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By: olaw, Oliver Law
May 15 2014 12:00pm
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https://www.wizards.com/mtg/images/daily/ftl/ftl75_seismicSplash.jpg

Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I will be looking at the resurgence of Life from the Loam and try it out in an interesting Seismic Assault deck.

Here's the list we will be working with:

 

DECK TECH

Creatures

Young Pyromancer
Young Pyromancer
The lone creature in the deck is very powerful in this Loam shell.  Young Pyromancer works really well once you have the Loam engine going as not only are you playing Loam every turn but you can also use each of your lands in hand to replay a Retrace spell earning you another token.  Things quickly get out of hand with the Pyromancer and he really is a must answer threat, but that can be hard to achieve when your hand has been stripped with Raven's Crime.

The Engine

Life from the Loam
Life from the Loam
Although I'm calling this a Seismic Assault deckLife from the Loam is the real engine of the deck.  Loam is a very powerful engine which effectively allows you to draw three cards each turn.  Granted those cards will all be lands from your graveyard but thanks to Seismic Assault and Retrace you can turn those lands into spells, which is how the deck ticks over.

Seismic Assault
Seismic Assault
Seismic Assault is a very powerful enchantment, allowing you to turn any land in your hand into a Shock.  That's pretty powerful on its own but combined with Life from the Loam you are picking up 6 points of damage per turn.  The combination of Assault & Loam is a very difficult one to beat.  The main downside of Seismic Assault is it's rather awkward triple red mana cost - this can be a bit of a strain on the mana base which is also pulled in various other directions by cards like Raven's Crime.

Raven's CrimeFlame Jab
Raven's Crime/Flame Jab
Raven's Crime and Flame Jab are your Retrace spells.  Retrace is a mechanic from Eventide that allows you to recast a spell in your graveyard by discarding a land and paying its cost.  Raven's Crime is probably the most powerful one as it can quickly strip away your opponent's hand and with Loam forces your opponent into top deck mode pretty swiftly.  Flame Jab is less exciting but has plenty of targets in Modern, including Dark Confidant, Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique, you can also use it multiple times in a turn to kill bigger creatures (provided you have sufficient red mana and enough lands in hand).  As I've already mentioned these Retrace spells really nicely with Young Pyromancer as it turns all your lands into one mana spells to activate the Pyromancer.

Removal

Smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox is an interesting card and not one that's always easy to play with.  Generally you will be getting the best of Smallpox - losing lands isn't such a big deal when you have Loam, discarding isn't so bad when most of your cards are still useful in your graveyard and the only creature we run conveniently makes a token to sacrifice if we happen to have it out.  That said you do have to be careful with Smallpox and make sure that you are going to come out ahead on the exchange otherwise you might accidentally cost yourself the game.

Abrupt Decay
Abrupt Decay
Abrupt Decay is an extremely powerful removal spell.  Given the general low curve of the Modern format, Abrupt Decay is rarely without a target and it's uncounterable to boot.  It can also deal with creatures that Seismic Assault or Lightning Bolt cannot deal with due to Protection from Red, which gives you a nice bit of additional coverage.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
One of the most powerful removal spells available or it can just go to the dome when convenient.

Darkblast
Darkblast
Darkblast covers similar territory to Flame Jab but can be dredged back into your hand which helps to put added good stuff into your graveyard.

Utility Spells

Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting is a very powerful draw spell which allows you to dig for your Retrace spells and Life from the Loam.  The fact it has flashback means that it is still useful even if dredged into the graveyard.  Also, once you have got your Loam engine going it can help you dig into your deck for finishers like Young Pyromancer or Seismic Assault which you don't want to dredge into the yard.

Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition helps to supplement the Raven's Crime discard plan.  It's also a very powerful card in it's own right capable of stripping the most powerful card out of your opponent's hand.

