The Kitchen Table #141: Coldsnap Decks

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As last week’s article stated, this week I am going to be taking a look at several decks built around Coldsnap cards. Some of these decks are pretty basic, and some are more interesting…

As last week’s article stated, this week I am going to be taking a look at several decks built around Coldsnap cards. Some of these decks are pretty basic, and some are more interesting.

I was a little down on Coldsnap in last week’s Five Color review, and I stand by my view that this is not a great set for Five Color. Snow mana plays poorly with Five Color, while Ripple is downright awful with a large deck.

Can’t Wizards, just once, print a mechanic that rewards a thicker deck? It seems like too many mechanics are useful only in smaller decks, and too often, new mechanics just aren’t any good in 250-card decks.

Let’s head right in to the decks, because that’s why you are all here.

Void Maw

As promised last week, Void Maw is coming to a deck article near you. Let’s recap the Void Maw. It’s a 4/5 creature with trample in Black. That means it has some heft and can be a decent creature all on its own. With a five defense, it becomes hard to burn away.

It has the ability to prevent any creatures from going to the graveyard, almost like a Planar Void for creatures. This is a fine adjunct ability, as it stops graveyard recursion at your table. There’s always somebody using Volrath’s Stronghold to recur their Etched Oracle over and over again (fill in another creature and recursion method, but you get the idea). Void Maw tells them to knock it off.

Void Maw can take these creatures that have been removed from the game, and put one back into the graveyard in order to pump the Maw – which already has trample and already is a 4/5 – granting +2/+2 until the end of the turn.

Ah, the power of this card. My first point was that you could put creatures in your graveyard while keeping them out of other’s yards. That’s a nice bonus. In multiplayer, I also noticed that you might get a big enough Maw to kill a player in one hit. That’s a nice bonus too. Let’s take a look at the Maw.

This deck uses a variety of removal options to keep creatures dying. Dying creatures are removed from the game by the Void Maw and saved for eating. The deck has several mass removal spells, like Living Death, Pyroclasm, and Earthquake, plus Thrashing Wumpus can add some mass removal too.

Earthquake can only deal up to four damage if you want to keep a Maw alive. Of course, you can use the Maw’s pump ability if you want to ‘Quake for more. Pyroclasm will kill several of your creatures, but all of them should kill something when they come into play, so they will already have been of service. With your reanimation and Maw-pumping, dead creatures on your side of the board are fine and dandy. Note, however, that that Abyssal Specters are immune to death both by Pyroclasm and by Earthquake.

I tossed in a quartet of Incinerates as an adjunct to the burn. They’ll take out annoying regenerators, which seem to get a decent amount of play in some multiplayer circles.

Ideally, you want to use your removal to clean a lot of the board when you have a Maw out. Then you can swing and deal a lot of damage to a player, possibly killing him, by using just the creatures of yours that died, and if you need to, you can also use that player’s creatures too. Since you are killing that player, you might as well.

Then you want to cast Living Death, getting back all of your creatures while other players have many removed permanently from the game. Some of your 187 creatures will kill off the few creatures that made it past your Maw, and you’ll have a very dominant board position.

You can even pump up another Maw by getting one into play with the Living Death, and when your Bone Shredder kills another creature, the new Maw stores it. The dying, non-Echoed Bone Shredder will soon follow.

The net result of all of this mass removal and Maw and recursion is that you’ll likely be the deck with a lot of creatures at the table while everybody else has very little.

Note that if mass removal, such as your Living Death or an opponent’s Wrath of God, is played while you have a Maw in play, the Maw will still remove creatures from the game that die to said mass removal. This is a permanent answer to even the worst problems, like Akroma.

Brooding Saurian

Brooding Saurian is 4/4 beater for a mere four mana, making him efficient as a creature. In addition, the Saurian can allow you to regain all permanents you own. This allows you to have a shield against Control Magic effects, which is a little useful in multiplayer.

This deck has the same trick in it twice, so let’s go over the trick in general first. You play a creature that, when it comes into play, exchanges control of two permanents. Then, you sacrifice the freshly stolen permanent and get yours back at the end of the turn. Lastly, you then bounce the creature back to your hand and repeat the next turn.

The first of these tricks revolves around the Gilded Drake. You play the Drake for just two mana, switch control of it and another creature, then sacrifice the creature to an Altar of Dementia. The Altar mills your opponent a number of cards equal to the stolen creature’s power. Then you get your Drake back, and you bounce it back to your hand with an Erratic Portal. The total amount of mana that you spend for this is three.

In order to supplement the milling of the Altar, I tossed in a pair of Traumatizes. This should help get your started or scare your opponent.

The nastier combo in the deck revolves around Vedalken Plotter and Zuran Orb. You play the Plotter, exchange control of lands, then sac your new land to the Zuran Orb for two life and get your own land back. Remember to bounce the Plotter. The total amount of mana spent per turn with this combo is four.

Your opponent having a sacrifice outlet of his own is nasty. As such, four Naturalizes also appear here. Note that creature removal isn’t necessary because you can just steal it with the Drake.

In order to protect your key creatures, like the Saurian, I included a full set of Confound. This will counter a removal spell while also getting you a card.

The Portals will also cause your opponent to keep mana available every turn equal to the number of Portals you have. Not only does this slow your opponent down, but it also is a nice addition to the Plotter-Orb strategy of sacrificing your opponent’s lands.

