The Top Coldsnap Cards To Trade For!

The Top Coldsnap Cards to Trade For!Getting ready to head out to the Coldsnap Prerelease tomorrow? First, take a look at the cards that Ben says will be hot, and those that will not. It’ll be a long, cold winter tomorrow if you don’t go prepared with Ben’s Guide of the Top Coldsnap Cards!

Welcome back to another edition of Prerelease: The Top Cards to Trade for! In this article, I’ll let you know which cards will be hot, which will not, and which you should stock up on before they are discovered. All opinions and valuations are mine, although take keep in mind that A) I have a really, really good track record when it comes to these articles, and B) I do this for a living for StarCityGames.com, so you, as the Premium reader, are getting a look inside the mind of the person responsible for the pricing of these cards come set release.

As usual, all card texts are courtesy of MTGSalvation.com. I can only go by what they’ve posted there — and as of 10:00pm on the Thursday before the prerelease, they have spoiled 121/155 cards in Coldsnap. Not too shabby — most of the spoiled cards are either from official sources, or from actual scans of cards that appeared in the last day or so. In this case, I don’t expect too many of the card texts to be off, but many cards are missing rarities.

Because so many cards are missing rarities, I’m going to do this article a little differently than usual. Rather than split the sections into Commons/Uncommons/Rares (as has been my habit), I’m going to make three different sections: Tournament Cards, Casual Cards, and Chase Cards. These sections will cover all three facets of high-demand cards — the tournament cards will appeal mainly to players who want to play Constructed events, the casual cards appeal mainly to players who play more casually/multi-player, and the Chase cards appeal to both players, and will be considered the most desired/highest-dollar cards in the set.

All cards listed in any of these three sections will be sought after. I am not going to list cards that are undesirable, but fall into one of these categories. For instance, a 9/8 for ten with no abilities might be a casual card — but nobody would want it. It wouldn’t be on this list.

The full Coldsnap checklist can be found here. These cards were missing from the MTGsalvation.com Coldsnap spoiler as of 10:00pm on July 6th, 2006:

White (9): Boreal Griffin, Kjeldoran Gargoyle, Kjeldoran Javelineer, Kjeldoran War Cry, Luminescence, Squalldrifter, Sun’s Bounty, Swift Maneuver, Ursine Fylgja

Blue (8): Adarkar Windform, Controvert, Frost Raptor, Rimewind Cryomancer, Ronom Serpent, Rune Snag, Surging Aether

Black (6): Balduvian Fallen, Chill to the Bone, Gristle Grinner, Krovikan Scoundrel, Martyr of Bones, Rime Etchings

Red (5): Earthen Goo, Goblin Rimerunner, Orcish Bloodpainter, Rite of Flame, Thermopod

Green (6): Arctic Nishoba, Into the North, Martyr of Spores, Mystic Melting, Simian Brawler, Steam Spitter

Gold (0): None Missing

Artifact (1): Phyrexian Ironfoot

Lands (0): None Missing

First, the chase cards. There are not many chase cards in the set. This is not to say that Coldsnap is a bad set — just that while there are many fine, playable cards, few-to-none of them are at the obvious power level or desirability of Birds of Paradise, the Shocklands from Ravnica Block (Steam Vents, et al.), or Char. These cards are listed alphabetically.


Arctic Flats/Boreal Shelf/Frost Marsh/Highland Weald/Tresserhorn Sinks

These five lands are virtually identical to the comes-into-play tapped duals from Invasion, except that these count as Snow permanents. These compare to Coastal Tower, Elfhame Palace, Salt Marsh, Shivan Oasis, and Urborg Volcano. While there are more multi-land choices now than there were then (see Karoo lands, shock lands, and pain lands), they will still be played, they are Uncommon (at least Arctic Flats is — I can only assume the other four are as well), and they generate snow mana.

Dark Depths
Legendary Snow Land
Dark Depths comes into play with ten ice counters on it.
3: Remove an ice counter from Dark Depths.
When Dark Depths has no ice counters on it, sacrifice it. If you do, put an indestructible legendary 20/20 black Avatar creature token with flying named Marit Lage into play.