Lands
Clearly the lands in this deck are very important as they are a major part of the engine.  Despite the low curve of the deck it actually runs 26 lands, largely because drawing lands in this deck is much more powerful than it is in most other decks.  Most of the lands are fairly self-explanatory but I'll talk about a few interesting inclusions.

Graven Cairns
Graven Cairns
The Black/Red filter land is very good in this deck.  As I mentioned when talking about Seismic Assault, the manabase of the deck is pulled in a couple of different directions.  Seismic Assault requires triple red mana, whereas if you want to activate Raven's Crime multiple times then you want as much black mana as possible.  Cairns helps to achieve the best of both worlds giving you double red mana or double black when required.

Raging RavineTreetop Village
Raging Ravine/Treetop Village
Dredging Life from the Loam every turn can prevent you from drawing into game winning cards.  The answer to that problem - play lands that can win you the game.  Ravine and Treetop Village are two of the most powerful manlands available to us and can finish an opponent off once you get the soft Raven's Crime/Loam lock on them.

Ghost Quarter
Ghost Quarter
The final land I want to talk about is Ghost Quarter.  Ghost Quarter is a powerful non-basic hate card in Modern.  It becomes even better when you can reuse it by fishing it out of the graveyard with Life from the Loam.  This makes life very difficult for decks like Tron and once your opponent has searched up all their basics Ghost Quarter just becomes a Wasteland.  More copies can be found in the sideboard for matchups like Tron.

Sideboard

  • Ancient Grudge is a powerful artifact destruction spell.  Very useful against Affinity, Birthing Pods, Batterskulls and other artifacts.
  • Rakdos Charm is a nice one-sided graveyard hate card.  It also can be used as artifact destruction or the third ability can be a handy counter to the Splinter Twin combo.
  • Ghost Quarter as I have discussed prior can be very powerful in this deck as you can recur it for multiple uses.  Good against Tron and any other deck that relies heavily on non-basic lands.
  • Combust is a nice answer to Deceiver Exarch or Restoration Angel which is particularly nice when your opponent is going for the combo victory.  It's also a decent removal spell against any deck that runs blue or white creatures.
  • Anger of the Gods is probably the most impactful card in Modern to come from Theros.  Anger is a fantastic board sweeper that also negates the effects of various creatures such as Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence
  • Thoughtseize provides additional discard where necessary.
  • Syphon Life is another Retrace spell.  Works nicely against Burn decks and other decks that chip away at your life total.
  • Thragtusk is a bit of a head-scratcher for me.  I haven't found much use for it as I don't often go all the way up to five lands - at least not with Smallpox.  Solid card but not sure what its role is in this sideboard.

GAMEPLAY


Our first match is against a Mono-Black Discard Deck, often referred to as 8-Rack due to it playing The Rack and Shrieking Affliction.  This match is very good for us as discard isn't very effective against us, at least not once we've found Life from the Loam.



Our second matchup is against UWR Control.  This is an interesting matchup, particularly as our deck is more resilient to countermagic than most.  I felt the games in this match were close but I think the UWR Control has a lot of raw power which our slower attrition deck can sometimes be overpowered by.


Our third matchup is against a White Knights deck.  Again this is a rogue deck that I ran into last week but this was a good match so I thought it was worth showing.


The UR Tempo Delver deck is an increasingly popular archetype online and I actually think this seems like a pretty strong matchup.  Cards like Flame Jab and Darkblast are fantastic at dealing with Delver of Secrets, Grim Lavamancer and Young Pyromancer which is the majority of their creature suite.  Obviously you have to watch out for being burned and tempo'ed out but I think the Loam engine works nicely against UR Delver.


The last matchup I have you is against TarmoTwin.  This is an interesting matchup.  Large threats like Tarmogoyf can be a real problem for this deck but we do have tools like Smallpox and Abrupt Decay to deal with them.  Otherwise, we are quite well setup to deal with combo decks due to the heavy discard within the deck.  Seems like a fairly evenly balanced matchup.

