Welcome to the Crimson Vow Draft Guide! We’re still on Innistrad, and while some cards might remind you of the Midnight Hunt, others will take you into brand-new directions. It’s always fun to explore a new format, but it’s even more fun if you’re winning alongside it. Our plan is to help you do exactly that.
We’ll explore the big picture stuff about the Crimson Vow Draft format. As per tradition, we’ll start with mechanics, and figure out how they affect the format. Afterwards, we’ll continue with the best commons for each color.
Then we will explore all ten archetypes, which you’ll encounter in the draft. In this section, we also take a look at some uncommons that perform at their best in certain types of decks. We also rank colors and archetypes in the Power Rankings section.
Finally, we’ll wrap up with some additional tips, which should come in handy.
As you can see, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get right to it and start examining the mechanics of Crimson Vow.
UPDATE: If you’re looking forward to drafting the newest set, you should read our Brothers’ War Draft Guide.
Crimson Vow Mechanics
There are six mechanics, which you can encounter in the Crimson Vow draft:
- Blood tokens (new)
- Training (new)
- Cleave (new)
- Exploit (returning)
- Disturb (back from Midnight Hunt)
- Daybound & Nightbound (back from Midnight Hunt)
In this section, we’ll quickly explain what you need to know, and discuss how they might affect the draft environment.
Some cards make Blood tokens in various ways. They are associated with the Vampires, and can therefore be found mostly in Red and Black. Blood token is an artifact with an activated ability, which lets you pay one mana, discard a card, tap and sacrifice it, to draw a card.
There are also some special synergies with these tokens, but we’ll talk about more about those in the Archetype section, when we’ll discuss Red-Black. For now, let’s just examine Blood at face value, and figure what it means for the draft format.
Blood tokens give you a flood insurance. If you have a lot of them, you won’t need to worry about drawing too many lands. If you have a lot of cards that make Blood tokens, you can decide to play 18 lands, as you’ll be able to get rid of them when you won’t need them.
Furthermore, don’t play the lands you don’t need from your hand. That doesn’t mean that you should stop playing lands when you only have three in play. However, once you get to enough lands that you can cast all spells in your deck, you might want to hold any lands you won’t need, in case you draw a card that creates Blood.
Furthermore, these also help you play some situational cards. When they’re good, you’ll play them, but when they aren’t, you’ll discard them with a Blood token. In a vacuum, you should probably value Blood token around the same as scry 1. However, once you have Blood synergies, the value of Blood will go up.
You can learn more about Blood token rules here.
Training is a keyword that appears on creatures, specifically on nine different Humans in Green and White.
Whenever a creature with training attacks, you get to put a +1/+1 counter on it, if a creature with a bigger power attacked alongside it.
If you have creatures with training in your Crimson Vow draft deck, you’ll want to also include creatures with high power, so you’ll be able to trigger them. We’ll talk more about it in the Green-White archetype breakdown.
More tips and tricks, and rules about training can be found here.
Cleave is an alternate casting cost, that lets you ignore words in the squared brackets. It’s a pretty simple mechanic, once you see an example. So, let’s take a look at Parasitic Grasp.
You can pay the regular cost of two mana (one of it black), and get the effect as it’s written on the card. It would deal 3 damage to a target Human creature, and you would gain three life.
The other option is to pay the cleave cost which is three mana (two of it black), and you’d ignore the words in the squared bracket — in this case the word “Human”. So now Grasp would deal 3 damage to any creature, and you’d gain three life.
There are 12 cards with cleave that you can get in the Crimson Vow draft, and they appear in all colors. However, they don’t affect the draft format in a meaningful way. Nevertheless, you can read more about Cleave rules here.
Exploit isn’t a new mechanic, as it premiered in Dragons of Tarkir. Exploit appears on 9 creatures in Blue and Black. When a creature with exploit enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature, if you do you get a benefit of some kind.
When Repository Skaab enters the battlefield, you might sacrifice a creature (even the Skaab itself, if you want). If you do, you get to return an instant or a sorcery from your graveyard to your hand.
The presence of exploit somewhat worsens auras that disable creatures, like Fear of Death. If you’re playing with exploit, you want some expendable creatures that you can sacrifice. We talk more about that in the Blue-Black Archetype breakdown. For now, you can find edge cases and other exploit rules here.
Disturb first appeared in Midnight Hunt, and is now appropriately back for more. For a Crimson Vow draft, it comes with a twist, though.
