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Commander Top 10: Jorn, God Of Winter

Kaldheim brings with it enough snow cards to make a proper Commander deck. Bennie Smith builds one around Jorn, God of Winter.

Jorn, God of Winter, illustrated by Magali Villeneuve

Right after I picked the next Kaldheim commander I wanted to brew a deck around for this week’s article, we got our first real snowfall in about two years. 

I guess you don’t get the mantle God of Winter for nothing!

Both sides of Jorn, God of Winter suggest playing heavily with snow cards and cards that care about snow.  Luckily for us, Wizards of the Coast has given us a ton of cool snow cards in Kaldheim to go with other snow cards from Modern Horizons, Coldsnap, and Ice Age. Given the singleton nature of Commander, are there enough in black, blue, and green to make a good deck? 

Spoiler alert: Yes!

Let’s take a quick look at the Release Notes for Jorn just to make sure we understand how it works:

Jorn’s triggered ability will untap Jorn itself.

A snow permanent card is any artifact, creature, enchantment, land, or planeswalker card with the supertype snow.

You don’t play the card as Kaldring’s activated ability is resolving; rather, that ability gives you permission to play that card that turn. You must follow the normal timing permissions and restrictions for the card when you play it. To play a land this way, you must have a land play available. Notably, if you activate Kaldring’s ability during an opponent’s turn, you won’t be able to cast a spell that way unless it has flash and you won’t be able to play a land that way at all.

You’ll still pay all costs to cast a spell this way, including any additional costs. You may also pay alternative costs if any are available.

Even though you may play the card, it isn’t in your hand, so you can’t, for example, discard it or foretell it.

If you don’t end up playing the card, it remains in your graveyard. You can’t play it on future turns unless you target it again with Kaldring’s ability (or something else lets you play it).

The front side of the card Jorn can come down on Turn 3 and start untapping your snow permanents each attack afterwards so long as the coast is clear. Given that so many Commander players these days spend the first part of their game ramping, chances are pretty good you can get in an attack or two and get the big mana bump to deploy more cards than you’d otherwise be able to. At that point, we’ll need to find weak spots to continue Jorn’s attack and leverage some removal spells to knock down blockers.

Eventually there will be a battlefield sweeper that will destroy our creatures and send Jorn back to the command zone, and this is the point where we will want to cast Kaldring, which will let us play a snow permanent from the graveyard for each activation.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Marit Lage’s Slumber

When looking at snow cards, one thing I wanted to keep an eye out was a huge snow threat that can have a commanding battlefield presence, and there are few threats bigger and badder than Marit Lage!

Marit Lage’s Slumber is a sweet snow enchantment from Modern Horizons that is fairly easy to wake up — once you have five or six snow lands, all you need are three or four other snow permanents to unleash the 20/20 Marit Lage token.

And meanwhile you get scry triggers from the enchantment itself and any other snow permanents you put on the battlefield. What’s better, even if an opponent finds a way to deal with this huge, flying, indestructible threat, Kaldring can let you cast Marit Lage’s Slumber from the graveyard for another go-round.

Dark Depths Thespian's Stage Spirit of the Aldergard

Of course, Dark Depths is the original scary way to get Marit Lage onto the battlefield, so I’ve also included Thespian’s Stage to cheat the ice counter stipulation.  Spirit of the Aldergard is another big snow threat that can have its power get huge in a snow deck, while also finding any snow land you want and putting it in your hand, including Dark Depths.

2. Heidar, Rimewind Master

I went looking for “snow matters” cards and there are quite a few of them, but the best of the bunch has got to be Heidar, Rimewind Master. For the low, low condition of having four or more snow permanents, you can tap Heidar for two mana and return target permanent to its owner’s hand at instant speed. Thankfully for enjoyable gameplay, Heidar isn’t a snow creature or things would be incredibly obnoxious with Jorn’s attack trigger, but even without that we still have a very flexible tool.  We can bounce a blocker to let Jorn safely attack, or we can bounce Jorn or another permanent that’s going to be destroyed by removal, or we can bounce Jorn to our hand so we can cast it as Kaldring or vice versa.

