Jeff Cunningham’s Coldsnap Review, Part 3: Green and Lands

ColdsnapJeff continues his examination of the Coldsnap cards with an in-depth look at the Green and Land offerings. Is Ohran Viper the new Ophidian? Is Sheltering Ancient a mirror-breaking creature? Is Allosaurus Rider a possible Constructed sleeper hit? Read on to find out!

Guest Rating Advisory by Doug Potter
Staple: This is going to see heavy play, e.g. River Boa
Good: This is going to see play, e.g. Mystic Snake
Fringe: This is going to see marginal play, e.g. Orochi Sustainer
Maybe: This card might see play, but probably not, e.g. Tangle Asp
N/A: Let’s not kid ourselves, e.g. Matsu-Tribe Birdstalker

Bomb: The only way to react to opening this card in Limited is by a comically exaggerated rubbing of the eyes.
Good: A reasonable first-pick.
Solid: Your classic good man.
Playable: Some of the time you’ll run it, some of the time you won’t.
N/A: Even a perfunctory knowledge of the game prohibits the inclusion of this card



Aurochs Herd

Constructed: N/A. Haha (no).

Avarax saw play (and trust me, it was damn good,) in Onslaught Block Constructed, but that was in a very unique Block setting.

Limited: Good. Best common Green six-drop ever? I’ll leave that to the Momir-heads. But, regardless, this is a fatty that I can get behind.

Boreal Centaur

Constructed: Maybe. Those are solid stats if there ends up being a deck that wants either Warriors or Snow permanents.
Limited: Good. That’s a tight little bear.

Boreal Druid

Constructed: Maybe. With Llanowar and Birds out there, this thing has a lot of competition. It remains to be seen whether a Snow deck (and one that needs more than simple Snow-Covered Lands) will exist.
Limited: Good. Elves are always good, and with acceleration generally scarce, they’re better than ever.

Bull Aurochs

Constructed: Maybe.
Limited: Playable/Solid: Green’s acceleration acts as a disincentive to load up on two-drops. Still, it’s a body for the herd, I guess.

Frostweb Spider

Constructed: N/A
Limited: Playable. This only really affects two out of the five common flyers, but it’s still probably worth playing.

Into the North

Constructed: Good. If there’s a Snow deck, this can Farseek out Snow-duels, which seems like a fine option. Can also get a fine selection of Snow non-basics – Scrying Sheets, or bullet Mouth of Ronom or Dark Depths.
Limited: Solid. Acceleration, again, and gets you your Snow-Covered lands if you don’t have many.

Martyr of Spores

Constructed: N/A
Limited: Good. A very efficient one-drop, one that’ll almost always cost your opponent more mana than it costs you.

Ronom Hulk

Constructed: N/A
Limited: Solid/Good. The upkeep cost isn’t negligible, especially in Green. Reminds me of Kami of the Tended Garden, which always seemed insane, but didn’t actually play that well because the upkeep was far more annoying that it seemed.

Simian Brawler

Constructed: Maybe if a Lovisa Coldeyes deck exists?
Limited: Good. Helps justify playing a lot of land for land hungry Green decks.

Sound the Call

Constructed: N/A. (Again, Dredge decks have better things to do.)
Limited: Playable/Solid, if you can pick up two or three, or more.

Surging Might

Constructed: N/A. Not while Moldervine Cloak’s around, at least…
Limited: Playable/Solid. +2/+2 isn’t quite big enough to make a creature so overwhelming that it’s worth the risk of getting two-for-one’d, or not having a target. Still, pretty solid, and hitting dubs is always a factor.


Arctic Nishoba

Constructed: N/A – I don’t see why you wouldn’t use Skeletal Vampire, Valkyrie, even Gleancrawler, instead…
Limited: Good. Cumulative upkeep’s easier to swallow on the six-plus drops, since they’re the top of your mana curve anyway.

Freyalise’s Radiance

Constructed: Maybe. I doubt it. Maybe if a deck that uses all Snow lands become popular, this could make a sideboard or two.
Limited: Sideboard Playable against a very specific deck?

