Wednesday, 10 November 2021 07:28

Innistrad: Crimson Vow drafting guide - Make your first draft your best draft

Written by
Innistrad: Crimson Vow drafting guide - Make your first draft your best draft WOTC/MARTA NAEL

Innistrad: Crimson Vow, the next Magic: The Gathering set, is scheduled for release on Nov. 19.  In anticipation of the set, Magic Untapped has put together a simple guide of what to look for when you draft the set.

Check out the video below to learn about the set's archetypes and what cards to look out for while drafting.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Are you looking for a way to dominate your drafts once Innistrad: Crimson Vow comes out for Magic: The Gathering later this month?  Well, then Magic Untapped has a drafting guide for you to give you the archetype edge at your LGS.

RED/GREEN: WEREWOLVES

Just like with the previous Innistrad set, Midnight Hunt, if you’re drafting red/green you’re looking to go heavy on the werewolves and their daybound/nightbound-based transformations.  In fact, red and green are the only colors in Crimson Vow that care about this mechanic, so it’s best to stick strictly to these colors if this is what you’re going for.

In this archetype, players will notice a good amount of wolf and werewolf synergy with many cards rewarding you for having a them on the battlefield such as Hungry Ridgewolf, Packsong Pup, and Runebound Wolf.  And there are even cards such as Kessig Wolfrider and Child of the Pack that can help you make more if you’re a few wolves short of a pack.

But while there’s a nice assortment of wolf and werewolf cards, as well as wolf and werewolf matters cards, the archetype has next to no synergy with anything outside of its colors within the set.  As such, it may be the weakest archetype to draft within Crimson Vow.

RED/BLUE: SPELLSLINGING

Since pretty much the inception of Magic, red-blue combinations have largely focused upon spellslinging.  Though, while previous spellslinging matters strategies only cared about instants and sorceries, Crimson Vow’s version cares about ALL non-creature spells, including enchantments, artifacts, and, yes, planeswalkers.

In support of this, look for cards like Whispering Wizard, which makes 1/1 flyers each time a non-creature spell is cast, Frenzied Devil, which gets +2/+2 until end of turn as its trigger, and the cards Kessig Flamebreather and Lambholt Raconteur, each of which which deals one damage to each opponent when triggered, except that the Raconteur can be transformed to deal two damage instead.

There’s also the card Manaform Hellkite, a rather impressive and arguably under-costed creature that makes hasty temporary dragon token creatures with flying whose power and toughness are equal to the mana spent to cast that non-creature spell.

As for the spells themselves, Crimson Vow has no shortage of efficient and effective ones.  This includes reprints of Abrade and Syncopate, as well as new cards Rending Flame, Thirst for Discovery, and Wash Away.

RED/WHITE: COMBAT MATTERS

The combination of red and white has been kind of pigeonholed into being the combat matters colors.  And, you know what?  It works.

With a focus on going wide with your army rather than going big with just one or two heavy hitters, Crimson Vow provides players with a number of tools such creature buffs like Daybreak Combatants and Drogskol Armaments, and ways to shut down potential blockers on your opponent’s side of the battlefield thanks to cards like Blood Hypnotist and Distracting Geist.

RED/BLACK: BLOODY VAMPIRES

A new token artifact introduced with Crimson Vow is blood.  Blood tokens on their own aren’t anything too special, allowing the player to pay one generic mana and sacrifice it to discard, then draw a card.

Crimson Vow, though, is a set based around a vampire wedding.  And these vampires are out for blood.  Well, blood tokens as far as gameplay is concerned, as there are a number of cards that care about the bloody things.

There are a number of cards being introduced that make it easy for players to create them, such as Belligerent Guest via combat damage to a player, Restless Bloodseeker if you gain life, and Voldaren Bloodcaster whenever a non-token creature you control dies.  And, once you have a few of them, you can then use them with Wedding Security to put +1/+1 counters on the card, use Anje, Maid of Dishonor to drain your opponent for two life a pop, or Falkenrath Forebear, which can be brought back into the battlefield from the graveyard at the cost of one black mana and the sacrifice of two blood tokens.

Also, do keep an eye out for the card Bloodvial Purveyor, which is a 3/1 with flying and trample that can give your opponent blood tokens instead of yourself.  The payoff here is that it gets +1/+0 when attacking for each blood token the defending player controls.  While this can sound great for you the blood token player, it could also be a good card to play against you.  Just a heads up.

WHITE/BLUE: DISTURBING AURAS

Disturb is the other of Midnight Hunt’s two mechanics to make its way over to Crimson Vow, though it’s being handled differently than before.

Whereas Midnight Hunt’s disturb cards brought the disturbed creature back into play as a variation of its former self, Crimson Vow brings them back in the form of aura enchantments.

The idea here is go low and slow early, then big and bad latter a-la voltron-like strategies.  In other words, treat Crimson Vow’s disturb creatures as expendable in the early game to use their disturb aura sides later in the game to buff the creatures you have left or inhibit those of your opponent.

While some are fairly simple ones, such as Binding Geist going from a 3/1 creature with an attack-triggered debuff ability to an aura that gives its creature -2/-0, there are a couple that are definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

This includes Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, which can be a finisher in its own right (especially against vampire decks), but also can come back to enchant one of your own creatures, granting it flying, lifelink, protection from vampires, and a buff equal to the number of spirit creatures and enchantments you control; and Faithbound Judge, a 4/4 with flying, vigilance, and (temporarily) defender, when it’s brought back with disturb, it can cause an opponent to simply lose the game.