Rimewind Taskmage Rime Tender Boreal Outrider Abominable Treefolk Rimewind Cryomancer Narfi, Betrayer King Winter's Chill

Fellow Rimewind spellcasters Rimewind Taskmage and Rimewind Cryomancer join in the four-or-more-snow-permanent party.  Taskmage can tap down a blocker or untap a blocker when needed, and Cryomancer’s ability to counter an activated ability will prove to be surprisingly useful.  Rime Tender can untap snow lands to produce mana or untap other snow permanents for profit—how about Kaldring?  While it’s on the battlefield, Boreal Outrider basically makes every creature you cast enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. 

Abominable Treefolk is a great threat that scales as the game goes longer, and it’s a great way to tap down a blocker to let Jorn get in a safe attack. Narfi, Betrayer King is our snow “lord” that is also quite good at coming back from the graveyard for just three snow mana.

I’d completely forgotten about Winter’s Chill!  With Jorn’s ability to untap snow permanents, it’s pretty easy to pass the turn with a fair amount of mana open, and if someone attacks you with a bunch of creatures and not a lot of open mana, Winter’s Chill can wreak havoc on their attack. Worse case, you can tap them down so they can’t cast a spell on their postcombat main phase.

3. Draugr Necromancer

Digging for more snow threats, another card that quickly rose to the top of the list was Draugr Necromancer from Kaldheim. With this on the battlefield, anytime an opponent’s creature dies you exile it with an ice counter on it instead, so your opponents will want to deal with the Necromancer swiftly.  Otherwise you’ll be able to fill out your battlefield with your opponents’ dead creatures over a few turns, especially with extra mana that Jorn may give you.

What’s particularly awesome is that even if Draugr Necromancer dies, if you bring it back from the graveyard with, say, Kaldring, you can cast Draugr from your graveyard and then get access to any of those exiled creatures with ice counters on it.

Conifer Wurm Moritte of the Frost Rimefeather Owl Icebreaker Kraken

Conifer Wurm is another fantastic threat that gets even better when you can untap snow lands to generate extra mana.  Let’s assume you have six snow lands, Conifer Wurm, Jorn and one other snow permanent. You could activate Conifer Wurm’s ability to give it +9/+9, attack, untap all your snow permanents with Jorn, and easily activate the ability for another +9/+9.  That’s 22 points of trample damage!

Rimefeather Owl and Icebreaker Kraken are also large snow threats, and Moritte of the Frost can become a copy of one of these cards too!

4. Ohran Frostfang

Looking for more snow creatures that aren’t necessarily huge threats but offer solid value for their mana, I ran across Ohran Frostfang. This fantastic card is awesome in just about any creature-heavy deck on its own given the potential for drawing cards, but it’s even better in our snow deck with Jorn. Attacking creatures gain deathtouch, which can make it particularly awkward for your opponents to profitably block, which should help Jorn make more attacks, and any extra cards you draw can be immediately useful with the mana infusion of untapped snow lands after combat.

Faceless Haven Frostwalk Bastion Ascendant Spirit Avalanche Caller Ice-Fang Coatl Ohran Viper Icehide Troll Centaur Omenreader Blizzard Strix

Ascendant Spirit is a great way to leverage extra snow mana you may have lying around thanks to Jorn, and once it’s a large flyer that can draw extra cards, it’s well worth the ten mana you’ve dumped into it.  I’ve played with Avalanche Caller on Magic Arena and the card can be surprisingly potent alongside Jorn against someone who doesn’t have many blockers.

Centaur Omenreader is a card I’ve enjoyed for its ability to discount creatures spell when it’s tapped, and the fact that it’s a snow creature means that it will get untapped with Jorn, which is awkward. However, I like that it can help save mana after a battlefield sweeper when you’re in Kaldring mode.

5. Graven Lore

When looking for good card draw beyond Ohran Frostfang, the new snow instant Graven Lore from Kaldheim is eye-popping good!  You’re easily going to scry 4 or 5 when you cast this spell, which should ensure your draw-three is sweet.

Scrying Sheets Frost Augur Skullclamp The Three Seasons Glacial Revelation Painful Truths Blessing of Frost Guardian Project

I’ve also included some old and new goodies for card draw and card selection.  I’m particularly excited about Glacial Revelation and Blessing of Frost as nice new ways to draw some extra cards.

