Innistrad: Crimson Vow EDH Set Review - Red

Travis Stanley • November 10, 2021

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Now onto the second half of the Return-Return to Innistrad double feature; Crimson Vow! The expectations of these cards may be a bit higher due to this set being around vampires, and red being a key color in vampires, makes us expect to see a lot of cool, new vampires. Regardless, there are bound to be vampires, devils, and burn spells galore! Having done all of the red cards from Midnight Hunt last time, it will be interesting to see if Crimson Vow will give us even more red goodies.


Cemetery Gatekeeper


A punisher by any other name, Cemetery Gatekeeper lets you choose how you punish your opponents. Run a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck? Consider this card exiling a lowly Dryad Arbor, now whenever your opponents play anything they get burned! Interestingly enough, Cemetery Gatekeeper can also act as a form of very specific graveyard hate. The downside is that this card also shocks you as well, but if you give it a form of lifelink, or you benefit from taking damage like Darien, King of Kjeldor, that downside doesn't seem so bad. All in all, it's a great addition to decks like Mogis, God of Slaughter, Zo-Zu the Punisher, and Vial Smasher the Fierce.


Chandra, Dressed to Kill


It's been a hot minute since we have seen Chandra in action, glad to have her back! We can clearly see, Chandra, Dressed to Kill benefits from being in mono-red decks the most, so your Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Zada, Hedron Grinder and Laelia, the Blade Reforged would benefit greatly from her. She also fits right into a Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh Chandra-tribal deck, not only does give give you mana to cast Chandras she can cast more Chandras off the top of your library! Another place where this Chandra could do a lot of work is in a Rionya, Fire Dancer deck. Having the ability to cast instant and sorceries from the top of your library, or giving you mana to help cast them could really give this commander a needed boost. Putting Chandra anywhere other than mono-red runs the risk of making her second ability (and her third ability for that matter) inert, useless, and/or absolutely unnecessary. Overall this 3 mana Planeswalker will do more work in other formats, but with the right commander, could be the perfect spark to that engine.


Manaform Hellkite


Pretty cool to have a creature version of Shark Typhoon/Metallurgic Summonings, especially when that creature is four mana, 4/4, flying dragon! The one downside (if it even is that) when compared to those cards is that the tokens exile themselves after, but fortunately those tokens have haste. Obeka, Brute Chronologist decks could definitely use this as a finisher, or a way to fill their board with flying threats. Even some dragon tribal decks could use this, it plays very nicely with Dragonstorm, Scourge of Valkas and especially Terror of the Peaks. Mostly, this feels like a finisher in spellslinger decks, Veyran Voice of Duality, Zaffai, Thunder Conductor and (my boy) Riku of Two Reflections would all love seeing this card in the 99.


Volatile Arsonist/Dire-Strain Anarchist


Funny that a mythic werewolf came in the vampire set and a mythic vampire was in the werewolf set. Anyways, looking at Volatile Arsonist, it seems that it's better suited for 60 card formats as opposed to ours. Of course now we have the obligatory Tovolar, Dire Overlord mention, in saying that though, this card will be really, really, good in those decks. Wulfgar of Icewind Dale could make this card shine by creating a Forked Bolt on attack on the front side and a Violent Eruption on the other. Aggressive strategies like Aurelia, the Warleader and Neheb the Eternal will generate quite a bit of value from this werewolf. At its floor, using it to ping down a few mana dorks isn't a terrible use. Having played with the Day/Night cycle, it makes these new werewolves quite a bit better, so I wish that Wizards could just change every other werewolf to have the Day/Night mechanic. Volatile Arsonist is a neat card, is it absolutely back breaking? No. On the flip side is it useful in certain decks? Very much yes.


