I’m just back from GP Richmond, where I went 11-4 in the Legacy main event. At one point, I was actually 11-2 and in Top 8 contention, and I also ended up going 4-1 in the PTQ on Sunday. Overall, I think the deck is very strong and it is only due to the difficulty of piloting the deck that more people are not placing well with it. That being said, it may be wrong to put down my Brainstorms, as 85% of the 12-3 or above finishers were playing it. It’s a very small sample size given the fact that the GP was only 843 players, but in weeks leading up to it, Brainstorm was under 60%. Brainstorm tends to overperform in 15-round events, and Death and Taxes was sufficiently hated out and soft against Grixis Control. Still, if you’re looking to handicap yourself and not play the best card in Legacy, 4C Loam is an excellent choice!

Four-Color Loam

With 22 singletons and 40 distinct cards, 4C Loam looks like a giant steaming pile. When I was talking about the deck with my friends, I did in fact refer to the deck as 4C “Steaming Pile” to differentiate it from 4C “Czech Pile.” But, believe it or not, the card choices are all carefully selected. At its core, this is a weird Jund-Maverick-Lands hybrid that also happens to play Chalice of the Void. The deck is very difficult to pilot because you see different cards every game, and there are a lot of sequencing decisions involving playing lands well in advance of when you need them.

The difficulty of blue decks is generally overrated, as all you need to do with blue decks is know which cards matter and then simply cantrip to find them. The difficulty of 4C Loam lies in the fact that it is a weird mix of aggro, midrange, and control and your role completely depends on the matchup.

Furthermore, it can also be difficult to decide when to Loam or when to take a natural draw. Depending on the matchup, you will be forced into very different roles. Against blue control and combo decks, you are a prison aggro deck. Against aggro/Chalice decks, you are a control deck and simply trying to prolong the game to where your card advantage and Knight of the Reliquarys take over. There are simply too many complexities of the deck to explain, and I made a lot of mistakes before really understanding how to pilot the deck as every matchup is different. I need to credit Mats Ellingsen for coming up with the list, and I only changed one card from his list and mostly followed his sideboard instructions.

The best way to explain the deck is to address each of the most popular matchups, and explain the role and how to sideboard. There is one caveat on how I view the matchups: If you know what you are playing against and mulligan accordingly, your win percentage increases significantly because many of your game 1 cards are situational, depending on whether they are playing control, aggro, Chalice, or combo. I will assume that you are in the blind and do not know what you are playing against.

Below are my sideboard plans. Mats boards similarly, but often cuts Green Sun’s Zenith and brings in Garruk Relentless a lot more than I do. There are also some very good Loam players who almost never side out Confidant, which is reasonable as your average CMC is very low. Everybody should have their own feel for their deck and their opponents, and I regularly change how I sideboard depending on what I see, so take these notes with a grain of salt.

Miracles (Slightly favored)

Game 1, they can’t really beat the Punishing Fire lock, so your paths to victory involve either Chalice/Confidant, or dredging Loam until you assemble the Punishing Fire lock. You play Abrupt Decay so you can answer their troublesome permanents like Counterbalance and Back to Basics, so once your engine is online, there is not much Miracles can do outside of Entreat the Angels. Post-sideboard, you morph into a planeswalker heavy midrange deck. Just be wary of Back to Basics and Engineered Explosives. Fetch a basic Forest as early as you can. Often, it will be correct to set Chalice on 0 to protect your Chalice/Mox from EE.

Out

In

Three planeswalkers also come in.

Grixis Control (Favored)

The Loam engine is excellent against Grixis Control as well, as they only run three basic lands and you can usually attack their mana base quite effectively. But if they get going and start chaining Kolaghan’s Commands, it can be very hard to win. Overall, I think pre-sideboard the matchup is quite easy, but gets significantly harder post-sideboard when they bring in Surgicals.

