Innistrad: Crimson Vow EDH Set Review - Multicolor
Eruth, Tormented Prophet | Art by Ekaterina Burmak
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All that Glitters Is Gold
Welcome to the multicolor installment of reviews for the newest cards from Crimson Vow! If you haven't read the other reviews from our team of great writers yet, you can find them here:
We're going to kick this review off with the multicolor commanders for the set!
Anje, Maid of Dishonor
Anje, Maid of Dishonor is not nearly as strong as Edgar Markov, and that's a good thing because power doesn't always equate to being interesting! Anje, Maid of Dishonor provides support for the Vampire tribe in red and black that her initial incarnation wasn't designed to provide, but just like Anje Falkenrath she staples some insane value onto every card cast. Insert "Controversial Commander Opinion to Get Clicks": people are drastically underrating blood tokens. Every vampire comes with a 1-mana card filter ing effect that leaves you card neutral while also providing the ability to dig for answers, threats, or even lands in the right situation. I have two red-black decks already, and I'm not a huge tribal guy, so I doubt I build her, but I think Anje, Maid of Dishonor is doing something powerful and unique while not making you the number one target at the table, which is nothing to shake a finger at.
Dorothea, Vengeful Victim // Dorothea's Retribution
Oh Geist of Saint Traft, how we must jump through hoops to get to you! Dorothea, Vengeful Victim has great stats and comes out early to plant herself in the yard for Dorothea's Retribution, but the auto-sacrifice trigger is a big bummer. There could be a fliers deck that wants her at the helm, but the aura decks that would want her in the 99 would probably just play Invocation of Saint Traft unless they want a duplicate of the effect. I do like that this is a tutor-able aura in something like a Sisay, Weatherlight Captain enchantress deck, which actually sounds kind of sweet.
Edgar, Charmed Groom // Edgar Markov's Coffin
Eddie's back! Edgar, Charmed Groom // Edgar Markov's Coffin may not be as powerful as Edgar Markov, but he provides yet another great option for vampire mages that want to opt for white over red. I could see him helming a vampire deck as a resilient token producer or in the 99 of a vampire-tribal build (maybe in Edgar Markov himself!), but I think Edgar, Charmed Groom // Edgar Markov's Coffin really shines in token and aristocrat-style decks. The first card that came to mind is one of my favorite creatures of all time, aesthetically and mechanically, Elenda, the Dusk Rose! She wants to generate a bunch of tokens, and Edgar, Charmed Groom // Edgar Markov's Coffin provides a resilient threat, a token generator, and a way to pump all the vampire tokens you make for an alpha strike. He does everything Elenda, the Dusk Rose wants to do, all wrapped up in one card for 4 mana. Not a bad rate.
Eruth, Tormented Prophet
EDHREC writer and friend UltraBudgetBrews is SO close to pulling the trigger on a 6th izzet deck with this scary gal in the driver's seat, and I think he's onto something. While the draw may be temporary, doubling a draw is a very powerful effect and at 3 mana value Eruth, Tormented Prophet strikes me as one of the most powerful legendary creatures in Crimson Vow. I play a fair amount of high-powered EDH (aka "I Can't Believe it isn't cEDH"), and I could really see her in the driver's seat of a turbo-xerox style decks hoping to draw to a Thassa's Oracle or Laboratory Maniac win. Play her alongside cards like Alhammarett's Archive, Teferi's Puzzle Box, and Teferi's Ageless Insight to start doing some nutty stuff, and turn every Opt or Consider into Ancestral Recall (if you squint hard enough). Eruth, Tormented Prophet wins the award for the commander I am most likely to build on Archideckt, goldfish, buy cards for, and never build because I don't have a Chrome Mox.
Grolnok, the Omnivore
This is a unique spin on the Simic theme of "I do what I want better than you", but I'm not certain I see something I like all that much. Cards like Gonti, Lord of Luxury are templated to allow you to play the cards you exile from an opponent regardless, where Grolnok, the Omnivore has to be on the battlefield for the croak counters to mean anything. That said, having a range of playable cards from exile is not something that can be overlooked, even if they have to be permanents. My guess is that this is a commander that wants almost everything to be a permanent, but there is lots of play at instant speed in Simic with cards in the vein of Mystic Snake, Frilled Mystic, and Brazen Borrower. The first line of text seems like a throw-away, but who hasn't wanted to get into the red zone with a Spore Frog? Grolnok, the Omnivore seems fine, which is probably a good place to be for a Simic commander in the wake of, you know, all the other Simic commanders in existence.
Halana and Alena, Partners
The duo that had everyone confused by Mark Rosewater's Tumblr teaser, Halana and Alena, Partners is an interesting take on the "Gruul smash" design we've seen before. Effectively doubling up spells like Berserk and Infuriate is no joke, and giving haste to a freshly-cast threat is strong as well, especially given that the stat boost is in the form of counters. Halana and Alena, Partners gives me real Xenagos, God of Revels vibes, but more aggressively-costed but easier to interact with. Reach is also better than it appears because, honestly, flying is actually still just really, really good - even in EDH.