Disturb plays somewhat similarly to flashback, but can only appear on creatures. In short, creatures with disturb can be cast from the graveyard for their disturb cost. They come into play transformed.
In Midnight Hunt disturb creatures were flying Spirits on the other side, and had a clause that they have to be exiled, if they’d be put into a graveyard. In Crimson Vow, on the other hand, the cards are auras on the other hand, and they either grant the creatures’ stats or ability to another creature.
The usual play pattern would be that you play Disctracting Geist for three mana, it dies at one point. So now you have the option to pay 5 mana and enchant a creature, which will get the ability to tap a creature when it attacks. Not quite the most powerful two-for-one, but a two-for-one nevertheless.
Disturb creatures also promote self milling, as it doesn’t matter how the card got into your graveyard.
There are 13 cards with disturb. All of them are in White and Blue. Their back sides enable various synergies from enchantment-matters stuff, to noncreature triggers, … But we’ll talk more about this in the Archetypes section.
Daybound & Nightbound
This is another mechanic that first appeared in Midnight Hunt. There isn’t a special twist on it, besides the fact that it only appears on Werewolves this time around. However, it’s still quite a complex mechanic, if you haven’t played with it before.
Start of the Day
Day and night are designations that a game of Magic can have. When a game starts, it’s neither day nor night. There are two types of cards that can start tracking day and night:
- Daybound cards (Hookland Mariner)
- Cards that specifically state so (Into the Night)
Day & Night Changing
Afterwards, day becomes night, if a player doesn’t cast a spell during their own turn.
On the other hand, night becomes day, if a player casts at least two spells during their own turn.
So what happens during the day and night cycles? When it becomes day, all Nightbound permanents transform into their Daybound sides.
When day becomes night, all Daybound permanents transform into their Nightbound sides. Another important thing to keep in mind is that during the night, all permanents enter the battlefield on their Nightbound side.
What Does This Mean for the Draft?
Okay, so what does all this mean for draft? Well, if you’re playing a deck with Werewolves, you can put a slightly higher value on cards with flash, instants and activated abilities. The reason for this is that you’ll sometimes want to pass your turn without playing a spell, in order to transform your Werewolves. You’ll still want to use your mana, so you’ll just do it on your opponent’s turn.
Furthermore, you might have cards that become better if it’s night (like Wolf Strike). Note, you don’t necessary need to have enablers yourself, as your opponent might have some Daybound cards in their deck anyway.
Other Transform Cards
Finally, there’s one “hidden” mechanic in the set, that doesn’t get many mentions. Besides the day/night cards and disturb creatures, there are also some cards that transform using various criteria. While these don’t have a special effect on a format as a whole, we just wanted to mention these, so newer players won’t be confused by them.
Ragged Reculse for example, transforms at the beginning of your end step if you discarded a card that turn. It becomes a 3/3 with a nice ability.
Best Commons for Crimson Vow Draft
Commons are the bread and butter of every draft format, so in this section we’ll explore the best ones.
1. Sigarda’s Imprisonment
In Crimson Vow draft, Pacifism costs one mana more. Another downside it has is that it’s bad against exploit creatures. However, you can mitigate that fact by paying five mana, which exiles the enchanted creature, and it gives you a Blood token, so it’s not all bad.
As it turns out, the feel-bad scenarios don’t happen very often, and the ability to permanently remove a creature plus getting a Blood token is very useful in the late game. You should happily include even multiple copies of Imprisonment in all of your white decks.
2. Traveling Minister
In the first version of this Crimson Vow Draft Guide, we’ve completely missed this one drop. As it turns out, it’s a very real player in the white decks. Why? Well, there are multiple reasons.
It can reliably trigger your lifegain-matters cards like Courier Bat. Additionally, while one life per turn, doesn’t seem like much, it can add up over the course of the game. It often means that your opponent can’t race you. (Racing is what happens when both players play aggressively and try to get the opponent to zero life as fast as possible.)
Finally, there’s the additional point of attack. It often enables some attacks that you wouldn’t be able to make otherwise — like your 2/2 attacking into opposing 3/3. Sometimes you can buff a creature that can’t be blocked to get some damage in. All in all, it offers a lot of little things that do add up, especially since it only costs a single mana.
3. Kindly Ancestor / Ancestor’s Embrace
A 2/3 lifelinker for three mana is perfectly fine. Furthermore, the grandma can later become an aura that gives a creature lifelink. This will make certain that you aren’t losing a race, and it pairs very nicely with the previously mentioned card, as you can almost build a big lifelinker from any one of your creatures.
