The Modern Series: Coldsnap

Chas is back to resume his excellent financial series on the sets of the past! Coldsnap was quite the oddity and its financial portfolio reflects such! See what strange trends Chas has discovered hiding in the cold crannies of Coldsnap’s history!

Welcome back to The Modern Series!

It’s been a little while, so let me restate my mission statement. Most Magic finance content is fixated on the latest trends. It can be reactionary and
fraught with hasty conclusions. In the Modern Series, I’m writing about each set in Modern in the order they were released. There’s no particular reason to
focus on Coldsnap this week, which makes it the perfect time to give the set a fresh look.

So put down your fancy Prerelease pulls-we’ll head back to Zendikar next week-and join me at the end of the Ice Age.

Coldsnap at a Glance

was released in July of 2006. It was the summer set sandwiched between the first Ravnica block and Time Spiral, which is odd because Coldsnap is actually considered to be a part of 1995’s Ice Age block. Coldsnap is the only set in Ice Age
block that’s Modern legal.

was introduced to the world through a bizarre Randy Buehler article claiming that the set was designed and
developed back in 1995, cancelled because there was an internal struggle at WotC that lead to Homelands being released instead, and forgotten inside an old
filing cabinet. Coldsnap was supposed to be the famous ‘lost third set in the Ice Age block,’ dusted off, re-templated, and released to
the world. This, of course, wasn’t true-Coldsnap was designed as a tribute to Ice Age-era Magic.

Quick aside: Can you imagine WotC doing something like this today? I can’t. It’s crazy how seriously everything is taken these days. Battle for Zendikar is a nostalgic set, sure, but it refuses to even bend on matters related to the New World Order. Coldsnap didn’t
care-if you didn’t know what a Wiitigo was, too bad.

That’s not to say that things were better back in 2006. In fact, Coldsnap is considered to be among the worst Magic sets of all time. The biggest
problem with Coldsnap is that it was a small standalone set-even Conspiracy had 210 cards compared to Coldsnap‘s 155. One of the
set’s two new mechanics, ripple, tried to take advantage of the set’s size by encouraging Draft decks with as many copies of the same card as possible.
This backfired, leading to a boring and degenerate Draft environment where optimal decks could create near-infinite ripple chains.

The set’s other mechanic, recover, was an underpowered bust. While some of the recover cards would probably be playable in today’s game (Controvert would
totally be good enough for Standard U/B Control, right?), spells were much more efficient in 2006 and development didn’t push any of the recover spells
into playability out of fear of breaking Standard. The result was a set that wasn’t fun to draft and wasn’t all that powerful.

wasn’t all bad, though. It did bring snow basics and snow mana back to Standard, and it’s the reason you can use Snow-Covered Island in your Modern
manabases. This is kind of cool, but it certainly didn’t help sell packs back in the summer of 2006.

booster packs are sold out at $10 and booster boxes are sold out at $300. These high prices are mostly due to a couple of sought-after commons and
uncommons. Coldsnap is not a set worth drafting, so I’d suggest against buying or investing in any sealed product.

Dark Depths – $48.89

We begin, as we often do here at The Modern Series, with a card that’s actually banned in Modern. While some of those cards are candidates for unbanning,
Dark Depths is not. As long as Dark Depths and either Vampire Hexmage or Thespian’s Stage exist in the same format, people will find a way to make Marit
Lage a reality. Lands may not be the most popular deck in Legacy, but it’s certainly one of your most powerful options as long as you’re willing to drop
$800 on The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.

Dark Depths’ price is unlikely to drop much. It’s not going to be reprinted outside of a judge foil, and it has cool casual appeal no matter what. I could
see Dark Depths dipping back to $30 if Lands falls out of favor in Legacy, but that’s its price floor. There’s some pretty real upside here, too-if Lands
wins a major event or if another popular Legacy deck decides to take advantage of the combo, I could see Dark Depths settling into the $80-$100 range.

It’s rare that I recommend actual speculation on a $50 card, and I’m not going to do it here, either. If you’re looking for a safe Eternal card to trade
for and hold, though, you could do much worse.

