The Remie Rundown: On Coldsnap – Pulling No Punches

For the past week, Jeroen has been analysing the runners and riders of Coldsnap. Each card has been weighted for both Constructed and Limited play. In today’s wrap-up article, Mr Remie shares his opinions on the set as a whole… and believe me, he pulls no punches. A forthright and passionate article, and one that’s sure to fire up the forums.

In the last couple of articles we did a walkthrough of the cards, and despite there being some fun cards and concepts, I feel like this is one of the worst experiments in Magic. In this article I am going to explain to you why, as well as give a general overview of the set. I’ll give you a top 10 for Constructed, and all that jazz… Nevertheless, I would like to give this article the subtitle “All The Reasons Why Coldsnap Sucks!”

Jeroen sits on the fence for this argument

For your reading enjoyment I’ll start with Constructed. I’ll work down to Limited, and end with my conclusions. Yes, I know this is not what the majority will think. It is what I think.

Off we go!


1 – Coldsnap has interesting cards based on a theme, but the theme is too small to actually develop.

I love the snow-covered theme, but the set is small, and there will not be any other sets like it. This means all the interesting cards do not have a discernable “home.” Just look at the past, where spirit decks had to develop over all three sets of a block to be competitive… the same is now true for the snow theme. This set has some interesting cards for a snow deck, but only for, say, half a deck. This leads to a set with a lot of useless cards… which leads me to my next point.

2 – The set feels like a waste at this point in time.

There are decent cards, and some well thought-out themes, but they don’t lead to anything. Recently, it’s looked like R&D was running out of ideas – most mechanics were nothing more that a slight twist of old stuff. Now they bring us a theme like snow-covered, which is actually pretty good… but it leads to nothing.

3 – Despite this set not containing much for Constructed, you still can’t ignore it.

For all its failings, it is still impossible to ignore this set. It is being thrown into sanctioned tournaments. Despite there being a lack of viable cards and themes, it feels like the set is forced onto us. This kind of feeling is never a good thing, and it just shows that whenever Wizards decides it is time to make some extra bucks or test something out, the tournament player will be the biggest loser. Sure, it is all fun in a casual sense… but so was Unglued. This feels a lot like sanctioned Unglued to me.

4 – Outside of the aforementioned themes, there is not all that much there.

That brings me to the Top 10 playable cards. I’ll leave out cards that hinge on themes in the set that are just not broad enough to see play right now:

Ohran Viper

An Ophidian reprint, and it’s by far the best card of the set. Of course, it is strictly better than Ophidian in so many ways, but still…


This card just asks to be broken, and looks like it could be the centre of an awesome deck. If the support is there… Maybe Extended?

The Color-Hosers

Deathmark and Flashfreeze are the two best, but the others are also no slouch, these are probably going to make the biggest splash in Constructed. It’s pretty sad that some of the best spells in the set are straight up under-costed color-hosers.

Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

I like this guy a lot and he seems very interesting. I just hope he finds his spot somewhere in Constructed, and doesn’t turn out to be too much trouble to get going.

Stalking Yeti

The new bane for weenie decks. His only downside is that he isn’t really capable of dealing with guys that cost the same as him. He deals with little guys very well, though.

Blizzard Specter

Another straight up upgrade from the past, this set seems to like reprinting and improving, not innovating. This guy should be a staple of any UB creature deck, as he is great against both control and creature builds.

Wall of Shards

Like combo? This is going to be the card for you. It stops everything and costs you close to nothing.

Ronom Unicorn

We just need an Ancient Law around, I guess.

The Pump Knights

Different, but pretty much the same, these were staples all around and will be again.

The New School of Finishers

Garza Zol; Adarkar Vakyrie; Rimescale Dragon… all these guys have two things in common. They’ll be the new school of finishers for decks everywhere, and they are just plain worse then the stuff we had before from Kamigawa.

Slap that and ride the ripples

If you look at that top 10 you can tell there is a lot of reprints and slight twists, but nothing really new. I mean, couldn’t they have just made Kami of Ancient Law a 10th reprint? I don’t see ripples being created, except by counterbalance.

That’s about it for Constructed, and I am just going to leave it with that… but that means we are moving on to Limited.



