Thanks to Kaldheim, snow payoff cards entered the format in February 2021. Most of the card pool that cares about snow mana comes from Kaldheim, though Wizards of the Coast has made additions to the snow matters pool through Historic Anthologies. It’s unlikely they will add more snow payoff cards in the near future, but it’s not impossible. Snow lands have many clear upsides and some downsides for playing them. In this article I am going to discuss some of the most played cards that affect or are affected by snow lands and share my opinion about playing them in Gladiator.
Reidane, God of the Worthy stands out on this list of cards because it’s the only straightforward downside to playing snow lands. Reidane is one of the most played white cards in both aggressive and taxing strategies, and although the card isn’t primarily played for its effect on snow lands, its impact on opponents who play them is quite significant. Tempo is one of the most important parts of competitive magic and permanents entering the battlefield tapped is quite a large cause of negative tempo.
Search for Glory is being played in white control decks for its ability to find planeswalkers, removal, and in an emergency a land. This card functions without snow mana, and although the life gain is definitely beneficial sometimes, this card would be worth playing without it most of the time. Search for Glory is good because of its versatility and will continue to see play, but I don’t think this card is a good reason to play all snow basics. To run this you still want to run at least a snow basic of each of your colors because sometimes when you search for a land you need it to come in untapped and none of our current snow duals do that.
Graven Lore sees play in blue based control decks. The reason to play cards like it is that they can be cast on the opponent’s end step if you don’t use your counter magic. The added ability to scry when using snow mana to cast this spell is a powerful benefit. The big problem with this card is that control decks are the most affected by loss of tempo caused by tapped lands. This is worth playing with or without snow land but significantly better with them.
Blood on the Snow sees some play in black control decks and some reanimator strategies. Most of the time this is not worth playing due to its mana value making it too slow for the format. The format is dominated by aggro decks that do a good job of winning by turn five fairly consistently, so you are likely to lose the game before you can cast this. The reanimation clause can be quite beneficial but it requires permanents worth returning to play and a significant density of snow lands to facilitate getting the most value out of it. The other big draw to this card is that it can destroy all planeswalkers which is a rare effect only available from this and The Elderspell. If destroying planeswalkers en masse is important to your strategy, play this, but otherwise stick to other options such as Crux of Fate or Languish.
Frost Bite is considered to be premium removal in red. If you are playing snow basics and aren’t in colors with hard removal this should be considered highly as an option. The only problem with this in decks that already have snow lands is that it can’t go face. The fact that it can’t go face isn’t a big concern; currently the format has nothing better. Over time we will probably get better burn spells and unlike many other cards mentioned here this is not likely to hold up so well with time. I would not say this card justifies playing snow lands on it’s own but an excellent addition to decks that have it.
Blizzard Brawl is one of the better fight spells in the format because of its mana value of one and the conditional indestructibility and buff. If you are playing snow lands in a green creature deck this is a good option for removal. If you’re playing colors that are better suited to manage creatures, consider other removal options from other color(s) that don’t require using snow basics if you don’t have another reason for them.
Boreal Outrider sees play in green based midrange decks to make their threats better. The ability that it offers is free and very powerful. By free I mean there is no additional cost to using the ability when it’s in play. The cost you end up paying to get value out of this comes from the choice to playing snow land in your deck. The body also has decent stats according to the vanilla test. If you’re playing snow lands this is a must have card in green midrange and a very strong reason to play snow basics on it’s own.
Into the North is probably the biggest reason to play snow lands in a green deck. Land ramp in general is the safest way to ramp because it avoids removal that affects other permanent types. The available ramp with a mana value of two in Gladiator’s card pool is generally creature based and of poor quality. What makes this card so much better then most of the ramp in the format is that you won’t fail to find like with Growth Spiral and can find the non basic snow lands. Being able to search up Faceless Haven is the biggest reason to be playing this in midrange decks.
Sculptor of Winter is one of the best ramp creatures in the format with a mana value of two. The ramp creatures on one mana are better, but this is in the top two mana ramp creatures alongside Paradise Druid and Tangled Florahedron. Because it can untap any snow lands it functionally taps for any mana a land you control could produce assuming you’re playing a high enough density of snow lands. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem; the decks this is best in tend to play a large percentage of basic lands. Also it can untapped enchanted lands so unlike most cheap ramp it has the potential to add more than one mana. If you want a significant number of ramp creatures in your deck playing this alongside snow basics is worthwhile.
The snow dual lands cover all ten two color pairs, and even though they come in tapped you should be playing them in multi colored decks. The fact that they have basic land types is rather significant; some of the best lands in the format are the castles, check lands, and snarls. These cycles care about basic land types either being in play or in the case of the snarls having the land types in your hand. They also have the previously mentioned benefit of being a tutor target for Into the North and Search for Glory.
Faceless Haven is the best reason to play snow basics. It is a highly debated topic of what archetypes and how many colors your deck can have and still play this. If any one card was enough justification to play snow basics by itself it would be this. Creature lands are a good way for control decks to win the game after they have stabilized and for aggro decks to have a hard to interact with threat.
Pact combo is a good example of the more complex and creative ways of using snow lands. If you are unfamiliar with how the combo works it’s simple; Tainted Pact exiles your deck and you win the game with Thassa’s Oracle. The important part of the strategy is that you need to have no cards in your deck that share a name. Snow lands help this because it lets you have an extra copy of each of the basics in your deck.
You shouldn’t just play snow lands because you can; there should be specific synergies that give value to them. During researching this article I came to the conclusion that you should be playing snow basics in your green decks; the payoffs are plentiful and very good. With that said not all of these cards discussed are good enough reasons to play snow lands but they are all worth playing in decks with the appropriate archetypes and that already have snow lands. Most of the cards discussed here have very close alternative options that you could play instead if you decide that you don’t want to take the risk with snow mana. The thing to remember is that Redaine is one of the most played cards in aggro decks in tournaments. If tournaments aren’t important to you; you will still run into her fairly often.