Counterbalance – $17.05

Believe it or not, Counterbalance isn’t actually banned in Modern. Sensei’s Divining Top is, though, which is why nothing approaching the Legacy Miracles
deck exists in the format. I can’t imagine WotC unbanning Top or printing something else that would allow Counterbalance decks to work in Modern, but
there’s always a chance. Realistically, though, Counterbalance’s future price is entirely Legacy-dependent.

You need Jaces and Tundras and Karakases to play Miracles, so demand for Counterbalance isn’t likely to see a major spike. I don’t expect WotC to ever
print the card again, though – it runs completely counter to their current design ethos. Put it all together and you end up with low-risk low-upside hold
that should end up in the $20-$25 range as long as people keep supporting Legacy.

Braid of Fire – $9.69

Mana burn has been dead for years and no one has broken Braid of Fire. Could it work with Comet Storm? Hex Parasite? A pile of instant speed burn? Sure,
but why haven’t we seen it happen yet?

I’ve been hearing rumors about Braid of Fire decks for years. I even bought several playsets of the card at Worlds 2011 on rumors that Patrick Chapin had
broken the whole thing wide open. He did actually play Braid of Fire
at that event, but I can’t imagine it’s a list he’d be interested in revisiting. It’s also the only evidence I’ve been able to find of anyone playing Braid
of Fire in a tournament of any consequence over the past five years.

At some point, WotC might print a card that makes Braid of Fire a Modern four-of. Everyone knows this-it’s why Braid of Fire is worth $10 despite having
never actually done anything outside of really fringy Commander decks. If the cards that made it work existed, though, I think we’d have seen evidence of
the deck somewhere by now. I’d rather sell my Braids and focus on cards that have proven themselves a little bit more.

Mishra’s Bauble – $7.59

Speaking of Patrick Chapin, his infamous Esper Delve/Gurmag Angler deck from the Pro Tour was the first place I saw Mishra’s Bauble make an impact in
Modern. The deck didn’t perform all that well at that event, but it certainly opened the door for other Modern dredge shenanigans. I’ve seen Mishra’s
Bauble show up in 5-Color Death’s Shadow, U/G Tron, Legacy Manaless Dredge, and other variants of Chapin’s original Esper Delve build since then.

Mishra’s Bauble is played in enough decks to keep the price over $7, but none of those decks have come close to breaking out on their own. If one of them
ever does, you’re looking at a $15 card. If not, the price will slowly sink back towards $2-$3. I have a set of these put aside just in case, but I
wouldn’t hang onto a bunch of them in case those decks end up being nothing more than a blip on the Modern radar.

Zur the Enchanter – $7.59

Zur spiked in September of 2013 and again that December thanks to the Modern version of the Prison Zur deck. The first time, the price went from $4 to $15.
The second time, it went from $10 to $20. The card’s value has been eroding ever since, and you can find Zur in the $5-$6 range these days.

Zur could make a comeback at some point.Bennie Smith’s Doran/Zur deck is bizarre, but I really like it. More typical Zur decks still show up from time to time as well. Zur
is always going to be a casual reprint risk, though. The price is getting low enough to make Zur an intriguing spec, but I’m still wary. His floor is $4-$5
thanks to Commander demand, so there’s a lot of upside and very little downside unless the reprint does come. I’m going to try and trade for a few of
these, but I’ll probably sell them before the next Modern Masters set is spoiled just in case.

Thrumming Stone – $6.79

Thrumming Stone is a unique card. It doesn’t work at all in Commander and it’s too expensive for all but the most rogue deckbuilders to consider in Modern,
but it’s still almost $7. If Thrumming Stone were $2-$3, I’d call it a strong buy because Travis Woo is always one crazy deck away from driving demand
through the roof. Paying $7 for a card that can’t be played in any of Magic’s most popular competitive or casual formats is a tough sell, though.

That said, Thrumming Stone is actually a $7 card despite all of this. Kitchen table mages can’t get enough of this card, and the fact that ripple was such
a failure of a mechanic makes this nigh un-reprintable. Thrumming Stone has the look of a card that might gain a buck or two every year-not worth your spec
dollars, perhaps, but it’s a reasonable trade target for those who love long-term holds.

