Crimson Vow is the second of two thematically connected sets released in the back end of 2021. Marketed (and re-released) as a double feature, alongside Midnight Hunt, the two sets gave us another look at Innistrad.
In Midnight Hunt, the humans of Innistrad looked to the rituals of the Harvesttide festival to hold back the endless night. In so doing, they hoped the monsters who thrive in the dark and threaten the populace. But it isn't only Werewolves and mindless monsters who threaten humanity. Vampires stalk the shadows. More cunning than most, they have designs of their own. Foremost is the plan to bond two of the strongest bloodlines in marriage.
Magic The Gathering
New to magic? Here's a quick rundown:
Magic the Gathering (MtG) is a collectable card game for two or more players. Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards (known as Planeswalkers), who have the ability to travel the multi-verse.
Players cast spells, summon creatures, and deploy artifacts to overcome their opponents. Typically, a player will win by reducing their opponent’s starting life points to zero, but there are other paths to victory.
Wizards of the Coast release expansion sets regularly. Expansions add hundreds of cards to the available pool. Players now have thousands of cards from which to collect and play within customised decks!
Innistrad Crimson Vow is the 90th set released for MtG, released on 19 November 2021. 277 cards make up the set: 100 commons, 83 uncommons, 64 rares, 20 mythic rares, and 10 basic lands. Crimson Vow includes a combination of reprinted and new cards. Collectors can chase a further 134 variant and promo cards, available from in store events and various products. (Good luck with that!)
The Crimson Vow product range includes the Bundle, a Gift Edition Bundle, two Commander decks; as well as a suite of Boosters. Draft, Theme, Collector and Set.
Crimson Vow revolves around five allied-coloured tribes, in both theme and gameplay. The same five featured in Midnight Hunt. The tribes are: Humans (Green/White), Spirits (White/Blue), Zombies (Blue/Black), Vampires (Black/Red), and Werewolves (Red/Green). Where Midnight Hunt put Werewolves up front and centre, Crimson Vow leans heavily into Vampires. Amongst the promo cards are 17 foil cards re-skinned as characters or locations from Bram Stokers Dracula.
Mechanics and Gameplay
Like Midnight Hunt, Crimson Vow has a strong lean into tribal play styles. The set includes a both cycle of tribal hate spells and a cycle of tribal support spells. Examples include Parasitic Grasp and Resistance Squad, which target and benefit Humans respectively.
Crimson Vow brings back Transforming Werewolves and Spirits from Midnight Hunt. Along with them comes their associated keywords Day/Nightbound and Disturb.
Humans now mentor each other with the Trainer ability. When a creature with Trainer attacks alongside a creature with higher power, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
Zombies gain Exploit, an ability last seen (prior to Crimson Vow) in Modern Horizons (2019). When you play a creature with Exploit, you may sacrifice another creature you control for a benefit.
Vampires now create and interact with Blood Tokens in a variety of ways. Blood Tokens are colourless artifacts with the ability: Pay one mana, discard a card, and sacrifice this artifact to draw a card.
Another new mechanic is Cleave, an alternate casting cost on some cards. If a card is cast for its cleave cost, the player can ignore some words in the rule text. Cleave is mostly found on Instant and Sorcery spells.
For an example of Cleave, check out Path of Peril. A three mana black sorcery Destroy all creatures [with mana value 2 of less]. Pay the Cleave cost (instead of the cast cost) to ignore the bracketed text. This feels like a spin on split cards seen in the Invasion, Dissension and Return to Ravnica sets. The left side provided a low cost spell for early, the right a higher cost, more powerful spell for late game.
Crimson Vow was my second favourite set of 2021 (after Kaldheim). As a big fan of Vampire Tribal that isn't surprising. Check this set out if you enjoy running tribal decks. Especially fans of Vampire, Spirit, and Zombie themed decks. All receive a lot of new cards to fit multiple deck strategies. Like Midnight Hunt, it's fun to draft (I prefer Crimson Vow to Midnight Hunt). The two combined make for a particularly good draft.
In keeping with newer sets, the variant basic lands look fantastic - something for the collectors. As are the multitude of extended art, showcase and variant cards that all look great, and make nice mini collections.
Like Midnight Hunt, Crimson Vow feels like a good set for new players to dive into. The two commander decks released with Crimson Vow give new players four (two from Midnight Hunt) pre-constructed decks to experiment with. If you want to build something completely new, check out the bundles from both sets. Cards from Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow work particularly well together, providing a good pool of cards to work with.