Fierce Retribution can be a strong removal spell. It’s somewhat clunky in the most aggressive decks, but you’ll usually have an opportunity to remove your opponent’s best thing, at that’s always a great effect to have access to.
Heron-Blessed Geist is a very interesting creature. It’s a five mana 3/3 flyer, which is fine, but not very exciting. However, if you have an enchantment in play, you can exile the Geist from your graveyard to get two 1/1 flying Spirit tokens. So if you have ways to enable this ability, Geist becomes an impactful common.
Drogskol Infantry performs worse than we expected at first. It’s still a fine card to include in your white decks, as you can play it early and then get value from it later in the game.
1. Lantern Bearer / Lanterns’ Lift
1/1 flyers often fall just short of being playable in draft. Recently, though, we did have some that with a good enough bonus became cards, that actually performed well. Lantern Bearer certainly belongs in that group.
Early on, it can deal some damage in the air, before your opponent manages to deal with it. Later in the game, it significantly improves one of your creatures. Even something like a measly 2/2 can become a very relevant threat once it becomes a 3/3 flyer.
2. Syncopate & Syphon Essence
On the second place, you can find two cards. They fill the same role, and can cleanly deal with the most powerful rares. Both of them are quite similar in power level, and each have their own upsides.
Syncopate can come out a turn earlier, counters any spell and exiles the card. Syphon Essence, on the other hand, always costs three mana, only counters a creature or a planeswalker, but gives you a Blood token for your troubles.
You don’t want to overload your deck with three copies of each. However, a total of 2-4 blue counterspells will work nicely, especially if you have other instant speed cards in your deck.
3. Cruel Witness
Cruel Witness is a four mana 3/3 flyer, which is already okay. On top of that, you get a nice bonus whenever you cast a noncreature spell. Every deck will naturally have some of them, so you don’t need to build around Witness to make it work.
Scattered Thoughts is certainly an over-performer. It can give you some serious card advantage, especially if you have some graveyard synergies. It also plays nicely with counterspells. Did your opponent play something good? Counter it. Did they try to play around a counterspell? Cast Scattered Thoughts, so you won’t waste your mana by doing nothing.
Chill of the Grave is a good card, even if you don’t have Zombies in your deck. Locking a creature down for two turns is almost playable. Once you add the “Draw a card” text on it, it becomes actively good.
Repository Skaab can certainly be useful in a right shell with expendable creatures, and good instant and sorceries. Stitched Assistant also works nicely in the same deck.
1. Bleed Dry
Four mana to basically exile any creature. That would be good in most draft environments. In Crimson Vow draft, there are many graveyard shenanigans (like disturb), which makes the exile part even better.
You’ll want at least a copy or two in all of your black decks.
2. Diregraf Scavenger
This card might remind you of Vampire Spawn, which really over-performed. Of course, a part of that was based on the Forgotten Realms draft format, but Scavenger has some real upsides of its own.
Deathtouch makes it o it can trade for any ground creature, and exiling a card is also very relevant in this set. Drain 2 life is still relevant in Crimson Vow as well. This bear certainly does a lot, and you’ll happily play multiple copies in your black decks.
3. Bloodcrazed Socialite
Four mana 3/3 with menace is below rate, if only just slightly. However, this one comes with a Blood token, which already bumps it to the playable level. Furthermore, you can use Blood tokens to make this a hard to deal with attacker. 5/5 menace is no joke!
Gluttonous Guest is another card that makes a Blood token when it enters the battlefield. There are some lifegain synergies, which makes its second ability more relevant. All in all, you’re getting an okay card by itself, which also supports multiple synergies. Always a nice pickup.
Undying Malice is another effect that can over-perform thanks to the low mana investment. That’s especially true, if you have creatures with enter-the-battlefield effects. Don’t go too crazy with it, though. You probably just want a single copy, maybe two in a specific deck.
Pointed Discussion is similar in that you don’t want to play too many of them, but you really want that first copy, since it gives you almost a 3 for 1 worth of value.
Rot-Tide Gargantua is an interesting exploit creature. It’s a 5 mana 5/4 on its own, which is okay, but its ability will range from meh to good, depending on how the game plays out, and how many expendable creatures you have.
Abrade is back! Two mana at instant speed for three damage is always very good in Limited, and there’s no reason for that to change in the Crimson Vow draft. Occasionally, you’ll get rid of a problematic artifact, like Dollhouse of Horrors, which is nice.
For reference, it kills 116 out of 165 creatures in the format. That’s a bit over 70%.