Darien, King of Kjeldor – $6.09

No one’s going to play a six-mana 3/3 that doesn’t do anything unless you take lots of damage in Modern, but it’s one of the more effective rattlesnake
cards in Commander. Darien is a popular Mono-White commander, and he’s pretty close to an auto-include in most tokens builds. If reprints weren’t a worry,
I’d be all over this as a long-term Commander spec. As is, this is one of the most reprintable cards in the entire set. At some point soon, this will show
up in a Commander 20XX deck and the price will drop to $1 overnight. Stay away.

Field Marshal – $5.59

Soldiers weren’t really a supported creature type back in the Coldsnap days, but they certainly are now. Field Marshal is on the low end of
playable in Modern-it’s a 2/2 for 1WW with no abilities by itself-but I’ve seen interesting Soldiers decks pop upnow and again. For the most part, though, Field Marshal’s home is in the
60-card casual realm.

Much like Darien, I expect we’ll see a Field Marshal reprint at some point soon. There’s nothing particularly Coldsnappy about this card, and if a set
needs a lord for a Soldier sub-theme similar to B/W Warriors in Tarkir, Field Marshal is perfect. It could also show up in a Commander deck or Conspiracy-style set at any point. Considering casual demand is only driving the price up by about fifty cents a year and those Modern aggro decks
don’t look particularly inspiring, I’m staying away.

Scrying Sheets – $5.45

‘Snow’ is about as dead as a mechanic can be these days, and I doubt WotC will ever print another card that works with Scrying Sheets. That might not
matter, though. Skred Red runs Scrying Sheets, as does U/R Seismic Swans. These decks don’t show up at the top tables very often, but Scrying Sheets will
instantly hit $20 if one of them does well on camera. Scrying Sheets is an auto-include for Commander decks that run snow lands, too, so the card has a $4
floor and a very low chance of being reprinted. I like it as a long-term buy/hold.

Arcum Dagsson – $4.59

Arcum Dagsson is one of the most powerful commanders ever printed. Pair him with Lightning Greaves and you can lock the game down in just a few turns. This
strategy isn’t very popular in casual circles, though, because Arcum decks tend to play out the same way every. His price has risen along with the other
mid-tier commanders, but his price hasn’t gone nuts. There’s some minor upside here if more people start using Arcum as a utility card designed to
supplement their artifacts, but the reprint risk is decently high. I’m staying away.

Commandeer – $3.89

Commandeer looks like Force of Will if you squint hard enough, but it’s not actually very good. I’ve run Commandeer in Commander decks from time to time,
but it tends to underperform. You generally don’t want to be paying seven or taking a three-for-one in order to stop a removal spell or whatever. I’ve seen
it show up as a one-of in Modern Mono-Blue Tron sideboards, but
that’s probably the extent of its competitive utility. If Commandeer is going to keep rising in price (it’s doubled since early 2013), it’ll be mostly on
the back of its uniqueness or the fact that ‘pitch’ spells are always going to be worth a second look in combo-centric formats. It’s a low-risk buy since I
doubt we’ll see any of these spells reprinted, but I don’t expect it to ever be a very good card.

Haakon, Stromgald Scourge – $3.55

Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is one of the weirdest cards in a very weird set. It’s very resilient once you get your dredge engine going, but a 3/3 for 1BB
with no abilities doesn’t seem like a great way to win games in Modern. This Haakon Loam deck intrigues me, but I’m just not sure that this
guy can hack it compared to the other creatures kicking around the format.

Haakon is probably too unusual to be reprinted, so this is a $15-$20 card if anyone actually makes a working Haakon deck. If not, it’s still a $2-$3 card
just based on the number of casual players who will want to make 60-card-casual Haakon decks. That makes him a low risk, low reward spec that has a tiny
chance of breaking out.

Panglacial Wurm – $2.89

Panglacial Wurm is, I believe, the only card in Magic that you can play directly from your library. That’s pretty neat, but it doesn’t solve the problem of
how bad it is to have a giant Craw Wurm stuck in your hand whenever you’re unlucky enough to actually draw this. I can see Panglacial Wurm settle in the
$3-$5 range on novelty value alone, but the only way it could ever be worth more is if someone developed an infinite mana combo that somehow involved a lot
of library shuffling and haste effects but couldn’t come up with a more foolproof kill. I’ll pass.

