Friday, January 6, 2012

The Color Identity of Snow - Instants and Sorceries

First of all, let's look at what Snow has done in the past. As you can see, it's going to be difficult to get a color identity for Snow as it has only appeared fully realized in one small set.  The few cards that appeared in Ice Age and Alliances aren't much help.  The two main things that Snow can do are:

  1. It makes mana. The original Snow-covered lands are not the only example. There are 12 lands, two creatures (Thermopod, Boreal Druid) two enchantments (Winter's Night, Snowfall), and one artifact (Coldsteel Heart) that produce Snow mana.
  2. It counts the amount of Snow permanents you (or another player) control. There are three cards that count the number of snow lands (Cold Snap, Drift of the Dead, and Snowblind), and six that count snow permanents (Heidar, Rimewind Master, Rimefeather Owl, Rimewind Cryomancer, Skred, and Rimewind Taskmage). Each of these cards does something different with the number of permanents, but they all keep a tally.

Next, let's look at what we'd like Snow Instants and Snow Sorceries to do to evoke a feeling of coldness. These things are not necessarily absent from what Snow has done, but it's the things we like it to do more of. We'll try to get something from each color, if possible.

  1. Preventing permanents from untapping. This is a normal effect of blue spells that have a cold connotation, such as Frost Breath, Frost Titan, Permafrost Trap, and Wall of Frost.
  2. Direct damage. There are a few icy red spells devoted to dealing damage, such as Karplusan Wolverine, Skred, Glacial Ray, Pinpoint Avalanche and Winter Sky.
  3. Damage prevention. Glacial Crevasses, Sunstone, Cover of Winter. Although only one of these cards is white, getting lost in a blizzard is a good trope for Frostmere.
  4. Messing with flying creatures. Adarkar Windform, Blizzard, Whiteout. A very green concept, and a good one for snow.
  5. Destroying creatures and lands. Chill to the Bone, Avalanche, Icequake, Thermokarst. Getting rid of creatures seems to be something Snow is very good at, using many different methods. Direct removal of a specific creature, no matter how big, is something snow is able to do. It has that in common with black.
  6. Putting ice counters on permanents for different effects. Rimescale Dragon, Rimefeather Owl, Iceberg. Not based in a single color, but something that Snow should do more of.

Let's put everything together and see if we can't make a new Snow Instant right now. It should have a mix of two or more color identities while keeping it cold at the same time.

Blinding Sleet has what we need for a good Snow card. It could be printed as a Red/Green or Red/White card, but it feels right for Snow. This is what I mean.

Next time, I'll talk about Snow Creatures and how we can make them effective and flavorful.


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