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December 8, 2015

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Let it snow in EDH!

Welcome back to another episode of Musings of a Madman! This week we’ll look at the Snow mana mechanic. Largely irrelevant at its inception in Ice Age, snow mana comes from, you guessed it, snow basic lands such as Snow-Covered Plains. The cards featuring it back then were either clunky for casual play or irrelevant for tournament play, so that was that, a cool idea with a poor execution. Thermokarst and its black contemporary Icequake are probably the best of the bunch, useful but not broken enough to really warp an environment.

Wizards recognized the mistake of Homelands as the tie-in to Ice Age, however, and gave us the Coldsnap set years later. This time, snow did matter and there were a variety of cards from Coldsnap that see play even to this day, including the ubiquitous (and evil!) Zur the Enchanter and Arcum Dagsson, the great for casual Brooding Saurian and Lightning Storm seeing play as a kill in some Modern Ad Nauseam decks being some of the notable (if snow free) among them.

So which snow cards (and non-Zur Coldsnap cards) should you actually expect to see at a commander table? Well, there are a handful of notables you should be plowing your way through every now and then. Enjoy this top five and a handful of honorable mentions (it is the season of giving, after all) to go with them.

5.

Gets your snow basics, gets your snow duals and gets one of our top stars as well. We all know that ramp is an essential part of the Commander format, this just makes it easier to let you chill out with a good manabase.

4.

It is strange seeing a lockdown effect in Red, that typically doesn’t do this much outside of Smoke and the pseudo-lockdown-for-blue-that-isn’t-really-much-of-anything Magnetic Mountain. The dragon can get there though, and its ability basically acts as a Maze of Ith and can play great politics in a multiplayer table as you tap down one opponent to allow a friend or foe to cut him or her down in a hurry.

3.

I was so excited when I first saw this card, I thought it was a Lightning Blast to an opponent’s face or to a target creature. Then I invoked the RTFC rule and got sad. 🙁

2.

A truly excellent card, giving you the benefit of getting an extra colorless mana to help you get ahead and drawing an extra card every turn as well. It’s the latter ability that makes this a hail of an addition, as it serves as pseudo-ramp, deck thinning and can even add the odd creature into your hand too. A+ on this design!

1.

The elephant in the room, forever broken by the presence of Thespian’s Stage, which enters the battlefield as a copy without the counter and just generates a potential one-turn kill in sanctioned formats and a potential two turn kill in Commander. We’re still seeing this one pop up at Commander tables and in some competitive events, so it’s fair to say this was some nice design space.

Honorable Mentions:

Still a winner in my Zedruu deck, taking control of a non-creature spell and redirecting it is always a good time. Especially fun if there’s a Capsize being sent back to your opponent’s stuff.

While this one is definitely a tournament staple, the presence of Sensei’s Divining Top in the format has seen it creep into a few control shells. Not as irritating as in Legacy, but still annoying.

I was so excited when I first saw this card, I thought it was a Lightning Blast to an opponent’s face or to a target creature. Then I invoked the RTFC rule and got sad. 🙁

It’s fat, it tramples and you can stealth cast it while playing a tutor of some sort. No, there isn’t a cost reduction for doing so, but it is pseudo-Flash of a sort, so worth a look.

If you’re going to pillow fort, you might as well make a comfortable igloo. A permanent-based Constant Mists that has a largely irrelevant drawback as your entire manabase will be snow.

Works great with the Relentless Rats or Shadowborn Apostle, perhaps throw in a Coat of Arms to finish things off?
Well, that’s it for this week folks. Join me next week when I examine whether a Modern EDH deck could retain any of its functionality in the absence of favourite staples. Until then, ice see you #AttheTower!