Karplusan Strider

Constructed: N/A
Limited: Good. Pretty straightforward, above-average stats.

Mystic Melting

Constructed: Fringe. Rending Vines is just awesome, when there’s a deck that wants to use it (I had Gifts). Once the Vines rotates out, this could see some play.
Limited: Playable (sideboard).


Constructed: N/A. Having tried a number of iterations of R/G for Charleston, I can attest that the problem is not having cards in hand, but using them all before the game slips away. With that in mind, this isn’t much more than an overpriced Giant Growth.
Limited: Good. In Limited, especially with a straightforward format where card advantage is king, it’s a different story. This is an efficient card that will no doubt be annoying to play against. It’s not insane; it doesn’t seem that difficult to burn the Resize away for good with a well-timed removal spell.

Rimehorn Aurochs

Constructed: N/A
Limited: Good. The stats are fine, and the ability is pretty damn nasty.

Sheltering Ancient

Constructed: Fringe. I can sort of see it. Picture a R/G mirror. They play a guy, you play this. They attack, you pump their guy, hit them for five. They hit you back, play another guy. You pump their same guy twice, and then burn it away, and attack again, etc.

Against a creature deck, combined with removal, this is a pretty damn efficient creature. A 5/5 for two is so efficient that I have to imagine it’ll see some play. (I even used to play four Tempting Wurm in the sideboard of U/G Madness!)

The trick is how to keep them with guys on the board.

Limited: Good. It’s just so cheap. Play it turn 5 with a three drop, hit for five on the next turn, maybe hit for five again and remove the creature with the double pump, and proceed from there. You can always sacrifice if it gets out of hand.

Steam Spitter

Constructed: Staple. Flyers are out of control these days.
Limited: Solid. This blocks almost all of them, which is pretty comforting since the Flyers are going to be the biggest threat to the Green deck. The value of this card may vary depending on a couple of factors: how much Red? And how good is your deck? If it’s already awesome, you might just want to cover all your bases.


Allosaurus Rider

Constructed: This is it, the moment of truth. Will history remember me as shortsighted blowhard, a man blinded by what turns out to be gimmick only?

Or, perhaps, the reverse: the man who fails to see the beauty in Monopoly, and passes on the real deal.

Let’s break down one of the flashier cards Coldsnap has to offer. It’s big, and free, so it’s worth considering carefully. It reminds me of two cards: Vine Dryad and Vinelasher Kudzu.

Vine Dryad: people used to pay one card for a 1/3… why not one more for an oft 4/4 or 5/5?


1. Stompy is no longer a deck, and
2. An extra card is a much bigger investment than it seems, since it makes any removal into a 3-for-1.

Vine Dryad was just another creature… even if they had one removal spell, there wasn’t really a good place to put it. In the case of Allosaurus Rider, that one removal spell will always have a devastating target. The point is that, for a swarming beatdown strategy, you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Vinelasher Kudzu: by turn 4, Allosaurus Rider’s hit for twelve, and Kudzu’s hit for five. That’s a pretty striking comparison. Additionally, a late (late) game Allosaurus Rider is huge, whereas a Kudzu’s just a dead draw.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the higher end Zoo decks have problem getting all the cards out of their hand before they lose control of the game. This would seem to fit there but, still, it just seems like if this guy gets Putrefied, your game’s over, so it can’t be all that good.

Still, as someone who is playtesting for the first Nationals to include Coldsnap, I can tell you already that I’m inclined to at least try a few of these in R/G.

As far as widespread playability, the alternate casting cost is obviously pretty prohibitive. If this is going to see play anywhere, it’ll probably be in a Red/Green beatdown type of deck, or as a powerful Sideboard option (to accompany Vinelasher Kudzu?) for Control decks. It might also have specific Extended playability.


Limited: Good. A seven mana 8/8 (or more) is good already. Throw in the games where you can safely run it out early, and that’s an appealing contender that might even be closer to Bomb.