The release (not prerelease) tournament card is the 20/20 Marit Lage token. This is good, because Dark Depths will be extremely popular with both the casual and competitive crowd. Dark Depths plays well with Urza lands, and might be an Extended-worthy card when combined with Aether Snap — two cards for a 20/20 flyer seems like a bargain. Even if this ends up being sorta trashy in tournament play, it is essentially the “big creature” of the set.

Haakon, Stromgald Scourge — BB1
Legendary Creature – Zombie Knight (3/3)
You may play Haakon, Stromgald Scourge from your graveyard, but not from anywhere else.
As long as Haakon is in play, you may play Knight cards from your graveyard.
When Haakon is put into a graveyard from play, you lose 2 life.

Haakon changes the entire way Standard is played — once he’s in your graveyard (and there are quite a few ways of getting him there, from Compulsive Research to dredge), he becomes Nether Spirit on crack. Not only does he bring himself back each turn, he can bring an entire army with him. The alternate casting method will appeal to Johnnies, the power level will appeal to Spikes, and Timmies will love being able to use one guy to bring back entire armies. This guy is the trifecta, and will be sought after.

Ohran Viper — GG1
Snow Creature – Snake (1/3)
Whenever Ohran Viper deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature at the end of combat.
Whenever Ohran Viper deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.

Coming into the prerelease, Ohran Viper is the closest card the set has to a chase card. Ohran Viper is Ophidian, except in a color with acceleration, and with an added, useful ability. It is eminently tournament playable, and appeals to both casual and competitive players.

Panglacial Wurm — GG5
Creature – Wurm (9/5)
While you are searching your library, you may play Panglacial Wurm from your library.

Another card which appeals to Timmy, Johnny and Spike. Timmy gets a 9/5 trampler, Johnny gets a puzzle on how to get a 9/5 creature into play without having it in hand, and Spike gets a 9/5 trampler for playing with Sakura-Tribe Elder. This will see play, both casually and competitively.

Scrying Sheets
Snow Land
Tap: Add to your mana pool
Tap, 1+Snow: Look at the top card of your library. If it’s a snow card, you may reveal it and put it into your hand. (Snow can be paid with one mana from a snow permanent.)

One of the sleeper cards of the set, Scrying Sheets has the potential to garner insane card advantage, thanks to Snow-Covered lands and Snow creatures. If you’re playing even half snow-permanents (and that can be arranged easily, thanks to basic snow lands and the new dual lands in this set), Scrying Sheets has a good chance to turn into a one-sided Mikokoro.

Stalking Yeti — RR2
Snow Creature — Yeti (3/3)
When Stalking Yeti comes into play, if it’s in play, it deals damage equal to its power to target creature an opponent controls and that creature deals damage equal to its power to Stalking Yeti.
2+Snow: Return Stalking Yeti to its owner’s hand. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

Flametongue Kavu, with a drawback (it can die to itself, more or less), but a minor advantage (if it lives, you can bring it back for seconds). Still, this is one of the best 187 creatures printed in quite some time, and will see play.

Vanish Into Memory — WU2
Remove target creature from the game and draw cards equal to its power. At the beginning of your next upkeep, return that creature to play under its owner’s control and discard cards equal to its toughness.

Vanish into Memory won the “You Make the Card” contest, much like Crucible of Worlds did in the past. Vanish into Memory is also the superior card. This is the tool U/W control needed to get back into the game. Vanish a Kird Ape with a Moldervine Cloak, draw 5, discard 3. Vanish Roar of the Wurm token, draw, draw 6 discard zero. Vanish your 187 creature, go nuts.


Adarkar Valkyrie — WW4
Snow Creature- Angel (4/5)
Flying, vigilance
Tap: When target creature other than Adarkar Valkyrie is put into a graveyard this turn, return that card to play under your control.

Big, dumb Angel with an ability that appeals to casual players. Much like Razia, Silver Seraph, Angel of Resistance, and other cards before it, Adarkar Valkyrie will be in the $2-$4 range.

Blizzard Specter — UB2
Snow Creature — Specter (2/3)
Whenever Blizzard Specter deals combat damage to a player, choose one – That player returns a permanent he or she controls to its owner’s hand; or that player discards a card.

