Hello and happy new year to you all!
I left to South Africa to visit my in-laws on the 16th of December, right after my failed attempt at going to GP Milan. I also submitted the deck I would have played on the same week.
I had a good time, resting and enjoying summer, far away from Europe's freezing temperatures. However I couldn't stay away from Magic too much. The Pro Tour is around the corner and I wanted to see if I could improve my Loam deck, so during the few hours I had for myself, I played on Magic Online and thought about it.
So today, I'm going to give you the updated version of the deck as well as address some of the questions I got from last time. Let's start with that.
Some people asked about the win-cons of the deck:
Matt Stark: This list looks very similar to some of the brews that I have seen running around. The main difference is that they run Young Pyromancer. What are the potential upsides or downsides of not running Pyromancer in this list?
Young Pyromancer is a great card when you can play a lot of spells on the same turn. This deck plays one, sometimes two spells a turn. Young Pyromancer is a pretty bad card on its own (1R for a 2/1), and it doesn't really fit the strategy either. In the best case scenario, you're going to make one or two tokens a turn, not quite impressive.
Dakota Cox: I feel like this could very easily be retooled into an effective 8-Rack deck.
This deck is not a discard deck. Making your opponent discard is just part of the disruption strategy. You don't win because your opponent has no cards; you win because you've taken care of his important resources. Having eight win conditions that don't impact the board at all and that are very hard to setup is not an option in this deck.
Jose Celso Freitas : I also wonder if Bitterblossom wouldn't be just better in the Zombie Infestation slots. I didn't playtest this deck or anything, but seems to me it is using a lot of resources to produce a lot of 2/2 tokens. Bitterblossom wouldn't be that explosive, but it works alone, so we could use slots to interact with opponent.
Maybe I didn't stress it enough but Zombie Infestation is a great and fast win-con in this deck, a dredge enabler, and a good way to block aggro decks. The amount of resources you spend in generating tokens isn't really a problem. As for Bitterblossom, you can't afford to lose life every turn since you don't have life gain and a 1/1 flyer every turn is nowhere close to the potential two or three 2/2's you can generate each turn.
Alex Aegis: I would say fit in Flagstones of Trokair. The ability to sac it to Smallpox and have it instantly replace itself with another land is very powerful, and alongside Life from the Loam, they can work as fetches in multiples.
While the combination of Flagstones of Trokair and Smallpox is very powerful, it's not an option in this deck. For it to be playable, you need to run quite a high number of Urborg and Fetid Heath to be able to cast a Smallpox on turn 2 and more plains (mostly Godless Shrines). This deck already has a very needy manabase and you can't afford to play these lands, especially since you don't actually need the white mana too much.
Simrit Rai: A maindeck Bojuka Bog wouldn't hurt.
As already answered by someone else, yes it would. The come-into-played tapped ability really hurts the deck as you're going to tap out almost every turn and it would be a huge setback to play a land you can't tap for mana. Also, you want your graveyard-hate card to deal with Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence. Bojuka Bog deals with none.
Blake Skylar Andrews: Have you tested at least a single copy of Kessig Wolf Run in this build?
You rarely have a lot of lands in play with this deck. Tapping out to deal two or three more damage will rarely be relevant, or at least not worth adding a colorless land. Basically, if the colorless land you add isn't at least as good as Tectonic Edge, don't add it.
So after toying around with a few cards, here's the version I'm currently playing:
-4 Blackcleave Cliffs
+1 Marsh Flats
+1 Blood Crypt
+1 Dragonskull Summit
The first thing I found out was that the deck didn't need 23 lands. It really only needs two to start playing, and you'd pretty much keep all one-landers with a Faithless Looting. However, the lands need to be of all colors: black, green and red. I was often fetching a Blood Crypt to play a Faithless Looting on the first turn but then was missing the green to get the fetchland back and start getting more lands. Adding a fetchland answers that concern a little bit. The extra fetch and extra pain that goes with it is not too relevant as your matchup against aggro decks isn't too bad. Missing a color is a lot more crucial when you try to stabilize the board.
I also wanted another red source to fetch. With the addition of Flame Jab in the main (more on that later), I wanted to make sure that the deck's engine allowed to have two red mana available reliably. The Blackcleave Cliffs are great in the first turns, but they become really bad when they get into play tapped. If you're looking for a second red source with Life from the Loam and can only get a Cliffs, that means you'll only have access to your red mana on the next turn which, again can be a huge loss of tempo.
So Dragonskull Summit replaced the last Blackcleave Cliffs as it feels like it is a lot better in every situation but one, and that would be on turn one when you want to cast a Faithless Looting. Otherwise, it's better in the late game to get it back with Loam (for Flame Jab purposes as well). It's also better than a third Blood Crypt as you really already play as many shock lands as you can.The Tools:
-1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
-1 Liliana of the Veil
-1 Abrupt Decay
-2 Raven's Crime
+1 Flame Jab
+1 Murderous Cut
-1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
I love Squee in the deck, and there's nothing more satisfying than having this trigger popup during your upkeep when you didn't noticed you milled it. You really only need one to get an advantage in the game, and you don't need to draw it. Two should be the right number.
