This is probably terrible and way too slow, but....
Ramunap Ruins reduces the deck building costs of the Assault Loam package significantly, though at the cost of the activations becoming much more expensive.
One issue I've always had is the Assault-Vortex + Loam engine takes a fair number of spell slots and makes the deck very vulnerable to graveyard hate. Also, you have so many chances for redundant Assaults because the enchantment tutors are all terrible in Modern. And if you want to get out of the package to dodge hate you need a ton of SB cards to bring in.
With Ramunap Ruins, you could get by with a minimalist package as small as: 1 Ruins, some Life From the Loam and maybe some Traverse the Ulvenwald or Knight of the Reliquary. Maybe you play 1-2 Seismic Assault or Molten Vortex. With this setup, the Loams are your LD package probably and a slight inevitability boost. The land burn isn't at all Plan A, its Plan B or C, but all it costs you is the slots for Loam itself and some sub-optimal lands. You still have room for 30 spells doing something else if you were going to play some number of Traverses or Knights regardless.
With only one Ghost Quarter and no Zombie Infestation, Raven's Crime or Molten Vortex/Seismic Assault, are the cycling lands enough payoff for bothering with Life from the Loam in the first place?
The deck as presented seems too durdley to me, you draw a ton of cards and fill your graveyard fast, but the net gain seems to mostly be large Countryside Crushers, which is nice, but there are a lot of answers to Crusher.
Your list is plausible for sure. If you had fetch lands I'd put them in and consider Plated Geopede over the Abbots. I'd also consider a Rancor or Ghor-Clan Rampager over 1-2 Flame Jab to give those Crushers trample.
You just roll over and die to combo decks unless they have bad draws is the biggest price you pay for skipping black. It should be lots of fun, with the occasional moments of frustration if there are a significant number of Combo or Twin decks in your area.
i run a list similar to yours (except i play smallpox over liliana) and i'm really struggling against the burn matchup. Being nearly creatureless means we don't have a fast clock and discard is not that good because their deck is so redundant they will draw more burn anyways.
I'm considering adding some number of huntmaster of the fells instead of lightning bolts. Bolt is ok but useless when we have vortex/assault, and with 6 copies and all the digging we see they more than we used to pre origins. Huntmaster seems like it can take over the game, they seem good in any matchup i think, but against burn i like how the dodge eidolon of the great revel damage and make a 2/2 to block it, and can kill any creature they have when he flips.
Late response, but I played some versions of my deck without Bolts and found it really made aggro matches more difficult. I think its doable in certain metagames or with the right support, but I'd be really sure your matchup against creature decks is still good without them. Just Vortex/Assault isn't enough in my experience.
I would have to say that perhaps you should drop the knight/coralhelm package as it is a bit slow and clunky or reduce it to 3/2 knights and only 1 retreat. The scry can be nice from landfall so retreat probably isn't horrible to have in your deck. Maybe try adding 2 cryptic command for a good control card and a dispel for some cheap on the stack interaction? Not sure what kind of issues you had with testing. Could even just require more time to get to know and feel out the deck?
It could be I just need more time with the deck, and I won quite a few games, but I didn't feel like I was making my opponent work hard, everything was too straightforward and sorcery speed. I won when I had overpowering Vortex/Loam hands in about a mid-range time frame.
A lot of games came down to fighting over a Knight either to resolve it or to keep it from being Path'd, Wrath'd or Abrupt Decay'd. The tools to do so were Negate's which are great, but Negate's saving a Knight aren't being used to stop what the opponent is up to. Also, I just don't think the deck as constituted has enough game against aggro decks. Its entirely dependent on either Vortex/Loam getting online right away against creature and pump aggro or comboing out with Knight before we're killed and those don't come together fast enough.
I agree with you on de-emphasizing (or maybe eliminating) the Knight combo. Coursers, Knights, Retreats and Commune and Pridemage are too many cards and sorcery speed mana to run, some of that stuff has to go for Lightning Bolts and/or other faster cards.
Having said that, Courser was really nice once it was in play, and Retreat to Coralhelm invalidating blockers or scrying had its moments too. It just needs more work.
I tested a bunch this weekend; didn't like the results. The Knights were really awkward trying to keep them alive. Vortex/Loam did a ton of work and I am keeping as the core of the deck, but I am going to try to rebuild to be faster with more interaction. Playing against me was too comfortable for the opponent.