2. Flame-Blessed Bolt
For one mana less, you get one damage less. This is still a very efficient removal spell, as it kills 45.4% of creatures in the Crimson Vow draft. The exile is particularly relevant when playing against disturb creatures. Bolt is pretty much on the same level as Abrade, and you want to pick it highly.
3. Falkenrath Celebrants
Five mana for a 4/4 with menace is a fine rate. However, this one also comes with two Blood tokens. This basically guarantees that you won’t be flooded in your later turns. Of course, you could also use the tokens for various Blood synergies.
You can easily play multiple copies of Celebrants, as the card gives you both relevant board presence and flood protection. In order to have a nice mana curve, you don’t want to also play many other cards which cost five or more.
Reckless Impulse is basically the red version of Divination. The key part here is that it allows you to play these cards until your next turn. This allows you to dig for your third land in the early game, which is what makes cheap draw spells excellent. You’ll usually get a 2 for 1, with this card, without working too hard.
Voldaren Epicure is surprisingly playable for a one mana 1/1. It gives you a blood token, and a relevant body, which pings the opponent. It does just enough to be a card that you actually want in your red decks.
Cards with steal effects like Bloody Betrayal are always interesting cards to evaluate, as they can range from mediocre to good. This one has the upside of giving you a Blood token, which is handy. However, what you really want to do, is to pair it with cheap exploit effects, like Mindleech Ghoul to get double the value.
1. Wolf Strike
If we discount the night bonus, we’re getting a punch spell for three mana at instant speed. While that’s not the most efficient rate, it’s still a tool that every green deck want to have access to.
Furthermore, sometimes you’ll get the night bonus, and you’ll be able to destroy a bigger creature, and maybe even force a trade in combat, which you wouldn’t otherwise.
2. Flourishing Hunter
We know that both Honey Mammoth and Ravenous Lindwurm performed very well in their draft environments. Now Flourishing Hunter is certainly different, and in a vacuum, you might prefer the guaranteed 4 life, especially when you’ll play it on an empty board.
However, it’s still a 6/6 which can help you even in those situations. Most of the time you’ll probably have a creature in play, and you’ll gain some life. Of course, there’s also a dream of playing it, while having a Unhallowed Phalanx in play. This would make you gain 13 life!
3. Spore Crawler
3/2 creature for three mana is a passable rate. Once you add in the fact that it replaces itself, it becomes really strong. It’s a shame that you only get the card back, when Crawler dies (as opposed to entering the battlefield), but it’s still a fine green common.
It also doesn’t get worse in multiples, so you won’t mind picking some Crawlers early on.
Hookhand Mariner is a nice four drop as a 4/4. It can also become bigger at night, and harder to block. A great creature to have, especially if you have creatures with training in your deck as well.
Another great Werewolf is Weaver of Blossoms, which is solid as 2/3 mana dork. It helps you get to your expensive cards a turn earlier, and occasionally it flips and becomes even better. It’s very relevant when you’re splashing a powerful rare like Halana and Alena, Partners in your deck.
Massive Might is a very effective pump spell. It’s easy to hold up a single green mana, and it can easily trade up. Green has many big creatures, which makes trample very relevant.
Sporeback Wolf is a nice two drop. 2/2 for two is somewhat passable, but a 2/4 attacker is hard to deal with in the early game.
Crimson Vow Draft Archetypes
With the top commons out of the way, it’s time to explore the Crimson Vow draft archetypes. There are 10 of them, one for each color pair.
Blue – White: Disturb Spirits & Enchantments
This archetype is certainly a weird one at first glance. Some cards care about Spirits, other about enchantments, and some about auras. The biggest thing about this archetype is certainly the disturb mechanic. As we’ve mentioned, disturb creatures in Crimson Vow are Spirits on the front side, and they come back from the graveyard as auras.
All the disturb creatures are at least playable, and most of them are quite good. So, you can expect a lot of easy two-for-ones from this archetype.
While there are some cards that care about Spirits and/or enchantments, there’s no need for you to go all in, and try to draft a deck full of them. The reason is that the vast majority of the payoffs aren’t worth it, and you’ll get these card types naturally by drafting good disturb cards.
For example, most of the cards are like Geistlight Snare. Sure, it’s nice to get a discount, but you don’t want to play bad cards to enable it. It won’t be the end of the world, if you have to pay three mana for your counterspell.
There is one card that might not be an obvious fit in this archetype, and that’s Stormchaser Drake.
