Avoiding the Obvious – A Non-R/G Coldsnap Draft

Triple Coldsnap draft continues to divide the community in equal measure. Some love it, some hate it… but no-one can ignore it. Today, Nick takes us through a sample draft, one in which he eschews his usual strategy of “force Red/Green,” with mixed (and interesting) results. Do you agree with his choices and evaluations?

I realize that everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon and doing these walkthroughs, but it is probably a good thing since the PTQ Top 8 draft format is Coldsnap. Despite the fact that I really don’t like the set all that much, I thought it might be helpful to cover a draft in which I felt a lot of things went wrong to give a different perspective. I see no point in doing a basic strategy article on ‘Snap, since Benjamin Peebles-Mumbles has already done an excellent job with his article.

One thing I did want to mention is that I normally try to force G/R when drafting CCC, and I believe a lot of people are still undervaluing Goblin Rimerunner in that archetype.

The Draft
Pack One

Pack 1
Snow-Covered Island; Surging Might; Boreal Griffin; Surging Aether; Zombie Musher; Orcish Bloodpainter; Thermal Flux; Sun’s Bounty; Thermopod; Simian Brawler; Wilderness Elemental; Phyrexian Ironfoot; Kjeldoran Gargoyle; Jokulmorder

This pack offers only three realistic choices for first pick here, and they are the Ironfoot, Gargoyle, and Zombie Musher.

In any normal format I’m pretty sure most of us would just take the Gargoyle without a second thought, because it is a splashable bomb flier. Coldsnap is a different world however, and the Gargoyle isn’t nearly as valuable for a few reasons. First of all, White just sucks in Coldsnap. I won’t go farther into detail here, as this should be a widely known fact by now. Second, the format is very fast and you may be dead or very close to it by the time you get the Gargoyle into play. Finally, it can be easily handled by Skred, Deathmark, Gelid Shackles, Goblin Rimerunner, and even Chill to the Bone. So basically, my point is that the other two cards are far better picks from this pack to start out the draft.

Between the other two cards, I think either is a fine first pick. If you’re like me though, and want to keep your options open, you’ll pick the Phyrexian Ironfoot.

My Pick : Phyrexian Ironfoot

Pack 2
Martyr of Frost; Kjeldoran War Cry; Frostweb Spider; Martyr of Ashes; Surging Dementia; Gutless Ghoul; Snow-Covered Swamp; Drelnoch; Boreal Druid; Disciple of Tevesh Szat; Phyrexian Snowcrusher; Krovikan Rot; [card name="Lightning Storm"]Lightning Storm; Hibernation’s End

Most of the good cards here are Black, with the exception of Boreal Druid and Martyr of Ashes. It’s far too early to take the Martyr, but Boreal Druid is something I could definitely get behind given that I didn’t pass any Green in the first pack. There’s also Disciple and Rot for options.

So what did I pick? The Disciple.

Looking back on this pack I’m feeling like the right pick is probably Boreal Druid, in terms of which card will help you shape up a better deck and win more drafts. So this was very possibly a mispick. I’m sure some people like Krovikan Rot more than Disciple as well, but I’ve had better experiences with the Disciple.

My Pick : Disciple of Tevesh Szat

Pack 3
Surging Dementia; Survivor of the Unseen; Ronom Unicorn; Skred; Krovikan Scoundrel; Ronom Hulk; Orcish Bloodpainter; Rimewind Taskmage; Snow-Covered Mountain; Wall of Shards; Mouth of Ronom; Stromgald Crusader; Void Maw

This is quite a pack. Skred, Hulk, Taskmage, Mouth, Crusader, and Void Maw are all potential options at this point in the draft. It is also very hard to narrow it down, except to say that I was mainly considering the Mouth and the Skred over everything else. Despite taking Disciple over Krovikan Rot in the last pick, I do believe that a lot of this format is about having plenty of good removal, and Skred is the best thing available. I ended up going with the Mouth because it will make my deck no matter what colors I end up playing, just like the Ironfoot.

Had I taken the Boreal Druid with the last pick, I probably would’ve taken Skred and went head first into GR. The reason Skred would be better than Mouth, even with the Druid to help activate Mouth, is because it is just much cheaper and better suited to an aggressive strategy.

