Magic: the Gathering is going all in on the spookiest time of the year. One month ago, the trading card game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, released the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt expansion, dedicated to the fearsome werewolves that terrorize the denizens of this fan-favorite Magic world. Just one set of horror wasn’t enough for the game developers or its players, however. Today, Wizards revealed the first cards from the followup to Midnight Hunt. Welcome to the red wedding. Welcome to Innistrad: Crimson Vow.
Set to release on November 19th, Crimson Vow serves as the B-Side to Midnight Hunt’s exploration of the “Eternal Night” threatening to take over Innistrad. With the sun having set for what appears to be the last time, this gothic world’s monsters have pushed the helpless humans of Innistrad to the brink. But as the apocalypse looms for one species, Innistrad’s vampires are taking a moment to celebrate nuptials. Olivia Voldaren, a powerful vampire from one of Innistrad’s royal vampiric houses, is set to marry Edgar Markov, the progenitor of another house, in a power grab with mysterious consequences.
Sorin Markov, the planeswalker grandson of Edgar, has a longstanding grudge against Olivia. As such, he is understandably displeased by this turn in events.
A World in Decay
Crimson Vow builds upon many of the themes and visual treatments featured in Midnight Hunt. That is perhaps most immediately visible in its lands, which feature a stunning black and white treatment similar to the one showcased in Midnight Hunt.
Crimson Vow also completes a cycle of dual lands introduced in Midnight Hunt. These lands feature a stunning borderless art treatment that fully showcases the sublime beauty of Innistrad.
Finally, black and white non-land cards return in Crimson Vow, adding a bleak and severe aesthetic to even cards that represent Innistrad’s heroes.
While Crimson Vow is a sibling set to Midnight Hunt in many ways, one key way in which it differs is in the card mechanics featured throughout the expansion. Crimson Vow introduces Blood Tokens, Cleave, and Training to Magic. The set also brings back Exploit, which was last featured in the Dragons of Tarkir expansion from 2015.
That said, one mechanic that returns from Midnight Hunt is Disturb. A mechanic featured on spirits, Disturb allows a player to play a card with the mechanic from their graveyard, flipping it over in the process to gain a powerful new effect.
Blood Tokens iterate on a game technology previously featured on cards that create Treasure Tokens and Clues. Cards that create Blood Tokens allow you to discard a card and sacrifice the token in exchange for a new card from your library. In a certain sense, they give you the opportunity to “feed”, just like the vampires on Innistrad would.
Cleave is perhaps one of the most unique mechanics featured in Magic‘s recent history. Similar to how the Overload mechanic allows you to replace one word on a card with another, casting a card for its Cleave cost allows you to actively delete words from a card’s text, creating powerful new effects and giving you more flexibility on how and when you cast your spells.
Training introduces a new way to scale the creatures on your side of the board throughout a game of Magic. Whenever a creature with the ability attacks alongside a stronger creature you control, the creature with Training gets stronger too, giving them a greater chance of surviving combat. Some cards with the mechanic even grant you an additional bonus when they train as well:
Exploit brings back one of my personal favorite mechanics. Evocative and elegant, Exploit is a mechanic specific to creatures that enter the battlefield and give you the opportunity to sacrifice another one of your creatures for a powerful effect.
Like many of Magic‘s recent expansions, Crimson Vow introduces a new collection of Commander decks to the format. The two decks, one of which focuses around vampires and the other around spirits, feature cards from the Crimson Vow expansion as well as brand new mechanically unique cards, these decks give Wizards the opportunity to explore design spaces that would normally be avoided in standard sets.
In recent years, Magic has expanded its reach with Universes Beyond, cards that feature art and flavor from other fictional worlds beyond the Multiverse’s borders. In Crimson Vow, Magic introduces a special collection of cards based on the world of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Unlike cards from recent crossovers with The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, the Dracula cards are not mechanically unique card designs. Instead, they are reskins of cards from Crimson Vow’s main set, which makes them similar to the Godzilla cards featured in 2020’s Ikoria expansion.
Are you excited for Crimson Vow? How about the Dracula cards? Will you be attending the wedding?! Yes or no?!