Alchemist's Gambit


I know, I know, technically this has a Red/Blue color identity so it can't go into mono-red commander decks, but I want to talk about it. This spell plays in the same place as Final Fortune allowing you to take an extra turn at the greatest cost; the game. The first deck that comes to mind is Obeka, Brute Chronologist of course, her ability to skirt around the "lose the game" clause is why this card is a new staple in that deck. The nice thing about Alchemist's Gambit is that commanders like Narset, Enlightened Master can't cast the "non-cleaved" version of the card for free without having a back-up plan, or winning that turn. Though (and judges correct me if I am wrong) commanders like Melek, Izzet Paragon can cast the "cleave" cost off the top of the library and get 2 copies of the "cleaved" version of the card, which makes it very appealing to those style of decks. For all the buzz this is getting in standard right now (for good reason) I think this card will see some play in commander, as much as any other extra turn card does.


Change of Fortune


Out of all of the cards I have seen in the set, this is one of my favorites. The possibilities are vast with Change of Fortune, there are many commanders who could make great use of this. Anje Falkenrath, has a new best friend, combine this with a Shadow of the Grave and get all of those cards back! Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion could make very good use of this card, gaining you a bunch of mana, and then using this to "double" refill your hand. Partners Brallin, Skyshark Rider and Shabraz, the Skyshark wring out value out of every part of Change of Fortune. Wheel effects, Wheel of Fortune, Windfall get even better with this card. In addition, you can throw this into the pile of "cards that fuel Underworld Breach".


Creepy Puppeteer


Edgar Markov has a home for this vampire, having Creepy Puppeteer come down and attack with the token you've made off of good ol' Edgar means that you have two 4/3's attacking for 4 mana, and that's some good clean living. Unfortunately that's where this card hits the wall, anytime you attack with more than it and one other creature it's just a 4/3 with haste, which isn't terrible, but isn't great. The fun thing about affecting base power though is that equipment and auras stack on top of it, so commanders like Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders and Koll, the Forgemaster can benefit from this very Creepy Puppeteer.


Curse of Hospitality


As with most curses, this is a great way to get a player at the table to very much dislike you, by painting a big ol target on their back. You know all of their ire will come your way, no matter how the other players behave. Perfect for Grenzo, Havoc Raiser/Marisi, Breaker of the Coil decks which look to goad creatures and send them other directions rather than towards you. Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor has yet another curse to add to her arsenal, be careful though, because once this curse finds its way to you the other players will be more than happy to trample you down. Curse of Hospitality plays very nicely with Prosper, Tome-Bound decks, allowing you to gain treasures off of your opponent's cards. Go-wide strategies (ie. Krenko, Mob Boss, Edgar Markov, Ghired, Conclave Exile) are best equipped to gain the most value from this curse, being that the trigger is an "a" instead of a "one or more", so that's fun!


Dominating Vampire


Vampires. That's what Dominating Vampire needs to be most effective. A watered down version of Zealous Conscripts for one less mana, Dominating Vampire lacks the "umph" that the Conscripts do. Vampire tribal decks like Edgar Markov and Olivia Voldaren make this card shine and make it work like a Zealous Conscripts, but that's where this card hits its ceiling. Unless it's with its friends, this vampire is all bark and no bite.


Ill-Tempered Loner/Howlpack Avenger


A Boros Reckoner that can slide into more decks? Sign me up! Plus on its flip side (if you can get to it) makes your entire board (Planeswalkers included!) into procs for its ability. Meaning a well timed Star of Extinction is game over for your opponents, or even a Blasphemous Act will still do quite a bit of damage. Weirdly enough, this can fit into a lot of dinosaur decks, enrage is a heck of an ability and it wants you to be damaging your own creatures, thus making our wolf buddy here more ferocious. Once you flip over to the back side, blocking suddenly becomes a very bad idea for your opponents, and that is exactly what big daddy Tovolar, Dire Overlord wants.


Kessig Wolfrider


Kessig Wolfrider costs a lot to pump out those 3/2 wolves, if it was just 3 mana that would be okay, but also having to deplete your graveyard every time, is a pretty heavy toll to pay. Kessig Wolfrider is an accent piece on a token strategy like Akim, the Soaring Wind, other than that, don't expect to see this one in a lot of decks in the future.


