Right now mother nature is unleashing Snow Mercy on the Northeast and I am sitting at home snowed in. Normally I’d be at work right now, but there is a travel ban in effect and the school I work at has been closed down. So instead, I’m drinking a chelada on the couch and hate-watching a re-run of the Royal Rumble. Regardless, a lot happened this weekend in the MTG world I could write about: this weekend’s Super Sunday Series, the new decklists to come out of the SCG Open in DC, or maybe even the Tasigur price jump now that everyone realizes how busted that card is.

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But given the weather, I think I’d rather write about my favorite basics—snow-covered lands. My pauper cube currently has a base of snow-covered basics, I run Scrying Sheets and Mouth of Ronom in every EDH deck I can jam them into, and for me Skred is the premium one-mana burn spell of choice. But what is it about snow-covered lands I love so much? Well, call me Elizabeth Barrett Browning because I’m about to count the ways.

A snow manabase in cube encourages innovation

As I mentioned earlier, Skred is one of my favorite cards of all time. It’s cheap, efficient, instant-speed removal that just asks you to play some snow lands. While Skred shines in my cube, after adding a snow mana base, I’ve also discovered a few other gems as well. Into the North adds a redundant copy of Rampant Growth for cubes that want it and can search up Dark Depths in cubes that want to do that sort of thing. Boreal Centaur does a great Rootwalla impression for a more affordable cost in pauper cubes. My personal favorite is Zombie Musher, which in my cube is an unblockable and nigh-unkillable threat.


Scrying Sheets and Mouth of Ronom


I play Scrying Sheets in my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator deck, which features a snow mana base with Sensei’s Divining TopScroll Rack, and fetch lands to manipulate the top of the library. But even in a deck without ways to manipulate the top of the library, Scrying Sheets functions as a land that can generate card advantage if you have the mana to spare. This effect is especially useful in mono-red commander decks without many other sources of card draw or card advantage.


Mouth of Ronom is another reason to run a snow-covered mana base and a card that I think is criminally underplayed in Commander. Mouth doesn’t ask to take up a precious spell slot in your deck; no, it will just come into play, tap for mana, and eventually kill a problematic creature if duty ever calls. Along with Crucible of Worlds and Life from the Loam, this card repeatedly takes out creatures without leaving the bad taste in your mouth that recurring a Strip Mine will do.

Extraplanar Lens and Wake of Destruction


The worst part about Extraplanar Lens, aside from the fact that you need to exile a land, is that sometimes your opponents have the same basics. You exile a swamp, cast Decree of Pain, and feel pretty good about the game. Then one of your opponents, also a black mage, generates a huge amount of mana and casts Rise of the Dark Realms, undoing all the work you did the previous turn and basically just winning the game. Now imagine you exiled a snow-covered swamp instead—no advantage for your opponent. Granted this concept can have diminishing returns if everyone is playing snow lands, but for the most part I’ve found that most of the people I play with just don’t appreciate snow lands and don’t incorporate them into their EDH decks. Either that or they are worried they will spend the time filling their basic land slots with snow-covered lands and someone will cast Melting, virtually undoing all their hard work.

Wake of Destruction

Another card with the “same name as” clause, similar to Extraplanar Lens, is Wake of Destruction. Now I’ve never known anyone to be a big enough jerk to cast Wake of Destruction in Commander, but I would hope that if they were going to commit to being a jerk and cast mass land-destruction spells, they’d go all in and make sure they didn’t blow up their own lands, too. At least I could admire their beautiful snow-covered basics while I sat around not tapping lands to cast spells.

Snow-lands make it easier to have matching basics in your deck.

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I never thought I’d be the guy who needed to have matching basics in his deck, but alas, after 12 years of playing and not caring, I became that guy. Having matching basics might not make me better player, but having the same aesthetically pleasing lands makes Magic just a little bit more of a zen experience for me. Regardless, the problem with having matching lands is that it can be difficult to find 30 or so of the same basic. The best thing about snow-covered lands is that there are only two printings, Ice Age and Coldsnap. In each printing, there is only one picture on each basic. So if I want an old-bordered Snow-Covered Swamp, there’s just the one version. Compare this to the full-art Zendikar basics, which have four different pictures for each land. Do you want Island 235 or 236? The weird waterfall thing or the stormy cliffs? Nope, just snow-covered basics for me.

So there you have it, a bunch of reasons to love snow-covered lands. I didn’t even get to mention my irrational love for Sunstone or the perks of snow-covered basics in Gifts Ungiven piles. Oh well, there’s always next time.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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