From Right Field: The Coldsnap Curmudgeon Review

Read Chris Romeo... every Tuesday at

Set reviews are like asses. Everyone has one. They all stink. Yet, we still want to see what everyone else’s look like. Here’s mine. Breathe deep the stench of my enlightenment.

{From Right Field is a column blah blah blah cheap blah blah blah bastards blah blah win or not. I

don’t care. Blah blah blah use some rares but not too many. Blah blah Birds of Paradise. Blah blah

blah bite my shiny metal ass.}

Trying again…

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget, or players who don’t want to play netdecks.

The decks are designed to let the budget-conscious player be competitive in local, Saturday tournaments.

They are not decks that will qualify a player for The Pro Tour. As such, the decks written about in this

column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain, at most, eight to twelve rares. When they do

contain rares, those cards will either be cheap rares or staples of which new players should be trying to

collect a set of four, such as Dark Confidant, Sacred Foundry, or Birds of Paradise. The decks are also

tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. He will never claim that a deck has an 85%

winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the decks are just plain lousy.

Readers should never consider these decks “set in stone” or “done.” If you think you can change some cards

to make them better, well, you probably can, and the author encourages you to do so.}

Set reviews are like asses. Everyone has one. They all stink. Yet, we still want to see what everyone

else’s look like. Here’s mine. Breathe deep the stench of my enlightenment. (I was going to

say that reviews are like noses. Everyone has one, but no one would pick someone else’s over their

own. I’ll stick with the stinky ass analogy, though. Ana1-ogy. Heh.)

Sorry if you fell that this is a little late. I’m forty now. Didn’t you read my column two

weeks ago? Yeah, happy birthday to me. Aw, shut yer pie hole. I’m forty. I’m slower than I

used to be. Deal with it. Besides, I like to take my time, get to know the cards a little, before plunging

in. Learn to do this. The ladies love it.

Oh, by the by, you’ll notice that I’m not reviewing every card. Why? Because I don’t

feel like it. I’ll talk about the ones I want to talk about, whether it’s because they’re

great or awful or I can say something witty about them. As you’ll notice, many of the cards that

I’m leaving out are ones that only shine if there are a lot of Snow permanents around. Since I

don’t anticipate “Snow” being a huge, um, mechanic – what the…?

in the next two years, that makes sense. Oh, golly gee, how I miss Ice Age Limited.

I’m also going to stay away from ones that have only an obvious use like “Cryoclasm, man

that would be good in sideboards against Blue and/or White decks.” Now, look at this!

The Card
Adarkar Valkyrie

Romeo’s Take: Boom! Coldsnap hits a lead-off home run like it’s Rickey

Henderson or something. This is the kind of stuff that White should get: good reanimation effects. Yes,

dingleberry, I think Black should have them, too. They should just be a bit different from White’s is

all. White is all goodness and angels and ice cream. When it resurrects things, those things should be as

powerful as or even more powerful than when they were alive. Black is decay and licorice and heroin tar.

When it reanimates the dead, there should be something missing. Like an arm or an eyeball. Come on.

You’ve seen the movies. Whatever. If you like White, order four of these now.

Interesting Rules Trick: While each Adarkar Valkyrie cannot target itself, it can

target a different Adarkar Valkyrie. So, if you have two active ones in play, you can cast Wrath of God

and, in response, have each target the other. Everyone dies, but you get back to 4/5 fliers. Seems good to

me. Oh, what the hell do I know?

The Card
Cover of Winter

Romeo’s Take: This is one of those Snow permanents that can be good outside of an

Ice Age Block deck. Why would I say that? Because I’m smarter than you because I’m old! You

see, Snow-Covered lands are still basic lands. Every one of your deck’s basic lands could be

Snow-Covered lands. Paying the upkeep shouldn’t take too much out of a White/X control deck. And

look what Cover of Winter does. It doesn’t just prevent X damage. It prevents X damage to you and

each creature you control from all sources.

What does that mean to you? Let’s say you’re facing down a horde of Watchwolves.

We’ll say seven. Hey, it’s my column. I dunno, copies from Followed Footsteps or something.

Deal with it. Your Cover of Winter has two counters on it, and you have a Snow-Covered Mountain up. Also,

you have, say, twelve 1/1 Antelope tokens. (Come on! Work with me!) Your opponent swings with everything.

Why? He’s tired, it’s late, his

girlfriend is hot, she wants to go home, and he wants to go home with her, if you know what I mean. Or

he lives a lonely, desperate life, and his four cats need him home by seven. Oh, geez. I have four cats.