Mirage Phalanx


I'm glad they brought soulbond back, that is such a cool, and sometimes very broken (looking at you Deadeye Navigator) mechanic. Mirage Phalanx is the red card of this cycle, doing what red has been known to do for the past few sets, making hastey combat clones. The important clause is that the clones themselves lose soulbond, so it doesn't break the game. This can be used to great effect for all sorts of "enter the battlefield" shenanigans. Need more lands? Soulbond a Solemn Simulacrum and go get them, plus if for some reason it dies, you get to draw a card. Judges can correct me if I am wrong, but I think if you stack the triggers right you can create a token with Mirage Phalanx and then use Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer to turn those tokens into other tokens you control! You can also just keep them with Obeka, Brute Chronologist by ending the turn after damage is dealt, then you've built yourself a red version of Progenitor Mimic. As pointed out to me, yet another card that goes infinite with Combat Celebrant, that list just keeps growing, doesn't it?


Olivia's Attendants


Six mana for a 6/6 with menace is already a good start for a card, nevermind the fact that when it deals damage you get that many blood tokens. In a deck like Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer this effect is quite powerful, when you deal damage with them it makes 6 more tokens for Brudiclad to copy! Not to mention the bigger they get the more tokens you will receive, additionally, if you had any left over mana you can just start pinging creatures down to gain more and more tokens. It's other ability to just pay red mana for it to ping a creature for one damage is very useful. In magical-christmas-dreamland it can go infinite with Zirda, the Dawnwaker, Chromatic Orrery, and Urza, Lord High Artificer. Not only can it make lots tokens, but have I mentioned that it's also a 6/6 with menace? A big beater with a tremendous upside, this card with Nettlecyst, after casting Chandra's Ignition seems silly.


Stensia Uprising


Turning around from a clunky, expensive token maker to a slow, but reliable one! Granting you a creature and the ability just to do seven damage to anything is not bad for four mana. More often than not, this will be used to generate tokens at the end step for value, like granting players more Purphoros, God of the Forge triggers. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Thromok, the Insatiable style of decks will appreciate more sac fodder for their ever growing engines. Is this as powerful as say, Assemble the Legion? No. But it's strong in its own way, giving you a way to deal some damage later, or stay a constant, reliable, token producer.

Notable Uncommons + Commons

Lambholt Raconteur/Lambholt Ravager + Kessig Flamebreather


Looks like we have some more cards to add to, what I like to call, The Prowess-Pingers Club. In the case of Kessig Flamebreather, one damage may not seem like a lot, but it does hit each player, and with a deck full of cantrips, oh boy, one turns into ten very quickly. Fortunately, due to Daybound/Nightbound, once Lambholt Raconteur flips over, you are free to storm off to your heart's content and don't have to worry about it flipping over and losing the "Werewolf-Guttersnipe" until the next turn. Running a Birgi, God of Storytelling deck with these and a bunch of red cantrips seems like a grand ol'time. Speaking of a good time, Veyran, Voice of Duality makes these cards go brrrr.


Into the Night


What a great way to dispose of a bad hand and transform all of your werewolves! This card would make the aforementioned Lambholt Raconteur much more powerful. Werewolf decks (Yep, still gonna mention Tovolar, Dire Overlord) definitely need more ways to make sure they get to that other side reliably. Into the Night also fits into Rielle, the Everwise decks. It also acts as another way to trigger madness cards and thus Anje Falkenrath could quite enjoy this one. Sedris the Traitor King is all too happy with filling up the graveyard.


Runebound Wolf


An innocuous card, Runebound Wolf can seriously pack a punch. The average wolf/werewolf deck usually runs a lot of creatures and more ways to make tokens. After a large attack with your wolf army, Runebound Wolf gives you another way to get in a big chunk of damage.


Crimson Vow gave us some pretty useful red cards and I know that I will be slotting these in some of my decks for sure. I feel like this set had more to offer werewolves as a whole as opposed to Midnight Hunt, I should've had a counter tracking every time I mention Tovolar.. Saying that, which red card are you most excited for? Keep tuned for more Crimson Vow reviews here on Commander's Herald!