Today’s topic is Coldsnap, a set that has a very unique place in my heart. I’ve been playing Magic for a while now, and Coldsnap was one of the few sets I missed the release of. That’s because, in July of 2006, I was living on a bus traveling the US as a Drum Corps International competitor1. It was the longest streak of not playing Magic in my life, but I still thought about it all the time.
In fact, at some point in the summer, my mom forwarded to me a Magic magazine that had come in the mail, and it was all about the upcoming (or perhaps, by then, released) set. I devoured it, reading it cover-to-cover almost nightly, and dreaming about getting home and drafting. Of course, I barely had enough time to catch my breath before college started when I got home, and if I drafted the set once, I can’t recall it. The good news, for me at least, is that even if I missed Coldsnap, I more than made up for it when Time Spiral premiered later that year.
We are going to go through the set alphabetically, hitting every rare and any commons or uncommons of note. This was a set that was designed largely with draft in mind, so there is a reason why a lot of the Cs and Us are going to feel underpowered when projected against the Modern format as a whole.
Adarkar Valkyrie: This card was actually one of the bigger hits in the set, until reprints in Modern Masters (the original) and Commander 2014 cratered its value. The price on these is about a buck, with foils from Coldsnap being roughly $15 (MM ones are around $8). This is a Casual/Commander/Cube card, and no deck that I’ve seen in the last nine years wants more than one copy. Low potential here.
Adarkar Windform: Is the reason why we are skipping a lot of the commons and uncommons. Boom, roasted.
Allosaurus Rider: This card was the prerelease foil and also appeared in Duel Decks: Elves vs Goblins (and therefore, in the Anthology also). It’s the kind of card that would be interesting in Modern, but the “free” cost is way too expensive. Putting yourself down two cards in green is just not doable most of the time. I don’t expect to ever see it in a deck unless WOTC puts it there.
Arctic Flats (and friends): Let’s knock this whole cycle out right here. This uncommon cycle is probably some of the better pulls in the set. All of the non-foils are worth between fifty cents and a dollar, and all of the foils are between three and five bucks. I’m not sure how much potential upside is left, but these are always worth looking out for in foil bulk boxes.
Arcum Dagsson: If you want to play with the seventh-best mono-blue general in EDH, it’s going to cost you about $5 (or $20 foil!). The card is technically some sort of tutor or combo enabler, since you can search your own library, and he is also kind of an answer to Blightsteel Colossus. I’ve been playing this game for a long time, and I am having serious trouble figuring out off the cuff how to make this guy good. Maybe Genesis Chamber, and then like, getting the Fifth Dawn Stations out? Summoning Station doesn’t seem to make artifact creatures (who knew?), so I don’t even think you can start with that one. Long story short, this guy is competing with very strong roster of playable Commanders, and he is very likely not going to make the cut. Limited upside, if any.
Balduvian Fallen: I just wanted to say that I had a Balduvian theme deck when I was in middle school. I even learned their tavern song! I was a pretty awesome kid.
Balduvian Warlord: I had to read this about three or four times to figure out what it does. It was not worth it.
Blizzard Specter: I didn’t really remember this card, but I checked it out, and the foils are about $5. This card seems pretty sweet for cube, is evocative of a popular older card, has a restriction that limits reprintability (Snow), and has positive flexibility. This is the kind of thing that I love to look for. I’m not sure that I want to buy them all out, because I don’t think there is demand for it, but it’s another bulk box hero, and maybe something you target to bridge a “close, but not quite there” trade.
Boreal Druid: I only looked this up because I played the card in Standard, but the foils are apparently $2! If Skred Red ever comes roaring back to popularity, expect these to have sneaky upside. Also, this does produce snow mana, which isn’t totally clear if you weren’t playing at the time.
Braid of Fire: This card was worthless up until the M10 rules changes and the removal of mana burn from the game. Now, the card is a solid ten bucks, with foils at fifteen. That kind of spread tells me that either the foils are undervalued, or (more likely) the non-foils are overvalued. This card doesn’t start to give you serious amounts of mana until three turns after you’ve cast it, and that’s assuming you have a reliable mana sink, they don’t have an Abrupt Decay, and neither player has put an aggressive enough clock on the other so as to divert attention elsewhere. I think this card is still priced so high because people don’t want to be caught off guard if it does break out, not because it already has.
Brooding Saurian: This card wasn’t worth very much, and then it got reprinted. Foils are still around $3 because the reprint was a Commander deck, and so it only got a non-foil printing. I guess if that Donate Goat guy is in your Commander environment, then you can play this? It’s a foil rare that does something weird and will likely never be reprinted again (at least, not in foil), so feel free to pick some up, but only below their current retail, and expect to own them for a very long time.
Chill to the Bone: This card was much more impressive before Murder, Go For The Throat, and Hero’s Downfall. This was on my foil snipe list for a long time, though, so just as it is important to know what foils are worth snagging, it’s equally important to know which ones are dead ends.
