Lashing Loam Strategies

The results of the last major Legacy tournaments have shown that Life from the Loam is without question one of the best cards in the format. I’m here today to explain to you the most effective and least effective ways of dealing with the recurrable source of card advantage and never-ending stream of Wastelands that is Life from the Loam.

Counterbalance/Top: Effective

This isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but Counterbalance decks are inherently advantaged against Loam strategies since the Counterbalance-plus-Top combo with a 2-mana spell on top of your deck prevents the Loam player from ever resolving their namesake card. A huge part of the value of Life from the Loam is that you can use it again and again, and if you can stop them from using it many times in a row, then you’ve done a lot to stifle the effectiveness of that strategy.

Surgical Extraction: Unreliable

It has been said many times, but somehow still not enough, that Surgical Extraction and cards like it are horrible. The biggest reason why Surgical Extraction would be considered unreliable is the fact that you can cast it targeting Life from the Loam and a savvy opponent can respond by cycling Tranquil Thicket, dredging Loam back to their hand, and countering Surgical Extraction. On top of that, Punishing Fire is commonly played in Loam decks and Extraction is completely negated by Grove of the Burnwillows for the exact same reason. You could hope to get to the point in a game where the opponent has only 1 Grove of the Burnwillows, and you could respond to them tapping it, but if they have multiple Groves, this play is off the table and it’s just a situation where everything you do is contingent on what the opponent is doing. I prefer my sideboard hate cards to be more proactive.

Leyline of the Void: Excellent, But Problematic

This is probably the single best way to hate out every Life from the Loam strategy because it’s going to stop them from having their repeatable sources of card advantage, but it also creates dead cards. It’s going to solve the biggest problems you have while also generating card advantage—now we’re talking. The added bonuses of opponents being unable to cast Life from the Loam and weakening Punishing Fire should make this an attractive option for almost any deck in Legacy. Normally when I try to break down cards I use the word “reliable”—and once you’ve got Leyline of the Void in play, you can rely on it to do its job and do that job quite well—but it doesn’t feel appropriate here given the way Leylines work, and that you need to have it in your opening hand or you, for the most part, won’t be able to use it at all. Still, it’s a great card that’s worth considering.

Meddling Mage: Poor

Meddling Mage is one of my favorite cards in Magic and in the past it has been my go-­to answer for just about any combo strategy. It’s a unique mix of disruption and clock, which is exactly what you want against a combo deck—but it’s not without its drawbacks. With a clock you have to make a trade-off, which is that Meddling Mage is fragile. After a long history of playing with Meddling Mage in Legacy I can say without question that it’s an excellent card, but I have played the Lands decks a fair bit as well, admittedly before it looked anything like what it looks like now. I used to live in fear of Meddling Mage and I had to hope to discard to a hand size to reach threshold for my Barbarian Ring. Times were tough. Nowadays, Lands players have it good—you either just draw your combo of Thespian’s Stage plus Dark Depths and kill your opponent outright, or you can simply kill the Meddling Mage with Punishing Fire. I highly recommend that you avoid Meddling Mage if Life from the Loam is one of your chief concerns in Legacy (as it should be).

Blood Moon: Stellar

I played 4 copies of this card in the sideboard of my Sneak and Show list at Grand Prix Seattle and I loved it. I’ve even seen it commonly played in the sideboard of Miracles as a 2­-of. Not only is this the single most effective sideboard card against Lands as they’re incapable of winning the game as long as it’s in play, but it’s also a very flexible sideboard card in general. There are many matchups where you can put this in your deck, have it be great, while not at all detracting from your deck’s primary game plan. You may have to be more careful fetching for one or two basic lands in the early stages of the game, but that’s likely to be something you want to do anyways since matchups where you would want to side in Blood Moon are usually matchups where the opponent’s deck is rich with Wastelands. Many of the Delver decks play so few lands that they can’t afford to play a basic and the utility of a basic land for them is so low that they wouldn’t want to fetch it in any reasonable situation or draw it. Blood Moon acts as a sorcery that reads “2R, win the game” a shockingly high portion of the time.

These are the best and worst ways I’ve found to fight Life from the Loam and I expect it to be one of the most played and successful decks in the format moving forward.

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