my own creation that I'm rather fond of. It seeks to abuse Life from the Loam with mass removal spells like Wildfire. Here is my list:
This one isn't as fine tuned as some of the other Loam decks, but it's still worth throwing out the idea. The deck uses Exploration and Mox Diamond to accelerate into an early Wildfire, which will clear the board and destroy your opponent's lands at the same time. With Life from the Loam and Exploration, you should be able to recover from a Wildfire very quickly, and eventually you can use Lightning Rift with recurring cycling lands to win. The deck also uses Trinisphere to hose aggro and combo decks that could give it a problem.
And now, for something completely different. We've seen in this article how powerful Loam can be in control or combo decks, but what about Loam in aggro? Recently, Loam decks have been doing well in Extended online, so I took it upon myself to try to port an aggro version into Legacy.
This deck combines many of the Loam deck features. It uses Loam to try to achieve Threshold to power out Fledgling Dragon. It also uses the cycle lands for the draw engine, and uses Terravore as a huge beatstick. For only three mana, a lot of the time Terravore is an incredible bargain in this deck, with the combination of fetch lands and cycle lands. It also uses the mass land destruction idea with Thoughts of Ruin, which is nearly always an Armageddon after a Loam activation. It also uses the explosive Loam and Seismic Assault engine to constantly throw damage at the opponent, or his creatures.
I haven't had a chance to do much testing with the deck, but it should be pretty solid. With Thoughts of Ruin, it should have good game against combo and control, and it's fast enough to keep up with a lot of the top aggro decks in the format.
Well, I think that's about all of the Life from the Loam lists I can possibly think of, and I'm sure I'm only tipping the iceberg. This is without a doubt one of my favorite cards, because it's so versatile and has so many different archetypes it can create or fit into.
Have fun, and keep on Dredgin' MTGS!