With Halloween just around the corner, the world of Magic: The Gathering has been getting into the spirit of the season with their recent sets. Players have been enjoying the werewolf-themed set that is Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Now, we have new details about what the next vampire-themed set, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, has in store as well as an early sighting of some Innistrad: Crimson Vow new cards.
Innistrad: Crimson Vow - Vampire Wedding Theme
While sitting down at a press event, Wizards of the Coast delighted us with further details about Innistrad: Crimson Vow. As prior press releases have teased, the ongoing story of this new set involves a vampire wedding. Specifically, Olivia Volderen is arranged to be married to Edgar Markov, the patriarch of all vampire kind. Combine this with the fact that the land of Innistrad is teetering on the edge of falling into eternal night by Olivia, as revealed by her schemes in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, and you have a case where everyone who isn't a fanged bloodsucker is trying to stop this wedding and the rest of her dastardly plans.
It's with this thematic context that the entirety of Innistrad: Crimson Vow revolves. Gothic red vampire wedding finery adorns the artwork. Blood petal decorations are ubiquitous, showing off the vampire houses' opulence. Even a new version of vampire Planeswalker Sorin Markov is aptly named "Sorin The Mirthless" due to the complications that the wedding invites.
There were concerns that Innistrad: Crimson Vow would be light on these creatures of the night. One of the major complaints fans had about Midnight Hunt was, despite them getting top billing, there were less werewolf cards in the set than some expected given its original announcement as Innistrad - Werewolves, something that Mark Rosewater has since said was a mistake, although the set did have the most werewolves ever in a set (discounting changeling). When asked if there would be more vampires in Crimson Vow, Product Architect Mike Turian had this to say:
"Crimson Vow is filled with vampires. A typical Magic Set includes like 270 cards. I believe for the main set, it's over 30 vampires."
Turian then continued that these vampire cards would have a bit more color diversity. While most vampire cards will predominantly be Red/Black, there were hints that White and Blue vampire cards will be possible as well. Although Green vampire cards were struck down almost immediately.
Innistrad: Crimson Vow - Commander Decks
On the Commander side of things, two new decks were introduced. They are a white/blue spirit deck and a red/black vampire deck with Millicent, Restless Revenant and Strefan, Maurer Progenitor as their face cards. Strefan's deck will introduce fifteen new cards and be packed with aggressive vampire attacks. Alternatively, Millicent's deck seems to focus on overwhelming numbers with abilities that spawn spirit creature tokens.
In terms of story lore, there's plenty to enjoy, which Worldbuilding and Narrative Design Manager Meris Mullaley was happy to share. Strefan, as his card title suggests, is the head of the Maurer family of vampires. They're not as powerful as the Markovs but they are taking advantage of the wedding ceremony to amass power. On the more tragic side, Millicent was a Mayor and Captain of the Guard of a town that was completely destroyed during The Trevails - a stretch of time where Innistrad was attacked by the Eldrazi. But Millicent and her people retained their sense of community and stayed together, enacting vengeance upon monsters; vampires, werewolves, and corrupt officials alike.
In addition, the presentation highlighted a new Commander-focused artifact card, Wedding Ring. Much like certain artifacts in Midnight Hunt, Wedding Ring can be found in set and collector boosters but their intended use will be in Commander format.
Innistrad: Crimson Vow - New and Returning Mechanics
But Innistrad: Crimson Vow is more than just new cards. The press event continued to show off brand new card mechanics as well. The first big one are Blood Tokens. Certain vampire cards can generate these tokens, which are tied to various abilities and effects they have. Everything from using Blood Tokens to create powerful creature tokens or drawing extra cards was shown off. Blood Tokens are also like Clue, Food, and Treasure token in that they have an ability given to them by the rules. Even without something taking advantage of Blood Token you always have the option to use that ability which is: 1, Tap, Discard a card, Sacrifice this Artifact: Draw a card. Bloody vampires want to rummage if they can't do anything else.
Disturb also returns but with a small wrinkle. Much like how it was introduced in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, this ability is found on transforming double-faced cards. Pay the Disturb cost while the creature is in the graveyard and it returns to the battlefield flipped to its transformed state. But Crimson Vow marks a departure from its earlier set. While prior creatures with Disturb would change from human creatures to spirit creatures, Crimson Vow has cards that start as spirit creatures, but become enchantments when transformed with Disturb. This is a first for transforming permanents and should lead to some fascinating strategies going forward.
On the more esoteric angle, there is Cleave. This is something new for Instants and Sorceries. The idea is that there is text in brackets on the card. For example, "Search your library for a (basic land) card, (reveal it), put it into your hand, then shuffle." In addition, there are two costs, the spell cost, and the Cleave cost. Pay the cleave cost and you "cleave" the bracketed text off the card and follow what's left. Following the above example, by paying some extra mana, you just search your library for any card, add it to your hand, then shuffle the library.
Heading back to the more familiar we have the return of Exploit. This is the first time this particular mechanic has been in an Innistrad set. The first time the mechanic was introduced was way back in the Dragons of Tarkir set in 2015, and was associated with blue/black cards. When a creature with Exploit enters the battlefield, you can then sacrifice a creature you control for an additional benefit. Given the sadistic and ruthless nature of Innistrad's vampires and the deadly nature of the land itself, it fits here quite well.
Finally, there's Training. Basically, if you have a creature with this ability on the battlefield, if you swing with it and another creature you control that has higher attack power, the former will get a +1/+1 token. It's not exactly a glamorous ability by comparison. But if you're aiming for a human-centric deck in this set, this ability might be your bread and butter.
Innistrad: Crimson Vow - Dracula and Eternal Night Artwork
Continuing the presentation, new alternate artwork and prints were shown off for Innistrad: Crimson Vow. The biggest surprise in this part of the event was the introduction of The Dracula Series. These are alternate printings of various cards from the set, but with names and artwork drawn directly from Bram Stoker's original novel. Mechanically speaking, Count Dracula is the exact same card as Sorin The Mirthless for example.
The Dracula Series will be available in returning box-topper packs. These are single-card packs that will be included when you buy a set booster display, draft booster display, or a collector booster display box, and are guaranteed to be foils. Alternatively, you can get foil and non-foil versions of these cards in collector booster packs.
This isn't the first time Magic: The Gathering has done crossovers like this. The Godzilla Series from Ikoria: Lair of Monsters springs to mind. But introducing these alternate cards with booster boxes does keep with the vampire theme.
The art showcase continued with a few more surprises. First, there are Fang Frames, alternate art of Crimson Vow's signature vampire creatures done by various acclaimed artists. In fact, the Fang Frame art for Sorin was done by none other than Ayami Kojima, who is most well known for the box art of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. These Fang Frame alternate cards can be found in any booster packs for this set.
Continuing from there, Crimson Vow is confirmed to have five additional borderless rare dual land cards. Including the five introduced in Midnight Hunt, this brings the total up to ten. Another trend that will go unbroken from Midnight Hunt are ten additional land cards done in the black-and-white gothic expressionistic style: Eternal Night.
But Eternal Night's style won't just end with land cards in Innistrad: Crimson Vow. All Legendary Non-Vampire Creatures will be getting expressive, moody black and white redesigns as well as redesigned border frames. As Turian expressed, "Innistrad is about gothic horror, and we wanted to capture that."
Innistrad: Crimson Vow will have its Prerelease November 12, with its official retail release November 19. If you wish to know more about how Innistrad: Crimson Vow's MTG Arena release will go,check out the afore linked article.