6. Dead of Winter

We’ll want lots of ways to kill potential blockers and Sultai gives us good options, but of course the best of the bunch is Dead of Winter which ideally kills most all of your opponents’ creatures while leaving your snow horde untouched and ready to attack with Jorn.

Priest of the Haunted Edge Reality Shift Go for the Throat Deadly Rollick Blood on the Snow Winter Blast Icy Blast

Blood on the Snow is another good battlefield sweeper that should leave you with something substantial once the snow settles. Winter Blast and Icy Blast are nice ways to tap down blockers and also are fantastic flavor wins for our snow deck.

7. Ravenform

I wanted to find room for cards that can handle enchantments and artifacts too, and Ravenform rose immediately to the top of the list.  This common from Kaldheim is great—it’s an exile effect that you can put two mana into as a down payment with foretell, so later on it only costs one blue mana.  Sure, you can get rid of a creature with it, but I also love that it can destroy a problem artifact like The Great Henge or Sword of Feast and Famine.

I’ve included a couple of other ways to deal with noncreature permanents:

Nature's Claim Force of Vigor

8. Icebind Pillar

Given there are cards that care about any snow permanents, I went looking for snow cards that aren’t creatures or lands and found a few, with Icebind Pillar arguably the best of the bunch. It’s a mini-Icy Manipulator and since it’s a snow permanent you can use it to tap down two blockers when attacking with Jorn. I’m a little bummed it can’t tap down lands, but that’s okay—I’ll enjoy tapping someone’s Mana Vault enough to make up for it.

Arcum's Astrolabe Rime Transfusion Replicating Ring

Rime Transfusion is a snow enchantment that can help Jorn not be blocked; keep in mind that even if an opponent destroys Rime Transfusion, if you’ve activated the ability, it’ll last until the end of turn.

9. Sword of the Animist

Even though Jorn’s triggered ability provides a bump of mana, we are a green deck, so we’ll still want to run some great ramp spells.  Surprisingly though, a superstar ramp card for nongreen decks does some amazing work here:  Sword of the Animist! 

Equip this to Jorn, which can use the +1/+1 boost, and attack so you’ll get two triggers.  Stack them so the Sword trigger resolves first to search up a basic snow land and put it on the battlefield tapped, and then Jorn’s trigger resolves and you untap all your snow permanents. Huzzah!

Sol Ring Coldsteel Heart Into the North Farseek Three Visits Sculptor of Winter Glittering Frost

Farseek and Three Visits are already solid ramp and color fixing for multicolor green decks, but they play quite well with the common cycle of snow lands sporting two basic land types:

Alpine Meadow Arctic Treeline Glacial Floodplain Highland Forest Ice Tunnel Rimewood Falls Snowfield Sinkhole Sulfurous Mire Volatile Fjord Woodland Chasm

You should easily find the color of mana that you need with these ramp spells.  And if you search one of these up on your precombat main phase when you attack with Jorn, it will untap and be available to tap for mana.

10. Rise of the Dread Marn

With Jorn untapping snow permanents when he attacks, odds are pretty good you can leave up mana for reactive spells, and one of the best of the bunch is a new instant from Kaldheim — Rise of the Dread Marn!  It’s likely at some point that an opponent will hit the battlefield with a sweeper spell or effect, and if you have Rise ready, you can turn each nontoken dead creature into a 2/2 Zombie Berserker token under your control. I also love that you can foretell this to tuck it away from being discarded, and if you do, just having one black mana open is much more feasible.

Sanctum of Eternity Shadowspear Swan Song Arcane Denial Heroic Intervention

I’m including a couple counterspells, the incredible Heroic Intervention, and my trusty Shadowspear to turn off any nuisance hexproof or indestructible abilities. Sanctum of Eternity is a nice way to rescue Jorn from an attack gone wrong, or if you just want to bounce your commander so you can cast the other side. If you’ve got Rimefeather Owl on the battlefield, you could put an ice counter on Sanctum of Eternity and be able to untap it with an attacking Jorn!

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:


Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Kaldheim that should find a home here, let me know! 

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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