Innistrad: Crimson Vow EDH Set Review - Green
Cemetery Prowler | Art by Daarken
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Reviewing Your Greens
It's that time again, and another Magic set is upon us. Innistrad: Crimson Vow brings the conclusion of the story started in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. More vampires, more scrappy humans holding out hope in a hopeless world, more horrible abominations proving that Emrakul is still in the moon. Let's take a look at the green offerings from this red wedding.
This card sits at the top of a small cycle of green cards in Crimson Vow. Each has a keyword, buffs a single creature on their front side, then buffs your whole team on the back. Avabruck Caretaker is easily the most powerful of these cards. Hexproof makes it immune to targeted removal, and it distributes +1/+1 counters among your other creatures. As Hollowhenge Huntmaster, however, all of your creatures will have hexproof, and get a +1/+1 counter at the beginning of combat on your turn. Avabruck Caretaker is at home in any deck that cares about counters, but Tovolar, Dire Overlord makes it easy to transform into Hollowhenge Huntmaster as often as possible. Atraxa, Praetor's Voice and Saskia, the Unyielding might make better use of the hexproof, but will have a much harder time keeping the more powerful Hollowhenge Huntmaster in play on your turn, as your opponents will do their best to deny you access to such a powerful card. You can deny your opponents the ability to cast multiple spells, through Rule of Law and Winter Orb, but most playgroups won't appreciate a heavy stax deck. The Celestus grants you some extra control over the Day/Night cycle, but Avabruck Caretaker is powerful enough on its own to be worth including even if you don't plan on transforming it.
Cultivator Colossus is a big, splashy mythic that's perfect to build around in EDH. I don't think its as generically useful as you might expect, when you first read the card though. Sure, it combos with Abundance, but it isn't the most efficient way to do that. The best case scenario for Cultivator Colossus is to cast it with nothing but lands in your hand, so you can dump them into play and replace them with spells off the top of your deck. And most decks don't want to be in a situation where you have six plus lands in hand after turn seven. Not even landfall decks. Where Cultivator Colossus will shine is in decks that have other reasons to be playing a lot of lands. Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant is a great example. Sasaya needs you to have seven lands in hand, and rewards you with a huge amount of mana. So, flip Sasaya and then tap one Forest to cast Cultivator Colossus, and trade your seven lands for seven huge creatures, which you can probably cast with all the mana Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant makes.
Another use for Cultivator Colossus is as a combo with Maelstrom Wanderer. You can use the Wanderer to Cascade into Cultivator Colossus and Laboratory Maniac and immediately draw the rest of your deck to win the game. In the right situation, the Colossus can be very strong, but requires you to build and play in certain ways, which is the perfect way to design big, splashy mythics.
This may be controversial, but Cemetery Prowler is perhaps the strongest green card out of Crimson Vow, for EDH at least. The graveyard is a massively important resource in Commander, so being able to remove key cards is vital for staying alive against Muldrotha, the Gravetide, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, and even Kenrith, the Returned King. Cemetery Prowler does lose flexibility when compared to Scavenging Ooze and Soul-Guide Lantern, but I think it is also substantially stronger. Because the exile ability triggers whenever Cemetery Prowler enters the battlefield OR attacks, you can still exile cards at instant speed by blinking it. Additionally, it doesn't just answer graveyards. Any spell you cast that shares a type with a card Cemetery Prowler has exiled costs one less, so this creature also ramps you, and facilitates storm strategies. Slot it into a Chulane, Teller of Tales blink deck, Kalamax, the Stormsire spellslinger deck, or even a Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist aggro deck and Cemetery Prowler will do a ton of work for you. It's even great in enchantress decks, letting you more easily create angels with Sigil of the Empty Throne. Even if your opponents aren't playing many enchantments, you can always exile one of your own enchantments to get that discount.
This enchantment does a lot. Literally. There are so many modes on this card, that you could find a use for it in just about any deck. I think you want to evaluate Glorious Sunrise based on how often you'll want the first ability, and the third. The second, letting a land tap for three green until end of turn, is useful for rebuilding after a board wipe, but you'll usually want to be boosting your creatures, or drawing an extra card. While the boost would help a wide board of tokens, I think this is really best in a deck with lots of medium sized creatures. You can buff them to trample over smaller creatures, and trade with bigger creatures in combat, or you can draw a card, rather than having to choose between the two every turn. The main feature of Glorious Sunrise is its flexibility, so don't play it in decks that only let you use one or two of the modes. Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, Surrak Dragonclaw, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf could all make excellent use of Glorious Sunrise.
Howling Moon feels very specific, but seems more like a trap for Wolf/Werewolf tribal. It only pumps up one Wolf per turn, so it doesn't reward you for playing a lot of Wolves and Werewolves. Tovolar's Kessig Wolf Run-esque ability is a stronger single target pump, and this isn't a tribal anthem. The real reason to play this is to punish other players for casting multiple spells a turn, accruing value in tokens as the game progresses. Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves will make your opponents think twice about casting that second spell, as you will gain life and pick off mana dorks and utility creatures. Adrix and Nev, Twincasters double the number of wolves you make, up to six 2/2 Wolves in a turn cycle.