My Pick : Mouth of Ronom

Pack 4
Ohran Yeti; Snow-Covered Mountain; Kjeldoran Outrider; Krovikan Scoundrel; Survivor of the Unseen; Martyr of Sands; Thermopod; Into the North; Earthen Goo; Rimehorn Aurochs; Soul Spike

In this pack I could pick the Yeti or Aurochs and branch into a second color, or I could take on-color (albeit painfully slow) removal in the Soul Spike. Doesn’t seem like too complicated a decision, though I have noticed that a lot of people posting walkthroughs don’t seem to like the Spike that much. I am not one of those people, and will happily take it.

My Pick : Soul Spike

Pack 5
Sun’s Bounty; Simian Brawler; Martyr of Spores; Karplusan Wolverine; Feast of Flesh; Kjeldoran Javelineer; Drelnoch; Gutless Ghoul; Ronom Hulk; Snow-Covered Island; Counterbalance

The pick here is certainly between the Feast of Flesh and Ronom Hulk. I think overall the Hulk is a better choice, here but that it wouldn’t be the worst pick ever to take the Feast and keep color options open. The good thing about the Hulk is that it is very easily splashable, so I didn’t consider it as locking me into Green.

My Pick : Ronom Hulk

Pack 6
Snow-Covered Mountain; Goblin Rimerunner; Surging Might; Rune Snag; Martyr of Sands; Bull Aurochs; Icefall; Grim Harvest; Arctic Flats; Perilous Research

It was at this point that I was regretting my decision to draft a different deck than G/R, as if you look back through the packs, my deck would be significantly better if I could take Rimerunner here. Not that I can’t take it, it’s just that I felt that there were better options given the picks I’d already made. Grim Harvest is an option, but they tend to go very late online. I decided to go with the Arctic Flats to give me the potential to end up B/W/g splashing for Ronom Hulk and whatever else. I should end up playing the Hulk no matter what, and splashing him off Snow lands is the best way to go about it.

My Pick : Arctic Flats

Pack 7
Swift Maneuver; Martyr of Spores; Karplusan Wolverine; Surging Dementia; Thermal Flux; Orcish Bloodpainter; Rimewind Taskmage; White Shield Crusader; Flashfreeze

Well, nothing interesting at all in my color(s) here. I think it’s too risky to jump right into White and take the Crusader. The best pick from this pack is to take the best card in the Taskmage and see if U/B snow opens up as an option.

My Pick : Rimewind Taskmager

Pack 8
Snow-Covered Plains; Kjeldoran Javelineer; Drelnoch; Surging Dementia; Thermal Flux; Balduvian Warlord; Steam Spitter

Steam Spitter doesn’t help out too much since he is pretty marginal without Red mana. I decided to go with the Plains here to keep the possibility of moving into White open for pack two, or possibly even just running it as an off-color Snow land in the odd case where I end up mono-Black splashing Ronom Hulk.

My Pick : Snow-Covered Plains

On the lap I get Thermopod, Gutless Ghoul, Krovikan Scoundrel, Earthen Goo, and Icefall as potential playables. Going into pack two I was leaning towards B/R/g or B/W/g, depending on what I get passed. It’s worth mentioning that I wasn’t very happy with my deck at this point and really wished I were G/R. This is a recurring thing for me in any CCC draft where I don’t end up G/R, but this time was far worse.

Pack Two

Pack 1
Chilling Shade; Goblin Furrier; Boreal Griffin; Ronom Serpent; Boreal Druid; Rimebound Dead; Sun’s Bounty; Simian Brawler; Martyr of Spores; Karplusan Wolverine; Feast of Flesh; Juniper Order Ranger; Balduvian Rage; Arctic Flats; Jester’s Scepter

I was picturing something a little different to start out this pack, but instead I’m stuck with this completely awful pack given where I stand in the draft.

The thought of taking the Order Ranger and splashing for it with the help of Arctic Flats crossed my mind, but I think it’s too unlikely that it will pan out. The pack doesn’t really offer much for my deck, so I decided to just try to pick up some Feasts of Flesh starting now. If I don’t get any more Feasts, it’s still okay because I’m not picking it over anything else here and it is a fine sideboard card against opposing Squall Drifters or Disciples.