When you enchant this Drake with a disturbed aura from your graveyard, you get to draw a card. As a small flier, it’s already a great target for most of these auras anyway.
If you get lucky, you might even get Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, which would be the perfect payoff for the archetype. Just remember that in most drafts, you won’t need to enable your payoffs. Good disturb cards will be good enough payoffs by themselves.
Black – White: Lifegain
This archetype has a familiar theme from past draft formats — it’s lifegain. Cards that incidentally give you some life points are always good, and this type of archetype usually performs very well against opposing aggressive decks. How good the archetype is against the rest of the field depends on the enablers and payoffs, so let’s take a look at them.
Every card that gains life can be considered an enabler. However, the best ones are the repeatable ones. Here are some of the better non-rare enablers:
- Traveling Minister — constant source of lifegain
- Kindly Ancestor — amazing, as you get a repeatable effect twice
- Heron of Hope — an okay option, gives you more life
- Gluttonous Guest — if you have enough Blood tokens
- Desperate Farmer — a fine lifelinker
- Dawnhart Geist — if you have enough enchantments or disturb creatures
There are also some other enablers in Crimson Vow draft, but in most cases they are worse than the ones we’ve mentioned.
Here are all the lifegain payoffs in the set:
- Courier Bat
- Markov Purifier — also an enabler
- Panicked Bystander — also an enabler
- Restless Bloodseeker
- Voice of the Blessed
That’s it. Just five of them, and one is a rare. This means it going to be hard to have a deck with many payoffs. So keep that in mind when drafting a black-white deck. Don’t chase enablers, just so you can trigger a single Courier Bat.
The best way to draft this deck is to simply go for a straightforward midrange deck with some small lifegain synergies.
Green – White: Humans Training
The focus here is on Humans, training and +1/+1 counters. As you can see on the three cards above, most cards work slightly different from one another. The first one cares solely about +1/+1 counters, the second about controlling a Human, the third about +1/+1 counters, plus it also has training itself.
Thankfully, the training ability only appears on Humans, so in theory everything should fit together nicely. There are 9 total creatures with training, and all of them are at least somewhat playable. Of course, the best ones would beSavior of Ollenbock or Torens, Fist of the Angels, but even some card of the lower rarities can work.
One thing to keep in mind here is that since training only triggers on attacks, you want to have an aggressive deck. You also want to play a lot of creatures in your deck, preferably some with high enough power, that will be able to trigger training multiple times. Something like Estwald Sheildbasher, which has a high power, and also protects itself.
You don’t want to play many noncreature spells, so the ones that you do end up playing should be very good. Your deck should probably look something like this:
- 17-20 creatures
- 2-3 pump spells
- 2-3 removal spells
- 16-17 lands
Cards with disturb will also work nicely here, since you get a creature first, and then a permanent effect to buff your creatures, which can then train your trainees.
Have a low enough curve, and you should do fine.
Red – White: Aggro
This archetype once again finds itself as the dedicated aggro deck without a specific theme. It will certainly be able to borrow some stuff from other archetypes, as you’ll probably be able to find cards with training, Blood tokens, disturb cards, etc. All of these things fit perfectly fine in an aggressive deck.
For example, cards like Daybreaker Combatant, Markov Waltzer and Angelic Quartermaster can increase your creatures’ power, which can enable training. Haste is also powerful with training, as the opponent might not expect a big attack, when you only had a single trainee in play before you played a hasty threat.
Of course, this decks also utilizes combat tricks very well. So pick up your Sure Strikes and Adamant Wills, as they’ll come in handy.
The thing to keep in mind here is that you want to have a nice curve, so you want to play a lot of two and three drops. You should really cherry-pick your four and five mana cost cards — these should be the heavy hitters. If you did really well, and ended up with an especially low curve, you might even go down to 15-16 lands.
Blue – Black: Exploit
At first, this archetype was called Exploit Zombies, but there really isn’t a clear Zombie theme. Sure, there are a lot of Zombies, but there just aren’t many non-rare cards, which care about Zombies. There’s Chill of the Grave, which gives you a whooping discount of a single mana, and Archghoul of Thraben.
What are the rares? There’s Geralf, Visionary Stitcher and Headless Rider. Both of which are also self-sufficient, and don’t need a dedicated Zombie deck. The one card that might actually promote a Zombie deck is Necroduality, which can be an awesome payoff for drafting lots of Zombies.
With that in mind, let’s rather focus on the exploit stuff. You’ll want to have sacrifice fodder, and exploit creatures.
