Crimson Vow Draft Guide

Crimson Vow Draft Guide

30/07/2022

The Crimson Vow season has ended. Players will soon be able to revisit Innistrad: Crimson Vow, the most sinister plane in the multiverse.

The Crimson Vow Quick Draft is available on the digital client from July 8 to July 22, 2022.

Although this set was released less than a year ago, many have not forgotten its limited environment. Crimson Vow is an example of a “prince” set, as it features rare mythic that make it nearly impossible to beat.

We learned a lot about the format and how to find success, even if there are no bombs in our packs.

This Crimson Vow Draft Guide will serve as a refresher for anyone who wants to participate in a Crimson Vow quick draft later in the month.

Crimson Vow Mechanics

Crimson Vow Mechanics

Crimson Vow’s connection to Innistrad Midnight Hunt means that Crimson Vow has a lot of mechanics. These cards have a lot of text. Using the set’s mechanics can improve the most common features in certain situations.

There will be many mechanics that you can use to build your deck. Each color also has access to different mechanics, which allows for unique decks and pairings.

Let’s look at the mechanics of Crimson Vow.

Training

Only Selesnya () and only humans can use training. Training is an aggressive mechanic that plays best with low-curve, high-creature-density decks aided by pump spells and equipment. Training is also good for steed creatures such as Daybreak Company or Markov Waltzer.

Training can be quite variable in practice. If you have a good follow-up, a Parish Blade Trainee can attack as a 2-mana 3/4 by turn 5 or as an embarrassing 2-mana half by your other creatures. Apprentice Sharpshooter and Gryff Ride are a better choice than Parish-Blade because their base stats lines are more acceptable.

Cleave

Cleave is a mana sink and an alternate cost for various non-creature spells. It can be found in all colors, but mainly at higher rarities. You might find it confusing at first, so remember that each card with the cleave is 2.

Alchemist’s Retrieval consists of Rescue and Disperse; all stapled together. Cleave is a tool that adds power and flexibility to various utility/removal spells, but it’s not a “build around” mechanic.

Blood

Blood tokens, the core mana-smoothing mechanic in the set, are especially useful in longer games where you need to pitch extra lands. These tokens can also be useful in a mana-light draw because digging for additional land early can save the day.

Blood tokens are most commonly found in Rakdos (). They almost always appear as bonuses or by vampires, in addition to “normal” limited effects like Act of Treason, Painful Lesson, or Fiery Cannonade.

Daybound/Nightbound

This returning mechanic is from Half-Night Hunt and appears on a lesser number of cards in this set. This is a unique card for werewolf creatures, and it only appears in Gruul (). Midnight Hunt has a few exceptions, such as Suspicious Stowaway and Brutal Cathar.

Daybound/night bound are global effects that can be tracked throughout the game once a card with the mechanic is on the field. Daybound/nightbound’s basic mechanic is that cards with the night bound side are usually average, but the night bound side nearly always boosts the creature’s power level. This is the core mechanic of Gruul in Crimson Voiwdraft. I’ll discuss it more in my discussion about the Gruul Werewolves archetype.

Disturb

Disturb, another returning mechanic is from Midnight Hunt. However, this time there’s a twist: creatures are now returned as auras rather than spirit creatures. This is Azorius’s () primary mechanic and does not appear in any other colors.

Auras are a bold card type, so many disturbing creatures have an aggressive tendency to use them. Azorius is certainly more aggressive in Crimson Vow than in Half-Night Hunt. He will generally tempo your opponents with flyers, auras, and bounce/removal spells.

Exploit

Exploit is a returning mechanic not seen in any Standard-legal set since Dragons of Tarkir. It is only found in Dimir () and on various zombie creatures.

Dimir is based on an exploit in Crimson Void. The main gameplay loop of this game is to play a creature that wants to die, such as Doomed Dissident or Permanent Specimen, and then sacrifice it for an exploit creature such as Stitched Assistance to get yourself on cards. This fairly straightforward mechanic allows you to use cheap creatures for additional value. Still, it can be annoying if the play pattern of the creature is interrupted by cards such as a Flame-Blessed bolt or circle of confinement.

Without mentioning some of the peculiarities of the exploit mechanic, it would be impossible to write a detailed article about it. A creature with an exploit may sacrifice itself to unlock any upsides it might have for exploiting a creature. Your opponent has a window of opportunity to respond to exploited creatures entering the battlefield. You can still sacrifice the creature if they respond to the ability. However, the exploit does not apply to you because of an oddity in how the exploit is written.

Exploit can be described as “when this creature takes advantage of a creature, do that“. The game won’t give credit to your creature for exploiting any creature if it isn’t there to see the sacrifice. This is important to remember when you play with exploit. The mechanic can be exploitable if you pay attention.