My Pick : Feast of Flesh

Pack 2
Survivor of the Unseen; Martyr of Sands; Thermopod; Into the North; Grim Harvest; Snow-Covered Forest; Goblin Rimerunner; Martyr of Spores; Surging Aether; Rimehorn Aurochs; Ursine Fylgja; Counterbalance; Phyrexian Etchings

A quick scan for good Black cards in this booster comes up empty. Etchings has been too risky in my experience, unless you could somehow assemble mono-Black. While I don’t like the Rimerunner nearly as much in B/R as I do in G/R, I still think he’s a solid man and a fine pick here. The reason he is worse in B/R is that it doesn’t matter if things can block or not when they’re all dead. I also don’t think it’s worth picking Grim Harvest here, as it’s easy to get them late.

My Pick : Goblin Rimerunner

Pack 3
Chilling Shade; Goblin Furrier; Boreal Griffin; Ronom Serpent; Boreal Druid; Rimebound Dead; Krovikan Mist; Swift Maneuver; Martyr of Spores; Aurochs Herd; Karplusan Wolverine; Controvert; Lovisa Coldeyes

Lovisa Coldeyes is best suited to G/R where you have tons of common warriors… Boreal Centaur, Goblin Rimerunner, Simian Brawler, and even Goblin Furrier. In B/R, Lovisa is a sketchier proposition. It’s possible that you’ll run into someone playing G/R who will just coincidentally have a lot of warriors and turn your Lovisa into a liability rather than a benefit.

As far as this pack goes, there really isn’t a whole lot to choose from, as Rimebound Dead isn’t looking very good and there aren’t any other Black cards of note. I decided to just go with Aurochs Herd and possibly switch into G/B, or maybe even just splash a couple of them along with the Ronom Hulk.

My Pick : Aurochs Herd

Pack 4
Snow-Covered Swamp; Frozen Solid; Zombie Musher; Rune Snag; Martyr of Sands; Bull Aurochs; Icefall; Grim Harvest; Krovikan Mist; Rime Transfusion; Earthen Goo; Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

Generally speaking, Zombie Musher is far better than a Snow Land even if the land is in your color. In this particular case, the Musher fits great in the four-drop slot and I was quite happy to get it.

My Pick : Zombie Musher

Pack 5
Thermal Flux; Ronom Unicorn; Frostweb Spider; Skred; Ronom Serpent; Rimebound Dead; Icefall; Surging Flame; Greater Stone Spirit; Vanish into Memory

If getting the Musher last pick was good for my deck, getting Skred at any point is always awesome. This pack is surprisingly good considering that most people know to draft Red in CCC and the two best commons are somehow still present halfway around the table. I also really like the Greater Stone Spirit in B/R, since the thing you are lacking most is a fatty that can stand up to the Green guys.

My Pick : Skred

Pack 6
Bull Aurochs; Martyr of Ashes; Chill to the Bone; Sound the Call; Squall Drifter; Goblin Furrier; Rimebound Dead; Balduvian Fallen; Dark Depths

Speaking of fatties, the Balduvian Fallen is quite underrated. I did notice that Rich Hoaen[/card] also picks this guy pretty high, so I’m guessing that people will figure it out sooner or later. Unfortunately I don’t think he is the right pick from this booster, as there is also a Chill to the Bone – a great answer to opposing Ronom Hulks. While it’s true that most decks have trouble dealing with the Hulk, I think B/R is probably the one with the biggest problem since you don’t even have something like Rimewind Taskmage to tap it down, and you certainly aren’t going to be blocking it very often. Even the Balduvian Fallen will take three turns of upkeeping to be able to trade with a Hulk, and that is quite problematic considering you’ll be chump blocking or taking five in the meantime.

My Pick : Chill to the Bone

Pack 7
Snow-Covered Swamp; Kjeldoran Javelineer; Grim Harvest; Frostweb Spider; Martyr of Ashes; Arctic Nishoba; Vanish into Memory

Martyr of Ashes is quite bad in the deck I’m drafting right now. It is possible to make it work in BR, but that type of deck would have to be centered around lots of Martyrs and Grim Harvests. At that point you get destroyed by the Krovikan Mist deck, and you probably don’t have too many good win conditions of your own besides Chilling Shade or Balduvian Fallen. At any rate, I’m low on Snow Lands to activate my Ironfoot and Mouth of Ronom, so I’m more than happy to pick up a Swamp here.

My Pick : Snow-Covered Swamp

Pack 8
Survivor of the Unseen; Feast of Flesh; Aurochs Herd; Krovikan Scoundrel; Kjeldoran Javelineer; Orcish Bloodpainter; Arctic Nishoba; Luminesce

Now this was a pretty tough pick.