Brooding Saurian

Constructed: Maybe. Tragic Green, always gets duped. What does this come in against? Eminent Domain? They’ll probably Counter it, and, if not, Wildfire it. Enduring/Form? This is probably the wrong approach.

It seems like
1. This isn’t good enough to maindeck, and
2. As a sideboard card, it isn’t quite powerful enough against any one thing.

I don’t see it happening. It might have some narrow Extended playability, or a very specific sideboard function (a Control deck’s beatdown plan against a Leash/Copy Enchantment deck?)

Limited: Good. Stats.

Momir Vig regrets venturing out without a cardigan

Hibernation’s End

Constructed: N/A. A.k.a. Form of the Momir Vig. It’s a reasonably powerful effect, but it’s slow, expensive, and vulnerable.
Limited: Solid. Seems best against any deck with lots of removal. Comparable to the Blue Honden, but much clunkier. Still, the format’s a little better for it.

Ohran Viper

Constructed: Good. Probably as near a Staple as we’re going to see in this set. Fits well in the color of Elves. Maybe a joint addition with Allosaurus Rider to R/G? Has Extended implications. Card advantage isn’t the same as it was in the times of Ophidian, or even Shadowmage Infiltrator (just ask Bob), but this is still, unmistakably, just a really good card.
Limited: Good/Bomb. In a deck with removal, this is incredibly dangerous. In any deck, on the play, this is dangerous. Green always has pump. Worst-case scenario, it trades with their biggest ground guy. It may not turn late games around, but in terms of efficiency it doesn’t get much better.

Panglacial Wurm

Constructed: Fringe. I don’t see too many good fits. You would want this against Control decks, and they can always just counter it. That said, it’s not a bad deal at all and I can see it coming up somewhere, even in Extended.
Limited: Good. That’s a big man, also a reasonable search-out with Into the North. I wouldn’t call it a bomb – Green has no shortage of fatties – but it’s definitely a hot tamale.

Shape of a two-for-one trade!

Shape of the Wiitigo

Constructed: Maybe. Auratouched Mage just had a growth spurt. Is a six-mana 9/9 worth playing? Even if it clogs up two spots instead of one (or, say, six or seven, instead of four?) I could see it happening.
Limited: Good. Maybe even Bomb… They better find a solution to this quick. It has the potential to win the game single-handedly, which gives you the justification to pick your moment.



Snow-Covered Lands

Constructed: Fringe. Here and there, a deck will use a card that requires Snow mana, and then they’ll use as many Snow-lands as they can. I don’t expect them to be too prevalent.
Limited: Solid. If the Snow-Covereds are as common as other Commons, that means there are about twenty total per draft. That’s way more than there were Artifact Lands in Mirrodin. Also, I don’t think they’re as good as the Artifact Lands were in Mirrodin, but you definitely want a few.

Another consideration is the depth of the card pool. You will always have enough cards to play in Coldsnap, since the set has been designed to offer variety by way of depth, and not sheer numbers. Since that is the case, taking these over other Solid cards and Playables might be a good route since it will give you an edge no matter how many playables you end up with.


Snow-Covered Tap Lands

Constructed: Fringe.
Limited: Solid. This isn’t like a dual in Ravnica, since your manabase will probably already be quite solid. Just slightly better than a snow-covered basic.

Mouth of Ronom

Constructed: Fringe. Seems like a fine one- or two-of in various control decks. Perhaps only after the Urza Lands go extinct.
Limited: Good. Doesn’t take up a slot, and your manabase should already be fine. A high pick.


Dark Depths

Constructed: Fringe. A true fringe card, I expect to see this here and there over the next few years. Maybe Tooth in Extended. Maybe Tron in Standard. Maybe in the sideboard of control decks in general, for the right matchup. Aether Snap doesn’t seem like the best combo in the world, but who knows.
Limited: Playable. Not the worst maindeck. Seems like a fair sideboard card in matches that you think will stall out.

Scrying Sheets

Constructed: Good. A damn good incentive for Snow. Almost any deck can have the Sheets-Snow land package to it. A few more Snow cards, and you have a real engine built right into your lands.
Limited: Solid. It’s Snow.