Crimson Vow Archetypes

Crimson Vow Archetypes

Crimson Vow supports all ten enemy and ally color pairs. The best pairs to choose are those with the most Blood tokens. These tokens can help you avoid one of the most serious problems in Limited—flooding.

Each archetype is possible in this format. Bombs can be used to defeat decks that would otherwise be difficult to beat. Avabruck Caretaker, a Simic deck that is otherwise weak, can win the game by using this card.

Let’s take a quick look at each Crimson Vow Draft type.

Azorius (UW): Disturb / Spirits

This archetype is perfect for tempo fans. Crimson Vow Azorius decks are looking to win with evasive flyers and annoying creatures returning from the graveyard as their Disturb form.

This archetype is not the strongest in terms of personal power. It has many synergies; however, that can help you dominate the game.

Combining counterspells with tempo creatures and white’s decent removal suite can be a recipe for success. You may face difficulty in the final game if you target your graveyard. Disturb cards won’t make an impact on your graveyard.

Grade C

Selesnya (GW): Training / Humans

Selesnya, of all archetypes, is the most affected by this format. It usually wins the game if you curve out for the first three to fourth turns and avoid removal. Good luck with your recovery if you fall.

This archetype relies on growing key creatures quickly and sticking them in succession to win the game. This archetype has difficulty grinding because your smaller creatures, which are more important in the beginning, are active enemies later in the game.

Access to the best bombs in the set is one of the greatest problems. If you want to play, Selesnya, try to make a deck that is all-in on the aggro strategy and finishes the game as soon as possible.

Grade D (but up to B depending on your build, matchup, and other factors)

Rakdos (BR): Blood Tokens / Vampires

Rakdos features Crimson Vow’s iconic creature type. It revolves around Blood tokens, vampires, and other blood-related creatures. It is refreshing to see something other than the usual sacrifice archetype. This deck can be used in many directions, even midrange.

You can push the pace with early creatures, such as the Bloodtithe Harvester, which is extremely powerful and uncommon. You can also dig for bombs and filter additional lands using your blood tokens later in the game. Because you are both in red and black, you have access to the best removal.

Grade: A

Dimir (UB): Zombies / Exploit

This archetype of the Dimir looks very strong in theory. Finding the right balance between sacrifice fodder and payoffs is difficult. These decks are often beaten up by the inability to have the right pieces at the right moment.

You can also remove it easily as you are already clearing the board with your creatures. You’ll have little to do if your opponent can take out one or two key pieces.

The zombie synergies are still strong. Your chances of winning are higher if you steer clear from exploiting and focus more on the zombie / go wide tokens strategy. Your best chance of winning is to outrun your opponent using zombie tokens and generate value along the route.

You can also win with a Dreadfast Demon.

Grade C

Gruul (GR): Werewolves

The archetype here is quite strong, unlike the Gruul werewolves’ built-in Midnight Hunt (aka “the werewolf set”), which was garbage. Crimson Vow has more werewolves than its predecessor.

This deck is great for playing with synergies, as it allows you to drop large creatures much faster than expected. Wolfkin Outcast, a 5/4 creature on its Daybound side that costs only four mana, is a great example. It can be used to control a wolf/werewolf. Packsong Pup grows each turn and gives you life when it dies.

Red cards have a lot of removal options. Green cards such as Wolf Strike can also overperform.

This archetype is strong if you can play on a curve and leave the board open for small- or medium-sized creatures.

Grade: B

Orzhov (BW): Lifegain

Limited formats tend to have more impact on Lifegain than other formats. Orzhov has been able to gain stock in Crimson Vow Limited meta. You have many options to make it big in this format.

There are many options for removal in black and white. You can also use Disturb cards with white text for additional value.

This archetype is certainly slower. You can still snowball the game and pick apart your opponent’s life while keeping yours in reach.

Grade: A

Boros (RW): Aggro

Boros is an aggressive alternative to Selesnya, which doesn’t depend heavily on synergy. This format is less popular than Selesnya, as people prefer to run Rakdos and Gruul.

Access to many good cards is possible by simply being in red and white. This is a great spot for drafting cards such as Valorous Stance, Rending Flame, Voltaic Visionary, and Daybreak Combatants.

However, I would not force the archetype. It isn’t easy to catch up after stumbling and close out after turning five or six.

Grade C

Simic (UG), Self-Mill

This archetype is the slowest in Crimson Vow Limited. Before you can win, you’ll need to fill your graveyard with synergies and build up enough turns.

Simic is also one of the most vulnerable archetypes in this format. You have a chance if you build a strong core around Vilespawn Spider and Moldgraf Millipede early.