Lovisa Coldeyes

Sometimes, fun decks can be a bit obvious… but they are still fun to play. Figuring out how to use Lovisa isn’t all that tough. Let’s take a look:

This deck uses all three of the creature types that Lovisa pumps in order to get a nice mana curve out of the deck. Starting with one-drops like Godo’s Irregulars and Raging Goblin, all the way up to a pair each of Godo and Kamahl, this deck is solid. Note that Balthor the Stout also pumps barbarians and that most of the creatures in the deck are, in fact, barbarians.

Godo is a barbarian, so he is pumped by Lovisa and Balthor in addition to bringing his own Maul. Too bad no samurai are berserkers, barbarians or warriors. Couldn’t Wizards have given us one berserker samurai? A normal samurai most of the time, but when you insult his mother… stand back! While on the Godo topic, note that Tenza can be used with Godo, Jeska, Kamahl, Lovisa herself, or Balthor.

Except, of course, for the Possessed Barbarian, which can sometimes be Black. The Possessed Barbarian is nice because not only is it a 3/3 first striking Barbarian, which becomes a major threat when Lovisa/Balthor are in play, but as soon as you get threshold, he becomes even bigger, as well as gaining the ability to destroy Red creatures by using Black mana. Although the deck doesn’t have any Black cards, I used Urborg Volcanoes in the manabase so that you can tap the Possessed Barbarian when the time comes.

I liked Balthor’s ability to pump barbarians so much that I decided to toss in a pair of Ghitu War Cries, so that you can do it with all of these assorted creatures.

I also put in a few high-power barbarians, like Kamahl and Jeska. Both of these are good on their own, and when you give them Lovisa or Balthor bonuses, plus Firebreathing or Tenza, they become machines of player death. Especially Kamahl, who can hit for eleven damage before using Firebreathing off the War Cry or Balthor.

I really like the Hell-Bent Raiders because they have haste and first strike, allowing them to participate in the early game, and then the pumping makes them much, much better. They also have the rarely used ability to gain pro White. You never know when that’ll come in useful.

Balduvian Barbarians are just fodder. Sure, they can get big, but they are just chumps, for the most part. So are Raging Goblins, just chumps. Until Lovisa hits… then they become 3/3 hasted goblin berserkers of fury, for a single mana. Note that the Raging Goblin was made a berserker in Ninth Edition. Another one-drop option would be the warrior Godo’s Irregulars.

The Fireball is a nice cleanup piece, plus a cheap way to clear deal damage to one target compared to Rolling Thunder. I wanted the cheaper-to-play Fireball instead of the more versatile Rolling Thunder because it is cheaper to play in case you need to drop it earlier.

This deck seems like a flavorful deck. With Godo, his Maul, and his troops, along with Balthor and his two pupils Jeska and Kamahl, plus Lovisa and some barbarians, this deck works well together despite smashing flavor on top of flavor. I’d like to think of this deck as the exact mish-mash of people who would work together if all of the worlds and eras of Magic were smashed together in some sort of temporal upheaval. Godo, working with Balthor, working with Lovisa, and all bringing berserkers, warriors, barbarians, and more to the party.

In fact, if I were to make this deck twenty cards bigger, I’d toss in some samurai for Godo, and some goblins (with a couple of Goblin King).

I’m sorry, did you say you wanted to see my bigger all Red deck that I’d build? Well, ask and you shall receive:

Let’s take about a few additions. Goblin Balloon Brigade was changed to a Goblin Warrior, so not only is it a flyer that gets Lovisa’s bonus, but it also gets the Goblin King’s bonus as well.

Goblin Striker is a berserker, getting Lovisa’s bonus, as well as a goblin, getting the King’s bonus.

I then tossed in a quartet of Battle-Mad Ronin. These extra creatures have been low costs, so the deck isn’t plugged up with expensive cards. The Battle-Mad Ronin are very nice when combined with Godo.

Talking about flavor, I decided to toss in two of the Brothers Yamazaki. Not only are they very flavorful, but they are also samurai. Because they are legendary, they can wield Tenza well.

Lastly, Iizuka the Ruthless will make the few samurai even better. I like that the samurai are low in number compared to the barbarians, goblins and whatnot, but very skilled. This deck, by the way, is 86 cards; an extra 26 cards added from the original. (I added a fourth Lovisa to the mix, and eight Mountain).

By the way, don’t make the mistake of thinking Lovisa can pump mercenaries. I don’t know where I got that idea, but my initial deck build for the Lovisa deck had a few mercenaries in it, including Sell-Sword Brute and Sokenzan Renegades. Don’t believe me? Here are the two paragraphs that I cut out after I reread Lovisa.

Rogue Skycaptain may not be a bad card with Lovisa. It gets haste, so it swings for a pumped five in the air when it is played. Then, you pay the upkeep and attack for another five in the air. That’s ten damage in two turns with just one upkeep paid, and all in the air. However, the Skycaptain is very poor without Lovisa, and I didn’t want to play a creature so bad without Lovisa that you didn’t even want to cast him. As a result, he doesn’t play well with the Sokenzan Renegade, which doesn’t want you to horde cards.

Sokenzan Renegades are one of your best creatures, despite being unpumpable by Balthor. Lovisa pumps them. They are also a 3/3 for three mana. Lastly, Godo allows them to get in a second attack. However, note that they can switch teams if you keep too many cards back. This deck is all permanents except for the Fireball, so play them out as quickly as possible if you get a powerful Renegade draw. Note that you can always drop cards to the Hell-Bent Raider.

Hmpf. Shows how much I know.

I hope that you enjoyed another trek through a deck article. Coldsnap may not be the most powerful set ever designed, but it does have its moments. Good luck with your own deck building.

Until later,

Abe Sargent