Dodging the cost of big spells is one of the most powerful things you can do in Magic, and Howlpack Piper lets you do just that. Similar to Sneak Attack and Elvish Piper, Howlpack Piper is right at home in decks playing lots of big creatures. Mayael the Anima and Atla Palani, Nest Tender are both great homes for this card. Having access to Red with the Piper also helps make up for the fact its ability can only be activated at instant speed. A slightly more devious place to play Howlpack Piper, however, is in Changeling Tribal decks. Use the Piper to put Chameleon Colossus, Taurean Mauler, and any other changelings into your hand in play to take advantage of the powerful abilities on The Ur-Dragon and the Reaper King.
Ulvenwald Oddity is the second of the three card cycle in green, each of which has an ability, and then flips to give that ability away. In this case though, its actually two abilities. Ulvenwald Oddity is strong as a 4/4 with trample and haste for four mana. Things get silly when you pay seven mana to flip it into Ulvenwald Behemoth, and it gives your other creatures Trample, Haste, and +1/+1. Haste is hard to come by in Green, and Surrak, the Hunt Caller decks will appreciate a redundant effect for their commander. Creatures based decks without Red will also make good use of this haste. Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar, or any other mono-green Voltron deck, get a huge boost from this card. Additionally, go-wide token decks could also add Ulvenwald Oddity as an additional anthem and late game mana sink. It works well with Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist and Anafenza the Foremost, helping to punch through clogged boards and finish the game.
Cloaked Cadet is a solid card advantage piece for any deck that cares about +1/+1 counters. Don't overlook it just because it specifices those counters need to be placed on humans. The cadet fulfills that requirement on its own, so Shalai, Voice of Plenty, Gavony Township, and Cathars' Crusade all become draw engines. Any effect (Kenrith, the Returned King) that can put +1/+1 counters on creatures at instant speed is great with Cloaked Cadet.
Crawling Sensation doesn't see a ton of play, so I'm hoping Crawling Infestation will help it see more. Consistent self mill effects are powerful, especially when they come with extra value. The tokens created by Crawling Sensation are great incidental blockers, and provide a base for Mutation with Nethroi, Apex of Death, or a way to convoke Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Crawling Infestation also works with cycling creatures, making it a natural fit for Living Death style decks as well.
And finally, we come to the third and final card in the green cycle of giving away keywords. Dormant Grove is my least favorite of the three, although it does grant a useful keyword. Vigilance is highly valuable for aggressive decks, letting you attack without fear of retaliation. I'd rather Dormant Grove stay an enchantment when it transforms though. Creatures are more vulnerable to removal. If a board wipe is the best answer for my deck, I want to play anthems and buffs that aren't creatures. Still, a 3/6 that grants vigilance is great for Arcades, the Strategist and Doran the Siege Tower, while token decks like Katilda, Dawnhart Prime will be able to avoid transforming Dormant Grove.
Laid to Rest
I'm a big fan of Fecundity, and this is a tribal version of the same effect. Laid to Rest helps Human tribal decks rebuild after board wipes, but also fits into sacrifice decks that want to loop Eternal Witness, Zulaport Cutthroat, and Plaguecrafter. The incidental lifegain from +1/+1 counters makes this a solid choice if you're sacrifice commander of choice is Reyhan, Last of the Abzan, but isn't the real draw to playing Laid to Rest.
According to EDHREC, Regrowth is currently played in over 29,000 decks. That number speaks to the value in returning any card from your graveyard, whether it was milled, destroyed, or countered the first time. Retrieve lacks the universality of Regrowth, but lets you grab two cards instead of one. Most of the time you'll want to get back a permanent anyway, so there's very little opportunity cost to playing Retrieve.
There aren't many commanders that want you to sacrifice your own lands, and there are better tools than Spiked Ripsaw, but that won't stop me from recommending you play it in Titania, Protector of Argoth and The Gitrog Monster. Especially if you want to tone either of these commanders down, swapping Zuran Orb for a once-a-turn sacrifice outlet like Spiked Ripsaw will put a limit on the amount of value you can generate in one turn. Plus, a 9/9 frog with deathtouch and trample is pretty scary.
If you can get enough creatures into your graveyard, Moldgraf Millipede can become a real threat. It's easy to overlook a five mana creature competing with Stitcher's Supplier in self-mill strategies, but sometimes you just need to attack for ten or eleven damage, and Moldgraf Millipede can do that easily. If you're already playing Splinterfright and Mortivore, consider adding this Insect Horror as well.
It isn't often you see a ramp spell that does anything other than ramp, so Nature's Embrace has my attention. This aura is particularly relevant for Voltron style enchantress decks, like Tuvasa the Sunlit and Kestia, the Cultivator. If you draw it early, you can enchant a land to ramp towards your commander. Draw it later on, though, and it becomes a decent creature enchantment. There could be some niche utility with creature lands, like Inkmoth Nexus or Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
And that brings us to the end of this review of the green cards in Innistrad: Crimson Vow. Excluding reprints, which this set has several of. Splendid Reclamation will get its second printing here, along with Mulch, both of which are staples of self-mill decks. But I also couldn't talk about every single card in the set. Do you think I overlooked something? Or was I too harsh, or hyped, for a card? Let me know what you think of the set in the comments, and thanks for reading.