Preview season for the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, begins today. Wizards of the Coast just wrapped a stream showing off all the basics of the upcoming expansion, the second set taking place on the plane of Innistrad this year. What’s happening in Crimson Vow? What mechanics can players expect? Is there anything exciting for card collectors? Look no further! You can find all of those answers below.
The Lore of Crimson Vow
In a recently unprecedented move, WOTC is releasing a fifth standard legal set this year and a sequel of sorts to the previous one, Midnight Hunt. Innistrad’s horror setting and tropes are very much a favorite of Magic players. Instead of making a quick visit to the plane, we get two full expansions; each centered on the world’s more popular tribes: Werewolves, and now a focus on Vampires in Crimson Vow.
Continuing the story from Midnight Hunt, where the humans failed in preventing the plane from being plunged into the eternal night, Vampires are ready to thrive in the neverending darkness. One head of a vampire clan, Olivia Volderan, has taken an artifact known as the Moonsilver Key, a component needed to restore day to the plane. Of course, being a nightwalker, Olivia would instead use the key to gain power and influence among the vampire clans.
Cue the crux of Crimson Vow: Olivia Voldaren’s opulent vampire wedding to another blood-drinking family leader, the long-slumbering Edgar Markov, the progenitor of all vampires on Innistrad. Wedding Edgar and uniting the two most prominent vampire families will put Olivia Voldaren in a position of incredible power.
The Planeswalkers on Innistrad from the Midnight Hunt return, but those who did not have cards in that set will be represented in Crimson Vow. Expect new Planeswalker cards for Chandra Nalaar, Kaya, and of course, the vampire Planeswalker Sorin Markov, with Teferi, Arlinn Kord, and maybe Wrenn playing a part in the story. Can the heroic group of Planeswalkers stop Olivia’s plan, recover the Moonsilver Key, and restore balance to Innistrad? The answer will most likely be found in the cards.
Crimson Vow’s Mechanics
A few mechanics will return, bridging the gap from Midnight Hunt, including Disturb and Daybound/Nightbound which you can learn about here. A third mechanic technically counts as a returning mechanic, though it comes from another plane altogether…
Making its way back to Magic from the Khans of Tarkir block is a simple but flavorful mechanic: Exploit. Cards with Exploit let the player sacrifice a creature they control for effects to occur. While the keyword costs a creature on your board to be consumed, you benefit from the effect detailed on the Exploit card, as well as letting you play into any sacrifice or graveyard synergies your deck may be built around. In the case of Fell Stinger, Exploit allows a target player to draw two cards and lose two life.
Now for the new mechanics debuting in Crimson Vow:
These artifact tokens fall into a similar family to Clues, Food, or Treasures. Blood Tokens are artifacts you can pay one mana for, tap, discard a card, and sacrifice the token to draw a card. Mana-wise, it’s cheaper than a clue to draw a card, though you do have to lose something from your hand. However, with many strategies in Innistrad sets, you sometimes want cards in your graveyard for grander purposes. I expect to be pitching plenty of Disturb cards into the graveyard using these Blood Tokens.
In one of the more interesting ways Wizards has found to lower the character count on a card, Cleave lets players cut out bracketed words in a card’s rules text for an alternate mana cost.
Here’s an example: Dig Up is a card for one green mana that says “Search your library for a [basic land] card, [reveal it,] put it into your hand, then shuffle.” If you pay the four-mana Cleave cost, you ignore the bracketed words making the card instead read as “Search your library for a card, put it into your hand, then shuffle.” No longer does the card being searched require to be a basic land, nor do you have to reveal it. Find any card and put it in your hand—a very powerful upgrade. I’m most excited to see what other cool effects Cleave will reveal hidden within other cards in Crimson Vow.
Humans have an uphill battle to fight after losing daytime altogether on the plane and being overwhelmed by the horrors and monsters of Innistrad. The new keyword Training will surely help bolster their forces. Training’s rules text reads, “Whenever this creature attacks with another creature with greater power, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.” It’s kind of like a reverse Mentor from 2018’s Guilds of Ravnica. Some creatures will also have an added benefit when they “train,” like Savior of Ollenbeck, which exiles a creature from the battlefield or graveyard whenever the effect triggers.
Showcase Frames and Alternate Art Treatments
Crimson Vow’s vampire-only Showcase frames lean heavily into the luxury of the creature type and Olivia’s impending wedding. Wizards call this new treatment the “Fang Frame” featuring, well, fang-like adornments and ornate filigree around the border of the art.
What’s most exciting about these is the Fang Frame version of Sorin The Mirthless, which you can lay your eyes on above. Your eyes don’t deceive you, Sorin does kind of look like Alucard. That’s because famed Castlevania artist, Ayami Kojima, was hired to paint a rendition of everyone’s favorite vampire prince. And she absolutely knocked it out of the park!
Black and white horror-inspired Eternal Night cards return from Midnight Hunt as well and are featured on legendary creatures that are not vampiric by nature. Below you can see the alternate are for Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which makes its return to Standard for the first time in almost a decade! Ten additional full-art basic land cards with new art using this style can be found in booster packs as well.
All of the above art treatments can be found in any Innistrad: Crimson Vow booster pack. Whether it’s a Draft, Set, Theme, or Collector’s booster; you have a chance to pull these awesome versions from anywhere.
2020’s Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths marked the very first time alternate named cards with art from a non-Magic property were printed with Godzilla characters. With Crimson Vow, Wizards is tapping into the most iconic vampire of all time, Dracula. These alternate art, alternately-named cards are functional copies of the in-universe Crimson Vow cards, only these feature the names and art of characters from Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. Above, you can see the alternate version of Sorin, which is Dracula himself, and below is Sister of the Undead, the Dracula Series version of Olivia, Crimson Bride.
Dracula has been interpreted in many ways over the years in countless movies, TV shows, games, and books. Wizards took the art direction from the source, the original novel, so every little detail on each of the characters is pulled from the words written by Bram Stoker himself.
These cards will only be found in two places: collector’s boosters and as box toppers for booster boxes. Any kind of booster box will come with one Dracula Series card packed in the box.
Commander decks for Crimson Vow will complete the set started in Midnight Hunt with two new 100 card premade decks featuring Vampires and Spirits, respectively. Also continuing from Midnight Hunt is the trend Wizards set in inserting Commander-focused cards in Set and Collector’s boosters that cannot be found anywhere else. These cards include Wedding Ring, a new white artifact that enables an additional card draw, an action typically lacking in that color.
Crimson Vow will be available on Magic: The Gathering Arena on November 11, with pre-release events starting at local game stores on November 12. The official release for the physical set will be the week after on November 19.
And that’s all of the big news coming out of today’s Magic: The Gathering Innistrad: Crimson Vow reveal event! Let us know what you think of the new set. Are you aiming to pull that incredible Ayami Kojima Sorin like I am? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!