Two most obvious creatures to sacrifice are Doomed Dissenter, and Persistent Specimen. One gives you a 2/2 Zombie, when it dies, and the other can return itself from graveyard to play.
Undead Butler is an uncommon, and it’s certainly more powerful. It mills you, and when it dies, you can get another creature card back from your graveyard. If you’re in this archetype, you’ll really want to get some Butlers to help you win the Crimson Vow draft.
There’s also Wretched Throng, which can be serviceable if you got at least a couple of copies. Something like Lantern Bearer can also be used in a pinch, as you’ll still get some value later on.
There are 9 cards with exploit. Here they’re approximately ordered from best to worst, in your average exploit deck:
- Overcharged Amalgam — can really mess your opponent’s plans
- Diver Skaab — practically Man’O’War on steroids
- Fell Stinger
- Skull Skaab — heavily dependent on how many exploit creatures you have
- Rot-Tide Gargantua — depends on what type of deck your opponent has
- Stitched Assistant
- Repository Skaab
- Mindleech Ghoul — a very minor effect
- Graf Reaver — not many planeswalkers in draft
The first 7 creatures can really be powerful in this shell, and the last two are serviceable. You’ll want to have a nice mix of exploit creatures, and sacrifice fodder. Round the rest of your deck with good blue and black cards, and you should do fine.
Blue – Red: Noncreature Spells
Red-Blue archetype often has this theme. However, it frequently changes whether it focuses on instants and sorceries, or on all noncreature spells. In Crimson Vow draft, it cares about all noncreature spells.
Let’s talk about the three payoffs that you saw above. Wandering Mind is a fine body, that digs you for a noncreature spell. It’s the best of the bunch, followed by Whispering Wizard, which can quickly overwhelm an opponent if it isn’t dealt with.
This archetype usually had cheaper creatures with Frenzied Devils‘ ability, or they had an evasion of some kind. As it turns out, this one is just too clunky to work well in this shell.
Flamebreather is the cheap creature for the archetype. If you have multiple copies of it, the damage can quickly add up in the right deck. These type of decks often end up playing some number of pump spells, which will work nicely with Stormchaser Drake.
Your cheap draw spells are Thirst for Discovery and Reckless Impulse. Both of them trigger you cards, and give you more cards to work with. Something like Lantern of the Lost can also be used to its full potential in this archetype.
This decks often have hard time balancing the right amount of creatures (which every draft deck needs to function), and noncreature spells (for synergies). That’s where the blue disturb creatures can come in handy, as they are both creatures on one side and noncreatures (enchantments) on the other.
Red-blue has a lot of what it needs to succeed in this draft format, although the payoffs might be somewhat lacking.
Blue – Green: Self-Mill
Now, this deck looks like a lot of fun, if you like going through various hoops for small advantages, which hopefully add up to a victory over the course of the match.
Vilespawn Spider depicts everything what you want to do with this archetype, plus it does a very good Spider Spawning impression. That’s a card from the original Innistrad set, which was a delight of many drafters 11 years ago. (Yeah, original Innistrad released in 2011… Time flies.)
Anyway, you’ll want to mill cards, and get some advantage for doing so. The three cards, you saw above, are all both enablers and payoffs. All of them mill you, and reward you in various ways.
Enablers & Payoffs Combined
What’s suprising is that there are more cards that are both enablers and payoffs in one. There’s Moldgraf Millipede, which can be a big creature for five mana, and this deck can certainly utilize Fear of Death the most.
If you get especially lucky, you might even get Grolnok, the Omnivore, which will be a really fun card to get in this archetype.
Cobbled Lancer is also a sweet card for the deck, as it uses all parts of the buffalo… Erm, zombie-horse. If you draw it, you can probably cast it quite early, since you have so many cards that mill you. If you mill it, you can still get a card of value out of it. Similarly, Skywarp Skaab can also work best in this shell.
If you do end up with a ton of cards that mill you, and you’re afraid of milling your whole deck, you can use Witness the Future, which is certainly a playable card.
There are also many other synergies with this archetype, like disturb creatures, which give you value, if you mill them, or Cruel Witness putting cards in your graveyard. Sadly, the archetype is one of the worst performing ones.
Black – Red: Blood Vampires
If you like Blood tokens, this is your go-to archetype. There are a lot of cards that make Blood tokens, and various cards that synergize with them.
Blood Token Synergies
As we talked about, the tokens themselves are quite useful on their own, as they protect you from drawing too many lands. However, you can make more use of them with various cards.
