Innistrad: Crimson Vow Set Review – Multicolored

(Crimson Vow Key Art | Art by Nestor Ossandon Leal)

Let the Festivities Commence!

Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the Innistrad: Crimson Vow Multicolored Set Review! Allow me to humbly usher you to the finest event Innistrad has ever seen: a wedding that’s absolutely to die for!

Today, I will guide you through all the wonderful gold cards that Crimson Vow has to offer. Let’s get going immediately! I would hate to keep the lady of the hour waiting. I can assure you, this will be a bloody good time.


Mythics


Olivia, Crimson Bride

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white night. Once again, Olivia Voldaren returns, this time as Olivia, Crimson Bride, and she is looking absolutely fabulous, both in style and as a card. I’ve seen some folks disagree, but I honestly believe this is the best iteration of Olivia for our format thus far.

Her original card is strong, but takes quite a bit of mana to do anything, and if she’s ever removed, you lose all the work you built up thus far. Her second version, Olivia, Mobilized for War is a neat Madness commander and a source of haste and +1/+1 counters, but requires you to pitch cards from your hand before you can get any of those bonuses.

Olivia Crimson Bride is more expensive than her other two cards, but she provides immediate value and immediate impact with no strings attached. Whenever she attacks, she can reanimate a creature from the yard tapped and attacking, for no cost. Excellent! Yes, it comes with a rider that you must maintain control of a legendary Vampire, but that’s barely a downside.

The important thing to note with this clause is that it doesn’t say “another” legendary Vampire – if the creature you revive is a legendary Vampire, it keeps itself around for good. This incentivizes you to invite as many notable Vamps to your wedding deck as possible, since they’ll stick around even if Olivia is excused from the festivities for a bit. On top of this, with enough sacrifice outlets like Viscera Seer, you can always make sure your party-goers never get kicked out of the venue permanently, just back to the graveyard where Olivia can summon them again.

Olivia is putting on one heck of an event, and it shows. Her card is powerful, flavorful, and has quite a bit of impact despite being six mana. Sure, she will never best Edgar Markov in terms of Vampire decks, but I think she will amass a respectable number herself all the same. It remains to be seen whether her decks will trend toward Vampire Tribal or Rakdos Reanimator, similar to Chainer, Nightmare Adept. She has power, grace, and flexibility, all wonderful things to see from this set’s bride.


Kaya, Geist Hunter

Kaya is back for the second time this year, and despite her name being “Geist Hunter”, it seems like she wants to make geists? Huh. Flavor nitpick aside, Kaya Geist Hunter seems really sweet. She’s cheap, she has solid abilities, and she has homes in the format, all things that makes planeswalkers relevant in EDH.

Kaya‘s bread and butter will be her -2 ability, a one-shot Anointed Procession, which is perfect for Token Decks like Thalisse, Reverent Medium, Felisa, Fang of Silverquill, Elenda, the Dusk Rose, Ghave, Guru of Spores, and Extus, Oriq Overlord. Her +1 is nice, but niche, probably best used with pinger creatures or as a form of deterring opponents from blocking, which might be useful for Monarch decks. Her ultimate, should she ever get there, is great value, obliterating graveyards and creating Spirits for each card exiled this way. That’s a lot of Cathars’ Crusade triggers.

Multicolor walkers have a lot of pressure on them to be good. I don’t think Kaya fits into Superfriends strategies, but this is great planeswalker design for decks that like tokens, so Kaya definitely meets the mark.


Toxrill, the Corrosive

I’m super stoked that y’all like this slimey boy, but goodness, it just looks absolutely miserable to play against.

Look, I know it’s seven mana, but the table will never be able to play creatures again if this sticks around. Some strategies get completely locked out by a Grave Pact, and this card has a very similar potential to just shut down some players from getting to play the game. That uphill battle isn’t always the goal of every social group out there. Just check with folks first, is all I’m saying. If your group is cool with it, then who am I to judge?

So, let’s dig into some neat spells. Cards that give creatures away, like Exotic Orchard or Slaughter Specialist are great here, since Toxrill will swiftly turn them into your own Slug army. Poppet Stitcher can flip to turn all the Slugs into massive 3/3s! Proliferate is also solid here – Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or Inexorable Tide can help speed up the slime counter process. Sakashima of a Thousand Faces and Sludge Monster help ratchet up slime production as well, making it difficult for anything you don’t control to stick on board.

If Toxrill, the Corrosive is a commander you enjoy, I’m happy for you, honestly. It’s splashy, unique, and very powerful to boot, but just be aware of the ire it may draw from the table. Have your Negates and Counterspells ready to protect it from all the salt, cuz the Slug will be enemy #1. Even if it’s just in your 99, it’ll draw the same attention as an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Oh, and speaking of the 99, Toxrill seems like a pretty great card for Volrath, the Shapestealer, or even some Sultai Reanimator decks looking to cheat gruesome baddies into play.


Umbris, Fear Manifest

Alright, stop me if you’ve heard this before: I’m super stoked that y’all like this slimey spoopy boy, but goodness, it justs look absolutely miserable to play against.

I am really happy to see that Horrors and Nightmares finally have a genuinely good tribal commander, honestly I am. However, there are so many players – myself included – that despise being milled, and Umbris is worse than just simple mill, cuz it’s built around exile mill. Again, that’s fine in plenty of groups, just always check first about the game experience the table is after.

Now, let’s see what we can do with this Nightmare.

A deck full of Horrors and Nightmares seems great. There are some genuinely good creatures out there that just happen to be one of those types: Phyrexian Rager, Ravenous Chupacabra, Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar… heck, Nightmare Shepherd makes even more of them for you! Oh, and Oblivion Sower will give you a bunch of mana from all the things Umbris has been exiling all game. Nasty.

This gets even better once you add in graveyard hate like Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Soul-Guide Lantern. All these will pump Umbris super quickly, so it can easily take opponents out with commander damage in a single attack. Evasiveness like Rogue’s Passage or Whispersilk Cloak will be key to knocking opponents down for good. I also recommend Essence Harvest for an out-of-the-blue alpha strike. If you want, you can blink your Horrors, Nightmares, or Changelings with Ghostly Flicker, or pair Umbris with a Deadeye Navigator, to repeat the ETB effect a bunch and craft some very empty enemy libraries.

Umbris, Fear Manifest is straightforward and gives two struggling tribes a very solid commander. Umbris even provides a boon to various Mill decks. Phenax, God of Deception could use Umbris alongside a Leyline of the Void to create a very fast clock. Umbris knows what it wants to do, and dang, does it do it well.


Rares


Alchemist’s Gambit

Oh goodie, our first Cleave card! These cards are[‘nt that] good and [are incredibly narrow and] modal, which [sadly] makes them [not that] desirable.

While Alchemist’s Greeting‘s first ‘mode’ may be mono-red, it is ultimately a blue-red card, which hurts its stock quite a bit. The Izzet colors have a plethora of extra turn spells, and I’m not sure they need another, especially one this niche.

One of the most popular extra turn spells, Time Warp, sees play in over 12,000 decks, which initially bodes well for the Gambit’s outlook, until you realize that 3/4ths of the commanders making the most use of Time Warp don’t have red in their color identities. On top of that, popular extra-turn commanders that are in red, like Narset, Enlightened Master, Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge, and Maelstrom Wanderer, don’t want to cast this for free, since it will put them at risk of losing the game completely.

I think Obeka, Brute Chronologist is the true winner here, since she already makes use of Final Fortune effects. Otherwise, I would avoid this one.

(PS: Not all Cleave cards may be covered in this review. Though they technically can only be played in multicolor decks, some of the Cleave cards have been covered in mono-color reviews earlier this week.)


Anje, Maid of Dishonor

Anje is back, and she’s looking great! She isn’t as inherently powerful as her previous version, but I think she’s quite good.

Back in June, I wrote an article on Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, which I deemed an acceptable substitute for Anje Falkenrath to helm Madness decks. Anje Falkenrath was billed as a Madness commander, but instead became the centerpiece of a Worldgorger Dragon combo deck. My goal with Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar was to move the needle back to a slower, more value-based Madness deck. Looking at Anje, Maid of Dishonor, I think she can fulfill that same role, and more!

This iteration of Anje is versatile and powerful; she can create discard outlets to pitch away useless cards or Madness spells, she deals damage and procs lifegain triggers, and she’s a sacrifice outlet! Her Blood production hinges around Vampires, which pushes her towards Vampire Tribal, but that just gives her another angle to build around. She isn’t flashy, but Anje is a really great mesh of all the various Innistrad Vampire strategies we’ve seen over the years. Anje is efficient, flexible, balanced, and open-ended, and because of that, she’s probably my favorite legend in the set.


Dorothea, Vengeful Victim

Dorothea, like all the Disturb creatures, is a great design, but much like her cohort from the last set, she seems better in the 99 than as a commander. Dorothea isn’t reminiscent of Geist of Saint Traft, she’s reminiscent of Invocation of Saint Traft, which appears in barely 750 decks. If you want blue-white beatdown, you have more exciting options available, from Daxos of Meletis to Dragonlord Ojutai.


Edgar, Charmed Groom

Here comes the groom, all dressed in… gloom?

Edgar is back in Crimson Vow as Olivia’s [un]lucky hubby-to-be! I saw plenty of people complaining about Edgar, Charmed Groom‘s power level compared to his first card, and to that I say, thank goodness he’s not that powerful! Edgar Markov is absolutely absurd! We do not want new cards trying to replicate that level of power, trust me.

Edgar, Charmed Groom is a shoo-in for Vampire decks that include black and white, like Elenda, the Dusk Rose and Vona, Butcher of Magan. He’s a well-costed creature that pumps the team, is hard to kill, and makes tokens! That’s really solid all around! He’ll be good in the original Edgar Markov too, though that Mardu deck is so fast these days that some may prefer not to use a four-mana lord.

In the command zone, it’s a lot more contentious. It’s nice to have more Vampire tribal options, but Edgar‘s biggest issue is that he’s competing with himself. The pump effect isn’t quite appealing enough to pull us away from the de facto best Vampire deck in the format. That’s okay, though! He’s still a very charming Charmed Groom.

Also, if you ever want to Rule 0 Olivia, Crimson Bride and Edgar, Charmed Groom to have Partner together, I will happily oblige. After all, who am I to stop true love?


Eruth, Tormented Prophet

Eruth, Tormented Prophet is neat, although I can’t help but think I’ve seen a similar card before….

Look, I’m not saying Eruth is the exact same card as Rielle, the Everwise, but there are enough similarities that I had to look twice. They’re both blue-red cards that want to churn through their decks. They do so in different ways, but that’s the core tenet of their identities.

Eruth wants you to draw as many cards as possible and absolutely rip right through your library. I think Eruth, Tormented Prophet inevitably leans into a Storm-like build, exiling tons of draw spells and rituals to locate extra turn spells and combo pieces. Because her draw effect is a replacement effect, she’ll never lose the game for drawing from an empty library. This is the sort of thing that makes a Thassa’s Oracle very happy indeed.

While interesting, the truth of the matter is that Eruth is very linear, so if the Storm-/Spellslinging-style isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, I would suggest the aforementioned Rielle, the Everwise or Vadrik, Astral Archmage, which can have a little more variety to their strategies. Oh, and if you’re one of the 150 Nassari, Dean of Expression players out there, Eruth is excited to join your class.


Grolnok, the Omnivore

Usually I would complain about generic Simic value commanders, but I find Grolnok, the Omnivore downright… ribbet-ing. 😎

As much as I despise milquetoast value commanders, I think Grolnok is an exception. First, there’s finally a commander for Frog Tribal. Would I build it purely Frog tribal? No. Do I think some Frogs are good enough to include regardless of the build? Yes! Two that come to mind are Spore Frog and Plaxcaster Frogling. The second reason I like Grolnok is because it’s one of the few Simic commanders that enables a Self-Mill strategy. Most commanders occupying this space are Golgari or Sultai, so it’s cool to see a new commander explore that space in these colors. Traumatize or Hermit Druid yourself for tons of value! Arcane Adaptation your whole team into Frogs! Play an all-permanents deck for Grolnok’s effect to have a 99% hit rate, cuz your only spell is Primal Surge! LET THE CROAKENING BEGIN!


Halana and Alena, Partners

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, Hal and Alena appear on a single card!

This version of the partners brings reach, first strike, and the love of huge power that we saw in their Commander Legends iterations, while also throwing around +1/+1 counters and haste, to boot! The more powerful this dynamic duo becomes, the more power they can bestow upon their allies.

While neat, I can’t help but feel like they’re a more fragile and less explosive Xenagos, God of Revels, which ends up being both bad and good. Xenagos is less removable and a master of one-shot kills out of nowhere, which means he draws a lot of attention to himself. Halana and Alena don’t have that same presence, but they do have more consistency, and that makes them hardier. Their buffs stick around, and that’s big.

Boost their stats with fun Equipment and pump up your Champion of Lambholt, Dreadhorde Arcanist, or Heronblade Elite. Collect tons of counters with Thundering Mightmare, Forgotten Ancient, and Ruinous Intrusion. Make tons of tokens with an Iridescent Hornbeetle! Make the biggest Pathbreaker Ibex the world ever did see! They also work incredibly well in a Hallar, the Firefletcher or Marath, Will of the Wild deck as a way to get more +1/+1 counters! These two partners turn power into versatility, and they’ll shine in many decks as a result.


Odric, Blood-Cursed

Turning a beloved character into a Vampire is fine, but giving them a bad card is where I draw the line.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on Odric. Yeah, he cares about keywords like his second version, yeah, he can possibly make a lot of artifact tokens, but yeah, neither of those things is going to cut it. This card’s closest comparison is a Blood Servitor, and that’s a common. You can try to blink him with Ephemerate, or use Ghirapur Aether Grid and Reckless Fireweaver to ping opponents down, but you need a big board of creatures to do that, at which point you’re just a bad aggro deck with a subpar artifact theme. The upcoming Chief Jim Hopper will make more artifact tokens more easily, and that one’s not even confined to Boros.

If you want to play Boros artifacts, there are already fantastic options in Osgir, the Reconstructor and Alibou, Ancient Witness. If you want to play aggro, you can use Odric, Master Tactician, Odric, Lunarch Marshal, or Aurelia the Warleader. Even if you want to make a Boros reanimator deck by using the Blood to discard cards, Plargg, Dean of Chaos or Mila, Crafty Companion‘s back half provide better discard outlets for far less work.

This Odric doesn’t live up to either of his previous iterations, and is instead a glorified vanilla 3/3. A Hero’s Downfall, indeed. Here’s hoping that a future Odric 4.0 is more compelling than this.


Old Rutstein

Another character from flavor text, the merchant Old Rutstein finally gets a card!

Let’s start with the positives. A legendary Druidic Satchel is pretty neat and flavorful, milling cards in exchange for some kind of good or service. But… that’s about it.

Despite being a slick three mana, Old Rutstein is pretty lackluster. Had his ETB and upkeep triggers been a separate paragraph from the effect that rewarded milling, then this would be a different story. If these were two separate effects, he could trigger more than once per round. As it stands, this value engine is too small to be truly appealing. Golgari colors are at no loss for Self-Mill or graveyard synergies: Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, Grist, the Hunger Tide, and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed all facilitate or take advantage of self-milling more than Old Rutstein can. Flavorful design, but the power falls a bit short. I won’t be buying what he’s selling.


