A lot of decks in Legacy have fundamentally changed as of late. There have been powerful new cards printed which many decks have had to either adopt or react to. Recently, in the hands of Magic Online user HeyNongMan, Four Color Loam took first place in a weekend Challenge event.
This deck is a nice example of a deck that has done both and has really taken quite a different approach. Most notably, it has shifted away using Chalice of the Void, and this is for a few reasons. The first is that Chalice isn’t as good as it used to be. Prismatic Ending is a clean answer for it, and decks play threats that can easily win the game with a Chalice in play (such as Murktide Regent, which, unlike Gurmag Angler, cannot be blocked by Knight of the Reliquary). Additionally, cutting Chalice allows the deck to both utilize Ragavan and Swords to Plowshares, two of the most important cards in Legacy at the moment.
This seemed like as good of a time as any to take a look at the deck, so let’s jump in.
Legacy Four Color Loam by HeyNongMan
This deck is about as midrange as decks get these days. It combines powerful creatures, efficient removal spells and card advantage, which is a tale as old as Magic. It accelerates into these plays using Mox Diamond, which both grows Knight of the Reliquary and feeds Life from the Loam, which fits into this deck’s mini-lands strategy. Knight allows this deck to take advantage of a diverse land toolbox, and Loam provides inevitability. On top of this, Four Color Loam has a variety of engines which can take over the game against the right strategies. Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows is excellent against smaller creatures and Dack Fayden/Hullbreacher is good against just about anyone that you can resolve them both against.
There’s a lot more going on than this, though, so let’s take a look at the individual cards and see how it all fits together.
Like Deathrite Shaman and Oko, Thief of Crowns before it, Ragavan has a tendency to improve midrange decks that include it. Since this deck has a relatively high mana curve, the mana advantage it provides is substantial. Unlike a simple mana dork, however, it really threatens to potentially take over the game. This often means that opponents have a lot of pressure on them to kill it fast. If they do, that frees up your future turns to play cards like Expressive Iteration to start generating card advantage with a relatively clear board. If not, however, Ragavan might steal one of their key cards and since this deck plays so many different colors of mana, it’s pretty easy to imagine casting it.
While modern versions of this deck have changed a lot, Knight of the Reliquary remains a key piece. Even in a world of Unholy Heat, it’s generally pretty easy to get it large enough to survive, which will probably mean that it’s stabilizing the board. If you ever get to untap with it, you can pretty easily put opponents in a pretty bad situation since this deck has a massive package of lands to tutor up which can solve most situations. When you’re done tutoring lands, Knight will likely be the largest creature on board so you can start to turn the corner and quickly close out the game.
In the past, Liliana of the Veil was the default planeswalker for this deck. With threats being so much cheaper these days (as well as card advantage being more plentiful), relying on Liliana to deny opponents resources is a tough gambit. Dack Fayden, on the other hand, is actually pretty well-positioned. With Urza’s Saga in the format, a lot of decks are deploying artifacts to the board, so his -2 ability has targets more often. In addition, this deck has a fair amount of cards that use the graveyard, so sifting through cards doesn’t leave you at too much of a card deficit. Finally, Hullbreacher acts as a combo with Dack (but more on that in a bit).
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, on the other hand, would not need any introductions in the past, but these days it has fallen off a lot. This deck has a solid combination of mana ramp and removal though, which makes it a lot easier to deploy Jace on a safe board. In play, Jace is roughly as powerful as ever, but keep in mind that players can keep up with it more easily these days, so don’t overestimate your position.
Hullbreacher is a big reason Dack Fayden is included here. This combination of cards will make your opponents discard two cards from their hands while generating two Treasures for you, which is a potent mid-game engine. In the abstract though, Hullbreacher is just a powerful card in Legacy, especially when cast ahead of schedule with Ragavan or Mox Diamond. Not only does it turn off cards like Brainstorm and really damage the power of certain combo decks, but it greatly impacts how potent Uro can be against you, which is the type of card that midrange like this can struggle against from time to time.
