Wizards of the Coast has finally spilt the beans on its last Magic the Gathering set of 2021, the Vampire-focused Innistrad: Crimson Vow.
The set takes place immediately after the events of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, where vampire matriarch Olivia Voldaren managed to plunge the plane of Innistrad into an endless night. To celebrate, she is getting married to none other than the father of all vampires himself, Edgar Markov. Combining the usual horror themes of Innistrad with the decadence and revelry of a wedding, there’s lots of new and returning stuff to be excited for.
The stream announced six mechanics, three brand new and three returning. The excellent Disturb from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is returning, but with a slight twist: while Midnight Hunt had living creatures become spirits when cast out of the graveyard, Crimson Vow will allow spirits to be cast out of the graveyard as different permanents entirely. For example, Dorothea, Vengeful Victim can be disturbed to become Dorothea’s Retribution, an enchantment that makes 4/4 flying Spirit tokens.
The other returning mechanic is from Dragons of Tarkir, and it’s Exploit. Exploit is a keyword on creatures that can trigger extra effects if you sacrifice another creature when the Exploiting one enters the battlefield. This one will be particularly great in the upcoming Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow combination set, Innistrad: Double Feature, where it puts Midnight Hunt’s Decayed zombies to good use. The card used to show this off was Overcharged Amalgam, which has flash and can exploit to counter a spell or ability.
Finally, it was confirmed that we’ll be seeing a little more of Midnight Hunt’s Daybound and Nightbound, which allows creatures to transform based on how many spells were cast in the previous turn. However, its role in Crimson Vow is greatly diminished (as Olivia has successfully eradicated the day), and will only be appearing on the set’s Werewolves.
Though not a mechanic, it was also announced that the cycle of lands that began in Midnight Hunt will be completed in Crimson Vow. The Crimson Vow lands – the white/black Shattered Sanctum, blue/red Stormcarved Coast, black/green Deathcap Glade, red/white Sundown Pass, and green/blue Dreamroot Cascade) are enemy-coloured, and enter the battlefield tapped unless you control two or more other lands.
The first of the three new mechanics is the new artifact token that Mark Rosewater teased earlier this week: Blood tokens. Blood tokens work like cheaper Clue tokens, where you pay one generic, sacrifice the Blood, and discard a card to draw a card. There are said to be a few cards in Crimson Vow that use Blood in different ways too, like Voldaren Bloodcaster, who transforms into Bloodbat Summoner when you control five or more Blood tokens and make another.
Cleave is a really interesting new alternative casting cost that literally changes how the rules text on a card is meant to be read. Instants and Sorceries with Cleave will have words in square brackets, which are ignored if the spell was cast for its Cleave cost. For example, Dig Up can be cast for one green to search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, put it into your hand and shuffle. Or, you can Cleave it and ignore the words “Basic Land” and “reveal it”, turning it into a card that searches your library for any card you want and putting it into your hand.
The last new mechanic is Training, designed to be the inverse of the often-used Mentor mechanic. If a creature with Training, such as Savior of Ollenbock, attacks alongside a creature that has higher power than it, you put a counter on the creature with Training. This allows for your smaller creatures to ‘learn’ from the bigger ones and get stronger through combat, making it much more useful than Mentor.
Alongside the bridge and groom, Olivia Voldaren and Edgar Markov, a number of characters are confirmed to be making a reappearance in Crimson Vow.
In Midnight Hunt’s story, the werewolf Planeswalker Arlinn Kord sought the assistance of the Planeswalkers Teferi, Kaya, and Chandra. Though we saw Arlinn and Teferi in Midnight Hunt’s cards, Kaya and Chandra both only made fleeting appearances. In Crimson Vow, they get full Planeswalker cards: Kaya, Geist Hunter, and Chandra, Dressed to Kill.
Innistrad’s other resident Planeswalker and grandson of the groom, Sorin Markov, is also appearing in the set as Sorin the Mirthless, his eighth Planeswalker card so far. Sorin isn’t popular in Innistrad’s Vampire society, and so his card gives him an uninterested, dishevelled look.
It’s not just Planeswalkers who are coming back, though. One of the most exciting reprints announced so far is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. First appearing in Dark Ascension, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a hugely popular card, and was one of the most heavily requested reprints in Midnight Hunt. It joining formats like Standard, Brawl and Pioneer is absolutely huge.
The Commander Preconstructed Decks
We got our first look at the Commanders of the two Commander precons and, unlike Midnight Hunt and its lack of a Werewolf Commander deck, Crimson Vow actually has a Vampire one!
The Vampire deck, believed to be called Vampiric Bloodline, uses the Rakdos (black/red) Strefan, Maurer Progenitor, the patriarch of the Maurer line of Innistrad Vampires. At the beginning of your end step, you make a Blood token for each player who lost life that turn. Whenever he attacks, you can sacrifice two Blood tokens and pout a Vampire from your hand onto the battlefield attacking, allowing you to cheat out some powerful cards pretty easily.
The second Commander is the Azorius (white/blue) Spirit, Millicent, Restless Revenant. She costs one less for each spirit you control, and makes a 1/1 white Spirit token whenever it or another Spirit die or deal combat damage. This is a go-wide focused deck, and brings some much-needed support for the Disturb mechanic that was severely lacking with the Midnight Hunt Disturb legendary, Dennick, Pious Apprentice.
Alternate Art Prints
Returning from Midnight Hunt is the Eternal Night styling, which renders cards in a high-contrast monochromatic tone. This style will continue to also be seen on the basic lands of the set, which will look very similar to those used in Midnight Hunt.
Replacing Midnight Hunt’s Equinox frame is the new Fang frame, which gives cards delicate, pointy, teeth-like framing. It’s a much subtler look than the Equinox frames, but it looks incredible on cards like Olivia, Crimson Bride or Sorin, the Mirthless (whose Fang card features art by Castlevania artist Ayami Kojima).
By far the most exciting alternate art style, though, are the Dracula crossover cards. Creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Voldaren Bloodcaster, and Sorin the Mirthless will all receive alternate art that transforms them into characters from Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic, Dracula. Mina Harker, Abraham Van Helsing, and the Count himself will all be available as box toppers in booster boxes and in Collector’s boosters.
We’ll be seeing a lot more of Innistrad: Crimson Vow over the next week, as the stream marked the official start of spoiler season.
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