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Building Svella, Ice Shaper in Commander


Hello folks! I hope that you are having just an amazing day today!

Last week I built my first EDH deck around a Commander from Kaldheim. It was a Boros equipment deck based around Koll, the Forgemaster, which both went wide with tokens to give them the +1/+1 and went into midrange and loved those enters-the-battlefield triggers. Sound interesting? You can check it out here!

What inspired me this week? Great question!

Svella, Ice Shaper

It's this fun Troll Warrior! Take a gander at Svella, Ice Shaper! She costs three mana and her 2/4 body is okay for Gruul, although you normally do better. She can do two things. Firstly, she can tap for a level of Manalith mana and then...make a Manalith! It's Snow and will tap for any color as well as Snow. It's even called Icy Manalith! Then she can tap for 8 mana and then dig four down and give you a free spell. However, that costs 8 mana so it's not a big discount for the record.

How will I build around her?

Let's look!

Here are some archetypes that make me like her a lot!

1. Artifacts Matter. You can tap her to make an artifact over and over again, which you can add to your artifact matters effects. As one example of an artifact matters that hits me, consider Goblin Welder. You could tap three mana and your leader, make an Icy Manalith, then sacrifice it to the Welder for an artifact from your graveyard. Gruul doesn't normally have an artifact theme. Last week I did an artifact theme in Boros, so doing two in a row may not be my butter. You could also loop Arcum's Astrolabe and then sacrifice it over and over for cards and you can make the Snow mana for it with the Icy Manalith.

2. Snow Matters. Another way to build around Svella is to run her in a Gruul Snow Deck. You get access to cards like Glacial Crevasses in Red. Both Svella and her Icy Manaliths make Snow mana so you could amp up your deck with those. The best Snow-Matters theme is Blue/Black/Green with Jorn, God of Winter as he gives you access to three colors, but there are key red cards like Skred that you could add in with Gruul.

3. Ramp. You want to get to 8 mana for activating Svella? Great idea! The best way to do that is with cards like Cultivate and Kodama's Reach that will net you a lot of lands and ramp. Lean into green for ramp and then you can reliably use Svella's latter tapping ability.

In the first archetype you are building around her first ability and using its artifact-ness. In the second archetype you are building around her types and the other type of the Icy Manalith. In the third archetype you are building around her second ability.

So which one wins?


Can I do both 2 and 3? At least a little?

Let's find out!

These two cards leap out at me.

Into the North
Alpine Guide

We need to ramp that mana and do with Snow Lands. Alpine Guide is a Snowy creature from Modern Horizons that will fetch a Mountain on arrival. Get a dual land if it's not out, otherwise a Snow-Covered Mountain will be acceptable. Make sure to use that mana, as once the Guide is gone so too is the land it ramped. Into the North is better than Rampant Growth as you can net a basic or any non-basic of quality and it heads to the sweet battlefield in the sky.

Spirit of the Aldergard

Hello fans of Kaldheim! Don't sleep on the new stuff either, right? Right! This bad Bear Spirit can fetch up a Snow land and put it into your hand. Like Into the North it can get a dual land or a key nonbasic as well as a typical Snow-Covered Basic Land. It just must be Snow and that's it! Its power is also Snow-basedm so you'll want to add in as many as you can! My goal is to have at least every land a Snow Land so that it can fetch anything, and you can always rely on it coming with at least something!

Boreal Druid
Coldsteel Heart
Replicating Ring

There are a few Snow ways to make Snow mana and ramp us up. This trifecta of power is pretty strong. Boreal Druid is our Llanowar Elves and serves a similar one-drop role with us but it is made of Snow, so it'll make that mana as well for our team. Replicating Ring is a nice Icy Manalith that can also get you a lot more Icy Manaliths if it's around long enough. No worries if it isn't. Coldsteel Heart can also be a two-drop mana rock that can make one of your two colors as well as Snow this bad boy up.