This archetype also requires a lot of creatures. It will increase your payoffs if you can do so. It doesn’t allow for counterspells or removal to be used against your opponent’s board. This can lead to games where you try to win by goldfish while your opponent’s strategy is wild.

Grade D

Golgari (BG): Toughness / Midrange

This archetype is the most deceiving. This archetype’s main theme, “big butts”, is not very good. Many serviceable midrange cards will keep you afloat. Consistency is made easier by accessing many green smoothing cards like Weaver of Blossoms or Reclusive Taxidermist.

There’s a lot of value in cards like Spore Crawler and lots of removal from the black color. This archetype is great for splashing. You can sneak in a bomb or two with a solid core. Golgari doesn’t depend on too many synergies so that you can splash with some flexibility.

To achieve the best results, you will need to play well. This archetype is capable of winning many games for skilled pilots.

Grade: B

Izzet (UR): Spellcasting

Crimson Vow is the classic identity of Izzet as a spellcaster. The cards give it a unique look. You’ll need to combine your spells and some slept-on creatures to build a decent deck.

Crimson Vow is a good place to pass up blue. Mischievous Catgeist and Biolume Egg are left open to drafts, leaving creatures like Cruel Witness, Biolume Egg, or Biolume Egg. This archetype is also blessed with Wandering Mind and Whispering wizard at rare. You can stabilize your board by finding a Kessig Flambreather or two. This will help you ping your opponent throughout your game.

It’s not a very exciting deck to play since Crimson Vow was not the main focus of this deck. You can still build a decent deck if you have an open lane.

Grade C

Crimson Vow Draft Guide

Crimson Vow Draft Strategy

Crimson Vow Limited has received a lot of hate online. The set’s bombs are a major reason for this. Cards like Dreadfast Demon can be extremely difficult to beat without immediate removal. Cards like Wedding Announcement are also very difficult to beat and can easily take control of the game.

Although payoffs and bombs are a major part of the format, you can still have success without them. Well-constructed decks that work together will win many games. If your opponent drops a bomb, they might not be able to win the game.

Let’s look at the impact of these cards on the format and how they can be used to your advantage.

Crimson Vow Limited Bombs

Crimson Vow Limited Bombs

Crimson Vow is a format where you should make decisions based on the best cards. Instead of looking for synergies between a common and uncommon card, you should not overthink it. Take the Avabruck Caretaker with your first selection.

Some of the most memorable bombs in this format are:

  • Breakfast Demon
  • Avabruck Caretaker
  • Sorin the Mirthless
  • Hullbreaker Horror
  • Toxrill, The Corrosive
  • Announcement for Wedding
  • Halana and Alena are Partners
  • Henrika Domnathi
  • Glorious Sunrise
  • Inform Hellkite
  • Blood vial Purveyor

You will notice that many of these cards are black. This is important to remember when you draft, as many of Crimson Vow’s most effective removal and value-creating spells are black.

How To Deal With Crimson Vow Bombs

How to deal with Crimson Vow Bombs

Crimson Vow is a way to interact with Crimson Vow, even though one of the cards listed above will likely end the game.

Many counterspells can be used with the set. Syncopate, Wash Away, and Geistlight Snare are good options to stop a problem bomb from dissolving. This only works if you are playing blue.

You can be successful with a blue-white tempo list and early, evasive counters.

Except for Avabruck Caretaker, because of hexproof, the creatures above can be handled with removal. It is abundant.

Prioritize cards such as Bleed Dry and Hero’s Downfall when drafting. These cards are the best answers to some of the set’s most troublesome bombs.

You can also race. Many of the most unbeatable cards, such as Breakfast, Toxrill, and Hullbreaker, have a high mana cost. You don’t need to worry about them if you build a deck that wins by turn seven.

Speed is key

This format isn’t like other draft formats. There aren’t many grindy archetypes. Simic Mill is the only deck that wants this game to last. Other archetypes want to keep the game moving and drop bombs to take control.

Crimson Vow may not be the most aggressive, but it’s certainly up there.

If you don’t have a good one-drop, it is a good idea to always have at minimum a two-drop. It is easy to get behind, and it can be difficult to catch up with a bomb such as Dreadfast Demons or Hullbreaker Horror.

Splashing and Mana Fixing

Crimson Vow Limited is not like Streets of New Capanna. You won’t want your mana base to go too far in Crimson Vow Limited. There aren’t many things you can do, especially outside of green. Greedy decks are a risky option. You will likely stick with just two colors.

Evolving Wilds is always a nice thing. Honored Heirloom, the set’s three-mana stone, is also available. The same as Foreboding Statue, but it has the potential to flip into a creature later on in the game.

Splashing is acceptable in general. Keep splashes to one color pip. It is probably worth the risk if you are firmly into a color pair and open the bombs mentioned above.

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