Each year, I forget how truly vicious the dog days of summer get. From about August 10 clear through Labor Day, we have punishing temperatures that climb past 100 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of 50-70%.

Local legend and naturalist Rudy Mancke suggests that Columbia’s brutal heat derives from a microclimate—the sandy spill that borders the region, deposited by rivers over millennia, forms a kind of miniature desert surrounded by swampland. So we suffer both baking heat and rancorous humidity—nothing evaporates down here, just lingers, sliming your skin and condensing on cooler surfaces. It’s the sort of weather that nurses an existential dread in you—“is this the new normal?”—and the sort that makes you think that perishing in a snowdrift might not be so bad.

It’s no surprise that I’ve been dreaming of snows recently and, thanks to Modern Horizons, those dreams are coming true. Prior to this summer, Snow was a Limited-only afterthought that made Devoid seem well-designed and meaningful. From 2006 to 2019, some four dozen snow-matters cards existed, and the only non-land that saw any play was Skred. Now, with Modern Horizons’ snow-branded cards, there’s enough of a critical mass of Snow cards to start an avalanche.

Obviously, so long as Hogaak runs roughshod over Modern, no quirky Snow brews are viable, but I expect that problem to be solved at precisely the moment this article was published. So with (presumably) Hogaak banned, the field is open—and covered in snow.

My first thought is a Sultai Snow deck that plays like Jund—an amalgam of all the powerful fair cards the format has to offer, bound together by Snow synergy. Note that, aside from some early tests and some preexisting decks, this is preliminary—until Hogaak is buried for good, Modern is purely theoretical. That said, my current version looks like this:

Modern Sultai Snow

Creatures (19)
Boreal Druid
Snapcaster Mage
Ice-Scale Coatl
Ohran Viper
Fallen Shinobi

Spells (13)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Abrupt Decay
Dead of Winter

Artifcts (4)
Arcum's Astrolabe
Lands (24)
Scrying Sheets
Polluted Delta
Misty Rainforest
Watery Grave
Breeding Pool
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp

There’s cute, and then there’s “running Fallen Shinobi” cute, although in researching this, I saw that Frank Lepore went in the same direction with surprising success. Returning an Ice-Scale Coatl is a benefit, rather than a drawback, and bouncing a Snapcaster Mage has always felt great—but not as great as wiping most of the board away with Dead of Winter and swinging in with a Ohran Viper.

I’ve seen people having some luck with Bant Snow Company or other Bant versions—including opening up On Thin Ice and giving you access to a tempo-based disruptive strategy with Thalia and the D&T crew or Teferi, Time Raveler—but I think the proactive discard and board control path is the path to take. The litmus test of a new brew is finding what it does better than anything else—that is, “is this aggressive deck I’m building just a worse version of Humans?”—and this deck plays like a more resilient Jund. We’re running Snow to get a Baleful Strix, a life-free Toxic Deluge, and the untapped power of Scrying Sheets. With half the deck designated as “snow,” we finally have a density of snow permanents enough to have success with the potent land.

Arcum’s Astrolabe is one of the more fascinating success stories from Modern Horizons—it’s redefining the Pauper metagame in conjunction with Kor Skyfisher, it’s making Snow decks possible in Modern, it’s opening new options for Affinity-style builds—and it does so in such an unassuming package. It isn’t a payoff card, but a crucial lynchpin—comically enough, it’s a thematic and ludic mirror of, but not a callback to, Mishra’s Bauble, that unassuming role-player out of Coldsnap.

Coldsnap was an orphan set that was justifiably disliked at the time—a stagnant Limited format and oddball development concept handicapped its sales—but Modern wouldn’t be the same without it, and it put a nice capper to the Ice Age block. Part of the theme of Coldsnap was long-dormant Phyrexian machines emerging into a thawing world. These cheap (Phyrexian Soulgorger) and unstoppable (Phyrexian Ironfoot) war machines (Phyrexian Snowcrusher) were alien and destructive—which recalls one of Magic’s other big bads.

What if our creatures were bigger and faster than our opponent’s? What if we blended a snow manabase with Modern’s only “Sol land?”

Modern Mono-Black Coldrazi

Creatures (11)
Matter Reshaper
Thought-Knot Seer
Reality Smasher

Spells (16)
Kozilek's Inquisition
Collective Brutality
Dead of Winter
All is Dust

Artifacts (4)
Arcum's Astrolabe

Planeswalkers (6)
Liliana of the Veil
Karn, Scion of Urza
Lands (23)
Eldrazi Temple
Frostwalk Bastion
15 Snow-Covered Swamp

The mana base is a bit odd, but until we get Snow-Covered Wastes—fingers crossed—this is the best we can do. Alternately, since Skred has something of a tournament pedigree, from Pauper to Modern, we could back up Ice-Fang with some tempo staples and just trade a couple of mana for most of our opponent’s turn:

Modern Temur Tempo Snow

Creatures (13)
Boreal Druid
Scavenging Ooze
Ice-Fang Coatl
Huntmaster of the Fells

Spells (15)
Lightning Bolt
Atarka's Command

Enchantments (4)
Blood Moon

Planeswalkers (3)
Wrenn and Six
Lands (25)
Prismatic Vista
Wooded Foothills
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain

Wrenn and Six to recur fetches isn’t the most impactful strategy, but the two-mana Planeswalker has ended up being quite impressive—even if it doesn’t intersect with your deck’s immediate goals, it’s a must-kill threat. During testing last week, my opponent landed the emblem, which taught me new respect for the dryad-druid dyad. Turning spare lands into recast Remands or Skreds is powerful, but even just pinging or pulling back the occasional Prismatic Vista while soaking up damage is useful—especially when you have a Ice-Fang Coatl in hand.

Because you’re running a dozen-ish basics, you can run Blood Moon—even turn two off a Boreal Druid. That’s one of the more interesting parts of building with Snow synergy—you have to cut out the staples of the formats: you can no longer win with Inkmoth Nexuses or Creeping Tar Pits or default to a full load out of fetches. You’re on new terrain, and it resists modular deckbuilding. You have to get creative—speaking of, here’s the worst Snow deck, which is possibly the most fun of all:

Modern Lage on a Luge

Creatures (16)
Ice-Fang Coatl
Coiling Oracle
Venser, Shaper Savant
Abominable Treefolk
Blizzard Strix

Spells (14)
Peel From Reality
Familiar's Ruse
Into the North
Cryptic Command

Artifacts (4)
Arcum's Astrolabe

Enchantments (3)
Marit Lage's Slumber
Lands (23)
Prismatic Vista
Misty Rainforest
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island

Churn out Ice-Fang Coatls and bounce them back to your hand until you can summon Marit Lage—or until your opponent Nature’s Claims your Slumber. Seriously, this deck isn’t good, but it feels right. Here we are at the end of summer, which means it’s time to dream of snow—even if, as is increasingly likely, our snow days are numbered.

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