Out

In

Now, the last few slots I change depending on what I see. If there are TNNs, I like Golgari Charm and if there are Gurmag Anglers, I like Leyline of the Void. Abrupt Decay, Reclamation Sage, and Thalia/Karakas are also reasonable options to take out or leave in, and I change how I sideboard depending on what I see and how my opponents play. Chalice of the Void is potentially an option to side out on the draw as well, but I’m not sure about that at all.

Death and Taxes (Favored)

Chalice of the Void is fairly weak against Flickerwisp, so you can easily take it out. Overall, you win a longer game so it is important to shutdown their Vials to limit the power of their Recruiters and Flickerwisps. Your planeswalkers generally take over the game and you play a pile of removal, so outside of Sanctum Prelate and Sword of Fire and Ice, it can be hard for D&T to win. You take out a Mox Diamond to reduce your vulnerability to Flickerwisp and Phyrexian Revoker.

Out

In

U/B Shadow (Favored)

Chalice of the Void is extremely effective against the Shadow deck, and so is the Loam/Wasteland package as they are very land light. That being said, Shadow has some very powerful draws that are simply unbeatable, so I don’t think this matchup is necessarily a bye. Keep in mind that you play Grove of the Burnwillows, so you should give your opponent life at every opportunity to delay the Shadows. Their life total doesn’t really matter because when you win with Knights, you generally make quick work of their life total.

Out on the Draw

Out on the Play

In

You can consider bringing in Ajani too as it is an effective answer to their Anglers and Shadows. Thalia is an option as well, but generally I don’t like bringing her in against Delver decks because she doesn’t block well and makes your removal spells more expensive.

Sneak and Show (Unfavored)

Pretty rough matchup as they all play Omniscience now. If they don’t draw Omniscience, the matchup is close.

Out

In

Don’t take out the two Abrupt Decays if they have Artisan.

Storm (Even)

Out

In

If it’s ANT, I also like cutting Decays for Leylines. Against TES, I prefer Decay as they often have a Mox or LED we can nab.

Grixis Delver (Slightly unfavored against Pyromancer, slightly favored against Bitterblossom)

Out

In

Also take out either four Confidants or Chalices. Take out four Punishing Fire versus Bitterblossom lists.

There are two different builds of Grixis Delver, one with Pyromancer and one with Bitterblossom and Inquisition. The plan is mostly the same. Chalice of the Void is surprisingly bad against the Pyromancer list because their threat suite gives them a lot of play around Chalice. I think you want 1-4 on the play and 0-2 on the draw. It also depends if they play cards like Shattering Spree or Meltdown. In general, the plan is to survive and beat them with a big Knight.

Lands (Favored)

Out

In

Knight of the Reliquary decks are very difficult for Lands as it neuters their combo, and you also play Chalice of the Void, which is quite good as well. You have the tools to shut down the Loam engine as well as the 20/20, so it’s a pretty good matchup.

Eldrazi Stompy (Favored)

Out

In

Knights tend to get bigger than anything they do, so game 1 is pretty easy. Post-sideboard, they can often win with Leyline of the Void, so that is why you bring in Golgari Charm.

B/R Reanimator (Slightly favored)

You play a lot of different hate cards so post-sideboard games tend to be fairly good.

Out

In

I couldn’t go through every deck today, but I hope that you got a good sense of the deck’s different angles of attack. I did record a video with the deck, but that was before I had many reps with the deck so you will see me learning the deck as I go along. Overall, it’s well positioned right now and even better if you do a good job scouting the field and mulligan accordingly. This deck mulligans well, and I would go as far as to say that 6 + a scry is better than many 7s. I also went 2-11 on die rolls in the main event but still went 9-4 in matches, and I think part of it is because your Mox Diamond hands are so powerful and having an extra card helps those hands come together.

Most of the popular decks are good matchups right now, but the deck does have some consistency issues, which means that it will probably never be “the best deck. That being said, in the right metagame and with the right preparation, it can be the “best deck” for any given tournament.