Coldsteel Heart: Did you realize that this card is two bucks? Did you know that the foils are over twenty? Two-mana artifacts that can produce colored mana are actually very rare, so this card gets the benefit of slotting in somewhere that WOTC doesn’t go anymore (colored mana producing artifacts start at three, but you can get one colorless for two). This is a great Cube card, and it helps ramp non-green Commander decks, so those are two major boxes to be able to check off. We may see a reprint, but it won’t likely be in foil.
Commandeer: Another popular Cube and Commander card that is sometimes compared to Force of Will. It is not Force of Will, but it is pretty good in the formats that don’t really want or need Force of Will. It takes over the kind of big, splashy spells that are more common in those wider formats, and the two costs (pitching two blue cards or paying seven mana) are much more tolerable in EDH than Modern or Legacy. I could see non-foils getting reprinted in a Commander box or some other off-shoot product, but I’m not sure if it will be in a product that has a foil printing (which would really only be Modern Masters X). Foils are probably a safe bet, since most people are only going to need one. A similar card that I really like? Spelljack. It’s a foil rare from an older small set that has a unique, Commander-friendly ability.
Counterbalance: So when I did my Future Sight piece, I only talked about cards below about five bucks. This time, I’m doing the full set, so I get to talk about a couple known entities, this being one of them. Counterbalance is a $16 uncommon, a nearly $100 foil, and the namesake of a very infuriating popular Legacy deck. I can buy a box of Coldsnap over in Tampa for $325 right now (ignoring tax), which puts the packs at just over $10. This card is one of only two non-foils in the set that has a retail price of more than a booster pack. With 55 uncommons in the set, you are really only guaranteed to open 1.74 Counterbalances per box. I say all this to make the point that Counterbalance at its current price is probably a good deal, since there are not going to be many more Coldsnap packs opened, and the card is so rage-inducing powerful that it really can’t be reprinted in a meaningful way. This card is so good, it got Krosan Grip to see play.
Cover of Winter: This card is very bad and dumb.
Darien, King of Kjeldor: There are a lot of legends in this set! This guy is a very flavorful commander option, and possibly some sort of terrible combo piece. I expect foils are safe for forever, and we will (maybe) see a non-foil reprint somewhere far down the road. His name restricts him from being reprinted in a lot of places, and the fact that he kinda stinks prevents him from going in most other sets.
Dark Depths: This is the best card in the set, and it is not close. Unfortunately, Dark Depths is currently banned in Modern, and even though I think it would be fine in the format, it’s not likely to come off the list anytime soon. This card has literally no ceiling. I’m not buying in at this price, and I’d probably sell mine off just to move them into more diversified holdings. This card has potential, but not momentum. I’d rather own Thespian’s Stages.
Deepfire Elemental: This is probably a foil sleeper. Very good card for the C3 crowd.
Diamond Faerie: This gets better every time aggressive Snow creatures are printed, so never.
Field Marshal: Reprinted in M10, but still $5, and a $10 foil. This definitely goes in your Darien, King of Kjeldor theme deck, and I feel like this was in that white soldier Legacy (or was it Vintage?) deck that everyone2 fell in love with a little while back. SCG is entirely sold out of this card (both printings), and it’s a perfect fit with the C3 crowd. I like it, but there’s nothing that keeps it from being reprinted in any future standard set.
Frozen Solid: I liked the Scourge art better. This has the superior flavor text though.
Fury of the Horde: This is a combo piece in Modern! It was reprinted in the Speed vs Cunning Duel Deck, which is why the non-foils are only two bucks. Foils are safe, but this card really only goes in one deck, so that limits the upside.
Garza Gol, Plague Queen: This card does a lot of good things, but is in the same colors as Nicol Bolas, Thraximundar, and a couple other generals. She is not better than either of the two I listed, nor is she popular enough in Magic’s canon to swing people in her favor. Foils will always have a shred of appeal, but if she was a good Commander option, her non-foils wouldn’t be seventy-five cents.
Garza’s Assassin: Foils are five bucks. Art is pretty cool. Limited upside because his best ability will scare off a lot of players, and there are just better things to do in the formats where he is playable. Three black pips if you want to build a black devotion deck in Modern!
Greater Stone Spirit: Shout-out to Ocarina of Time.
Grim Harvest: This is a Pauper card, and sometimes it shows up in weirder cubes. I actually liked this card a lot, even though it uses up a LOT of mana. Worth looking out for.
Haakon, Stromgald Scourge: This is my kind of card. More popular in Cube than anywhere else, he is also buoying the price of Nameless Inversion. He’s more of a parlor trick than a serious threat, but there are enough people like me willing to buy them that he’ll always have some upside. People know who he is.
Heidar, Rimewind Master: People don’t know who he is, and for good reason.
Herald of Leshrac: This card just feels so old school, it’s one of the few pieces in the set that really nails the resonance they were trying to go for. Foils are currently $6, but if you told me they were double that, I’d absolutely believe you. If Guy Fieri started playing Magic around Beta, he would call this a slam dunk flavor bomb.
Jester’s Scepter: Sell these to that Juggalo that plays FNM at your store. He’ll love them.