Alternative Takes
Rather than going through the cost of the deck I thought I'd try something new and take a look at some other versions of this deck and some other card options for the deck.

This deck really came to prominence in Modern back at Grand Prix Lincoln 2012, where Bronson Magnan won the tournament with the relatively unknown deck.

This deck is probably still very powerful today.  This deck also shows some of the alternative choices to consider when building this deck.

Tarmogoyf
Tarmogoyf
Goyf is a cheap and powerful creature that only grows bigger as you throw more cards into the graveyard.  As such it's a very nice card in this style of deck.

Dark Confidant
Dark Confidant
Another extremely powerful two drop.  Confidant helps you draw more resources and can allow you to draw more cards while still dredging back a Life from the Loam each turn.  I have found that sometimes I have my Loam engine going but need to draw a Seismic Assault or Young Pyromancer in order to pressure my opponent - Confidant helps a lot in that area.  As the deck is very land heavy Confidant isn't all that punishing on your life total and is another solid inclusion.

Liliana of the Veil
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana seems like a very powerful alternative to Smallpox, though it can also work well in unison with Pox.  Liliana is a repeatable source of discard and gives you a valuable way to remove creatures which is an area this deck could definitely use a hand with.  Also, as Liliana ticks up her ultimate is a nice way to put the game out of your opponent's reach.

I recognise that the above cards are also some of the most expensive in the Modern format so I'm also going to look at some more budget friendly card options for the deck:

Countryside Crusher
Countryside Crusher
Countryside Crusher is a cheap threat that can quickly become huge in this deck.  If your opponent cannot answer it then they will probably be run over by it in pretty short order.  My problem with Crusher is that it is vulnerable to the main removal spells in the format, Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile.  I think one of the advantage of the deck not running many creatures is that it makes your opponent's removal fairly redundant - you have to consider that balance when choosing how many creatures you want in the deck.

Worm Harvest
Worm Harvest
Worm Harvest is another Retrace spell and a powerful one at that.  Harvest is a nice late game finisher for the deck and one that you can just Dredge into the graveyard and use which is nice.  I wouldn't mind running a copy of this main deck just as a finisher you can find while dredging Loam.

Bloodghast
Bloodghast
Bloodghast may seem a little underpowered but it is a decent recurrable threat that can grind out your opponent once you have control of the game.

Knight of the Reliquary
Knight of the Reliquary
Recently I've also seen some decks stretching to a fourth colour for Knight of the Reliquary.  Knight is somewhat akin to Countryside Crusher, however, it should come down as a fairly huge creature on most occasions.  Knight also allows you to run a few more utility lands such as Bojuka Bog.  Here's a list from a recent Modern Premier event:

So as you can see there are a variety of different options for this deck and it can be adjusted to taste.

CONCLUSION
I really enjoyed trying this deck out.  This is my first time playing a Life from the Loam-based deck and I like the very different approach it takes to the game.  As far as the list goes I think the decklist could use some tweaks and I think the addition of cards like Liliana and Tarmogoyf would increase the power level of the deck (if I had them I would definitely give them a try).  My main problem with the list is that although it can grind an opponent down it sometimes just loses to not having sufficient removal or ways to interact with creatures or failing to find a way to pressure the opponent. The deck certainly has a lot of potential and, as discussed, there are a lot of options to compliment the Loam engine.  Definitely worth a try.

FNM Draft
In my last article I did a little aside about my Prerelease experience.  Well last week I was once again at my local store, this time for the first FNM JOU/BNG/THE draft at Patriot Games in Leeds.  Again, I had a lot of fun so I thought it was worth talking about.  I have to say that I don't draft that often and though I thought I had a reasonable grip on triple Theros draft I feel I've got a lot to learn about the new draft format, particularly after not drafting with Born of the Gods.  There were 22 players in attendance for the draft so we ended up with two pods of eight and one pod of six (I was in the pod of six).  Anyway, here's the deck I ended up drafting:


I think there are a few problems with this draft deck.  The main one being that I didn't pick up as many good playable creatures I would have liked.  However, this deck actually turned out being a lot more fun than I expected.