This improved Abyssal Specter would rate higher, except I question the viability of a 2/3 flyer when a 4/4 flyer with a marginal drawback is not being played right now in Standard (Moroii). Because of this, it will be relegated mostly to casual use — but casual players love Sigil of Sleep and love Abyssal Specter, and this combines both, to a degree. (Yes, I know you don’t get to choose with Blizzard Specter, and you do get to choose with Sigil of Sleep. The comparison is apt enough.)

Brooding Saurian — GG2
Creature – Lizard (4/4)
At the end of each turn, each player gains control of all nontoken permanents he or she owns.

Brooding Saurian will most likely cross-over occasionally into Constructed territory, as it is a foil for Keiga, Dream Leash, and Confiscate. Unfortunately, it has to contend against Cytoplast Root-Kin and Loxodon Hierarch (and Iwamori and Hunted Wumpus). Green players who hate Blue players will love this card. Goodbye Control Magic effects!

Garza Zol, Plague Queen — 4RUB
Legendary Creature – Vampire (5/5)
Flying, haste
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Garza Zol, Plague Queen this turn is put into a graveyard, put a +1/+1 counter on Garza Zol.
Whenever Garza Zol deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.

Garza Zol is a mix between Sengir Vampire and Thieving Magpie, with built in haste and a huge body. See Adarkar Valkyrie above, and mix with a healthy dose of Baron Sengir. Plus, Garza Zol is illustrated by Darrel Riche, who will be at the StarCityGames.com prerelease in Richmond, VA (not-so-subtle plug!)

Hibernation’s End – G4
Cumulative upkeep: 1
Whenever you pay Hibernation’s End’s cumulative upkeep, you may search your library for a creature card with a converted mana cost equal to the number of age counters on Hibernation’s End and put it into play. If you do, shuffle your library.

Will this make the cross-over to tournament play? Possibly, but in casual play and group games, Hibernation’s End will be aces. It pays for itself, and is quite fun to get going (who doesn’t like tutoring each and every turn?). Another casual star.

Jester’s Scepter — 3
When Jester’s Scepter comes into play, remove the top five cards of target player’s library from the game face down. You may look at those cards as long as they remain removed from the game.
2, Tap , Put a card removed from the game with Jester’s Scepter into its owner’s graveyard: Counter target spell if it has the same name as that card.

This will be Glimpse The Unthinkable numbers five through eight for many decks, with the added bonus of occasionally countering a spell. Unlike Glimpse, you can bounce this repeatedly with Boomerang, Repeal, or other effects, and keep removing five cards over and over. Glimpse has maintained a $7-$12 value for nearly a year now, and Traumatize a $8-$12 value. Don’t dismiss the appeal of this sort of effect to casual players.

Juniper Order Ranger — GW3
Creature – Human Knight (2/4)
Whenever another creature comes into play under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on that creature and a +1/+1 counter on Juniper Order Ranger.

See also Quirion Dryad, Titania’s Chosen, and Elvish Vanguard. Some are better, some are worse, but this dude works quite well with token creatures. Doubling Season is one of the hottest cards in casual play from Ravnica block, and Juniper Order Ranger goes straight into that deck.

Lightning Serpent — RX
Creature – Serpent Elemental (2/1)
Haste, trample
Lightning Serpent comes into play with X +1/+0 counters on it.
At end of turn, sacrifice Lightning Serpent.

The latest Ball Lightning variant, and one that will be overrated. I’d trade these away, as it’s probably better to run Demonfire or Blaze if you’re looking to do “X” damage in Constructed, and it’s better to run Blistering Firecat, Ball Lightning, or Skizzik if you’re playing casually. This compares very unfavorably to Giant Solifuge as well.

Phyrexian Soulgorger — 3
Snow Artifact Creature – Construct (8/8)
Cumulative upkeep – Sacrifice a creature. (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)

Is there a deck that can use this? I don’t know, but it’s an 8/8 for three mana. Timmies will eat this up, at least in the beginning. Trade these away while their value is high.

Rimescale Dragon — RR5
Snow Creature – Dragon (5/5)
2+Snow: Tap target creature and put an ice counter on it. (Snow can be paid with one mana from a snow permanent.)
Creatures with ice counters on them don’t untap during their controllers’ untap steps.