Some cards, like Blood Hypnotist rewards you when you sacrifice a token. Others, like Bloodtithe Harvester care about how many Blood you have in play. Furthermore, Wedding Security and similar cards, give you an option to sacrifice them for a different effect, in its case drawing a card straight up, and getting a +1/+1 counter.
Some other good payoffs include:
Best Blood Token Generators
Of course, the best generator is a rare — Olivia’s Attendants can get you an absurd amount of Blood tokens. If you aren’t so lucky, you might do with some cards of lesser rarities. But don’t worry, there are plenty of good ones. There’s Gluttonous Guests and Bloodcrazed Socialite for example.
Grisly Ritual and Vampire’s Kiss both make two tokens, but one card is clunky, and the other is situation. However, here’s the thing. If you have a deck full of Blood tokens generators, situationally good cards become better. Why? Because when they’re bad, you can simply discard them to your other Blood tokens, and when they’re good, well… they’re good.
You’ll naturally have a lot of Vampires, when drafting red and black cards. This means you can take advantage of some Vampire tribal cards like:
Finally, this deck has various attack triggers, so you probably want to be more on the aggressive side, and an efficient mana curve. Also, don’t forget to pick up a couple of combat tricks, as they might be useful here.
Black – Green: Big Toughness
Crimson Vow draft is brought us another fresh archetype — this one really cares about toughness!
The Unhallowed Phalanx + Flourishing Hunter is the combo, which everyone talks about. Thirteen life is quite a lot, and to be fair, the combo is pretty easy to assemble, since both pieces are commons. Besides, Hunter is already great. Phalanx, on the other hand, isn’t that great without some help. Thankfully, Ancient Lumberknot also makes it into a real deal.
There aren’t that many other payoffs. You have Catapult Fodder, and Dormant Grove, which are both uncommons. However, this is probably the only archetype that wants these cards, so if you’re the only one at the table drafting it, you might get all of them anyway.
However, if you have a feeling that Green and Black cards aren’t coming your way, you’d better stay away from this archetype, as you might end up with half of the synergies, which would certainly weaken the deck.
Of course, besides the toughness cards, you’ll need to wrap your deck around with other good cards in your colors. Something like Weaver of Blossoms can also work really nice in this shell, as it can speed up some of your more expensive stuff.
Red – Green: Wolves & Werewolves
This color combo has the same theme as it did last time. Hopefully, this time around the deck will perform better than it did in Midnight Hunt, where it wasn’t a very great archetype, if you wanted to win. This time around the removal spells are a bit less efficient, and the disturb cards don’t come back as creatures, so maybe it’s time for Werewolves to make a comeback.
There are certainly some powerful rewards for drafting these two creature types. Child of the Pack is a very powerful uncommon. Runebound Wolf can help you finish a game that was going for a while. Packsong Pup can grow huge. Wolfking Outcast gets cheaper. And that’s without talking about rares! There are some real heavy hitters and higher rarities.
Your average red-green deck will be a classic midrange deck. You’ll have efficient creatures on all parts of the mana curve, and you’ll back them up with solid removal spells. Wolf Strike, for example, is probably at its best in this deck.
Crimson Vow Draft Guide: Power Rankings
We’re wrapping up the Archetypes’ section with the power rankings.
Red is easily the best color in the Crimson Vow draft. It has the best commons. Lots of good Blood token makers, and very efficient removal spells. The rest of the colors are a step behind, but apart from Green, they are bundled pretty closely together. Green is weaker than the rest of them, but you can certainly still play decks with Green and win.
Best Archetypes in Crimson Vow Draft
- Black-Red: Blood Vampires
- Red-White: Aggro
- Blue-White: Disturb Spirits & Enchantments
- Red-Green: Wolves & Werewolves
- Blue-Red: Noncreature Spells
- Black-White: Lifegain
- Blue-Black: Exploit
- Black-Green: Big Toughness
- Blue-Green: Self Mill
- Green-White: Humans Training
Red decks are all in the top half. Blood tokens are the name of the game in Crimson Vow draft. If you have them, and your opponent doesn’t, you’re probably winning the long game. Black pairs the best with Red, with more Blood tokens, and various synergies, that’s why this combo is the best one.
Green decks don’t fare well in this format, as can be seen from the last three decks. However, you can still win with them, and them — they are by no means unplayable. Red is so strong, that if you pair it with Green, it’s one of the best performing archetypes.