WHITE/GREEN: TRAINING HUMANS

As mentioned before, Crimson Vow introduces the new Training mechanic, which puts +1/+1 counters on creatures with the ability so long as they’re attacking alongside a creature with higher power.

This encourages go-wide combat strategies, but different than those in red/white.  The key here are the +1/+1 counters and there are a number of cards in the set that care about them beyond just those with Training such as Apprentice Sharpshooter, Cloaked Cadet, and Savior of OllenbockAngelic Quartermaster, for example, puts +1/+1 counters on two of your creatures and Hamlet Vanguard comes into play with +1/+1 counters on it equal to double the number of non-token humans you control.

And, once you have creatures with +1/+1 counter on them, you can really start to have some fun.  Cloaked Cadet, for example, lets you draw once per turn so long as you’ve put a counter on a human.  Sigardian Paladin gets trample and lifelink as its trigger.  Then there’s Sigarda’s Summons, which grants creatures with +1/+1 counters on them a base power and toughness of 4/4 and flying.  It can be an effective game-ender.

WHITE/BLACK: LIFE GAIN

Okay, so white-black lifegain isn’t exactly news.  But it is effective, and Crimson Vow has some cool new toys for the archetype.

Cards on that life-gaining kick include Heron of Hope, Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, and the planeswalker Sorin the Mirthless – each of which either have lifelink, can make creatures with the lifelink ability, or grant something else lifelink.  Heron of Hope, a common, is especially worth a mention as, in addition to being a 2/3 flyer that can give itself lifelink, it also increases the amount of life gained by one.  Sanctify is also worth a mention as this sorcery version of a Disenchant also gains you three life upon resolution.

There’s a bigger payoff than just having a larger life total with life gain in Crimson Vow thanks to cards like Courier Bat, which can return a creature from your graveyard to your hand whenever you gain life and Restless Bloodseeker, which creates blood tokens as its trigger.  Probably the biggest card to look for when drafting this strategy is Voice of the Blessed, a 2/2 for WW that just simply gets better as you continue to gain life while it is in play, getting larger and gaining more abilities as it grows.

BLACK/BLUE: EXPLOIT

Step one: Play a zombie.  Step two: Exploit.  Step three: Profit.

No, seriously.  That’s the strategy.

Want more?  Okay, fine.

So, Exploit is an enter-the-battlefield ability that is making its re-appearance in Standard after its introduction in Dragons of Tarkir many moons ago that allows you to sacrifice a creature for a beneficial payoff, such as with Graf Reaver destroying a target planeswalker when its exploit ability is fired off.

Basically, what you want to do here is create a bunch of zombies (something not too difficult to do thanks to the likes of Dying to Serve, Necroduality, and Headless Rider) and use them as fodder to, well, exploit for better gains later in the game.

When drafting this strategy, keep an eye out for cards like Overcharged Amalgam, which is basically a Disallow on a 3/3 body, Fell Stinger for its card draw, and Skull Skab which creates a 2/2 zombie token whenever it or any other creature you control exploits.

Got it?  Cool.  Moving on.

BLACK/GREEN: BIG BUTTS

While, in the past, black/green strategies have largely been focused on the graveyard, this time around the focus is on big butts.  Err… creatures with a high toughness.

Besides having a number of creatures with large toughness, such as Concealing Curtains, Gluttonous Guest, and Old Rutstein, there is also an assortment of cards that care about such a statistic.

Ancient Lumberknot, a rather impressive uncommon, is one such card.  It’s a 1/4 for 2BG that has your creatures assign combat damage based upon each creature’s toughness rather than its power, but only if the toughness is higher.  So, no worries for your 3/1 creatures getting the short end of the stick.

Other cards to look out for here include Dormant Grove, an enchantment that puts a repeatable +1/+1 counter on a creature you control and can transform into Gnarled Grovestrider, a 3/6 with vigilance, and Unhallowed Phalanx, a common creature that boasts a whopping 13 toughness.

GREEN/BLUE: SELF-MILLING

Usually, players don’t want cards to be milled from their deck.  In Crimson Vow limited, however, that’s exactly what you want to happen if you’re running green/blue.

Not to include cards with disturb (of which there are five in blue in the set), your big payoffs include Vilespawn Spider, which makes as many green insect creature tokens equal to the number of creatures in your graveyard, Grolnok, the Omnivore, which exiles permanents that are put into your graveyard from your library and allows them to be played from exile, Reclusive Taxidermist, a mana dork that goes from being a two-drop 1/2 to a 4/4 once there are at least four creature cards in your graveyard, and the spell-discounting Cemetery Prowler.

Probably most powerful in this strategy, though, is Patchwork Crawler, which can exile a creature card from your graveyard to get a +1/+1 counter as well as  all activated abilities of the exiled creature.

And, as far as the actual self-milling is concerned, there are a number of options such as Inspired Idea, Mulch, Screaming Swarm, and (technically) Thirst for Discovery.

So, there you go.  The ten two-color archetypes and strategies you need to keep in consideration when drafting Innistrad: Crimson Vow.

Now go out there and have some bloody fun!