Crimson Vow: Hits and Misses
We’ve recently seen a lot of cards previewed from Innistrad: Crimson Vow. This week I’ll take a look at a few that caught my eye and give them a hit or miss grade for whether they make an impact in Standard.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: HIT
I’ll start with a highly coveted reprint. This printing puts Thalia into Pioneer and Standard, where it will certainly impact both. While Thalia is an amazing weapon to have against spell-heavy decks, small Standard decks with it often have issues with how the deck can be attacked. Thalia decks can’t play high cost non-creature spells, so they often don’t have a solid Plan B. They’re usually susceptible to decks that bring in tons of removals and sweepers. That said, Thalia is a good tool, but it won’t solve any Epiphany problems on its own, especially with Spikefield Hazard still around, which can be included in Izzet decks at almost no deck-building cost.
Dig Up: HIT
While the new Cleave mechanic is neat, I don’t love it visually. However, this is a throwback to a card like Traverse the Ulvenwald where there’s mana fixing early with the ability to turn into a big spell late. The attached Diabolic Tutor makes it playable and even good in a deck that plays lots of mana sources, has spare mana on various turns, and can cast it. I expect this card to see some amount of play in Standard if a GB deck is viable, but it’s not enough to draw to those colors. This is a tough one as its four-mana cost is a lot for a tutor effect, but the upside is potentially high. Its opportunity cost is low, so it’s a hit.
Overcharged Amalgam: MISS
This is a solid card if the set-up is there. It’s a Mystic Snake you need to work for, and it’s fail mode is a reasonable 3/3 flash creature. If Zombies can become a thing, this is one of the reasons why. That said, Standard doesn’t have many decay cards that will see a ton of play, so this card is likely weaker than it appears. I could see this being an inclusion in any creature-heavy blue deck that has mana for support, but there likely won’t be many of those.
Sorin the Mirthless: MISS
This is a fine planeswalker for four mana. It can turn into an engine and has a powerful ultimate. It can protect itself somewhat but not well enough, which is the problem. The creature put into play will often be outsized, and there are limits to its ability to generate extra cards. It’s a sweet card and may see a small amount of play as a planeswalker that attacks at a different angle, but this won’t be a staple.
By Invitation Only: HIT
This is a sweet Wrath effect, as it can act as a sweeper, manipulate board positions where you have more creatures than your opponent, and keep your best creature while blowing up their world. This added angle makes this a solid Standard-level sweeper.
Demonic Bargain: MISS
This isn’t a miss because it’s exiling 13 cards. It’s a miss because three mana for a tutor is only playable in Standard in the rarest of instances. Exiling 13 cards also causes a strain on creating a bullet package with it. This is a cool, well-designed card, but it’s not a player in Standard.
Volatile Arsonist: MISS
This card could be good. It’s powerful, but it’s hard to argue for it when compared to Goldspan Dragon. In a world where Goldspan Dragon doesn’t exist this is a solid five-mana option, especially in decks that can turn to night quickly. This could see some play in a Standard Werewolves list, but even then, it’s possible Goldspan Dragon might outshine it.
Alchemist’s Gambit: MISS
I don’t see this ever doing Epiphany and maybe there’s some world where a single copy or something sneaks into Izzet decks. If Epiphany got banned, maybe this does enough to see some light play in an Izzet-turns deck, but it’s still doubtful. The birds are a big part of why Epiphany is so good, in addition to the Foretell to protect it from Duress. It’s a miss for me.
This is an easy hit. It’s a solid removal staple for the format. It becomes less appealing if three-toughness creatures are nowhere to be found and if there’s a shortage of artifacts. Regardless, this card will show up in a bunch of places.
Path of Peril: HIT
I love this card. It’s a well-designed Infest-type card that scales. In most cases you’ll want to be able to Cleave this as far as Standard is concerned, but it’s a sweet card to handle token and small creatures early and everything late.
Chandra, Dressed to Kill: HIT
While Chandra isn’t incredibly exciting, it’s a three-mana planeswalker that generates card advantage and mana and has a powerful ultimate. It’s ability to add mana makes it easier to cast for effectively two mana on some turns. While it’s not a staple, we’ll see this get some play.
Cemetery Protector: HIT
I was excited when I first read this card. I’ve since come down on it a bit, but it’s still solid. Flash on a card like this is huge. You can cast it when it’s safe to untap and generate a token or two. In combination with By Invitation Only, this is a sweet way to manage a battlefield of larger creatures while leaving yourself a powerful threat behind. That said, Cemetery Protector will be slow to accumulate tokens unless you manage to play it in a flash deck with cards like Consider. It could work out nicely if a deck like this exists alongside a card like Poppet Stitcher.
Cemetery Prowler: HIT
This is a solid creature that will see a bit of play since it’s a 3/4 vigilance for three with graveyard hate attached. It’s a no-brainer since it makes multi-spell easier and other cards cheaper to cast while it’s in play. It’s not overpowered, but it’s still a solid card.
Ascendant Packleader: HIT
The last card I’ll look at is a playable one-drop for a deck like Mono Green aggro. While Savannah Lions isn’t what it used to be, this one gets bigger later in the game and already has a shell it fits into that desperately needs an early play. I’m guessing this card will fade into the sunset as Standard gets more cards, but it’s solid enough to play a role in Mono Green.
There are more cards to look at, and I’ll look at some more next week as previews continue to roll out. My favorite card previewed so far is Cemetery Protector. It may not be overpowered, but it’s fun to think about how to maximize its potential. See you next week!
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