I have a long history with Zombie Loam. I first put it together in December 2014 – it was Loam Pox back then – and it evolved into the deck I played at PT Oath of the Gatewatch. The last time you might have heard of the deck was last year at GP Melbourne when Jason Chung played it to a Top 8 finish.
When Shadows over Innistrad came out, I was excited to see new powerful cards that could fit the deck, the most important being Prized Amalgam. However, it was a little too powerful as it made Dredge (the aggro version) way too good. In fact, the Dredge deck people played in Modern until the Golgari Grave-Troll ban was what Zombie Loam wanted to do in the first place. With Dredge on center stage, the field was prepared for graveyard strategies and Zombie Loam suffered collateral damage. At that point, and until now, there was no reason to bring the deck back.
Dredge has faded away lately, and the metagame is a little friendlier to graveyard strategies, so it's time I unearthed the deck.
I've written a lot before about how the deck works – you can find more details in the links above – so today I'm going to focus on the changes.
I obviously wanted to try Prized Amalgam in the deck. It's a free threat (doesn't cost mana to cast) and works when it's in the graveyard. By now, you should know how good it is. However, after a few test games, I wasn't too impressed with them in Zombie Loam. They were just too hard to bring back in the early game and I didn't have blue sources to cast it. The regular Dredge has Narcomoebas to help; we don't. So I needed to find another way to bring them back.
So I looked into all the creatures that enabled Prized Amalgam. The Unearth creatures offered some options. In a metagame where Death's Shadow is a serious player, I wanted to find cards able to improve that matchup. The games against Death's Shadow usually go like this: they deal with your board, go down very low in life, and attack you for lethal. I found that I was often short a few damage to kill them either because they had blockers or because I was a card or two short on Conflagrate. The answer was flying creatures with haste that could come back from the graveyard. The good thing was, there were two available!
Sedraxis Specter and Extractor Demon do exactly what I was looking for.
With the addition of the Specter, I needed access to blue mana. Rest in Peace and Grafdigger's Cage are still problematic, and the more threats I'm able to hard cast, the more I can win if they have hate cards. So I cut a Ghost Quarter for a Steam Vent to also be able to cast Prized Amalgam.
Yes, the deck is very good. Hard to play (even harder to play when you record games with it! Sorry about the constant thinking out loud during the videos!) but very good.
Absolutely. I already played two Pro Tours with that strategy and I wouldn't mind taking it to an upcoming Grand Prix if the metagame isn't too unfriendly.
I'm not sure. It's more resilient to hate cards (and more fun to play, but that shouldn't be taken into account) and harder to play against. This is still to be determined.
I mentioned Narcomoeba in the main to bring back Prized Amalgam. At the moment, I believe the Unearth creatures have more upside than Narcomoeba as you can discard them for Conflagrate or Zombie Infestation and still get some value off them. Jason Chung played Deadly Allure in his Grand Prix Top 8 deck. I didn't quite like the card before as we were so short on creatures, but with extra Zombies, it might be a good option. Other new options worth considering are Lingering Souls, Gnaw to the Bone, Memory's Journey, Murderous Cut.
For now, the list I played in the league I recorded is my favorite and probably the most efficient. As usual, there's still some room for improvement, and by the time I play Modern again (GP Copenhagen maybe?), I will get to the perfect configuration!
I hope you enjoy the videos and happy dredging!
Since this was originally written, we've seen Amonkhet cards come out, and they could make an appearance in the deck.
Amonkhet has graveyard-related synergies like embalm and aftermath. Embalm allows you to create a token when you exile the creature from the graveyard. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well with Prized Amalgam, so unless some sick creature with embalm comes out, we'll pass on that.
As for aftermath, again, it will depend on what spells we see that can be played from the graveyard. I'm looking forward to seeing if there a possible inclusion.
As I'm writing this, the new cycle of dual lands has just been spoiled. Cycling lands (Tranquil Thicket, Barren Moor, Forgotten Cave) used to be a main strategy of early Seismic Assault/Life from the Loam decks. You would cycle these for one mana to look for your key spells, then retrieve them with Life from the Loam to draw more cards or dredge. The new cycle (Sheltered Thicket and Canyon Slough for the most part) is interesting for Zombie Loam. In previous articles, I talked about how important having untapped lands was and that hasn't changed. For them to work efficiently with Life from the Loam, you'd need to have a lot of them. The fact that they are fetchable doesn't really help as you'll want them in your graveyard and not in play, not to mention that two mana is a lot to pay to cycle. I could see playing one or two to try them out, but as of now I'm not convinced.