Wow, do I hate ripple. It is one of the most degenerate mechanics for Limited I have ever seen, and also one of the most random. That is never a great combination. Random, I say? Well, let me count the ways:

  • It’s random in the draft, because you never know how many will be opened. Do you take that Surging Dementia early and hope to draft a lot of them? Tough luck, since there were only two opened in the entire draft. Do you pass the first two along and see eight more? Tough luck again, because now someone else picked them up and is unbeatable.
  • It’s random when you play them, cause no matter how many or how few you’re packing, you still need to hit them. At the pre-release I saw Frank miss five times in a row with six in his deck, and I saw someone else lose to three hits with only four in the deck.
  • It’s random because sometimes you just lose. I lost turn 2 and turn 3 at the prerelease to Surging Dementia and Surging Sentinels. I couldn’t do anything. I had a fine deck, but one spell and it was over. Is that a healthy format?
  • It’s random because it’s mostly only on bad spells. I don’t have a problem taking a Surging Flame early, because no matter what happens —even if there aren’t that many opened – I’ll have a spell that does something decent by itself. All the other spells, if you just get one or two, you just have a bad card. A four-mana bounce spell, a two-mana one-for-one discard spell of your opponent’s choice, or a strictly worse Nightguard Patrol (which was bad to begin with). First pick these, don’t get any more, and that means you just wasted your first picks and your draft.

To me, it seems like draft works in two ways. Either you try and go for ripple, and get there sometimes and win those drafts… or you don’t, and you ignore it, and have peace with the fact that you will lose to it one out of four rounds. Auto-lose…


Each time you draft, you will see the exact same cards. Decks with four of one card, five of the other. That’s not fun: it’s boring. There is a reason small sets are never drafted together in triples (except at the pre-release): because the “format” just gets very stale very fast.

Broken Rares

This set seems to have a lot of broken rares and uncommons that decide games (if ripple doesn’t). Many a time a draft game will come to a stall, then a Rimefeather Owl will be played, or maybe a Stasis/Opposition Rimewind Dragon, and the game will just end. Yes, this is the case in many formats… but at least then the number of these rares are limited. In this format, with a tiny rare print run, this is not the case.

There’s very little to do with excess lands

As soon as you flood out, you are dead. This is a format where, again, you have to play with 18 lands. There is not a lot of fixing or other mana sources. No bounce lands, no nothing. The format is very slow, so you need those expensive spells. This does mean that you will flood out a lot. If you do, most of the games you will simply lose. There is almost nothing you can do when you draw too many lands.

Very little card advantage

It is close to impossible to draft non-Aurochs card advantage, as there just isn’t all that much. This makes recover insanely important, as that is all you get. One spell in every color, sir. Take it or leave it. Oh, this also means that often the guy drawing the least lands wins.

All these things combined make this a bad format. This wouldn’t be so bad, as a lot of these things are standard for a small set draft format (like triple Dissension), but those formats are not tournament legal. That’s the worst part of it. We have to play this format, a format that is about as unhealthy as triple 7th Edition. I have nightmares of getting rippled out of Top 8 at Dutch Nationals, and this set is the reason I am skipping all the Grand Prixes in the format (well, not really… but it would be if I wasn’t going on vacation).

That’s all fine and well, and I guess it just happens – they can’t make ‘em all hits, you know – but the worst part is this:

Everything trait that makes this set bad, everything trait that makes it sub-par to other formats… it seems like these traits make the people at R&D proud.

Man, what a smack in the face.

“Ripple makes the small set fun,” they say. “Kindle spells make the format exciting!” No, they just make it random, and a race to see who can draw the most Sound the Calls. (I can already hear my opponent… “Heh, I am only playing four. Funny that I drew all four of them and made 5/5 guys. I must be really lucky.”)

This set is horrible.

That’s my verdict, and I’ll stand by it.

[email protected]

PS: Sorry if I seem too negative. I just ain’t happy here, y’know?

PPS: I know that us Pros have a reputation of complaining – and who knows, that might be it – but you can’t tell me I don’t have some valid points in there.

PPPS: Yes, we’ve been spoiled by the great sets and blocks of late.