How Should You Prioritize Snow-Covered Lands In Kaldheim Draft?

Ryan Saxe’s first set of Draft dilemmas focuses on snow lands. When should you take them early, and when are other cards better picks?

Snow-Covered Forest, illustrated by Omar Rayyan

If you’re not familiar with snow as a mechanic, here’s how it works:

  1. You need to draft snow basics. You cannot get them from the basic land box.
  2. Many cards will become more powerful if you have snow basics.

Basically, both of these notes culminate to the advice, “Take snow lands higher than you initially think.” And today’s draft will explore the question, “How highly should you take them?”

Last time we saw snow as a mechanic was Modern Horizons, but there’s a fundamental difference between Kaldheim snow and Modern Horizons snow.

Arcum's Astrolabe

Cards like Arcum’s Astrolabe are a big reason why it was necessary to draft snow basics extremely highly. Hence in this format, I expect snow basics to be less of a priority, but they still should be a priority. The payoffs for drafting snow are still great in Kaldheim and it seems like the archetype is seeded as a multicolor green deck.

Sculptor of Winter Boreal Outrider Glittering Frost

The first pack of this draft has an incredible number of feasible options. What would you start your draft with? Will you take the green snow uncommon?

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

Darkbore Pathway Rune of Mortality The Three Seasons Vega, The Watcher Icehide Troll Hagi Mob Raven Wings Doomskar Oracle Broken Wings Elderleaf Mentor Dwarven Reinforcements Craven Hulk Behold the Multiverse Spirit of the Aldergard Highland Forest

The Pick:

There are quite a lot of options here. In order to make this a bit easier of a cognitive load, I find it useful to group together similar cards. This can be done with colors, mechanics, or any concepts. Let’s start with gold cards.

Between Vega, the Watcher and The Three Seasons, I would favor the Saga. Wind Drake isn’t a good rate anymore, and I’m skeptical on the value of Vega as a card advantage engine. This is because, in order to cast a foretold card, you have to wait a full turn after paying two mana at sorcery speed. How many times can that happen in a single game without falling really far behind?

Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I don’t really expect a “foretell deck” to be a thing. This is also influenced by the fact that all the foretell cards are so good that any drafter will be happy to pick them up. However, I still am not a huge fan of starting the draft with the gold Simic saga. I’m usually not afraid to start with a gold card, but given the snow requirement, this isn’t splashable and it’s also pretty slow. It’s a powerful card, but I would rather not first-pick it. I would probably rather consider any of the foretell cards.

Doomskar Oracle, Dwarven Reinforcements, and Behold the Multiverse are cards I expect to be reasonable commons in their respective colors. The foretell rates for these cards are impressive and their normal rate is slightly below par for Oracle and Reinforcements, and at or above par for Behold the Multiverse. Given this, Behold the Multiverse is the current frontrunner.

This leaves Rune of Mortality, Behold the Multiverse, and Spirit of the Aldergard as options. I’m unsure how prevalent Equipment will be, but a deathtouch Equipment on a cantrip sounds incredibly annoying. It’s a bit hard to evaluate the Runes so far, but I don’t expect them to be format-warping. I’m not going to take Rune of Mortality, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s much better than it looks.

The pick for me is Spirit of the Aldergard. Without much extra snow, this is basically a 1/4 Skittering Surveyor, which would be serviceable but worse than Behold the Multiverse. However, with a snow land in every pack, and the ability to start the draft prioritizing them, this card can be a cantripping, mana fixing, stat-monster. Seems like a slam-dunk first pick to me!

Pack 1, Pick 4

The Picks So Far:

Spirit of the Aldergard Moritte of the Frost Shimmerdrift Vale

The Pack:

Maja, Bretagard Protector Tergrid's Shadow Draugr Recruiter Disdainful Stroke Open the Omenpaths Goldvein Pick Icehide Troll Horizon Seeker Depart the Realm Annul Rootless Yew Snow-Covered Forest

The Pick:

Maja, Bretagard Protector is a powerful card but a bit inefficient. I’m a bit skeptical of a five-mana card that dies to the one-mana common removal in Kaldheim without providing value. And if you wait to cast Maja on Turn 6 to get the landfall trigger, a 2/3, a 2/2, and an Anthem aren’t actually that impactful for a six-mana unsplashable gold card. While I could leave Moritte of the Frost behind, I don’t think it’s worth it for this card.

I also believe the same to be true about Tergrid’s Shadow. It’s a powerful card, but it’s not splashable, and my current picks really lend themselves to a Simic snow deck. They’re both reasonable picks if there weren’t solid on-color cards, but there are many.

Between Icehide Troll, Horizon Seeker, and Rootless Yew, I believe Horizon Seeker is the best option for a couple of reasons. First, I already have top-end, and I think taking a cheaper card than Rootless Yew is likely a good idea to avoid saturation of expensive cards. Second, Horizon Seeker helps splash and find snow lands, which are likely impactful for my current path. And lastly, while Icehide Troll is solid for snow decks, it’s also the most likely green card to wheel in this pack. But the wheel is actually a big part of what motivates me taking the Snow-Covered Forest.

I started this article by saying that snow lands are a priority and this should hopefully help hammer that home. By passing three green cards, it’s extremely likely that one of them wheel from this pack, especially when considering the quality of the uncommons in this pack (one of which is a green gold card). Furthermore, I likely won’t miss any of these green cards. They don’t push some requirement in the same way an on-color snow land does. And lastly, since every single pack contains a snow land, taking a snow land actually sends a signal downstream that there’s a higher probability a player upstream is playing the snow deck. This isn’t a perfect signal, as it could signify taking a two-color land, but it is something that players can still recognize.

Pack 1, Pick 5

The Picks So Far:

Spirit of the Aldergard Moritte of the Frost Shimmerdrift Vale Snow-Covered Forest

The Pack:

Return Upon the Tide Bretagard Stronghold Glittering Frost Master Skald Karfell Harbinger Guardian Gladewalker Goldvein Pick Jarl of the Forsaken Masked Vandal Goldmaw Champion Snow-Covered Swamp

The Pick:

Unlike Tergrid’s Shadow, Return Upon the Tide is splashable and a reasonable consideration here. If the snow land in my pool were a Swamp, this would be a really strong consideration. But as a general rule, I’d rather cement my ability to splash a card by taking Glittering Frost or Snow-Covered Swamp here than take a card I could splash, but I don’t even know if I want to yet.

I discussed last week about how both boast and foretell are mechanics that incentivize early battlefield presence and how two-drops will be more important than expected, so I think it’s important to bring Guardian Gladewalker in the discussion. For example, while Glittering Frost is a great way to splash and get two snow permanents on the battlefield, the card has diminishing returns where a two-drop doesn’t. And I genuinely believe that the pick between those two cards is non-trivial and I don’t know which is correct. That being said, I’d take the Snow-Covered Swamp.

As I’ve said, a density of snow lands is incredibly important to these kinds of decks. Furthermore, black is the most likely splash for the snow deck, or at least that’s what I expect thanks to Narfi, Betrayer King at uncommon. If this snow land were a Plains, I would be less inclined to take it here.