This deck has a very small Green Sun’s Zenith package which adds an extra dynamic to the deck. This deck doesn’t play that many green creatures, so Green Sun’s Zenith isn’t the most versatile care available, but acting as an additional copy of Knight of the Reliquary, along with this small package, is enough to warrant its inclusion.
As for the targets, it isn’t the most diverse bunch but they each have moments of being uniquely powerful. Dryad Arbor is a staple of any Green Sun deck, so there’s no surprise there. Scavenging Ooze is a very effective threat, especially against Lightning Bolt decks, that can put graveyard decks in a pretty serious bind. Endurance is another way to attack the graveyard and stabilize the board against flyers. Ooze and Endurance are a bit like two sides of the same coin, so you can choose which one is more important based on how the game has developed. Uro is among the best engines the format has to offer at the moment but it can be clunky to draw, so being able to find it when you need it works out nicely.
These “Four Color Loam” decks have always been somewhat of a misnomer, since one or two Life from the Loams has been the default for years. That being said, Loam is still one of the marquis cards of this deck and drawing it gives you the ability to start taking over the game pretty quickly, either with Wasteland-locking opponents, finding Uro/Punishing Fire, or making great use of utility lands. That being said, drawing multiples doesn’t do too much in this deck and there are a fair amount of games that Loam is far too slow, so relying on it as the primary engine can be costly.
Removal is certainly the name of the game in this Legacy format with Ragavan and Murktide Regent running rampant. Having a diverse suite of removal really helps the creature matchups a lot, which is the bulk of the format at the moment. Prismatic Ending, in particular, is an incredible inclusion for this deck. Abrupt Decay used to be a staple of this archetype, but Prismatic Ending is much more versatile and only has a few meaningful targets that it can’t hit. Punishing Fire is a lot worse than it used to be, especially with Delver decks playing fewer targets for it, but it’s still an effective engine for keeping small creatures at bay, so having a few copies can do a lot of work.
Sylvan Library used to be the primary source of card advantage (beyond the advantage that engines provided). It’s still a great card, but Expressive Iteration has really demonstrated its power in Legacy. This deck is perfectly set up to take advantage of it, since it meets two key criteria to optimize the card: mana ramp and proactive cards. It provides Four Color Loam with the ability to grind down fair decks rather easily and, unlike Library, you can convert the cards generated off of it much more quickly.
Mox Diamond is (and always has been) arguably the most important card in the deck. The cost of discarding a land is not that high in this deck and the mana boost/fixing it provides gives Four Color Loam a sizable advantage early in the game. This deck has moved away from powerful two-drops like Dark Confidant and Chalice of the Void, but it allows you to double spell early and ramps you to the potent three-drops of the deck. Additionally, Expressive Iteration is far more powerful as a result of Mox Diamond. It allows you to play a land off of it as early as turn two and finding Mox Diamond can even allow you to develop off of Iteration when you don’t have a land drop remaining. Finally, the mana fixing is even more effective in this version because the mana requirements are so stringent.
These are the utility lands that make up the Knight of the Reliquary package. Barbarian Ring and Blast Zone are ways to manage the board and keep small creatures at bay. Maze of Ith joins this group, as well, and helps keep cards like Ragavan or Murktide from applying too much pressure. Bojuka Bog pairs nicely with Ooze and Endurance as an anti-graveyard package. Cephalid Coliseum is a nice way to generate a ton of value off of Life from the Loam, by sifting your excess lands into random cards. Karakas is just great right now and has a ton of legendary targets to pick off. Finally, Urza’s Saga is just too powerful to pass up in a deck with Life from the Loam.
While Grove is a utility land (seeing as it pairs with Punishing Fire), the fact that this deck effectively takes advantage of a red/green dual makes it a great land here. With Ragavan in the mix, red mana is at much more of a premium than it used to be. The downside of gaining them a life isn’t a big deal, so in many ways this is a Taiga with upside.
The mana base of this deck is a bit all over the place, as one might expect from a deck with stringent mana requirements. Much like the Four Color Control deck I covered a few weeks ago, I can’t actually tell if this is the best way to set up the mana. It meets all the requirements though, so make sure when you’re fetching you pay close attention to how your game is going to develop.