Plated Geopede was a beating, Bug + Loam is very threatening and should be kept in mind.
I think 5 dig spells to see cards is about right, 4 seems like too few, but I'm playing very little control now so I don't have the luxury of too much hand sculpting. The Plated Geopedes are definitely worth consideration, between Landfall and Exalted triggers they are very annoying. I am only playing 2 though for fear of Pyroclasm or Electrolyze killing multiples when they are 1/1s.
I am just thinking that it could be a second creature alongside knight of the reliquary to synergize with retreat.
Actually, I hadn't considered the recurring Loam into Landfall Creature line...I'm a little tempted to play Plated Geopede in that slot potentially. 3/3 first strike with a normal land, 5/5 with a fetch. Thanks, both the Scythe Leopard and Plated Geopede are worth testing I think. I think I like those better than Makindi Sliderunner...
Why not scythe leopard since you are working off landfall anyway? With 8 fetches it is likely to be a turn 3 beat anyway. With loam you can do that most every turn if that is the plan you need to be on.
Interesting. Scythe Leopard just doesn't seem good enough, but I haven't tested with him. I assume it will get played in the Standard open this weekend which I'll probably watch some of and see how it does. Another option along those lines would be Experiment One.
The SB is definitely just a generic board; I haven't gone through all the major archetypes and thought about what I needed for them yet.
The deck has a lot going on. The first potentially non-obvious item of note is it is a RG deck that wants WU later by design. I want to only need RG early, which is why Serum Visions isn't in the list. I also want as many Plains and Forests as is feasible for Knight activations and I think the new dual lands are worth experimenting with.
There are four primary lines of attack:
Vortex / Loam combo
Knight / Retreat combo
Ghost Quarter / Loam mana denial
generic Zoo beatdown with Nacatls, Goyfs and Knights
Of these, what I have liked the least so far are the Wild Nacatl part of the beatdown plan. Nacatl is great and Green, but Nacatl into getting mountains and plains on the battlefield asap sometimes is a mess or a lot of life loss for the mana to support.
I like my support spell package, though there are always tough decisions and metagame considerations. One thing I have considered is dumping the Nacatls for 3 more spells. One more Magmatic Insight and 2 U counters (Spell Pierce, Stubborn Denial or Spell Snare) would make the deck much less aggressive, but might be better.
I've come to be a pretty big fan of Negate over Mana Leak at the moment, but that's metagame dependent for sure.
Whether flip-Jace is a lightning rod matters. Your deck as configured, he's far and away the best Bolt target (he's not steering Bolts off your Nacatls or Delvers for example) which is a strike against him.
The other question is, are you playing enough proactive spells for his primary ability to matter? I think your deck probably is, but another line of thinking is you're already playing Snapcaster which is very similar of course, and Jace, like almost everything else is hosed by graveyard hate.
I think rather than make room for flip-Jace, if you did carve out room I'd be looking for threats that come from a different, ideally non-gy based, angle.
I think an Eternal Witness or frankly even a Den Protector isn't a bad call. Especially in decks like mine where I'm not running 6-7 Seismic/Vortex effects and have cut down to 3-4 of them (though as I've said before I play 4 and really didn't like cutting down to 3). I don't think the new black land is that good, but an Eternal Witness effect is certainly a reasonable idea.
The list I've been playing includes Delver which I like a lot. If you do try Delver, I think you need some Serum Visions / Telling Time to set them up, unless you can figure out a way to run 26+ instants/sorceries. Also, I'm a huge fan of Negate as the go to counter right now. I'm currently playing a package of: 3 Negate / 2 Spell Snare / 1 Izzet Charm for permission. I have a difficult time choosing between Spell Snare and Spell Pierce still.
I tried flip-Jace also and didn't like him because I didn't have that many proactive Instants and Sorceries to used once he flipped.
Last thought, anyone that hasn't tried Magmatic Insight, please do. Report back with impressions, I love them.
Figure out how to play through it as Blitkun advocates or there are other approaches. One of the reasons I like the deck I've been playing is I am only really devoting 8 cards to the Vortex/Loam engine and can side out all eight of them to switch to either a straight Tempo deck or a Twin deck depending on how my board is configured.
You can make an Assault Loam deck that revolves entirely around the GY, but you don't have to. If you see enough cards, something a lot of archetypes have interest in, you really don't need a deck full of the combo components to still have it be a powerful engine in your deck.