Notable Coldsnap Green Cards — Constructed
1. Ohran Viper (Rare)
2. Into the North (Common)
3. Mystic Melting (Uncommon)
4. Allosaurus Rider (Rare)
5. Panglacial Wurm (Rare)
6. Sheltering Ancient (Rare)

Notable Coldsnap Lands — Constructed
1. Scrying Sheets (Rare)
2. Snow-Covered basics (Common)
3. Snow-Covered taps (Uncommon)
4. Dark Depths (Rare)
5. Mouth of Ronom (Uncommon) – Yep, that’s all of them.

Coldsnap Green Common Pick Order — Limited
1. Boreal Druid
2. Aurochs Herd
3. Boreal Centaur
4. Simian Brawler
5. Ronom Hulk
6. Martyr of Spores
7. Into the North
8. Bull Aurochs
9. Surging Might
? Sound the Call ?
10. Frostweb Spider

Talk about deep! Every Green common is playable, that must be a first…

Canadian Nationals Preview #3: Snakes on a Plains

“Why did it have to be Snakes?” — Doug Potter

Many of you have been wondering who this Doug Potter character is that keeps coming up in my articles. Today it’s time for the truth.

I met Doug Potter for the first time at Grand Prix: Seattle. I was sitting down to my Round 14 match when I overheard an exchange at another table, “so how are you going to test for Philadelphia?” “Oh, I’m playtesting with Jeff Cunningham.”

I whipped around: a tall, stout, young man, one whom I had never seen before, was speaking.

Excuse me?” I interrupted.

He saw me, flushed, and stammered “well, Murray – Murray Evans – said I could test with you and-“ I stopped him, I had to return to my game.

After the match, I approached this fellow. I had already appraised him as jovial and harmless. I knew that this was a kindhearted soul.

”You’re smart. I like you. I’ll probably give you a nickname.” I would later josh.

Indeed, this prophecy would come all too true at PT Philadelphia, where Murray, Myself, Doug, Taylor, and Jason Gray from Victoria would share a hotel room (before Murray evicted Doug on Friday afternoon). While helping Doug tune his Snakes deck, I overheard him misspeak, and instantly latched on: “wait, wait, wait a minute Doug – let me get this straight – you invented Snakes?”

Snakes was, perhaps, the most obvious and straightforward deck to have ever graced a Pro Tour. It literally consisted of four Seshiros and some snakes.

Doug quickly tried to clarify, “no, I mean, well, I just invented this version of Snakes…” but it was too late. Encompassing an earnestness reserved only for Edmontonians, Doug was a prime target for teasing. By next morning, I could not resist the urge to introduce him to Pros as “Doug Potter, who invented Snakes”.

This was to his extreme chagrin, and even I, the tireless imp, soon acquiesced. The legend however, like a snowball, had already gathered heft and momentum, and was now well beyond my control. Snake players in need of a formidable draw would chant his name like mantra.

Except, instead of Doug Potter, it had somehow grown into “John Potter Snake.” This was a highly offensive moniker to Doug as his estranged uncle, the loathed black sheep of the family, was named John.

For awhile, Doug was thoroughly annoyed with me, and would shoot me an icy glare every time someone would refer to him as “JPS”, or to Alberta as “Canada’s Snake Basket.”

Over time, though, enjoying his status as a Canadian folk hero of sorts, Doug embraced this role, and now even works actively to sustain it!

You will be happy to know that we remain friends. I have seen Doug come a long way from Philadelphia (where, he’ll have you know, he had the best finish of the lot), and I know that he’s a workhorse, and one who makes good use of an exceptional understanding of the rules (he’s a studied judge in his spare time). What he may lack in raw playskill, he makes up for with heart, grit, and determination; the same prairie combination that carried mentor Murray Evans to his Pro Tour glories.

Josh Ravitz (who has suffered ignominious defeat at Doug’s hands) may disagree, but I think that this is Doug’s year.

What’s more? He’s already informed me he’s playing Snakes!

Predicted Finish: Top 12.

Tomorrow: Black and Gold.