Too-Specific Top 10 – Snow Matter What

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Zombie Musher is the only Skeleton with pet doggos?)

For the last five weeks, we’ve been covering cards that care about basic land types, and just when we thought we’d covered the full WUBRG and were done with it, a technicality appeared!

You see, there’s another type of basic land besides your standard Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. In fact, there’re five: they’re called Snow-Covered Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest! That’s right, this week we’re covering cards that care about snow! Granted, they don’t actually care about basic lands per se, but when was the last time you saw a deck playing snow cards that wasn’t playing a bunch of Snow-Covered basics?


Top 10 Cards That Care About Snow

While it would be easier to just do a “Top 10 Snow Cards” list and call it a day, that’s not what we’re about here at Too-Specific Top 10! That said, I’m not gonna tease it without giving you a taste:

  1. Coldsteel Heart
  2. Boreal Druid
  3. Dark Depths
  4. Adarkar Valkyrie
  5. Ohran Frostfang

As you can see, the top snow cards are fairly well-known, but not necessarily because they are snow, or even because they care about snow. With that in mind, we’ll have to be careful with our criteria this week to make sure we’re talking not just about snow stuff that’s good, but snow stuff that both is good and that cares about snow permanents, as well.

Criteria: Cards that either count or specify snow permanents, require the sacrifice of snow permanents, require snow mana as part of a casting cost or an ability, or otherwise require the possession of a snow permanent or a snow permanent entering the battlefield. As is tradition, all results are ordered by how many decks they are included in on EDHREC.

10. Sunstone

Remember when Spore Frog was a $4 card? Having a repeatable Fog effect was worth paying a bit of cash for an old common from Prophecy up until the price was corrected with a reprint in Modern Horizons. With that knowledge, do we know why the $6 Constant Mists is played in 3,600 decks and the $0.35 Sunstone is only played in 180? Because I’m not sure I do. Sure, snow lands are expensive, and artifacts are easier to remove than instants with Buyback, but still…. it seems like every Turbo-fog or Lands Matter deck with a snow package should be rocking this, and the ones that aren’t in snow and are playing Constant Mists already should be thinking about making the addition.

9. On Thin Ice

If you’ve been a long-time fan of Too-Specific Top 10, you might already know of my love for Chained to the Rocks and my sadness that it will never see play in most decks due to the existence of Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. Well, add On Thin Ice on to the pile of great one-mana removal spells that are still outclassed by staples of the format, and shed a tiny tear. Unless of course you’re playing the Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker deck that prefers Chained to the Rocks, in which case add some snow-covered basics to it and get ready for a second copy!

8. Marit Lage’s Slumber

While Dark Depths may have been relegated to the “good, but doesn’t actually care about snow” pile, the newest means of summoning everyone’s favorite indestructible 20/20 very much cares about how much snow is piling up on your side of the battlefield. Being able to scry once or twice or thrice a turn doesn’t hurt, either. Just keep in mind while you’re using Marit Lage’s Slumber in your snow-land-filled Tatyova, Benthic Druid deck that the Marit Lage trigger is not a ‘may’ ability. That’s right, you’ll have to be happy with creating a 20/20 once you’ve stacked your Snow-Covered Islands sky high.

7. Arcum’s Astrolabe

If you’ve been playing Modern at all, you might have seen this slightly better version of Prophetic Prism out and about lately. For those on the faster side of Commander (or just playing Eggs anyway, power balances be damned), the efficiency of Arcum’s Astrolabe carries through just fine. It can also fix your mana if you happen to be playing five-color fair Magic. I’d like to think that was what was going on here, but then I took a peek at the Top Commanders for this card….

6. Thermopod

For those of us not playing Goblins but who still want to see how ridiculous we can get with Skirk Prospector, Thermopod does the trick at the low low cost of an additional four mana. Oh, also you can give this speedy little Slug haste if you happened to add an entire snow package to your deck. What, you didn’t do that? C’mon, Snow-Covered Mountains are only sixty cents apiece, now!

5. Mouth of Ronom

So far, this list has been just about what I expected, with maybe a few of the newer Modern Horizons cards missing. That said, I was initially surprised to see Mouth of Ronom in the number five slot. I had always thought of the card as being in the same vein as Keldon Necropolis, and kind of dismissed it out of hand. However, it turns out that four damage is a lot more than two damage, as those of us who have played Galvanic Blast are well aware. Add in the fact that Mouth of Ronom can be played in any color combination, rather than requiring access to red, and this can actually be a strong late-game contender that’s more than worth a utility land slot.

