Innistrad: Crimson Vow Set Review - Colorless & Lands
(Voldaren Estate | Art by Richard Wright)
The Midnight Hour is Close at Hand
Hello everyone! Welcome to the almost-end of EDHREC's Crimson Vow set review! We're continuing on here with a brief stop at the colorless cards (artifacts and lands) in the set. There're some wacky cards here that kind of fall on the Modern Horizons 2 side of the EDH-playability spectrum, which is a very good sign, so let's dive in!
This is a pretty fun card, and it'll do decent work for anyone who opens it during the Prerelease. It's also the kind of effect that stacks really nicely, either with similar abilities or with copies of itself, if you happen to target it with an Echo Storm. It's not going to show up just as a value piece in non-pillow fort decks, like Propaganda does, but it could do a little work. If Thunderstaff is any sign, though, this card isn't fated for the EDH decks of the world; the Staff appears in fewer than 500 decks. It's just too bad Boarded Window isn't recurrable, thanks to the self-exile clause when the boards finally crack and splinter.
Dollhouse of Horrors
The flavor is on point here for sure, and non-optimized Urza, Lord High Artificer or similar decks that like making "Karnstructs" might enjoy this new toy. All in all, though, it sort of feels like a bad Mimic Vat. Maybe that's fine; Mimic Vat is in 20,000 decks on EDHREC, so a worse version isn't necessarily unplayable. That's especially true in decks filled with a high density of ETB bodies, like Roon of the Hidden Realm, or decks with a lot of death-trigger-doublers, like Teysa Karlov. A more direct analogy is probably God-Pharoah's Gift, which shows up in fewer than 3,000 decks, but has fun applications in Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, or Ghired, Conclave Exile.
More than likely, this is a card you'll encounter at some point in 2023 and say "Oh wow, I forgot that existed!"
Three-mana rocks are playable, despite the insistence of many folks out there. Two-mana rocks are excellent, but sometimes that extra cost is more than offset by extra value. I wouldn't want to exclusively run three-mana rocks, but there's nothing wrong with finding a home for a couple of the more effective ones. Is Honored Heirloom one of the more effective ones?
The answer is... maybe?
The beauty of Scavenger Grounds is the almost nonexistent opportunity cost. You just play it and use it if you need it. A land tapping for colorless that enters untapped is almost no downside at all. Here, you're functionally paying three mana (two plus the rock itself) to banish a card from a 'yard. It is at instant speed, which is nice, but I'm not sure I want to devote a slot to it outside a specific meta where graveyard decks warp the environment. Three-mana rocks are playable, but these days, that also includes the likes of Cursed Mirrors, not just Manaliths.
I may have futzed with the alphabetical order so I could discuss the three-mana rock stuff above first to help us compare to this card more easily. I want to like it, but I don't. If it wasn't a creature on the front side, I'd be interested, but somehow the Statue depicted in that art is actually already fully ambulatory. I guess Alloy Myr still shows up in like 2,000 decks, so this card won't drop to absolutely zero play, but it's slow to transform, and as a general rule, three-mana rocks that would keel over against a rogue Pyroclasm are more of a liability than a boon.
This is really close. It'll usually enter with a couple of counters on it, then can be used to draw a card for two mana a couple of times, before you finally crack it to its final ability to draw one final time. Mono-white and maybe Boros are conceivably down to clown here. Being able to use both effects for four total mana on its final turn is quite solid in draw-starved colors, and it doesn't exile or anything, so it is recurrable.
Still, it's fighting for slots with things like Tome of Legends and Endless Atlas. I'm not sure it's better than either of those, and I'm also not sure I want a third option in that kind of deck, especially because this Journal is much less good in the developing stages of the game, when players may not have a bunch of creatures out just yet. Oh, and Eloise, Nepahlia Sleuth is probably happy with a new Clue.
Lantern of the Lost
Lantern of the Lost is great. Is it better than Soul-Guide Lantern, which shows up in over 12,000 decks? Eh, that depends entirely upon you. I still haven't decided if I like it more. I like it, for sure, I just don't know which I like more. It probably depends on whether or not you mind losing your own bin. You do get to draw card every time, rather than having to choose between the exile and the draw, as is the case with Soul-Guide Lantern, and that feels really nice, not to mention very Relic of Progenitus-y.
Long term, I think Lantern of the Lost will eventually nudge out Soul-Guide Lantern in a couple of decks that have minimal graveyard recursion themselves. You have a lot of options for one-mana graveyard hate, so you can customize your anti-Muldrotha, the Gravetide and anti-Meren of Clan Nel Toth tech to whichever happens to suit your style best. It's great to see a card like this, one that might or might not be better than other similar staples, depending on situation and personal playstyle.
Oh yeah, almost forgot this guy. I don't know why, but Odric, Blood-Cursed has been glaring at this thing all evening and grumbling about how it doesn't even need another creature's help to make Blood tokens. Pretty odd behavior, Odric.
Enemy Slow Lands
This land cycle is my favorite since probably the Battlebond land cycle (Luxury Suite & co.), or perhaps the Modern Horizons cycle that mimicked Horizon Canopy. I'm jamming these into literally every two-color deck, full stop.
Now, the reality is, the field for dual lands has gotten a little crowded, and something has to give. For me, that probably means they replace any of the MDFC lands we picked up 15 sets or so ago in Zendikar Rising & Kaldheim. I'm probably not keeping two-landers very often, and turn-one plays are somewhat rare in my games, so these lands are just going to come into play untapped 95% of the time, and a dual that comes into play untapped that often, well, that's just more useful to me than a land that comes into play untapped all the time but which forces me to lock into a single color of mana. Midnight Hunt has already proven that these lands are great in EDH, I'm happy to see the cycle completed so quickly.
Voldaren Estate is probably the best version of this style of land we've ever gotten. Tribe-specific utility lands have been very spotty in the past; I was expecting another Ally Encampment, but for bloodsuckers. This is definitely Sliver Hive-y, just with the ability to make Blood tokens. There are quite a few decks that will find that ability useful, whether they're desperate for any form of card selection, discard help, or are just looking for a way to stack artifact tokens. Unfortunately, those latter abilities really require Vampires in the 99 to make this card efficient enough, but there's still a nonzero amount of overlap there. It's going to see play, it's just not the kind of card that's going to show up in your mono-white Soldier deck, or that new lands matter list you've been brewing. It's narrow, but playable.
Creatures Crawl in Search of Blood (Tokens)
That's gonna wrap up our coverage of lands and colorless artifacts in this Crimson Vow set review! Given the set's focus on Vampires and wedding tropes, I'm surprised there are this many interesting entries in the list. None are outright bombs, but there are more than a few playable choices here, and the land cycle feels like it's going to be in demand for years to come.
Enjoy the wedding!