I ran into my friend Stu at the LGS last week and he was buying The Gitrog Monster. I was intrigued…
The Frog that makes you “croak.”
Stu is always brewing up something sweet that is off the beaten path, and he tends to end up with a lot of really cool ideas. He informed me that he was working on building an Aggro Loam deck that featured the mondo combo of Gitrog Monster and Seismic Assault.
It’s also worth noting that with Fatal Push having become the removal spell of choice in Modern, the Gitrog Monster is immune. Path and Terminate will make this Frog hopping mad, but outside of those cards The Gitrog Monster is a real pain. The metagame’s move toward Fatal Push does make the Frog combo somewhat viable.
I teamed with Stu Parnes and Adam Yurchick for Grand Prix Providence, so we had 12 hours there and 12 hours back (24 hours of driving in a weekend!) to brew the Loam deck. After 24 hours of brewing and some testing, here is what I ended up with:
Jund Gitrog Assault
The mana is a little awkward at times, which is the biggest drawback of the deck—but the strategy is inherently powerful and full of great cards and synergy.
The Combo Finish
It’s a pretty sweet little Jund/Loam Rock deck that makes nice use of a combo finish. Since that is the most flashy element of the deck, let’s start with that!
When you face off against Loam, even the ground is against you!
Usually, I’d be dismissive of a Modern Aggro Loam strategy. I’m not a hater, but these midrange decks are not my preference for tournament play. But the addition of The Gitrog Monster and a clean combo finish sparked my interest.
Gitrog Monster with a Seismic Assault on the field is a huge game. Every time you discard a land to Seismic Assault’s activated ability to deal 2 damage to any target, you also get to draw a card. If you can assemble a Dakmor Salvage, the damage is equal to the number of times you are able to dredge the Salvage since you can replace Gitrog Monster’s “draw a card” trigger by dredging back the Salvage to ensure you find the same land to discard! Rinse and repeat, GG.
I mentioned earlier that more Fatal Push is good for Gitrog Monster because it is immune. It is also significant that the increased number of Fatal Push in the metagame directly correlates to fewer Abrupt Decays.
What a rotten card for a Seismic Assault deck to have to play against…
Fewer Abrupt Decays is good for you, because it means many decks will have significantly fewer ways to deal with your signature card, Seismic Assault.
Need combo piece—will travel.
The deck is great at achieving delirium, which makes a few copies of Traverse a nice touch. It is great that the Traverse can find not only The Gitrog Monster but also the Dakmor Salvage once the graveyard is properly gassed up.
The Rock Half of the Deck
While the deck certainly has the ability to win the game out of nowhere with the combo, it is also adept at fighting a fair game of Magic as a B/G “good stuff” deck.
The deck plays the best interactive spells in the format: Hand disruption and awesome removal.
Liliana is a nice fit in this deck. Nothing new here. The discard ability creates nice utility and card advantage with Life from the Loam. A planeswalker is great with delirium and Tarmogoyf. All-star.
Life From the Loam Package
The compost with the most.
Loam is really the story of the deck. It’s one of the most powerful and abusive cards in Modern. I can think of others that are on the level of Loam, but it’s hard to argue that Loam tends to be the centerpiece of every deck in which it appears!
Go back, Jack, and do it again. There are plenty of awesome things to do with a grip full of extra lands in a deck like this.
One of the best reasons to play a Jund deck is that those colors have access to an arsenal of sideboard cards.
I wanted 4 Ancient Grudge to start, but I realized that Ad Nauseam is a difficult matchup. Claims are great against Leyline of Sanctity, Prism, and Phyrexian Unlife. Claim also deals with Rest in Peace.
I’ve also been trying out Molten Rain as a sideboard card.
I’ve been really into Eldrazi Tron lately, and I think that Molten Rain is the best card against that strategy. I also like Molten Rain against all of the combo decks. It’s a good card for matchups where mana is particularly important.
The Mana Base: The Achilles’ Heel
Overall, I think that Aggro Loam is a good deck, but probably not in the top tier. I do think this is one of the better and more functional/powerful Aggro Loam lists I’ve seen so far.
The biggest problem with the deck is the mana, which is to be expected when you are trying to jam 4 copies of a card that costs RRR into a G/B deck!
Graven Cairns helps, as it allows you to channel lands that don’t make red into mana to cast Assault.
I really liked Birds of Paradise in the deck but it is high risk high reward. It stretches the mana into needing early green, which I’ve accounted for in my build. But the ability to slam a turn-2 Assault or Liliana has felt worth it so far.
I will say that if Seismic Assault had a mana cost of 1RG, a deck like this could probably crack tier 1. Such a statement tells me a few things.
- I believe what this deck does is inherently powerful.
- Continuing to refine the mana to maximize smooth draws will make this deck better.
My sample size isn’t huge. I’ve only been working on the deck for about a week, but if this is your cup of tea (Loam and Frogs), then I think this is an awesome place to start and has the potential to be a breakout deck in this metagame.