Rimescale Dragon has the best artwork of all the cards that have artwork revealed. Unfortunately, the body does not match the cost. This does not compare well to Shivan Hellkite, Crimson Hellkite, Kilnmouth Dragon, or most other large, costed-too-high dragons. Again, trade these while their novelty is high, as they won’t have many constructed or casual applications once the shine wears off.

Tamanoa — RGW
Creature – Spirit (2/4)
Whenever a noncreature source you control deals damage, you gain that much life.

Personally, I don’t like this card. The casting cost on Tamanoa seems unwieldy, and the effect too narrow. With that said, there has been an incredible amount of buzz about this card on multiple message boards, which means players are going to be actively seeking it at the prerelease. If you get one, try to trade it off for something that might have more concrete value.

Thrumming Stone — 5
Legendary Artifact
Spells you control have Ripple 4 (Whenever you play a spell, you may reveal the top four cards of your library. You may play any revealed cards with the same name as that spell without paying their mana costs. Put the rest on the bottom of your library.)

Relentless Rats deck. See also Eon Hub, Mirror Gallery, That Which was Taken, Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], Mycosynth Lattice, and other $2-$3 cards which have held their value consistently over the course of years.

Zur the Enchanter — WUB1
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard (1/4)
Whenever Zur the Enchanter attacks, you may search your library for an enchantment card with converted mana cost 3 or less and put it into play. If you do, shuffle your library.

Zur might also make the leap to Constructed play, since he tutors on the attack, and not on delivery of damage. Putting Moldervine Cloak on Zur requires playing a fourth color of having an uncastable card in your deck, but Zur can also tutor up Seal of Doom, Galvanic Arc, Pillory of the Sleepless, or other number of nasty enchantments in Standard. In casual play, the skies the limit on Zur. Tutor for Necropotence, anyone?


Commandeer — UU5
You may remove two blue cards in your hand from the game rather than pay Commandeer’s mana cost.
Gain control of target noncreature spell. You may choose new targets for it. (If that spell is an artifact or enchantment, the permanent comes into play under your control.)

A word about the pitch cards — they are not that great. Most decks will find it difficult to muster two on-color spells to pitch, without crippling their early/late game. With that said, Commandeer is one of the better pitch spells. In Vintage, you can put it in the Misdirection slot of a deck, and grab Brainstorms, Duresses, Fact or Fictions, and Yawgmoth’s Wills/Bargains. In Standard, Wildfire and Blue control decks can more safely tap out for that Tidings or Compulsive Research without worrying about being wrecked completely.

Counterbalance — UU
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, you may reveal the top card of your library. If you do, counter that spell if it has the same converted mana cost as the revealed card.

If you play Vintage, get four of these. This is the most important Vintage card printed in a block. With a critical mass of zero, one and two drop spells, Counterbalance will act as an adjustable Chalice of the Void. With Sensei’s Divining Top, Counterbalance gets truly insane. Brainstorm helps out as well. Plus, this is not a symmetrical effect — it only affects your opponent. This may see play in other formats as well, depending on how much top-of-deck fixing exists.

Fury of the Horde — RR5
You may remove two red cards in your hand from the game rather than pay Fury of the Horde’s mana cost.
Untap all creatures that attacked this turn. After this main phase, there is an additional combat phase followed by an additional main phase.

Trade these away. Conditionally, this could see play in Goblins (Goblin Ringleader can glut the hand), but more likely this will fall into the realm of Relentless Assault/Final Fortune — cards which in theory would be great, but never really were.

Garza’s Assassin — BBB
Creature – Human Assassin (2/2)
Sacrifice Garza’s Assassin: Destroy target nonblack creature.
Recover – Pay half your life, rounded up. (When another creature is put into your graveyard from play, you may pay half your life, rounded up. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand. Otherwise, remove this card from the game.)

Even without the recover cost, Garza’s Assassin is Seal of Doom, except as a 2/2 creature. Add in the recover cost, and Garza’s Assassin becomes a reusable Seal of Doom. It’s that first free activation that makes Garza a playable card.

Jotun Grunt — W1
Creature – Giant Soldier (4/4)
Cumulative upkeep – Put two cards in a single graveyard on the bottom of their owner’s library. (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)

Keep the Grunt in mind more if you’re going to be playing Vintage or Legacy. If Threshold decks can run Mystic Enforcer and Werebear, I’m sure they can find room to fit the Grunt. It also works to hose your opponent’s graveyard, making it run double-duty in the above-mentioned formats.