-2 Raven's Crime
This card was great when I played it and it's still a great card. However, considering the metagame and the decks you need to beat, it's not necessary. You have good matchups against control and combo decks and it doesn't help so much against the decks that you have a hard time beating. Against Jeskai Ascendency, if you don't have a Leyline of the Void out, it might just allow your opponent to discard their Fatestitcher for free. If the Amulet of Vigor deck becomes more popular (it already made quite the impressions in both GP Milan and GP Omaha), Raven's Crime may come back in the main.
-1 Liliana of the Veil / -1 Abrupt Decay
Again, it's a metagame call. As the deck evolved, I cut on the cards I didn't need that much against the easier matchups. Neither of these cards deals with the cards you actually want to deal with: Siege Rhino and Restoration Angel...
+1 Murderous Cut
...but Murderous Cut does. The delve is quite easy to pay for thanks to the dredge cards. I believe the deck needs at least one more Cut in the main deck, but I have yet to figure out what else to cut. Probably the second Liliana.
+1 Flame Jab
What I found frustrating with this deck is that I was missing a little reach. Sometimes my opponent stabilized, Path to Exiled all my threats and I couldn't quite finish. I needed a way to deal direct damage and Flame Jab was the best option. It gives an extra way to kill Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, Young Pyromancer, and Delver of Secrets in the first turns and give you a way to sink your mana when there's nothing else to do. It's one of the reasons why I wanted a second Blood Crypt so I can expect to deal two damage every turn as soon as I get Loam going.
It's also a good way to deal the one or two damage missing to give your Bloodghasts haste, the difference between your opponent being on 11 and 10 can be huge. The Win-Cons:
For a while, I had three, then two Tombstalker in the main to try to fight Pod. In the end, they're just not good enough. While the delve ability isn't that hard to pay for, you can't play two of them in two turns (unless it's the very late game). My friend Maxime Martin suggested I added Tarmos. It was indeed a very good idea. It does almost everything Tombstalker does but arrives much earlier in the game. It doesn't fly and therefore doesn't block Restoration Angel or Nexi, but the fact that it can attack and block as soon as turn two is a huge advantage. It turns the Monored matchup around completely and makes aggro matchups even better. Before, you needed to one-for-one Goblin Guides and Monastery Swiftspears with removals and you were often off tempo, taking two or four extra damage in the early game. Now you can just sit behind your Tarmogoyfs for a bit.
It doesn't go very well with the Dredge strategy or Smallpox. You never really want to sacrifice your Tarmo to a Smallpox, so you'll have to play accordingly (and sacrifice a Spirit Token or a Bloodghast instead) or just set it up a little (play your Tarmo after the Smallpox). The advantage of this deck is that you don't have to dredge every turn. While you want to fill your graveyard for threats (Bloodghasts and Lingering Souls), you sometimes don't need them and need something to block and you'll skip your dredge. Drawing a Tarmogoyf at that point usually solves the problem while providing a threat for later.
Another thing, Tarmogoyf can grow huge in this deck: Land, Instant, Sorcery, Creature, Enchantment, Planeswalker. I even considered adding a Nameless Inversion to add Tribal to the mix and maybe a Haakon, Stromgald Scourge which is far from a bad idea (I have yet to try it).
The downside of Tarmogoyf is that it makes the deck a little more vulnerable to Rest in Peace, which isn't really played at the moment.
I'm fairly sure Tarmogoyfs are a great addition to the deck and don't quite see what could replace them. The Sideboard:
Most of the sideboard remained unchanged. Some numbers changed and some cards got in.
Choke can be a game winner in the right situation. It is however not necessary to draw two, and in addition to the three Leyline of the Void, that's a lot of cards you don't want to have in multiple in your hand. You also need room in the sideboard.
The other reason is that a lot of decks adapted to Choke and are playing blue sources that aren't Islands, so Choke just isn't as good as it used to be.
+1 Vengeful Pharaoh
I had this card in my Modern Dredge deck that I played for a while two years ago. It's a free removal that very few players expect. Discard it with a Zombie Infestation and catch your opponent off guard. It's just one of these free value cards that don't cost you much to play and can have a huge impact on the game. It's not extremely good against any deck running Scavenging Ooze though.
+1 Torpor Orb
You don't want too many of these cards that don't impact the board directly. Having one in the board can work as trump card against Pod. It's also very good against UWr to keep them from abusing Restoration Angels, Snapcaster Mages, and Vendilion Cliques. Just keep in mind that they're likely to board in Wear // Tear and that you don't want them to hit Leyline of the Void and Torpor Orb at the same time.
On this day, we don't have enough to predict what Modern will be like next month for the Pro Tour. The cards from Fate Reforged have been revealed a few days ago, but I can't see a lot of cards that would change the format. Tasigur, the Golden Fang might be the only playable card in the deck and I don't think it's very good.
More importantly, we are waiting for the new modern bans that are expected in a couple of days, on the 19th of January. What it means is that the metagame might change completely if they ban Birthing Pod, Treasure Cruise or something else (I doubt they will ban anything from our deck at all as I don't see any immediate threat to the format). They might also unban other cards that might shift the format some other way (Golgari Grave Troll? Deathrite Shaman? Bloodbraid Elf?).
In the likely scenario they don't ban anything, we'll have to adapt and make the deck better against Pod without losing too much against the good matchups. The matchup against Pod still is miserable. It also won the last Modern GP which scares me a little bit.
In the case the metagame shifts, we'll have to Rethink the deck and see if it's still viable.
This deck is great and the more I play it, the more I consider it for the PT. So for the next couple of days, it's wait and see.
Raph@hahamoud on Twitter