Yeah, anyway, you tap that Snow-Covered Chocolate Kiss to add a third counter to the CoW. Heh. Don’t

have a CoW, man. All damage that his 3/3s will do will be prevented. So, you divide your twelve Fergie tokens into four piles

of three so that you can kill four of the incoming 3/3 Shakiras while taking no

damage. It’s good, and you’ll like it.

The Card
Darien, King of Kjeldor

Romeo’s Take: In other words, if you just let twenty damage waltz on through, you

can get twenty 1/1 tokens and one “You’re Dead” token. Feh.

The Card
Field Marshal

Romeo’s Take: Finally, a Soldier Lord. Although, I guess that kinda isn’t

right. Soldiers don’t need Lords; they need leaders. Like a General or – oh, now I get it! – a

Field Marshall. Now, my Soldier deck is complete! Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha heh hwah huck hack hack. Honey,

bring me the Vicks.

The Card
Gelid Shackles

Romeo’s Take: It took me a long time to warm up to this card. Ha! Warm up! Get

it? Coldsnap? Warm up? Eh, kids today. It looks sub-optimal compared to, say, Faith’s Fetters. I

mean, no lifegain, and the thing can still attack. There are, however, two things going for it. First, for

a measly {S} each turn, this thing turns into Arrest. Second, it comes down on the first turn. If you

don’t like this, you probably don’t like Dan Fogelberg, either.

The Card
Glacial Plating

Romeo’s Take: So, for four mana, I can cast a creature Enchantment that does

nothing? Bah. If I wanted to spend four mana like that, I’d cast Swirling Sandstorm.

The Card
Jotun Owl Keeper

Romeo’s Take: The nice thing about Cumulative Upkeep is that it plays so well

with leaves-play or goes-to-the-graveyard effects. In this case, you start with an efficient creature

– a 3/3 for three mana – and get flying Bird tokens when it dies. Elegant design always

impresses me.

The Card
Kjeldoran Gargoyle

Romeo’s Take: It’s a 3/3 for six mana. I don’t care what other

abilities it has. Unless one of them says “When this comes into play, you win the game” or

“Whenever you cast a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may draw a card,” it’s a huge, stinky

log. Eat more bran.

The Card
Kjeldoran War Cry

Romeo’s Take: At first, I thought this was a useless as Wilford Brimley pimping

for Viagra. Then, I started thinking about all of the tricks that White likes to do with this +X/+X stuff.

Warrior’s Honor costs three mana. This costs two and will always do at least the job of

Warrior’s Honor but could also potentially be +4/+4 for all your guys (or +8/+8 if your opponent has

four in his ‘yard). (Oh, who am I kidding. No opponent’s gonna have four of these in his

‘yard.) If there’s an aggro deck that wants to run White, it could utilize this in addition to

Glorious Anthem. For us cheap bastards, it might have to replace it.

The Card
Martyr of Sands

Romeo’s Take: This, kids, is why White sucks. It’s not that there’s

anything inherently wrong with White. Given what it has on the color pie, White cards could be designed to

be excellent… if the designers wanted them to be. In this case, they obviously don’t. I mean,

look at what Red got in this cycle: a living Earthquake. What does White get? Toilet tissue: it keeps your

ass clean for a while, but it’s gonna need wiping again real soon.

The Card
Ronom Unicorn

Romeo’s Take: I’m glad that Kami of Ancient Law will continue to be legal

in Standard even after Champions Block – excuse me – Kamigawa Block rotates out.

The Card
Surging Sentinels

Romeo’s Take: This is another that changed my mind after I played with it. If

you hit even one when you Ripple, you’re gonna get a boner like you haven’t had since tenth

grade. Since it plays so well with Marshall Fields up there, I’d say they’re keepers.

The Card
Wall of Shards

Romeo’s Take: I think one of draft opponents hit the nail on the head when he

said “Sweet! Extra turns for me!”

The Card
White Shield Crusader

Romeo’s Take: Mike Flores likes it. So, I must also like it. It’s in my

Internet Magic Writer’s Contract.

The Card
Woolly Razorback

Romeo’s Take: I think that Anthony Alongi would call this a rattlesnake or

barracuda or tarantula or mace-wielding-wild-woman. Who –

WHO – is gonna run their critters into this guy?!? “You know what I

really want to do? I want to give my opponent a ridiculously undercosted beatstick with which to disfigure

my beautiful face.” In other words, except in extreme cases, this guy makes combat grind to a halt.

Well, ground combat, anyway. But who flies anymore? Ahhh, shaddup.

The Card
Arcuum Dagsson

Romeo’s Take: I see no way in which this card can be abused. Not even in Legacy

or Extended. And especially not in Vintage.