Stromgald Crusader – $2.55

Casual Zombie mages like Stromgald Crusader, but that’s a pretty small audience. This card has been $2 for years, and I’m not sure what it’d take for the
price to spike. It’s certainly not Modern playable, nor is it all that essential in Commander. I think I’ll stick to pulling these out of bulk collections
and buylisting them for now.

Coldsteel Heart – $2.49

Coldsteel Heart isn’t gonna light your next Modern FNM on fire, but it’s a solid mana rock for Commander mages that, unbelievably, hasn’t been reprinted
yet. The fact that the foil is $25 should tell you all you need to know about that. This is a $0.25 card if it’s reprinted in a Commander 20XX set, but it
should continue its steady trend upward until then.

Soul Spike – $1.95

The finance community has been salivating over Soul Spike for months. It’s an intriguing card for sure, and I like that it’s a four-of in the Necrotic
Ooze/Borborygmos Enraged/Goryo’s Vengeance deck I’ve seen kicking around the Modern circuit. At $2 for a Coldsnap rare, I get why people are
interested in the card. If the deck does well on camera some weekend, Soul Spike will you-know-what up to $10.

Fury of the Horde – $1.95

Much like Soul Spike, Fury of the Horde has seen play in Modern Reanimator decks alongside Goryo’s Vengeance. This version also runs Through the Breach,
Emrakul, and Griselbrand. Vengeance Breach has actually been around for a while, and Fury of the Horde went as high as $6 last year before dropping back
toward $2 when that version of the deck fell out of favor. It could hit $6 again if it puts up another solid finish, though. Color me intrigued at the
current price point.

Snow-Covered Mountain – $1.79

People want Snow-Covered Mountains for Skred decks, which is why they’re the only Snow-Covered basic lands currently worth more than a buck. I can’t
imagine them going much higher than $2 considering how many Snow-Covered lands there are from original Ice Age still kicking around, though. Buy
them if you need them, but speculate elsewhere.

Herald of Leshrac – $1.59

Herald of Leshrac is an awesome card if you’re playing a massive game of Commander, where it can steal Mazes of Ith and Ravnica bouncelands at
will. Herald costs seven mana and doesn’t do anything the turn it comes out, though, so it’ll probably remain an oddity at best. It might hit $3-$4 at some
point, but that’s not enough to interest me, especially when a reprint could tank the price at any time.

Martyr of Sands – $1.55

We haven’t heard much from Modern Martyr Proc or Soul Sisters this year, but the deck is always a threat to make a comeback. Martyr of Sands is a common,
though, so its upside is probably limited to $2-$3 regardless. I’ll pull these out of bulk in collections, but I’m not really interested in holding onto

Lightning Serpent – $1.49

Why is Lightning Serpent $1.50? I’m not quite sure. There’s some low-end casual and Commander demand, I suppose, but most Modern Ball Lightning variants
are more effective. Pass.

Adarkar Valkyrie – $1.39

Adarkar Valkyrie was a $10+ casual card until Modern Masters tanked the price back in 2013. It was printed again in Commander 2014,
saturating the market even further and bringing the price down to bulk levels. I doubt it’ll ever recover.

Lightning Storm – $1.35

I really like Lightning Storm as a buy right now. It sees play in Modern Ad Nauseam, one of the format’s few pure combo decks. If the deck ever makes a
strong Day 2 run on a popular stream, Lightning Storm will be $5-$8 by evening. It’s a one-of or two-of in that style of deck, so it probably won’t
maintain that price for long, but there are so few Coldsnap cards out there that it doesn’t take much for any of these cards to spike. Getting in
now for a set or two is fine.

Rite of Flame – $1.29

Banned in Modern, Rite of Flame sees play in some Legacy Storm decks. WotC clearly doesn’t like having Storm-esque decks in Modern, so I doubt we’ll see
this unbanned, but it could end up at $3-$4 at some point thanks to Legacy demand, but it doesn’t have much upside since it’s a common.

Juniper Order Ranger – $1.25

Juniper Order Ranger is playable in the ‘go wide’ G/W Commander decks, but creatures with stats this bad just don’t see competitive play anymore. We’re
more likely to see this card reprinted in a Commander deck than to see a spike, so I’ll keep buylisting these away.

