Updated date:

Why Players Use Snow Lands in Magic: The Gathering

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

What Are Snow-Covered Lands in Magic?

Every faction in Magic has a basic land that simply taps for a mana of that faction's color. Each also has a "snow-covered" basic land variant, which do the exact same thing.

So, why bother using these cards, especially since they cost more than regular lands? Find out as we explore the purposes behind snow-covered lands in Magic: The Gathering!

Snow-Covered Plains mtg

Snow-Covered Plains mtg

1. They Look Cool

Yes, there are gameplay advantages to snow lands we're about cover, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't used one simply because its art impressed. Plus, if you're a couple basic swamps short of a black deck, and you have some snow swamps on hand, why not use them and save a few bucks? They still count as basic lands and qualify for any relevant effects.

2. They Play Off Snow-Based Abilities

As cool as snow art is, many players are more interested in functionality. After all, controlling snow lands empowers spells like "Abominable Treefolk," who gains power and toughness equal to the number of snow permanents you control (including himself).

Another good example is the enchantment "Marit Lage's Slumber," which scries one whenever a snow permanent enters under your control. It also creates an absolutely lethal 20/20 flying and indestructible creature token during your upkeep if you control at least 10 snow permanents!

3. Some Cards Need Snow Mana

Abominable Treefolk powers up with snow permanents, yet he'll accept mana from any source. But some cards, like "Arcum's Astrolabe," have a unique snow symbol as their cost. Like colorless slots, you can use any color for these, but it has to come from a snow permanent. Any snow land will do, or even a snow creature that taps for mana like "Boreal Druid."

Extraplanar Lens mtg

Extraplanar Lens mtg

4. They Combo With Some Non-Snow Cards

Even if your deck doesn't require snow cards, sometimes it's better to have them than regular basic lands. Consider "Extraplanar Lens," which exiles a land you control, then has all lands with the same name (including opposing ones) tap for an extra mana.

Since you're more likely to encounter regular lands than snow ones, it's generally safer to run this alongside snow cards, hopefully ensuring only you reap the artifact's reward.

Freyalise's Radiance mtg

Freyalise's Radiance mtg

5. Few Decks Counter Them

As great as snow cards are, they have downsides. For instance, "Zombie Musher" has snow landwalk, making him unblockable against players with snow lands. "Ronom Hulk" has protection from snow, and "Freyalise's Radiance" prevents snow permanents from untapping.

But the thing is, since snow cards are fairly rare, few decks devote precious slots to countering something they might not even face, so you can generally slip by unchecked. Plus, some removals specifically don't work on snow creatures, like black's "Chill to the Bone" and "Dead of Winter."

How Much Do Snow Lands Cost?

Since snow lands are rarer than normal basic lands and have additional synergies, it's natural they'll cost a bit more cash. The exact numbers depend on the seller and set you're buying from, but the cheapest I found on Amazon typically run about $1 each.

You're also guaranteed a full-art snow land in each Modern Horizons booster pack, although these packs are more expensive than others due to their scarcity.

Dark Depths mtg

Dark Depths mtg

Using Snow Decks in Magic

Since snow cards span all colors, you never know when you'll run into them. And they have more than just basic lands; each color pairing contains a corresponding snow land, like black/blue's "Frost Marsh." Plus, snow lands like "Dark Depths" are completely unique and have no non-snow equivalent.

Combine snow lands with the best snow cards for devastating combos, but for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of snow cards, share your own thoughts on them and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill