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Innistrad: Crimson Vow Set Review - Red
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner...
In this Return to Return to Innistrad (Part Two!), someone forgot to tell R&D it was the year of white, because we've got a heck of a collection of new and exciting red cards! It's Innistrad: Crimson Vow, so let's dig into the crimson cards that will turn heads at the EDH tables!
Right off the bat, we've got an ultra-efficient mythic that has Group Slug players drooling. That may actually be selling Group Slug build, but given that you can cater its damage trigger to a specific type of card, it's also just going to be a great punisher effect in general. While and currently show up in a very specific type of build, any red deck can now exile a land from the graveyard, if they feel like they're ahead on life totals, to begin pressuring the entire table. If instead you're falling behind against an artifact, enchantment, or Spellslinger deck, that's fine! Just exile an artifact, enchantment, instant, or sorcery! If it so happens that you're the one playing a specific strategy, like artifacts or Spellslinger, then even better! You can just exile the card type you play the least and score some points on the rest of the table while staying squeaky clean yourself.a bit short, however. Don't get me wrong, it will be a great inclusion in your average
All in all,would be a slam-dunk just about anywhere... if it weren't for the fact that you need to have a target for it when it comes down to get that triggered ability online. a card from a graveyard might seem easy enough, and at most points in a game, it will be, but on turn two, even at the most optimized tables, finding a dead card of the exact type you want is a tall order. Not that playing a two-mana 2/1 with first strike is the worst thing you could do, mind you. loves a cheap Vampire, for example, and or might like to hit someone's early , too. It's just that when all you get is the 2/1 for two mana, that's probably not the ideal effect you were looking for, so you'll have to play this card wisely to get the best from it.
Chandra, Dressed to Kill
Planeswalkers that don't protect themselves are generally considered bad, and with good reason. It's tempting to immediately putin that pile and not think about it anymore, but I'm not convinced that's the right call. First off, three-mana planeswalkers that can immediately go up to four loyalty can actually be kind of tough to kill if they come down early, which is usually the point you're most worried about them protecting themselves. Unless there's an aggro deck at the table, often all they'll get is one or two points of chip damage, and even that's only when other players see it as a problem. As it turns out, Chandra isn't really a problem. She's mostly an overgrown mana rock with card draw stapled on for mono-red decks. Sure, her ultimate is scary, and that might mean she'll see play in some Superfriends decks that thrive on getting to ultimates at light speed, but I doubt it, given the red restriction.
That restriction is the biggest thing. I wouldn't count on seeinganywhere but in mono-red decks, and notably mono-red Chandra tribal. She will be fairly decent in that arena, though, so if you're looking for a cheaper (mana-wise, not money-wise) for your mono-red deck that doesn't rely on or , then this is a good place to look.
If you're looking at things from a sheer efficiency perspective, it's hard to imagine doing better than. The obvious usage in EDH is, of course, Spellslinger decks, especially those already utilizing and looking for another finisher, which will provide in spades. I think it has broader usage beyond that point as well, though. For instance, in artifact decks, this can be another version of , just one that counts on-cast rather than on ETB. , for instance, will help reduce the cost of your next spell a whole lot, so you can make some hurkin' big tokens. For Superfriends, this is a huge payoff for your high-mana planeswalkers, and plenty of planeswalkers out there have very fun abilities to work off of a couple flying, hasty tokens. They don't stick around to block for the 'walkers, but if you're casting a seven-mana Bolas, it's fitting for that act to bring the pain right away. In short, if your deck is focused on anything outside of creatures, then this Dragon is a serious consideration as a finisher.
With that said, you'll have to draw a line somewhere for your builds to see if this flying, combat-based-esque mythic rare is worth inclusion, so let's find out where that line is, shall we?
Chances to get Noncreature Spells in a Given Seven-Card Hand, Based on # of Noncreature Spells in Deck
|# of Non-Creature Cards in Deck||Chance to Have >=1||Chance to Have >=2||Chance to Have >=3||Chance to Have >=4|
Now, outside of a self-imposed deckbuilding challenge (which I totally support), you're unlikely to have all of your nonland cards be noncreature spells. That said, 30 or 40 noncreature spells seems entirely within the realm of reason, and we do have some solid percentages there to get you three or more noncreature spells in any given seven cards. Below that, however, you're looking at worse odds than a coin flip to end up with even two Hellkite payoffs, so I would say the absolute cutoff for inclusion of is 30 noncreature spells, especially if your deck is likely to have less than seven cards fairly often.
As always, thanks to Kelvin Liu-Huang's probability calculator; feel free to use it to check my math or make some of your own for your own deck!
Mythics these days really seem to hit the "you can't afford not to include this" button fairly hard, but I'd resist reacting that way to this here Arsonist. Don't get me wrong, it's easy to imagine paying five, moving immediately to your combat step, and swinging in for five damage to a player while removing a chump blocker and ticking down a planeswalker; I'm just not sure that that's actually that common an occurrence. In the early game, you'll probably be free to swing in on a vulnerable player with a 4/4, and you might deal with either a planeswalker or a utility creature while doing so, especially since you don't have to target the player you're attacking. Thing is, five damage and some small-time removal doesn't seem like it's worth five mana. Just think how that stacks up compared to aor a ?
will be a slam-dunk inclusion in Werewolf tribal or other such Day/Night decks. Outside of that, finding room for this Werewolf and his Wolf pal is iffy at best.
Change of Fortune
Wheels decks rejoice! may cost four mana rather than the three mana we expect from wheel effects, like or , but if you've already cast the other two this turn, could help you draw somewhere between 20-40 cards. Sure, that's some Magical Christmasland thinking, but let's actually examine how wheel- and discard-based decks play out. If your deck is built around wheels, looting, rummaging, the new Blood tokens, Madness, or even Cycling, it's not hard to hit some pretty severe numbers and still have mana left over to cast this card. In fact, let's take a look at all the cards out there with those kind of effects that are available for three mana or less:
Top 10 Wheel, Loot, or Rummage Effects with Mana Value Three or Less
- (if cast with Miracle)
As expected, we see a lot of wheel effects, but let's not discount the entire class of 'rummage' spells hinted at in that list too, fromand to , , , and .
The point is, if your deck is built around a mechanic that includes both discard and draw, thenwill absolutely lead to the kind of explosive turn that wins games. Give it a shot if that's your bag, and if it's not, well, we've got plenty more cards to consider!
The haste here helps a lot, but even with the speed, I'm left grasping at straws to find a specific niche for. While there's definitely some off-the-path playability you could find with cards that are looking to increase their power, like or , going through all that effort doesn't seem like it'll do enough for you in the 99. That's a shame, too, because in the command zone, this could be a really fun ability. Maybe I'll ask for help with that instead.
Curse of Hospitality
We talked a bit aboutas a discount , though that came with a major caveat. No differently, will also give you cards to play, though with a major caveat: they're only going to come from your opponent's deck. Still, that never stopped hordes of folks from playing , which shows up in nearly 7,000 decks, and that one doesn't give your creatures trample!
All jokes aside, 75% decks are a great and popular EDH strategy, and this effect does fit right into that ethos. I'd expect to see this intermittently at some tables, and honestly, you're probably going to have a great time whenever you see it (provided it doesn't target you).probably isn't that good. It's a Curse, so is happy. Plus,
If you play Vampire tribal, give this card a try. I wish I had more interesting analysis than that, but honestly, that's pretty much all there is to it. It'll occasionally have some issues with an empty board, but otherwise, this is going to fit very smoothly into most low-to-the-ground Vampire builds, stealing the biggest problem on the board and swinging in with a horde of bloodsuckers.
My first thought on readingwas just raw, emotional excitement at the printing of another . Then I read further, and is so much more than that. First off, the damage on the side can be dealt to any target, not just to an opponent, like you see with , , , or even the grand-daddy of them all, . What's even more impressive, however, is the back half, which expands the effect out to each of your permanents, easily creating huge multipliers with mass damage effects like or . For a quick example, with four creatures on your board and a , you can deal a combined 52 damage to a player (or anything else you want).
For the decks already playing these-style effects, this thing is a complete game-changer... or at least it would be, if you could keep it on its Night side. It's easy enough to flip it initially; you can do so by just not doing anything on your turn. For it to stay Night all the way until you can cast a sorcery like , however, you need three consecutive players to not cast two or more spells, or for the player right before your turn to do absolutely nothing on their turn. I doubt you'll make it through even one turn of zero opponent activity in the average Commander game.
This is exactly why I brought up. With a or a on the board, you can easily pass your turn with all of your mana up, watch flip, and then start pinging everything as soon as priority is passed to you. The only real problem there is that the damage is done one point at a time, so your damage-prone permanents will drop off before you can rack up some truly ridiculous numbers. Thus, this brings me to the list of instant-speed damage-based board wipes that are the true secret tech with Howlpack Avenger:
Top 10 Red Instant-Speed Damage-Based Board Wipes
Not mentioned: the classic grand-daddy of them all,. After all, why kill an entire table with a when you can do it with a nostalgia bomb instead?
The initial cost onis prohibitively high, but you do get a lot for the price of admission. A 6/6 with menace is threatening enough, but it also coming with a means to ping blockers off the board and create six or more artifacts a turn, which could be downright game-ending in an artifact deck. Combine with any sort of artifact enter/leaves the battlefield ability ( , , , , etc.) and the table is going to be absolutely scrambling for removal. , I hope you're paying attention to this Vampire! We all know you like artifact tokens!
Token creation in red can be a bit hard to come by (Goblins notwithstanding), soshould find quite a few decks interested in making a steady stream of 1/1s in a cheap and resilient package. and , specifically, should absolutely be paying attention in class right now. While this will never keep up with an active , it's bound to stick around for a lot longer, and also get you a token the turn you play it. In short, there are sexier options when it comes to token-makers in red, but none that are as consistent and dependable, outside of perhaps the self-sacrificial .
Uncommons & Commons
Instant-speed removal is always welcome, andthrows in a Blood token to boot. shows up in 2,600 Pirate decks, so there's some demand for one-sided tribal s out there. It'd be nice to deal more damage, but it's good anti-token and anti-utility-creature tech for Vampire tribal decks, and, well, we're about to see a whole more more of those, so feel free to play this one, if you can find room!
I almost dismissedout of hand, but you actually don't need multiple copies of this card for a single copy to be playable. All you need is a or in the command zone. +1/+0, trample, and a cantrip is a lot of effects in a little package. Feather already plays tons of other sorcery-speed cantrips to get repeatable card advantage, and it sounds pretty great to copy it onto 30 creatures in Zada. So yeah, just ignore those other words, and have fun!
End the Festivities
Similarly,at first glance would seem to have close to zero playability in Commander, but there's a reason saw play in competitive formats back in the day, and this is quite the one-sided boon against highly tuned or competitive decks. One mana to take out every , , , , and on the board is a great deal, not to mention the slight pressure on both your opponents' and their planeswalkers' life totals. If you're into high-powered Magic, give this thing a try. You won't be disappointed.
As ifabove wasn't enough, here's also trying to steal 's thunder! There's nothing too complicated here: if you're playing effects, you now have another one that will survive a little bit better. Win/win!
If you're looking for the staple common of the set, it's. I won't go so far as to say that it will see play in every red deck, nor should it, but if you're looking to dig down, this thing is absolutely in the conversation. While some of the 19,000 decks playing will want to keep their discard synergies, the vast majority of them are just looking to cheaply dig through as many cards as possible, and this does an even better job. appears in 8,500 decks, and while Spectacle has its merits, this one is always consistent.
As for the 15,000 decks playing, those that never use the damage ability will be happy to know that they now have their own red version of the versus conversation to muddle through. Heck, even the Izzet decks currently featuring or now have a real decision on their hands! Expect to see this card soon, or even better, rip it straight out of your Prerelease pack and throw it in a red deck of your own!
Eat your heart out,.
Vampires, Werewolves, and efficient value is a heck of a combination. There is no doubt that we're continuing to raise the bar for red in EDH, and Crimson Vow is a significant step in that direction. From commons to mythics, there are all sorts of new playables for niche strategies and goodstuff decks alike, and even better, none of them seem to cross the line into strict upgrades and power
sprint creep! A hearty thank-you to all the designers who worked hard on it, because seeing a full set like this and not having severe concerns about the future of Magic as a result of its contents has become something of a rarity in the last two years. Crimson Vow is a refreshing change of pace. Bravo!