The Card
Balduvian Frostwaker

Romeo’s Take: Too bad that effect is permanent. What I really want to do is to

have to do this over and over and over again. I mean, the way this guy’s written, I can have an extra

2/2 flyer every turn. Blech.

The Card

Romeo’s Take: I see no way to abuse this card, either.

The Card

Romeo’s Take: So, Hinder wasn’t good enough. Now, we tack on a whopping

one mana to give those dang Blue mages a hard counterspell that they can get back? Ridiculous.

The world’s going to Helena


The Card

Romeo’s Take: This card, right here, is the best argument I can make for waiting

to do your set reviews until you’ve actually played with the cards. At first, I wrote this off as

pure dreck. What Blue mage wants to be revealing cards to their opponent? The answer, it turns out, is one

who likes to counter stuff for free. Think about it. In Constructed, most decks run a nice mana curve

between one or two and about six or they’re weenie-type decks with a lot of stuff at the low end.

This card gives you an excellent chance to counter something for free. Imagine it. You reveal the top card

of your library. If its converted mana cost matches, you can save that Controvert. If it doesn’t,

you still have a chance to counter the spell. Trust me. I’ve played with it. It’s st00pid


The Card

Romeo’s Take: What I know is this: in draft, this guy never gets blocked until he

can be killed. So, I tend to get about nine damage in before he provides me card advantage.

The Card

Romeo’s Take: I think you might maybe have to play this in a mono-Blue deck with

lotsa Islands, but I “can’t be fer sure,” as they say down here.

The Card
Krovikan Mist

Romeo’s Take: When you get five of these in a draft, they’re darn good.

Otherwise, give them to your wife for bookmarks.

The Card
Krovikan Whispers

Romeo’s Take: The hope with this card is of course that either (a) the creature

wins you the game so it never dies and doesn’t trigger the goes-away ability on this Aura or (b) you

only need it to block for one turn. Good luck with those.

The Card
Perilous Research

Romeo’s Take: I will only say this one more time: Hatching Plans. (Also, any

creature or other permanent that’s about to die. Or, really, anything that you want to get rid of.

If nothing else, though, you must use Hatching Plans in your deck.)

The Card
Rimefeather Owl

Romeo’s Take: I’m touching on this card mostly because people are pissing

me off by not understanding it. First off, there is no rule that says that “Permanents with ice

counters on them are snow.” This card says it. If you use this guy to put a Snow counter on

everything on the board, your

sister, her “best

friend,” and the dog, that means nothing without this guy in play. He gets Dark Banishing-ed, all

you have are a bunch of cards, a sister, her “best friend,” and a dog with Ice counters on them.

That’s it. Without this guy in play, those counters mean and do nothing. (I know, “unless

some other card says something about them.”) Just remember that. Sorry. This just ticks me off

because the same thing happened with That Which Was Taken. Luckily, that thing hardly ever saw play. I

think this one will see more. That worries me.

The Card
Rune Snag

Romeo’s Take: “Oh, they’ve been powering down Blue. Blue stinks now.

It doesn’t have enough good counters.” Will you all, please, shut up now?!?

The Card
Surging Aether

Romeo’s Take: Ripple is going to end up being a sick, stupid, broken mechanic.

The Card
Vexing Sphinx

Romeo’s Take: If Ben likes it, so do I.

The Card
Chill to the Bone

Romeo’s Take: I loved Rend Flesh because it hit so many creatures with Instant

timing. The one gaping hole in Rend Flesh (Get it? Hah!) was Spirits, and there have been a Vida-trunkload

of Spirits that have “needed killin’” in the past couple of years. Chill to the Bone will

be what I always wanted Rend Flesh to be: Instant-timed, Black removal that hits almost everything, leaving

only an insignificant number of creatures.

The Card
Chilling Shade

Romeo’s Take: You should know how rock hard I am for this guy from reading last

week’s column.

The Card
Disciple of Tevesh Szat

Romeo’s Take: This is one of those creatures that has me sitting on the fence,

and I don’t like that because of my piles. On the one hand, it’s overpriced for the creature

part, what with being a 3/1 for four mana. On the other hand, those two abilities can rule the board. Just

to be sure, get four.

The Card
Garza’s Assassin

Romeo’s Take: Really? No… Really?

The Card
Grim Harvest

Romeo’s Take: This is another ‘roid warmer, but I ultimately come down on

the side of “do it.” It’s Instant-timed Raise Dead. That’s always a good thing.

The fact that it can potentially bring back more than one is even better.