I have been looking for years from a Boros commander to build: something that was interesting enough to pilot over and over again, drew enough cards to be viable, and was open-ended enough to not get bored piloting. And while he is getting a lot of hate, I think Odric, Blood-Cursed might be exactly the commander I have been waiting for. To reiterate something I already said: people are underrating blood tokens, and being able to blink and/or recast Odric, Blood-Cursed over and over again to turbo through your deck is way more viable and powerful than people are admitting. Even a very medium board state can lead to 2-4 blood tokens, which can become 2-4 spells in place of lands or 2-4 cards deeper into your deck when you are digging for that clutch Mana Tithe (with the Japanese Mystical Archive art, of course). Conjurer's Closet and Erratic Portal seem really sweet here alongside cards like Ephemerate to generate value from our commander and other value creatures. This ain't no Nessian Courser, friends - this is a real-deal, interesting, and underestimated Boros commander.
R&D really pulled some levers to power down Old Rutstein, but it is still a really interesting value engine. It's very incremental, but really reminds me of the kind of limited advantage that made Chevill, Bane of Monsters a real powerhouse commander (in my experience). It's a lot to track, and it's self-limiting, but both blood tokens and treasures are pretty valuable as a way to gain card quality and double- and triple-spell, respectively. However, what I have seen and experienced is that decks like Old Rutstein really need a solid way to close the game quickly, otherwise your spinning wheels might hurt the quality of play. All told, if you like grinding out games, playing cards like Phyrexian Obliterator, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, this might be a great commander for you!
Olivia, Crimson Bride
Olivia, Crimson Bride is great. Full stop. Haste means that you get value as long as you can move to attackers, and she is going to reward you playing creatures with ETB and damage triggers like Ashling, the Extinguisher, Balefire Dragon, and Azra Oddsmaker. Even though the cards are exiled if you don't control a legendary vampire, the fact is that you likely won't have much to do with them while they are in the bin that is this aggressively costed. Extra combat steps is probably a sweet way to build Olivia, Crimson Bride, along with a bunch of self mill. Not necessarily a vampire-tribal commander, but can definitely hold her own in contention for that spot!
Runo Stromkirk // Krothuss, Lord of the Deep
Runo Stromkirk // Krothuss, Lord of the Deep has some strong Call of Cthulhu vibes going on, and I'm here for it. The front side is a one-time Haunted Crossroads or Volrath's Stronghold, but with some beefy boys and some self mill (Otherworldly Gaze, anyone?), you should be able to consistently flip to the back side, which is a nutty card. Doubling up token copies of your Spawning Kraken, Serpent of Yawning Depths, or even Gyruda, Doom of Depths is going to make you enemy number one. Ultimately, though, that won't matter because your opponents will already be dead by the time it matters. And, yes, I know Gyruda, Doom of Depths is legendary, but you get all the triggers.
Torens, Fist of the Angels
Tokens are good, but tokens with training are bonkers. Torens, Fist of the Angels is going to build an army really quickly, and with that low mana value he is also going to generate an army early in the game. If you can fade some board wipes or have your Heroic Interventions at the ready, you should be able to close the game out relatively quickly. You will want to be able to chain up the curve with increasing power, so there is a real world where this can be built with some kind of weird Birthing Pod or Pyre of Heroes chain. My one qualm is that tracking is going to feel a little bit like a nightmare, so if this is your jam make sure you are up on your arithmetic skills. For all other things about Selesnya colors, please refer to EDHRECast member and Selesnya guru Matt Morgan, because I don't think I have played green and white together...well, ever.
Toxrill, the Corrosive
The hype when Toxrill, the Corrosive was previewed was insane, and the power is there. Even at 7 mana value, giving the board -4/-4 and counting each rotation of the table is going to be absurd, and you should be able to amass slugs and convert them to cards rather quickly. Season your blue-black escargot to taste with Counterspells and Malakir Rebirths. I do think this deck is going to feel a little stale once the initial glamour has worn off because effectively board-wiping every turn really slows the game down to a crawl, which I suppose is on flavor for a slug. I'm not too high on Toxrill, the Corrosive, but I'm down to be proven wrong, and maybe I am underestimating the closing power of the slug tokens.
Cleave It to Beaver
The rare cycle of multicolor cleave spells might be one of the most convoluted cycles grammatically, but mechanically it seems really sweet. Providing modality to some powerful effects to let them play across the curve is nuts. Obviously this aspect of the cycle is going to be important in 60-card constructed formats, but my best guess is that this is going to be great in EDH too, as we have seen modal cards like Rakdos Charm, Cryptic Command, and Murderous Rider take their places on the battlefield before.