Rimescale Dragon – $1.15

I’m floored that Rimescale Dragon didn’t jump when Dragons of Tarkir caused all the casual Dragons to triple or quadruple in price. Rimescale
Dragon has been an MVP in my Dragon Commander deck for years, and it’s still one of the Dragons I search up the most. You need snow lands to make it work,
but it’s pretty close to unstoppable once you untap with it on the battlefield. At just $1.15, there’s some juicy casual upside here.

Ohran Viper – $1.15

Ohran Viper is a former Standard all-star and was Coldsnap‘s main chase rare. Its appearance in Duel Decks: Jace vs. Vraska and power creep
probably pushed this Snake to permanent irrelevancy, though, and now it’s just a sad reminder of how bad creatures used to be.

Phyrexian Soulgorger – $1.09

Phyrexian Soulgorger isn’t bad for a sac outlet, especially in casual play. Vanilla creatures that eat your board aren’t great in Modern, though, even if
they give you eight power for just three mana.

This Week’s Trends

– The Battle for Zendikar Event Deck was just announced, and it’s a doozy: Hangarback Walker, Warden of the First Tree, Tasigur, the Golden Fang,
Whisperwood Elemental, Smothering Abomination, Evolutionary Leap, and Llanowar Wastes are all included. These things have an MSRP of $25 and can be found
for $20, so expect the price of these singles to drop and drop hard. Hangarback Walker probably can’t maintain a price above $15 retail now, and could drop
below $10. Tasigur should dip below $5, and Whisperwood might end up near $2-$3. The others could end up below $1.

– The event deck might be highly sought-after for a while, especially if people just buy four of them to complete their set of Hangarback Walkers.
Depending on how the prices trend over the next few days as well as availability, it might be worth it to pick up a few of these at MSRP and try to trade
away their contents at your LGS before the market is saturated. Regardless, if you have any of the cards on this list, you should try to sell them ASAP.

– The intro pack lists are also out, and they’re much less impressive: Hero of Goma Fada, Angelic Captain, Drowner of Hope, Desolation Twin, Felidar
Sovereign, Defiant Bloodlord, Barrage Tyrant, Serpentine Spike, Oran-Rief Hydra, and Nissa’s Renewal are the rares here. There’s no heavy hitters, but it’s
worth knowing this list before you start doing any bulk rare speculation.

– It’s worth at least thinking about buying BFZ Fat Packs at your local big box stores this week when the new set hits shelves. There looks to be an early
supply crunch for these, and since they contain a pack of full-art lands, everyone wants them. You might be able to flip them at a nice profit over the
next week or two before the distributors catch up.

– Speaking of big box stores, you can actually get misprint versions of the Stocking Tiger holiday card at Target if you’re really lucky. Target and
Wal-Mart both sell blister packs that contain three random booster packs and one promo card for $12. The Wal-Mart card is Xathrid Necromancer and the
Target card is Genesis Hydra. Some of the Target packs have had their Genesis Hydras replaced by a copy of Stocking Tiger that doesn’t contain the ‘Happy
Holidays’ watermark. I’ve heard reports of this happening in Texas and Minnesota, and I can report firsthand that I was able to find one in North Carolina.
These packs are obviously worth more than their retail price, and I’m keeping mine sealed until we know how widespread the misprint is. It’s well worth
your time to check your local Target and see if there’s free money hanging out on the shelves.

– Some of the more exciting cards in Battle for Zendikar have begun to spike in anticipation of the new Standard format. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar,
Ob Nixilis Reignited, Undergrowth Champion, Bring to Light, Canopy Vista, Fathom Feeder, Prairie Stream, Ruinous Path, and Sunken Hollow are all up this
week. While most of my favorite cards in the set are on this list, it’s worth remembering that all of these prices will crash hard once millions of booster
packs are opened. Sell into all of these spikes if you can.

Cursecatcher and Knight of the Reliquary are the latest cards to spike in Modern. Knight is up thanks to a possible combo with Retreat to
Coralhelm-interesting to be sure, but I’d like to see it in action first. Cursecatcher is up because Merfolk has put up excellent results in Modern
tournaments recently. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner and Master of the Pearl Trident are also trending upward, but Silvergill Adept, Phantasmal Image, and
Merrow Reejerey are untouched as of this writing. If you want to get ahead of a spike, these cards are worth considering.