Magic: The Gathering is shifting focus from Innistrad’s werewolves to its vampires with Crimson Vow, the next set due out next month.
Wizards of the Coast is sandwiching Halloween season between two sets located on the horror-themed plane of Innistrad—first Midnight Hunt, and now Crimson Vow. Following the events of the former set, Innistrad has been plunged into eternal night and the vampiric aristocracy is preparing for a wedding that will dramatically shift the balance of power.
Compared to the harvest festival that was the cornerstone of Midnight Hunt, Crimson Vow is centered on this wedding, between Olivia Voldaren and Edgar Markov. This union would put Olivia at the head of Innistrad’s two most powerful vampire families, and it’s up to the Gatewatch to prevent it from happening. As the two sets are directly connected, the Gatewatch planeswalkers present—Teferi and Arlinn—will be joined by Chandra, Kaya, and Sorin, who has history with Olivia.
Sorin’s new card has been revealed as “Sorin the Mirthless.” This iteration of one of Magic: The Gathering‘s most popular characters has a potent vampiric drain for its final ability, dealing 13 damage to any target and restoring his controller’s health by the same.
In terms of mechanics, Crimson Vow will feature the day/night and disturb mechanics from Midnight Hunt, as well as the return of exploit. Playing into the vampire theme, however, is the new blood token mechanic. These tokens act similarly to Treasure or Clue tokens; in this case, a player can pay one mana, discard a card, and sacrifice the token to draw a card. Other cards will interact with them in different ways, however. The new creature Voldaren Bloodcaster, for example, transforms when you possess five blood tokens, then turns those tokens into 2/2 bat creature tokens.
Creatures with the new training mechanic will get a boost when they attack with a stronger companion, gaining a +1/+1 counter. This was shown on the new mythic rare Savior of Ollenbock, who has additional effects whenever it triggers training. Cleave is the last new mechanic, manifesting as an alternate cost exclusive to instants and sorceries. If a player pays the higher alternate cost, certain words in that card’s texts get omitted. For example, on the new card, Dig Up, the cleave cost turns a basic land tutor card into an open-ended tutor card, for three mana extra.
These days in Magic: The Gathering, a new set means new Commander deck products as well. Two new commanders were shown—Millicent, Restless Revenant, a blue/white spirit; and Strefan, Master Progenitor, a black/red vampire. Meanwhile, a mythic artifact card called Wedding Ring, not exclusive to the Commander decks, will play into the wedding theme by enabling partnership in multiplayer games.
Another recent hallmark are unique showcase card frames. Crimson Vow will feature “fang frames,” lending a sharp, gothic feel to certain cards. Sorin’s fang frame alternate version is illustrated by Ayami Kojima of Castlevania fame, and the same motif will feature on other vampire cards found in set, draft, and collector boosters.
The alternates don’t stop there, however. “Dracula Series” variants illustrate certain characters as homages to Bram Stoker’s original vampire novel, Dracula. Sorin is recast as the eponymous vampire himself, while Olivia becomes the Sisters of the Undead. These will be highly sought after, found only in box toppers or collector boosters.
Crimson Vow will feature a set of enemy-coloured lands, also available in borderless variants. The “Eternal Night” full-art lands from Midnight Hunt will continue with new artwork as well, and certain non-vampire cards will receive the unique black-and-white art treatment as well. This includes a reprint of Thalia, Guardian of Thaben from Dark Ascension.
It will be interesting to see what else Magic: The Gathering has up their sleeves for this set, and how it will mesh with Midnight Hunt. Crimson Vow will arrive in Magic: The Gathering Arena on November 11, with tabletop prerelease events following on November 12. The full tabletop release comes a week later on November 19.