Have you forgotten Conifer Wurm? Don't! I love it here! You can get a 4/4 trampler and on curve for five mana, and then you can pump it with your ramped mana a few times and turn it into a killer. Like Spirit of the Aldergard, this will always get at least X+1 for your lands and itself. It could wind up being a whole lot more if you punch powerfully above the weightclass with your leader, it's Icy Manaliths, other Snows, and more. Good stuff, right? Right!

Don't sleep on Icehide Troll either! All your lands make that Snow mana for the pump and you can use double mana to make him indestructible for the turn. He's a powerful mana sink with his ability and if you use it after you swing you don't have to worry about that tapping. Also note that this is a flavor win with those creature types!

Ohran Frostfang
Ohran Viper

I'm not sure why there are so many Snow Snakes in Magic. This pair? Ice-Fang Coatl? It's weird. But hey, any port in a storm, right? Right! The first of these will give your team deathtouch when they swing allowing them to trade up and crate bad blocks. You are more likely to slip in unblocked. You can also draw those cards from the unblocked-ness and thus the card is powerful. The latter Snow Snake plays into similar space but just for himself. The card draw is strong in this duo.

I adore Rimescale Dragon; We don't have a lot of flyers in Gruul Snow and that's valuable. It can tap-lock dorks and keep them down to ensure it can swing in the sky. It's also a great mana sink. I really like this Snow Dragon that plays offensively and defensively with its tapping and staying tapped ability.

Want some more mana ramping dorks? We don't have any more Boreal Druids, but we do have Sculptor of Winter and Rime Tender. Each can tap to untap a Snowy land for your benefit. The latter can untap any Snow permanent so you can tap Svella for her ability and then tap this and do it again after untapping your Commander. It's good synergy for the build.

Faceless Haven
Frostwalk Bastion

As I mentioned above, I wish to have all Snow Lands like this duo of Snowy fun times! Faceless Haven is a nice creature-land that needs three mana to do so an becomes a 4/3 dork that can swing and block with the best of them Frostwalk Bastion can turn into a 2/3 dork that can slow tap down something that engages it in that thing they call combat!

Mouth of Ronom
Scrying Sheets

Two more lands feature from Coldsnap. These are great for our Svella build as well! The first will sacrifice for damage to a dork and acts as removal on a land which is critical for our success. The second is amazing in a dedicated Snow deck and is the ideal target for your land searching. It is the Cabal Coffers or Academy Ruins of the build. The card flow is nasty with it!

Kaldheim loans us some new Snowy fun times with instants and sorceries like Frost Bite and Tundra Fumarole! We have two removal options available for us in the set that are on theme. The first is Frost Bite and it's a fine Shock into Lightning Bolt with the right permanents on the battlefield. Tundra Fumarole is the second of these and it'll dole out four damage to a non-player target as well. It can also be free if you spend all Snow Mana for it and you can use that mana to tap Svella for an Icy Manalith if you have nothing else to use it on. Enjoy!

That exhausts my Snow synergies, so what now? I have 16 Snow critters including Svella, four Snow-based removal spells in the above two as well as Skred and Blizzard Brawl, one Snow enchantment in Glacial Crevasses, and four Snow artifacts. Oh, and eight lands as well. Where to next?

Do I toss in cards like Command Tower and Sol Ring? Cultivate and Kodama's Reach? Where do I do next?


Let's move into full blown ramp territory now. I don't want too many non-Snow permanents. But I want a few that will help with the ramping like Sol Ring and such.

I'll lean into cards like Crush of Wurms and Reshape the Earth. Crush is underplayed but I love it. It makes three face-smashing tokens of 6/6-ness, which is pretty good for the cause. Eighteen power for nine mana. It's hard to answer with targeted removal without yielding card advantage. It can be flashed back for another three Wurms, great after someone sweeps the board. Reshape the Earth is a mythic powerful card that creates a nasty cachet of card advantage. You get 10 lands for nine mana and they can be anything, so make sure that you get all of your non-basics left with it. We only have 10 in the build, although two are fetch lands you can skip with your Reshaping of the Earth.