The Card
Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

Rome’s Take: Wizards must be one of the few places where, not only can you drink

at work, but the company buys.

Best Trick in Kamigawa-Ravnica-Coldsnap Standard: Ashes of the Fallen (Naming Knight) +

Haakon + Creatures in Your ‘Yard = Huge Fun for the Whole Family! I know you only have two months.

So, you’d better start workin’ on it now, baby.

The Card
Herald of Leshrac

Romeo’s Take: I’ve mulled this card over until my groin aches. I’ve

rubbed and rubbed, but it’s not getting any better. I’ve decided that, since there’s

lotsa writing on the card, it must be good.

The Card
Phyrexian Etchings

Romeo’s Take: First off, it’s not Necropotence. Know how I know that?

Because it’s called Phyrexian Etchings, Einstein, not Necropotence. It’s so good, however, that

it was the first card that I ordered from StarCityGames.com. I even pre-ordered it.

The Card
Stromgald Crusader

Romeo’s Take: Flores. Good.

The Card
Void Maw

Romeo’s Take: Well, now they’re just being silly, aren’t they?

The Card
Balduvian Rage

Romeo’s Take: This is Enrage with delayed card drawing. Thus, I predict that it

will played more than Enrage. Take that for what it’s worth.

The Card
Braid of Fire

Romeo’s Take: “Cumulative Upkeep – mana burn for one since

you’re playing Red and have no cards to play during your beginning of turn phase. (Disregard this

if you have Rakdos Guildmage on board.)”

The Card
Earthen Goo

Romeo’s Take: You cast creatures with the intention of keeping them, right? To

keep this guy, you pay R or G, cumulatively, every turn. In exchange, he gets bigger. So, you’re

going to, barring removal, swing at least once with a 3/3 Trampling Red creature that cost three mana to

cast. Good enough for me.

The Card

Romeo’s Take: I know that they’re trying to do an update of Demolish by

making it more color intensive (see, also, Sunder from Within), but they give back by adding

Recover. The thing is land destruction always runs heavy Red, for reasons obvious even to the most dense lingerie models. So, the double-Red in the

casting cost isn’t any sort of penalty, but that recover is huge boner bonus. You should already have four of these.

The Card
Karplusan Minotaur

Romeo’s Take: My dream of an all-coin-flipping deck moves one card closer to


The Card
Lightning Serpent

Romeo’s Take: A scalable Spark Elemental? Yeah, this is good.

The Card
Lightning Storm

Romeo’s Take: Good players hold extra lands in an attempt to keep you guessing.

In other words, Lightning Storm gives good players a chance to beat you with your own card by simply

discarding the extra lands they’ve kept. That stinks like my Depends, which, by the way, I’ve

had on since lunch yesterday.

The Card
Martyr of Ashes

Romeo’s Take: And Red wins the Cycle Wars again. Way to go, Red!

The Card
Orcish Bloodpainter

Romeo’s Take: You’re already comparing this to Goblin Sharpshooter,

aren’t you? The Sharpshooter was a mistake. This is not.

The Card
Rimescale Dragon

Romeo’s Take: First, Red takes the “Tim” ability from Blue, and now

it gets to keep things tapped down? How about Wizards gives Red the ability to destroy Enchantments, and

then Dan Paskins can live in a world where people play nothing but Red?

The Card
Stalking Yeti

Romeo’s Take: Flametongue Kavu also cost four mana and dealt four damage to a

creature when it came into play. That just happened to be its power, too. Apparently, this is the

“fixed” FTK in that it has one power moved to its toughness (3/3 instead of 4/2), the offended

creature gets to punch back, and it has double-Red in its casting cost. I predict that this card will

suffer from The Ancestral Recall Syndrome (i.e. “<Card Drawing Spell> is good, but it’s no

Ancestral Recall.”). However, given how many nasty creatures have a toughness of three right now, use

it if you can.

Whoops, almost forgot this part:

{S}: Return Stalking Yeti to its owner’s hand. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

({S} can be paid with one mana from a snow permanent.)

Yeah, right. So, it’s reusable removal if the targeted creature has power of less than three.

What’s that at the bottom of the card? “Designed by Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker.”

The Card
Surging Flame

Romeo’s Take: Ripple is ripdiculous.

The Card
Arctic Nishoba

Romeo’s Take: Its power and toughness are both equal to its converted mana cost,

and it gains you life when it dies. Plus, it Tramples. Do I need to spell it out for you?

The Card
Aurochs Herd

Romeo’s Take: My friend Jason has always liked the Aurochs thing. So, I’ll

give all of the ones in this set an A+ and just move on.

