Sift Through Sands - Isu the Abominable and Uril, the Miststalker

Wes Stuckey • November 3, 2022

Isu the Abominable by Victor Adame

Sift Through Snow

Hello, and welcome to this week's Sift Through Sands, an article series about examining card packages that work in two different decks with varying strategies.

Recently, the Magic community received spoilers for the upcoming Jumpstart 2022 set, revealing Goblin and Snow themes, among others to be revealed. Isu the Abominable became the first legendary Yeti ever seen in the game, much to my chagrin, since I thought Uril, the Miststalker was a Yeti this whole time! Upon discussing this with my playgroup, I got in the mood to explore the snow archetype with both this new commander and our old Voltron favorite. Let's get into it!

Our Picks

See what I mean? Uril could easily be a Yeti. I digress though.

These commanders are straightforward signposts that tell us that we need to be running a lot of snow cards and a lot of Auras, with the payoff being big beaters that can finish the game. They both work incrementally, which can be deceptive to opponents who may not work quickly to stop them from snowballing (ha ha). First, let's start with our Isu list.

Playing Isu

Snow decks are often land-matters decks, and that is true of our Isu list. Consistently increasing the amount of snow permanents we have in play is essential to the deck, and cards like Ice-Fang Coatl, Marit Lage's Slumber, and Graven Lore allow us to benefit from this. Since most of the snow permanents we play will be lands, Landfall cards, like Lotus Cobra, Tireless Provisioner, and Felidar Retreat, let us reap those rewards as well while also helping us put +1/+1 counters on Isu once we play it.

Maintaining our ability to play snow permanents is important, as Isu will likely be a removal target if it gets bigger. Soothsaying, Falco Spara, Pactweaver, and the classic Future Sight maintain our control over the top of our library, and Abundance lets us make sure we hit land drops consistently. Frost Augur is a great source of card advantage as well.

With Isu and many snow permanents in play, flicker effects, like Blizzard Strix, and utility pieces, like Tiller Engine, make sure that we strengthen our Yeti. Even if Isu doesn't stick around, Rimefeather Owl and Abominable Treefolk are great creature threats, and trust me, using Winter's Chill to remove attackers or tie up your opponents' mana is extremely fun (and will probably necessitate a trip to Scryfall).

Isu leads a very straightforward snow payoff deck, but bringing snow to an Aura deck proved to be more of a challenge. Let's look at our Uril list!

Setting up support and defense for Uril to be successful is our gameplan early on. Sythis, Harvest's Hand, Kor Spiritdancer, and Rime Tender all are good to see, and establishing some lower-curve threats, like Ohran Viper and Radha, Heart of Keld, help us out too. An early Svella, Ice Shaper can also shake the game up as we use her to create Icy Manaliths.

With Uril in play, our Auras become deadly, as Eternal Warrior, Rancor, and Squee's Embrace are much more intimidating with a +2/+2 bonus attached to each of them. Mazzy, Truesword Paladin, Mina and Denn, Wildborn, and Sage's Reverie all make an enchanted Uril more intimidating.

But what about snow? Most of our snow payoffs here are utility pieces, providing us more mana (with the low-costed-but-balanced Winter's Night finding a special home), efficient removal like Skred and Tundra Fumarole, or defense in the form of Glacial Crevasses and Blizzard. Protecting ourselves as Uril swings means that cards like Wall of Shards, Reclamation, and Monsoon play an important role in keeping our opponents under control. (Maybe I had fun looking at Ice Age cards, who's to say?)

All this snow needs support! Let's take a look at the cards that made in into both decks.

Snow cards tend to do little on their own, but in their element they provide aggressively costed effects. Blessing of Frost, On Thin Ice, and Blizzard Brawl both provide great advantages for the mana invested, for example. These creatures are able to stand on their own as efficient beaters (like Ohran Viper) or become larger threats (Spirit of the Aldergard and Conifer Wurm). In addition to this efficiency, unique cards like Gelid Shackles and Adarkar Valkyrie create interesting gameplay that keeps opponents on their toes.

Cold Outro

Hope everyone enjoyed these cool decks! I'd love to hear about your own experiences with snow. Do you think that it's uninteresting, or is there a direction you'd like to see snow cards go? Even better, do you like the Ice Age set as much as I do? Let me know in the comments and I will see you next time.

The untenable Wes Stuckey is the jankiest Magic player to roam the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (their first brewed deck was Blind Seer "old cards"). By day, they work in circulation at one of the city's many great libraries. By night, you can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.