Then again, what “all upside” colorless utility land do we not feel that way about these days? Between Reliquary Tower, all the Strip Mine variants, Field of the Dead, Scavenger Grounds, Blast Zone, High Market, Emergence Zone, Karn’s Bastion, and Maze of Ith knockoffs, even the colorless decks are starting to run out of room for all of these “free” effects.

4. Ice-Fang Coatl

While some of the new snow effects from Modern Horizons may have flown under the radar, it’s not much of a surprise to find that the Baleful Strix copycat for Simic didn’t. Ice-Fang Coatl allows the color combination that needed no help in the card advantage department to repeatedly abuse an enter-the-battlefield effect on a cheap evasive creature that can also trade up in battle with bigger creatures, and my only question is… why?

3. Into the North

DA KING A DA NORF!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system….

Did you need another two-mana ramp spell? How about one that can not only go find you any basic, but also fetch that Dark Depths for you? Or I suppose you could use it to go get that Mouth of Ronom in the late game to hopefully remove that Rankle, Master of Pranks that just won’t let you keep a hand.

2. Dead of Winter

Discount Toxic Deluge is still discount Toxic Deluge! Okay, not quite. How about better Mutilate is better Mutilate? All kidding aside, Dead of Winter was the snow card out of Modern Horizons I saw the most hype for when people opened it, and there’s a good reason why. Being able to board wipe at three mana is already unheard of, but the fact that it can be semi-one-sided and also kills indestructible creatures just puts this thing right over the top. It may not have the exactitude of Toxic Deluge, but it is still an incredibly versatile spell that I know has had me put a snow package into a deck all on its own, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

1. Scrying Sheets

The number one reason to play snow is also the number one card that cares about snow! But wait… should Scrying Sheets still be the number one reason to play snow lands when Isolated Watchtower exists? Watchtower has an ‘opponent controls more lands’ restriction, it’s true, but it isn’t that outlandish when Chulane, Teller of Tales is a thing. Sure, there’s always the “why not both” defense, but outside of that, Sheets’s popularity honestly seems like a holdover from the days of old. Looking through Scrying Sheet’s EDHREC page, of the High Synergy cards, three of them aren’t even snow. Looking at the top cards played with Scrying Sheets, only two of them are snow. Indeed, going down the full EDHREC page for the card, I counted a total of only 23 snow cards in total. Particularly egregious here is the fact that there is only one snow land in the Utility Lands section at all, and that the “por que no los dos” defense is out the window because Isolated Watchtower is also not on the list.

So I suppose what I’m getting at is that our top card that cares about snow appears to mostly be played as a flex, rather than a strategic option. Its presence in Heimdar, Rimewind Master decks seems more like the exception than the rule. Maybe I’m wrong there and the variance of the decks which have a snow package that actually includes snow permanents that aren’t basic lands is higher than it appears through the noise of the data. Maybe there are a whole bunch of these decks that care more about having extra lands in their hand, rather than on the battlefield. These are all possibilities, but for now, I’m more leaning towards people have always played Scrying Sheets in their snow packages, and see no reason to stop. Which is fine and all, but if it’s that useful, maybe also try the second copy?


Honorable Mentions

We’ve barely scratched the surface of playable cards that care about snow, as I’m sure some of you who are a fan of our number eleven card were thinking to yourselves:

Fear not, Skred fans. I’m here for you. Also, Iceberg Cancrix should be further up this list. Speaking of which…


Challenging the Stats

Even after doing a full Top 25, I still feel like there were a few good cards that care about snow and were still going unmentioned, all of which are from the new Modern Horizons set. Given my personal love of that set and snow in general, I feel like I would be doing a great disservice to not at least quickly go to bat for these cards, all of which are seeing play in less than 100 decks.

I’m still going in order here (although I’ve skipped over some older stuff like Icequake), but I’d still like to call this section right outside of the top 25 the “REALLY cares about snow” section. If you’re seriously building around Snow, all three of these cards deserve an inclusion. Unfortunately, with Heimdar, Rimewind Master being the only blatant snow commander, these are currently going rather unloved despite being very solid options.


What Do You Think?

And with that, we really do come to the end of our basic land cycle of listicles. I hope you enjoyed it, but more importantly, I hope it got you thinking a bit more about whether or not snow is a good option for your favorite decks!

 

Finally, what cards did I miss? What’s making your snow package really do work?

Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see you at the “the ice storm knocked out our power and we got a day off to play Magic but there’s no heat so it’s kind of a wonderful mixed bag of free time and shivering” table.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.