The Card
Brooding Saurian

Romeo’s Take: If nothing else, it’s a 4/4 for four mana. If you play in a

world where a lot of folks run Annex, Confiscate, and Commandeer, you surely need four.

The Card
Hibernation’s End

Romeo’s Take: At first, I thought this was stupid, Green tying up its mana to get

creatures for free. Then, I played with it in a draft. That inspired me to throw a deck together with four

of them. If you like playing Green, get four. Since it’s splashable, if you like playing with

creatures, get four.

The Card
Into the North

Romeo’s Take: At first, like you did, I thought, “Feh, an inferior

Farseek.” Then, after I had my Bran Flakes with prune juice and cleared out my head, I realized that

this thing could also grab the Snow duals or any of the rare Snow lands like Scrying Sheets or Dark Depths.

I tell ya, that prune juice will clear out your head.

The Card
Ohran Viper

Romeo’s Take: Huh? You need me for this?

The Card
Panglacial Wurm

Romeo’s Take: This is the flip side of cards like Hibernation’s End. I

thought “Wow, how awesome!” I have yet to find myself with seven mana up while searching my

library. Not one single time. I had had six once when I popped a Sakura-Tribe Elder, but that was as close

as I got. On the other hand, it is a 9/5 Trampler for seven mana. So, it’s still very good.

The Card
Shape of the Wiitigo

Romeo’s Take: There are subtleties to this card that make me think that it could

be st00pid if not outright broken. Remember, the counter go on the Enchanted creature, not the Aura itself.

In other words, you can bounce the Enchantment to recast it and gain another six +1/+1 counters.

It’s good enough that I will get four as soon as I can.

The Card
Sheltering Ancient

Romeo’s Take: Don’t pooh-pooh this thing just because an opponent’s

creature gets a little bigger. First off, this guy often means that, when he swings on turn 3, he’s

swinging into a 2/2 guy. (You put the counter on the Llanowar Elves, not the Grizzly Bear, smart guy.)

Second, it’s so easy for Green to team with Black right now for removal that you can rid yourself of

the creature getting the counter.

Oh, and don’t forget. If there’s no creature onto which you can put a counter, the Ancient

goes bye-bye. So, kill the guy after you put the counter on it, mmmmm-kay?

The Card
Jester’s Scepter

Romeo’s Take: I was enamored of this card when I first read about it. Turns out

it sucks. It’s purely random and only does anything worthwhile if you put a card back into the

‘yard. If it’s the other guy’s card, that may not be a good idea. People are still

reanimating stuff, Recollecting stuff, you know, annoying stuff like that. Oh, yeah, and it’s

essentially random. I pulled this on a guy in a draft last night and hit five lands. In other words, I

allowed him to hit nothing but gas on three of his next four draws. Throw this away.

The Card
Mishra’s Bauble

Romeo’s Take: Anything that costs zero mana worries me. A lot.

The Card
Phyrexian Soulgorger

Romeo’s Take: If you can give him Trample or flying, you’re golden. If

not, don’t play this.

The Card
Thrumming Stone

Romeo’s Take: In my mind, the scale goes from stupid to ridiculous, then

ludicrous, and finally Thrumming Stone. This card will be banned in all formats except for Limited and

Singleton. The Bush administration will call for a full-scale investigation into its creation. And, in a

surreal turn of events, Michael Moore will make a documentary starring Al Gore about how this card will ruin

the world within twenty years.

In other words, get four now.

The Card
Blizzard Specter

Romeo’s Take: This card is wonderfully elegant, even though the choice is

sometimes hard. Ultimately, what you want to do is get two of these going against an opponent with an empty

hand. Make sure to stack the abilities such that you bounce something with the first guy (i.e. the last

ability to go onto the stack) and have the opponent discard something with the second guy.

The Card
Deepfire Elemental

Romeo’s Take: Why do people keep passing me these late in drafts? I’ve

actually started passing them the first time through knowing that I’ll probably get him back when the

pack comes back around. That’s happened two out of three times. Ridiculous. Sure, fine, whatever,

it takes eleven mana to kill a five-casting-cost creature. So what? It costs one mana to kill a token,

three to kill a Birds of Paradise, and five to kill a Watchwolf. Moreover, since his ability doesn’t

require him to tap, you can use it as many times per turn as you can afford to. Reusable,

almost-completely-uncounterable removal? Yeah, that’s good stuff.

Yeah, so I skipped a bunch of the other multi-colored card. They’re good. Play them if you can.

I’m going to take a nap now. So, turn off that danged Dan Fogelberg music, ya rotten kids!

Chris Romeo