Seismic Assault in Modern
If you play Modern, there’s a pretty high chance you’re familiar with the Dredge mechanic, seeing as there’s an entire deck named after the mechanic. While not present in the most powerful versions of the deck in Vintage or Legacy, Life from the Loam fuels Legacy Lands decks and the Modern Dredge deck.
This card, alongside Seismic Assault, has inspired brewers since its printing, and for good reason: It can be a very powerful engine. The ability to deal six damage each turn, divided in chunks of 2 as you choose, make it incredibly potent at both controlling the board and finishing off the opponent. This particular Assault Loam list comes from MTGO user DreadedDead, and it’s a spicy one.
Assault Loam is a midrange deck with a bit of an odd gameplan, and to an extent, our creature base shows that. We have four Tarmogoyfs and a Grim Flayer to beat in with, both of which are under-costed threats, with Flayer giving us a bit of card selection and being able to grow both Goyf and himself. Scavenging Ooze gives us some maindeck graveyard hate on top of a growing threat, and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is a clean answer to decks like Dredge and Phoenix. Finally, we have Bedlam Reveler to refill our hand, and come down as an undercosted threat.
Liliana is a staple in midrange/Jund/Tarmogoyf decks, and with how much we lean on the graveyard, it’s no surprise we’ve got three copies. Faithless Looting helps us dig early to find some consistency, and Traverse the Ulvenwald gives us a spicy toolbox for our creatures and lands. Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay, and Assassin’s Trophy are all fantastic removal, and Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize are here to stop our opponent’s problematic cards before they can play them. Collective Brutality pulls quadruple time here, giving us a discard outlet, discard, removal, and a drain two for just two mana. Finally, we have our engine, Life from the Loam and Seismic Assault, which lets us deal six damage a turn as we choose.
For lands, we have a primarily fetch/shock mana base, along with some fastlands and four Raging Ravines. The Ravines act as a nice backup wincon, since we can easily recur them with Loam if they’re killed. We also have Graven Cairns, and a single Field of Ruin to deal with greedy mana bases. In the sideboard, we have Nihil Spellbomb for graveyard decks, Raven’s Crime for when we really need our opponent empty-handed, and Ancient Grudge for artifact strategies. Damping Sphere helps us with Tron and Storm, and Anger of the decks can help keep small creature decks like Humans at bay while we set up our engine. Fulminator Mage gives us an extra out against Tron and Scapeshift, and Jund Charm can be useful as removal, graveyard hate, and an instant-speed buff. Kolaghan’s Command is, as expected, fantastic, playing as our choice of artifact hate, removal, direct damage, recursion, instant-speed discard, and even a discard outlet for ourselves. Huntmaster of the Fells can help us recover against aggro, and Ishkanah, Grafwidow can win us grindy matchups with her activated ability.
- Hold back your lands if you can. Since you can pitch them to Assault at instant speed, you never know when you might need them to kill something dangerous.
- You can cast Raven’s Crime multiple times each turn thanks to Life from the Loam. Past Loam decks have played Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to pair with Raven's Crime but our Graven Cairns does something very similar.
- Life from the Loam is basically free to discard, since you can dredge it back instead of drawing for the turn. Keep in mind you can also dredge off of Faithless Looting.
- Consider throwing some enchantment hate into the sideboard for things like Rest in Peace, since it shuts down 90% of the deck’s gameplan.
- Sheltered Thicket and the rest of the cycling lands fit really well here, since they add a bit more consistency while also turning on Life from the Loam more often.
- Lightning Axe is something we’ve seen out of Phoenix decks, and it’s something that could easily be played here. One-mana instant-speed removal with a discard tacked on is nice, especially with how much we like discarding.
- Worm Harvest is a great way to clog up the board, and you can pretty easily cast it every turn in the late game.
- Flame Jab can be useful as repeatable removal, although it does tend to get pricey.
- Molten Vortex can act as extra copies of Seismic Assault, although despite its lower cost, having an activation cost definitely hurts it.
- Trade Routes is a neat little card that can let you turn your lands on board into shocks if you need to quickly close out a game, alth
Assault Loam is a lot of fun, and deserves a lot more love than it gets. It has a nice mix of grindy midrange and Thopter/Sword-esque combo, which is a wonderful feeling for a deck to have. Being able to fend off the opponent’s swarm of creatures, then instantly turn the corner and start chipping away at their life total is great, and if you haven’t tried out at least some form of Assault Loam yet, I can’t recommend it enough.
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