In the first round, I played against a Blue/White deck filled with lots of white weenies.  In Game 1, my opponent played out a lot of small humans and then followed up with a Cavalry Pegasus which made blocking difficult.  Fortunately for me, I managed to put together my super synergistic combination of Prophet of Kruphix and Thassa's Ire.


Prophet of KruphixThassa's Ire

This combination allowed me to play my spells and then have mana up for tapping down my opponent's creatures the following turn.  Alternatively, I could tap the creatures down on my turn to get an attack through potential blockers and then have the mana back up for the following turn.  Game 1 went long and was actually very tight as my opponent had a number of threats on the board and I was a bit creature light.  My opponent went at me with an alpha strike forcing me to chump off some Rise of Eagles tokens.  However, the following turn with my opponent tapped out I was able to use Mischief and Mayhem on my two remaining creatures, a Prophet of Kruphix and an Omenspeaker, for the exact 11 damage I needed to win.  Game 2 was once again close but my opponent just managed to edge me out.  The slow durdling nature of my deck ended up catching up with me as we went to time having just started Game 3.  So we ended up drawing with 1 game apiece (not the most auspicious of starts).

My second round opponent is running a Green/White deck.  From what I remember Game 1 went fairly quickly as I got off to a fairly quick start and my opponent didn't seem to be getting up to much.  In Game 2, I became clear why my opponent hadn't had much going on in Game 1 as it appears his deck was filled with large creatures.  This was somewhat threatening but with the help of Meletis Astronomer and some auras I managed to draw a few extra cards and get Thassa's Ire onto the board to stop some of the bleeding and then Prophet of Kruphix landed which made things even better.  I recall that I didn't play this as well as I could as I didn't take sufficient advantage of my ability to attack thanks to Prophet.  However, despite my opponents series of large threats, including Nemesis of Mortals and a Snake of the Golden Grove bestowed with a Ghostblade Eidolon,  once I got to eight mana it was just too difficult for him to make good attacks thanks to Thassa's Ire.  I believe I also got to flash in my Tromokratis in this match which was good fun.  So we upped the record to 1-1-0.

My third round opponent was once again Green/White this time with a splash of blue for Thassa, God of the Sea.  I happened to know that my opponent had got an Ajani, Mentor of Heroes which was quite worrying. 

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes

My opponent's deck was a bit slow off the mark which allowed me to get in some early damage, particularly with a Cloaked Siren which I had flying in.  My opponent found his Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and managed to make his creatures big.  However, I had a Tromokratis out by this point along with a swarm of other creatures.   Hubris sent a Humbler of Mortals back to his hand as Tromokratis killed off the rest of his creatures.  I won shortly thereafter.  So far I am 2-0 in Limited games against Ajani, Mentor of Heroes which is a record I hope I'd like to keep (though it seems doubtful).  In Game 2, my opponent got off to another stuttering start and I managed to stick a Stratus Walk on a Nessian Game Warden which pretty much got there on its own as my opponent struggled to really get anything going.  I finished up 2-1-0 and finished second in the pod behind the player I drew with in Round 1. 

Certainly not a spectacular performance but a fun draft and I really enjoyed the interaction between Prophet and Thassa's Ire which was such a game winner for me.

That's all I've got for this article.  I hope you enjoyed the article and any comments or feedback are always greatly appreciated.  If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out the previous articles in this series.

Thanks for reading!

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

1 Comments

Hey everyone! Been playing a by olaw at Thu, 05/15/2014 - 17:10
olaw's picture

Hey everyone!

Been playing a few more games with the Seismic Assault deck and have a couple more videos for you to check out.

Here's a match against GW Hatebears:
http://youtu.be/CW0Yhga5FkM

Here's a match against GR Shamans:
http://youtu.be/23tfA7EeALQ