Perilous Research — U1
Draw two cards, then sacrifice a permanent.

The best card-drawing spell in quite some time. Combo decks will love this card. You can also sacrifice creatures that are trading in combat. I was wrong initially about Hatching Plans, but Perilous Research plus Hatching Plans equals draw five cards for two cards. I’m sure you can find other permanents you’d want to sacrifice on purpose (especially with Pillory of the Sleepless and Faith’s Fetters running wild lately in Standard).

Soul Spike — BB5
You may remove two black cards in your hand from the game rather than pay Soul Spike’s mana cost.
Soul Spike deals 4 damage to target creature or player and you gain 4 life.

Again, the idea of pitching two Black cards seems like a steep cost, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be spending the full seven mana to hard-cast this puppy. Consider it in combo decks, much in the way that Soul Feast worked in Skirge Familiar/Yawgmoth’s Bargain decks, and you’ve got a free pitch card. Soul Spike seems like it could work well in a deck that runs multiple draw effects, such as U/B Owling Mine or a deck that doesn’t mind dropping multiple Phyrexian Arenas.

Stromgald Crusader & White Shield Crusader — BB/WW
Zombie Knight/Human Knight (2/1)
BB/WW: +1/+0 until end of turn.
B/W: Flying until end of turn.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: 2/X creatures for two mana Uncommon guys with protection from a color sell for $1-$2 consistently. These guys will be no different than Silver Knight, Soltari Priest, Soltari Monk, Hand of Cruelty, or Hand of Honor before them.

Sunscour — WW5
You may remove two white cards in your hand from the game rather than pay Sunscour’s mana cost.
Destroy all creatures.

The best of the pitch cards. Picture the following scenario: Your opponent casts Kird Ape, follows it with Scab-Clan Mauler, and then Cloaks up the Mauler. You’ve already taken eight damage, and you won’t get to Wrath mana for another turn. Do you pitch two cards and take a three-for-three trade, or do you wait a turn, take another eight damage (minimum), and then Wrath? In environments where aggressive decks dominate, Sunscour will be a necessary evil.

Moreover, you can also view Sunscour as Wrath of God numbers five through eight, much like Rout (at seven mana) was in the past. There are many cards in this set that help out Owling Mine a lot, and the pitch cards are among them. If you’re drawing 3-4 cards a turn (Walking Archive, Kami of the Crescent Moon, Howling Mine), the pitch won’t even be an issue.

Vexing Sphinx — UU1
Creature – Sphinx (4/4)
Cumulative upkeep – Discard a card. (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)
When Vexing Sphinx is put into a graveyard from play, draw a card for each age counter on it.

I covered this in our preview article, but this guy is a two-turn loaner that blocked everything on the first turn, and swings for four twice before trading three cards discarded for three cards drawn. This will get played, as it is quite insane on the power curve for the cost, especially when it comes down on the third turn.

Wall of Shards — W1
Snow Creature — Wall (1/8)
Defender, flying
Cumulative upkeep- An opponent gains 1 life. (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an age counter on this permanent, then sacrifice it unless you pay its upkeep cost for each age counter on it.)

Unfairly maligned so far, pick up four of these if you plan on playing control or combo over the coming year. Combo decks will love this for being a virtually unkillable blocker in the early game. Who cares if your opponent gains 6-10 life if you plan on decking them with Brain Freeze, or hitting them with a Maga/Demonfire for sixty? In control, the trade of ten to twenty life might be nothing compared to stopping a cloaked Burning-Tree Shaman for six turns while you set up your entire board and hand.

See ya’ll at the prerelease, and good trading to everyone! If you can, come on down to the Richmond Coldsnap Prerelease. Not only will we have regular Coldsnap flights, but we will be running special Ice Age/Alliances/Coldsnap flights each day. Artists Ron Spencer, Darrell Riche and Anthony S. Waters will be on hand to meet the public and sign autographs, and we will also be holding the back-to-back Legacy Dual for Duels tournaments each day.

Until next time,
Ben Bleiweiss
General Manager, StarCityGames.com