I could technically still switch into B/G at this point in the draft, though I was leaning more towards B/R. The choice is obviously between the second copy of Feast of Flesh or Aurochs Herd. The reason I think it is difficult is that either can be played since the Aurochs are an easy splash, but the Feast could end up being either amazing or useless if I fail to pick up any other copies of it. After debating for a while I decided to just try and stay in two colors splashing the Hulk and hopefully pick up at least one more Feast in pack three so that I’d be able to actually play them.

My Pick : Feast of Flesh

On the lap I got a Rimebound Dead, Thermopod, Grim Harvest, and Martyr of Ashes as far as relevant cards go. If you look back over my picks you should agree that my deck was not looking very good right about now. Lots of the drafts I’ve done and seen in this format allow for some really degenerate decks with multiple copies of cards. The deck I currently have going into pack three is neither degenerate, nor at the average power level for this format.

Suffice to say, I needed quite a bit of help.

Pack Three

Pack 1
Frost Raptor; Snow-Covered Forest; Chilling Shade; Goblin Furrier; Boreal Griffin; Krovikan Mist; Swift Maneuver; Martyr of Spores; Aurochs Herd; Karplusan Wolverine; Surging Dementia; Ursine Fylgja; Frost Marsh; Rime Transfusion; Fury of the Horde

Talk about opening bad packs for your colors. This pack also mocks me since the best card for me to take is Aurochs Herd, and I just took a Feast of Flesh over one back in pack two. Sigh.

If there were any other options, I would gladly take them, but I guess splashing two Herds isn’t the worst thing ever.

My Pick : Aurochs Herd

Pack 2
Snow-Covered Plains; Sound the Call; Frost Raptor; Disciple of Tevesh Szat; Feast of Flesh; Swift Maneuver; Into the North; Icefall; Krovikan Scoundrel; Perilous Research; Greater Stone Spirit; Tresserhorn Sinks; Rimescale Dragon

Now we’re talking!

I could write about how I think the Dragon shouldn’t be a Snow Creature so that you could Chill it to the Bone, but I doubt any of you would be interested in hearing about that, or that it even matters anyway. Instead I’ll just move on to the next pick, since this one is more than obvious.

My Pick : Rimescale Dragon

Pack 3
Grim Harvest; Martyr of Frost; Frostweb Spider; Martyr of Ashes; Surging Dementia; Rimewind Taskmage; Chilling Shade; Boreal Centaur; Surging Flame; Snow-Covered Swamp; Flashfreeze; Phobian Phantasm; Highland Weald

While thinking about what to take from this pack, I did a quick head count for playables and came up with 18 counting the Aurochs Herds. I didn’t count the two Feasts of Flesh as playables yet, since I wouldn’t maindeck them without three, so you could effectively say I had 19.5 playables at this point.

Looking over the pack, my options are Grim Harvest, Swamp, Surging Flame, Phobian Phantasm, and Highland Weald. Let me first say that while I will play the Phantasm, I’m not a huge fan of it unless I’m planning to abuse Grim Harvest. It’s a great attacker but I’ve too often found myself strapped for mana and unable to pay the upkeep for the Illusion while also developing my board. Guess he’s better in the late game anyway. So I ruled out the Phantasm right away since this was a deck that wanted to be casting spells along the curve every turn. Grim Harvest was also thrown out of the equation because I decided Surging Flame was much better if I was going to take a spell.

Next, I decided that if I was going to take a Snow Land, it would be the Highland Weald since it would not only provide on-color mana, but it would also help to splash the Green cards.

So which should I take, the Weald or the Flame?

Based on the fact that I have many cards with Snow activations on them already, as well as the need to splash a third color, I decided that the Weald was a far better choice. Did it hurt to pass a removal spell for a land in this spot? Yes. Do I still believe it was the right call? Also yes.

My Pick : Highland Weald

Pack 4
Ohran Yeti; Snow-Covered Mountain; Rimewind Taskmage; Chilling Shade; Krovikan Scoundrel; Survivor of the Unseen; Martyr of Sands; Thermopod; Into the North; Controvert; Jotun Grunt; Zur the Enchanter

I’m in need of a beater, and it just so happens that I’m also a huge fan of the Ohran Yeti. Given that I took the Snow Land with my last pick, I decided that I had to go with the good spell here and I’m happy it worked out this way because I also got the manafixing.