Path of Peril

I value modality a lot, and I think playing both sides of the spectrum with this kind of card is awesome, but I’ll be honest, the majority of the time, EDH players would end up needing to pay six mana for this spell. Commander’s Herald and fellow EDHREC writer Dana Roach wrote a fantastic article on this exact issue. If you’re using one mode 90% of the time, is the extra cost worth it? On top of that, if you’re able to run Path of Peril, that means you have access to white and Austere Command and Merciless Eviction, both of which will be better in terms of power and flexibility. I like Path of Peril for its fine design, but it’s a notch below other tools in our format.


Runo Stromkirk

Move over Wrexial, there’s a new Dimir Sea Creatures commander in town, and his name is Runo Stromkirk!

Runo Stromkirk pushes Sea Creature Tribal into Dimir colors, giving us a new archetype and a new style of play that is distinct from other Simic sea monster counterparts. Instead of ramping into huge beasts, like Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle or Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait, Runo utilizes blue and black’s penchant for looting, card selection, and reanimation to manipulate your deck and make sure your big, expensive sea crits aren’t stranded in your hand.

Then, once Runo summons the object of his worship, Krothuss, things get really spicy, multiplying your ocean beasts and washing out your foes. Remember, Krothuss’s trigger does not exile the tokens at end of turn! Spawning Kraken, Quest for Ula’s Temple, Whelming Wave, and Unmarked Grave are all stellar here, synergizing with either half of Runo, and pushing our salt water agenda even further.

I’m happy you finally got a card, Runo. It was worth the wait!


Torens, Fist of the Angels

A couple months ago, I’d be hooting and hollering, saying that Torens was one of the best Human commanders ever printed, since he can easily spit out a heaping helping of tokens.

However, your honor, let us please bring exhibits A, B, and C before the jury.

In Midnight Hunt alone, we were graced with three fantastic Human Tribal legends, from Sigarda‘s aggressive card advantage, Katilda‘s ramp and +1/+1 counters, to Kyler‘s massive team pumps. Each one of these is terrific, too!

I’m actually a huge fan of Torens. He’s almost like a legendary Monastery Mentor, but for creature spells, which is awesome. Thing is, while there would have been space for him a few months back, a lot of that equity has been eaten up by the other three already. Torens, Fist of the Angels is a really cool card, but I think he’ll end up serving a role similar to Maja, Bretagard Protector, helping make tokens for all the other Human tribal commanders we have now. He won’t be the star of the show, but he will absolutely shine in the 99.


Uncommons


  • Ancient Lumberknot is real nice redundancy for Doran, the Siege Tower or Sapling of Colfenor. Seems solid!
  • Child of the Pack is another nice pickup for Werewolf decks. These decks love creatures with activated abilities and ways to pump their team, and this has both!
  • Sigardian Paladin is probably not quite enough for +1/+1 counter decks. It gives some great keywords, but it does so clumsily, and those decks are brimming with other really excellent options already.
  • Vilespawn Spider is a nice little token-maker in Simic for Self Mill or Token strategies. It isn’t anything flashy, but establishing a board presence with just one card is always worth thinking about.
  • Wandering Mind can nab any noncreature, nonland card from the top six of your deck. That is a lot of reach, especially if you have ways to Blink or reuse this helpful flying friend!

Fang-tastic!

There we have it, all of the interesting multicolor cards from Crimson Vow! While there weren’t as many gold cards as Midnight Hunt, there are still some very impressive cards here, including plenty of fantastic legends that add a lot of depth to the format (and Odric). I’m very excited to crack some packs and make changes to my decks, and can’t wait to play with all the goodies and party favors this set has provided us.

Next stop, Kamigawa! Until then, stay ever-charming!

As always, you can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.