I don't know about you, but Final Fortune is one hell of a drug. It's these kind of high risk, high reward situations that create stories in playgroups and cap off legendary slogs. Honestly, most of the time it just takes one more turn to close a game. However, the flexibility of being able to play it late as a Time Warp (or an Explore if we are really honest with ourselves) is going to lead it to be played in a wide variety of Izzet and Izzet-adjacent decks, but particularly those that either care about combat or about having one big turn. My eyes are on Mizzix of the Izmagnus and Veyran, Voice of Duality to test and potentially include this spell in some builds that are more explosive.
Diabolic Tutor is...middling. People play it a lot because it is cheap and readily available. In decks that run both green and black, Dig Up is not strictly better in the strict sense, but it's pretty much strictly better. Being able to Dig Up a land with a Land Grant effect early to hit land drops and find any answer or threat later is no joke. I'm actually a huge fan of these effects, and I have trimmed a land from multiple decks for either Traverse the Ulvenwald or Abundant Harvest, and this is pretty close to those cards in a lot of situations with upside of being a tutor late.
Lantern Flare is probably the weakest of the bunch for EDH, but that doesn't mean it's weak. Boros decks will probably play it until something better comes along, and there is probably a small number of Boros-aligned lifegain decks that might want it too. All told, we tend to underestimate incidental lifegain in EDH because, well, it isn't overly powerful with everyone starting at 40. However, pinning a scalable removal spell and lifegain together that can sometimes let you double or triple spell in combat or on an opponent's turn is huge. Also, Stuffy Doll anyone?
Path of Peril
Board wipes and Orzhov - name a more iconic duo. Path of Peril is limited low on the curve, but in aggressive matches it can be exactly what's needed. I am a big fan of bolting birds - this is one big bolt - and there are a lot of green mana dorks at the 2 mana value or less mark, which can incidentally punish some more absurd-but-greedy starts out of green decks relying on dorks to make up for a lack of lands. Six mana is a lot for a full board wipe, but playing at two spots in the curve and situationally punishing more aggressive starts for very little mana makes me think this will see some play. I also like this as another potential budget entry in the board wipe category, as it doesn't seem ridiculously powerful enough to climb past a few dollars, even though the presale price has it hovering somewhere between $2.50 and $3.
This is a powerful card draw spell for flying-tribal decks. The problem? There isn't really a Simic-colored flying-matters commander anywhere to be seen, unless you count the few Derevi, Empyrial Tactician decks that aren't trying to grind your game to a screeching halt. In fact, the most interesting flying-tribal commander of the bunch, Inniaz, the Gale Force, doesn't get to take advantage of this awesome spell. As much as I love the raw power of mass card draw (even when it is conditional), I don't see any obvious home for it when it is competing with other green mass-draw spells like Rishkar's Expertise or Shamanic Revelation.
The Best of the Rest
Look, it's Doran, the Siege Tower! Ancient Lumberknot is a great addition to big-booty tribal decks like Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and, in particular, serves as a quasi-duplicate commander in Doran, the Siege Tower lists. This card is a role player and pretty narrow, but anytime we get a duplicate effect it is worth paying attention to.
Child of the Pack // Savage Packmate
Makes wolves? Check. Pumps wolves? Check. Probably would have been a better design for a werewolf-tribal commander than Ulrich of the Krallenhorde // Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha was? Also check. With the popularity of this beloved tribe and the aggressive bent of the battlefield in the matchups, even a middling lord effect is going to clock in and go to work. My guess is that we will be seeing Child of the Pack // Savage Packmate anywhere you might see a Tovolar, Dire Overlord // Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge.
Kaya, Geist Hunter
3 mana value planeswalkers have a long history of being powerful, and I think Kaya, Geist Hunter fits the bill even if she is narrow. Her +1 can make combat a nightmare, and paired with Fynn, the Fangbearer or Strixhaven Stadium, she can actually lead to no-win situations for your opponents. Her -2 is a one-shot Anointed Procession, which is obviously an insanely powerful effect. Even doing it one time with the right cards can begin to spiral the game out of control. That ultimate is nothing to joke around about either - the fact that each token has flying and that she doesn't care if the exiled cards are creatures means that if you can tick her up to a -6 she will end the game in short order.
Be still my beating heart! This is the kind of creature I can get behind. Six deep is really deep, and the ability to have a cheap threat that can be Ghostly Flickered for value is nuts. As I have been oft to say around the table, never underestimate the value of a small, flying creature. I don't have a clear home for this yet outside of an aggressive-leaning Jeskai beatdown-style deck, but I think it has a place in the format because the value is nuts. I still don't think this takes a Silundi Vision // Silundi Isle slot in spells-matter decks, but man alive this is pushed. I'm excited to build really poor limited decks running too many Counterspell effects with Wandering Mind, but I'm excited to try it in my budget Kykar, Wind's Fury beatdown deck as another way to dig for answers.
That's all, folks!
Which gold commander are you most excited to build around? Am I off my rocker when I talk about blood tokens? Did I miss any cards you're really excited for? Let us know in the comments!