While Wasteland used to be one of the draws to the archetype, it has fallen off in value recently. A big part of that is Ragavan’s ability to generate mana, which makes Wastelanding opponents a worse gambit to take. A lot of cards in Legacy have gotten a lot cheaper too, which certainly adds to the issue. That being said, it’s still one of the strongest cards in the format, and whether you have three or four copies, Wasteland will still do a lot of work for you.
This is one of those cards that I have run out of interesting things to say about, especially since it comes up all the time in these deck guides. It’s great against Delver, graveyard decks and even Doomsday, so Endurance is one of the best cards in the sideboard.
Meltdown has really become a sideboard staple in Legacy with Urza’s Saga running rampant. There are a lot of artifact decks these days, so having access to it is really nice. Force of Vigor serves a similar role, but has the upside of killing annoying enchantments from time to time.
One of the advantages of playing blue in this deck, Flusterstorm really helps against a lot of combo decks.
This is a great sideboard card against creature decks. It would be potent even just as a Pyrokinesis, but the fact that it’s castable makes it that much better.
There are a lot of hatebears that this deck can play and Meddling Mage casts the widest net overall. It’s a haymaker against a deck like Doomsday, while still having function in many other combo matchups.
This is not a common card in Legacy. While it may look confusing, it’s functionality is pretty straightforward. Against grindy decks, it’s a way to generate a substantial board state over the course of a game in a way that cannot realistically be answered by Prismatic Ending. It’s a cool card that I wouldn’t be surprised to show up a bit more in the future.
These are still among the best sideboard cards in Legacy and with the prevalence of Murktide Regent, they are at their peak of necessity.
Against both Doomsday and Death and Taxes, Torpor Orb is a haymaker. It’s mainly here for Doomsday, as that is a tough matchup, but getting a little bit of extra value in other matchups can be nice.
- With Knight in play, you can always Wasteland yourself to grow it if need be.
- Cephalid Coliseum combos with Hullbreacher just like Dack Fayden, so if you want them to discard their cards (or just want Treasures), you can target them.
- Swords to Plowshares gains your opponent life, which triggers Punishing Fire in your graveyard, so if you’re short on Groves, that’s a good way to get some value.
Dack Fayden doesn’t have that much use against Delver and they have a lot of ways to pressure it. Jace does have use, but it’s a bit too expensive and easy for them to kill, so relying on it doesn’t seem like a great approach. Hullbreacher is a weird one because it can have a strong effect, but timing it can be awkward, especially with all of their removal spells killing it. It might be better to trim on Sylvan Library over Hullbreacher, but I think it’s unreliable (plus, by losing Dack you’re losing the engine). The cards that come in are pretty effective at keeping you alive and keeping their plan in check, so you should be able to grind them down.
I don’t think the Punishing Fire engine is strong enough here to keep both. It can keep planeswalkers in check and handle random Coatls that get played, but it takes a lot of mana to set that up and the upside is pretty minimal. It might be better to trim a copy of Wasteland and keep both Fires, though, so explore what feels right in the matchup for you. The cards you’re bringing in are all excellent, and this is the place Paradox Zone is going to shine. It will allow you to generate a very sizable board advantage in short order and there aren’t any effective ways for your opponent to kill it.
Death and Taxes
A lot of cards in the main deck are pretty effective here, so you don’t need to go overboard. I like cutting Hullbreacher for two reasons: they’re not a Brainstorm deck and Dack Fayden is pretty strong by itself. It might be worth keeping in Endurance, but mostly it’s just going to be a blocker and I don’t think that’s worthwhile here. For the most part, playing to the board and answering their key cards will be effective, so keep to plan A. Be mindful that Torpor Orb and Fury don’t work together to kill creatures though, but Torpor Orb does let you keep the Fury if you evoke it.
There are a lot of cards in the deck that don’t really do anything here, but the sideboard cards coming in are all pretty effective. This is still a tough matchup (as it always is for decks without Force of Will), so the best you can do is enact your game plan as fast as possible and hope that backing it up with disruption is good enough.