I want to copy Svella's ability where appropriate. There are two reliable ways of doing so, and both are in the build. The first was printed long ago and its Rings of Brighthearth and that will let you copy any of your non-mana activated abilities for two mana each time. Tap Svella, make a Manalith and do so again for two mana. Tap her to dig and do so again for two mana. Good stuff! Even better is the recently printed powerhouse Lithoform Engine, which can tap and fork a key activated ability for two mana. You can only use it once as it taps, but Svella only taps once as well. It's more synergetic in this build as you can get copies of permanent spells, copies of your instant/sorcery and another triggered ability as well. It's really strong here.

Sifter Wurm
Sensei's Divining Top

You'll notice deck manipulation cards like Sifter Wurm and Sensei's Divining Top. I want to make sure that I have a big hits for Svella. The worst thing to do with that ability would be to be forced to see two lands Boreal Druid and Sol Ring. You want to have a more expensive card there, like [cardReshape the Earth[/card] or Sifter Wurm. These effects will let you know when to tap eight mana for Svella and net your free card.

In any ramp build I love to toss in Panglacial Wurm. Did you cast Cultivate or tap and use Terramorphic Expanse? Great! Tap seven mana and cast this nasty 9/5 tramping Wurm from your deck. It's also great when top decking; usually when you top deck ramp on a naked board it's bad, but with this in your build you just topped a threat! Good job you!

Thousand-Year Elixir

Know what is great with Svella? Getting to use her tap ability when she arrives to the party! Or untapping her and using her again! Even if it's just making two Icy Manaliths for later usage, it's solid. And getting her to use her big ability when she gets there? Nasty!

I added in a bit of support for the bigger stuff. Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood taps for mana and draws cards, either of which is strong in this build, and Fierce Empath can search up a big strong dork to drop with your ramp.

The big spells don't end with Crush of Wurms et all! Nope! Nissa's Revelation is the sort of fun card we want to push into. Scry 5? Reveal the top card? (likely you are digging five). Draw some cards and gain some life, and you have set up a future Svella tap. Planewide Celebration is a fun sorcery as well. If all you do is make four 2/2 tokens, you'll be fine and dandy just like candy. And you can do a lot more than that with this bad boy? From recursion to life gain the force is strong with this one.

Volcanic Vision

Volcanic Vision. Seven mana. Regrowth for a spell. It gets exiled after use. It's a damage dealer to each dork your foes' control which can act as a Plague Wind for Red. It's perfect in a deck that emphasizes sorceries and instants in its ramp-ery.

Mirari is awesome here! It is just as good as Rings of Brighthearth, and you can Fork your spells each time you cast one for three generic mana. Great stuff, right? Right! I have... 24 such spells that count and they are big and face-smashery.

Xenagos, God of Revels
Revel of the Fallen God

Here are the final two cards we'll look at, the God Xenagos and his Fallen Revel. The Revel of the Fallen God is good to make four 2/2s that can swing immediately, which is a fun way to make 2/2s. Xenagos, God of Revels is also great in here as a way to grant haste to a single dork as well as a power-based pump that will help in the red zone. You can haste up Svella and then tap for an ability. Both are strong in this build.

We have an issue! What is it? My deck has too many cards, 73 non-lands which is way too many! What do I pull?

I pulled these cards:

Sunstone and Glacial Crevasses. We are more about swinging than Fog'ing.

Beanstalk Giant. Not needed that much.

Ravager Wurm. Duplicative.

Sandwurm Convergence. Fun but cut.

Thermopod. I hate cutting Snow, but the sacrifice ability isn't that useful here.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts. Sad but true.

And there you go! My decks is below...

Svella EDH | Commander | Abe Sargent

And there you are my friends, 100 cards later! I hope that you enjoyed this article and the deck! Anything in here that you loved? Anything in here that you disagree with its inclusion? Just let me know!

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