My Pick : Ohran Yeti

Pack 5
Rune Snag; Martyr of Sands; Bull Aurochs; Icefall; Grim Harvest; Goblin Rimerunner; Gelid Shackles; Frost Raptor; Earthen Goo; Sheltering Ancient; Phyrexian Soulgorger

Given the choice of Grim Harvest and Goblin Rimerunner, I think you could argue for either pick here. My thinking was that I wanted to curve out guys and kill anything in my way so I went with the Rimerunner here to help push through my Thermopods or Aurochs Herd.

My Pick : Goblin Rimerunner

Pack 6
Ohran Yeti; Snow-Covered Mountain; Rimewind Taskmage; Chilling Shade; Krovikan Scoundrel; Survivor of the Unseen; Ronom Unicorn; Freyalise’s Radiance; Boreal Shelf; Kjeldoran Gargoyle

This is the same decision I just had to make a couple of picks ago and if you remember correctly, I went with the Yeti. This time though, I did another count on my playables and realized that I was close enough to having a finished deck that I could use this pick to take the Snow Land even if it meant playing something marginal like a Chilling Shade. This is the one thing I do enjoy about CCC draft: you have to know when to take a Snow Land over a strong playable, and the same pick is entirely dependent on where you are in the draft instead of which card is better.

My Pick : Snow-Covered Mountain

Pack 7
Ronom Unicorn; Frostweb Spider; Rimebound Dead; Goblin Rimerunner; Gelid Shackles; Phobian Phantasm; Snow-Covered Forest; Wooly Razorback

No complaints here, another Rimerunner. I did consider taking the Forest, but with the Mountain last pick I figured I should take a guy here rather than a slightly off-color land. It could also be that I am just biased and in love with Goblin Rimerunner like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, but in either case, I think this is the right pick.

My Pick : Goblin Rimerunner

Pack 8
Rune Snag; Simian Brawler; Martyr of Spores; Karplusan Wolverine; Feast of Flesh; Frozen Solid; Phyrexian Snowcrusher

At this point I had all but given up on the Feasts of Flesh unless I could somehow table the one from the Dragon pack. Needless to say, I was quite surprised to get one here and that gave me plenty of solid playables.

My Pick : Feast of Flesh

On the lap I luckily got the other Feast of Flesh along with Chilling Shade, Phobian Phantasm, and Earthen Goo. Finally, I had a deck!

The Deck

4 Feast of Flesh
Rimebound Dead
Grim Harvest
3 Goblin Rimerunners
Chilling Shade
Gutless Ghoul
Phobian Phantasm
Phyrexian Ironfoot
Zombie Musher
Ohran Yeti
Disciple of Tevesh Szat
Chill to the Bone
Ronom Hulk
2 Thermopod
Soul Spike
Rimescale Dragon

Arctic Flats
Highland Weald
Mouth of Ronom
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Swamp
5 Mountain
7 Swamp

Relevant Sideboard
Martyr of Ashes
2 Aurochs Herd
Chilling Shade
Krovikan Scoundrel
2 Earthen Goo

As you can see, I decided against the Herds, which also makes my pick of Rimerunner over Forest late in the draft much stronger. I was ecstatic to get up to four Feasts of Flesh, but realistic about my chances since this was still one of the weaker decks I’d drafted to this point. As far as building goes, everything should be pretty explanatory, and I did end up having to play that Chilling Shade.

I was going to do a detailed write-up of the matches, but the fact of the matter is that they were completely uninteresting.

In round 1, my opponent kept a terrible hand in game 1 that contained only one land on the play. He drew two more lands off the top and still didn’t cast a spell before I killed him. Game 2 I cast all four copies of Feast of Flesh as well as Ronom Hulk, which he couldn’t possibly ever block.

Round 2 was the complete opposite as I mulled to five in game 1 and got stuck on two lands, and then got completely destroyed by five Krovikan Mists in game 2.

While I do wish the games were more interesting, the reason I chose this draft was because I felt like I made a few picks wrong early on, and should’ve been G/R and had an excellent deck. While my deck turned out fine in the end, the point is that Coldsnap is an environment where you really have to focus on each pick and can’t ever consider going on autopilot. I believe that not taking the Boreal Druid second pick ended up costing me the draft overall.

Nick Eisel
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