The ten snow duals from Kaldheim have the potential to reshape Pauper as we know it. Andrea Mengucci briefly touched on this in an earlier article, but today is all about Pauper. These are the first common dual lands that come with basic land types which means they work with cards like Farseek and Wood Elves and they’re a huge step up from the Khans of Tarkir gain lands and guild gates. While these cards will absolutely see play, the current state of the game might limit their impact.
Let’s start off with the good. There are plenty of cards that care about specific basic land types. Perhaps the most important one until recently was Snuff Out. The ability to cast a removal spell for four life if you control a Swamp was huge thanks to the ability to tap out while holding an answer to the recently banned Fall from Favor.
The black duals (Ice Tunnel, Sulfurous Mire, Snowfield Sinkhole, Woodland Chasm) give decks access to their colors while also giving them the opportunity to Snuff Out. The deck that immediately benefits from this is Dimir Faeries, which wants early blue for Ponder, Preordain and Spellstutter Sprite while also needing Swamps for Snuff Out. It’s possible that Ice Tunnel could signal a return of Dimir Alchemy – a midrange control deck that leaned on Forbidden Alchemy as a card selection tool and Gurmag Angler fodder. The ability to fix mana early while threatening Snuff Out and then untapping with Counterspell mana up is enticing. Similarly, every black/X midrange deck can now more easily run Snuff Out with the expectation of resolving it earlier in a game without harming board development.
The next dual that stands out is Arctic Treeline thanks to the Forest typing. Utopia Sprawl is a key card in Pauper Bogles as it facilitates explosive starts with Ethereal Armor. The problem with Bogles is that it’s a base green deck with some incredibly key white cards and, as such, has traded a more consistent mana base for a higher power level. Crumbling Vestige is not a great land once you untap. Arctic Treeline now gives you a dual land target for Utopia Sprawl. While the land naturally produces both colors, it provides Bogles the option to spread out its Auras while also making it easier to splash high impact sideboard cards. Dispel, Essence Harvest and Gorilla Shaman have all found homes in the sideboard and being able to use Utopia Sprawl to cast them, while an edge case, can matter. More than anything else now Bogles can keep a single dual land hand and not worry about those Sprawls going to waste.
The next logical point in this discussion would be to cite Arbor Elf as a way to ramp with these lands but I’m going to table that for a moment.
The allure of using Farseek and Into the North to fetch an appropriate dual land loses its luster when you can accelerate into an endgame with Tron without sacrificing any spell slots. Tron is able to generate more mana with its lands and has access to Bonder’s Ornament and Prophetic Prism as ways to generate the proper colors of mana. Perhaps a green deck could take advantage of Elvish Mystic here to try and Wood Elves out the right land on the second turn. If you’re running Elvish Mystic and its kin though, you should probably just be playing Elves.
Skred decks also can reap the rewards of these new lands. If a red deck wanted to run some gain lands, it would lessen the efficacy of Skred. Now with these snow duals, Skred becomes a much more attractive option for all red decks, including those that actively want dual lands. Izzet Faeries will adopt some number of these but Volatile Fjord is less important since the deck lacks multiple cards requiring double red or double blue – it’s really just Counterspell.
Given the recent downshift of Fiery Cannonade as a reliable early sweeper, it’s possible that a new Gruul midrange deck could rise leaning on Skred and Highland Forest. In fact, there’s have already been some decks that have emerged in this shell, but these are Arbor Elf ramp decks that try to turbo out Boarding Party and Annoyed Altisaur. I just don’t think Arbor Elf decks are very good at the moment thanks to the elephant in the room.
Outside of the cards and decks above, here’s a small list of cards that also benefit from the basic land types on these cards:
Here’s a sample of cards that care about the fact that these lands are snow as well:
Make no mistake – these ten cards are fantastic and will see plenty of play. They facilitate a wide variety of interactions with virtually no real downside. Their full potential, however, will have to wait for a day where it makes sense to set aside spell slots for mana acceleration.