Jokulmorder: It’s a leviathan, which means something to a very small amount of people. At a dollar, I guess I’m a buyer for a handful of foils, but I could also probably just flush that money down the toilet instead.
Jotun Grunt: Eli Manning’s Invitational card. Sees (or saw) Legacy Zoo play, but that was a long time ago. Foils are still $8 because of price memory and Cube.
Juniper Order Ranger: Foils are $5, but there is room to grow since the reprint was non-foil only (Duel Decks: Knights vs Dragons). This card is popular with a lot of different crowds, and works kind of like a Melira in some of the Pod-esque combo decks. Your Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap plus sac outlet pluf this guy is infy.
Karplusan Minotaur: Cumulative Upkeep: Flip a coin. NEXT!
Krovikan Mist: Also a pauper card, and actually a pretty strong little beater.
Krovikan Rot: The next victim of Tiny Leaders speculation?
Lightning Storm: This is actually a kill condition in some decks, which is why the foils are around $12. There’s a very limited market, as the people who can kill you with this could have very likely Inkmoth plus Kessig Wolf Runned you, like, twenty turns ago.
Lovisa Coldeyes: If she pumped herself or cost a little less, she could be a powerhouse, but she doesn’t so she isn’t. Maybe a commander, but I’d rather play Kamahl.
Martyr of Sands: The only one in her family to really make something of herself. Too bad it’s that stupid Martyr deck. I hate this card, but I’m also genuinely surprised foils aren’t twenty.
Mishra’s Bauble: Thanks to Pat Chapin and that Tasigur deck, this card is pushing ten bucks. This could be in Modern Masters 2015 for all we know, at which point it will plummet back to earth. Is this really any better than Gitaxian Probe?
Mouth of Ronom: It’s a land that kills stuff, and that’s pretty good. Higher upside if it didn’t require a critical mass of snow lands.
Ohran Viper: No longer a Constructed powerhouse, this did make its living as a cool Cube foil. Limited upside since its reprint in DD: Jace vs Vraska has put way too many non-foils on the market.
Panglacial Wurm: This card is worth money and that is very strange to me. I guess in Commander you can be searching your library and still have seven mana open.
Perilous Research: Cube foil sometimes.
Phyrexian Ironfoot: This card was Standard playable, if you ever want to know how miserable life was then.
Phyrexian Soulgorger: Three mana to attack for eight once (without trample!) and sacrifice three creatures? Neat.
Rimefeather Owl: An automatic inclusion in any RUSH theme deck.
Rimescale Dragon: It’s a dragon from a relatively unpopular set that you can get a foil of. That is why the foils are $8.
Rite of Flame: Storm staple in the formats they let you play it. Honestly can’t say if we will ever see another printing of this card. If not, the $10 foil price tag will look like a steal in the future.
Scrying Sheets: If you are going to play with snow lands, then this is really your major payoff. Not sure we will ever see it again, just because it requires so many other pieces to even be worth looking at. Also, it’s not legendary, even though most decks that have this are Cube, Commander, or Tiny Leaders (if a Tiny Leaders deck even exists).
Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper: Another multicolor general who is not competing for starting reps. See Garza Gol.
Shape of the Wiitigo: I really regret committing to talking about every rare.
Sheltering Ancient: Foils are worth about four bucks, even though this card is probably not worth it. Good versus creatureless control decks.
Skred: YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! This is my favorite card in the set, and probably one of my favorite cards ever. Foils should be six-hundred dollars and everyone should play snow lands in Modern.
Snow-Covered Basics: Expect these to follow Skred’s meteoric rise.
Soul Spike: People were going nuts for this card a year or so ago, and I am still not sure why. Still, foils are ten, so… just know that.
Stromgald Crusader: Somehow worth more than several rares in the set. This card would have been a Pro Tour champion if it was printed ten years earlier. Foils are about $5. Also, there is a white version of this card that is worth way less than this one.
Tamanoa: A card in the best creature colors that only works with non-creature sources of damage. Pass.
Vanish Into Memory: We designed this card! This card is our fault.
Vexing Sphinx: This is a rare. That is all.
Void Maw: See also: Vexing Sphinx.
White Shield Crusader: This is that white dude I was talking about.
Woolly Razorback: There are some really bad cards in this set.
Zombie Musher: I think it’s pretty cool that they used what appears to be an Iron Maiden album cover for card art.
Zur the Enchanter: Well, at least we are going out with a bang. This is a very Spiky EDH General, and one of the few degenerately poweful cards in the set. This card is probably too good to reprint, except for maybe in a future Commander box. Foils are safe, but have a narrow audience.
Thanks for sticking around to the end! That was a long one. If you see anything in this set that you like, I have to think that the restrictive price of sealed product (versus the overall lack of quantity of good cards) will buoy prices. Any foil that falls under the $10 booster pack price tag that you like is probably worth looking into. Thanks for reading, and if you have any suggestions for my next set to review (not next week, but sometime in the future), let me know!
1 Ironically, my organization was also named “Magic.” Between the game, the drum corps, and my NBA allegiance, I get impressive mileage out of five letters.
2 “Everyone” = Me and Nick Packard.