Thanks to disturb cards, Blue-White has enough tools to keep in the late game against Blood tokens. That’s why it’s the only non-Red archetype in the top half.
Additional Tips for Crimson Vow Draft
Before we wrap up, here are some final tips that might come in handy in your Crimson Vow draft.
Blending of Themes
One interesting thing in Crimson Vow draft is the blending of themes. A theme that’s “supposed” to be in one color pair, can work really well in another color pair, that shares a color with it. We mentioned that several times in the archetype section.
For example, Blue-Red has synergies with noncreature spells. Blue-White have disturb creatures/enchantments. Blue-Red can use blue disturb cards, to get their creature count up, while still having noncreature part on the backside. On the other hand, Blue-White can use Whispering Wizard and other blue payoffs for noncreature spells, thanks to their disturb auras.
So while you’re doing your first drafts of the format, don’t just presume where the cards are supposed to be based on their keyword. Think, how they might actually might perform in the deck you’re drafting.
Exploit is a tempo negative mechanic. Disturb gives you value over multiple turns. Blood tokens keep you going in the late game. There’s a lot of incidental lifegain.
All of these points towards a slower format, or at least towards one that won’t be all-in aggressive. That doesn’t mean that you should fill your deck with lots of expensive spells, as aggressive decks still exist, and will beat you down if you’re messing around.
How Many Lands to Play in Crimson Vow Draft?
This will really depend on your deck, and how the formats plays out. There will probably be reasons for anything between 15-18 lands, with 17 being the safe default.
The most aggressive deck could have a really low curve, and there might be a reason to cut a land or even two. However, if you have some Blood tokens makers, you’re better off playing the regular 17 lands, so you don’t risk bricking early on. In the late game, you’ll be able to discard any unnecessary lands to Blood tokens anyway.
On the other hand, if you have a classic midrange deck with lots of Blood tokens, you might want to go up to 18 lands, so you have a higher chance of hitting all of your lands on curve. The access in the late game can be traded for new cards with Blood.
Another case for 18 lands is, if you have a lot of two-for-ones in your deck, which might be a case for decks with a lot of disturb cards. You’ll have a lot of stuff to do with your mana, so you better make sure that you aren’t stuck on too little lands.
It’s good to know how many spells in the format can destroy all creatures. This way you know when to play all of your creatures, and when to hold some back. In the Crimson Vow draft, there’s only one actual wrath, that’s cleaved Path of Peril.
Is your opponent is making weird play patterns and plays White and Black? In that case, should think about playing around Path of Peril. What would be weird play patterns? Chump blocking while being at a very high life total, or not playing any creatures that actually matter.
In such cases, you might want to consider if you can beat the wrath by holding a couple of creatures in your hand. If you think you can, you should try to do so. If you won’t be able to beat anyway, just deploy all of your creatures and hope for the best.
The other card, that while it’s not technically a wrath, it does pretty much the same thing in draft. In some scenario, it’s even better. That’s By Invitation Only, which lets its caster choose a number between 0 and 13, and each player has to sacrifice that many creatures.
This one is much harder to play around, since your opponent can just play creatures as usual, if you aren’t deploying yours. Then it can make you sacrifice your good creatures, while only getting rid of their worst ones. Or if you try holding creatures in your hand, they can decide not to cast the wrath, and overwhelm you with multiple creatures.
Furthermore, there’s also Vampire’s Vengeance.
While it’s far away from an actual wrath, it can certainly cause a lot of damage. So keep it in mind, when your opponent is making an unusual attack with their Vampires, or leaving three mana up with their blockers.
Finally, if you want to see a grade for each and every card in the set, based on how good it is in draft, you should check out Drifters’s Crimson Vow Draft Tier List.
Explore More Crimson Vow!
That marks the end of our Crimson Vow Draft Guide. However, if you want more content from the Magic’s Vampire set, there are some articles that might interest you.
First up, great news for Commander players. We’re getting two precons with this set, and they are both tribal focused. One deck is built around Vampires, and the other around Spirits. You can read all about Crimson Vow Commander decks here.
Do you want to draft at home with your friends? If so, you’ll want to get a Crimson Vow Draft Booster Box.
On the other hand, if you’re a collector, and like foil cards with alternate art, you might prefer Collector Boosters. You can find out everything about the Crimson Vow Collector Booster contents here.
Maybe you’re playing Magic on Arena? In that case, you’ll want to check out MTG Arena codes. With them, you can get various free stuff, including cosmetics, and free packs — including three packs of Crimson Vow.
Don’t want to miss another draft guide, or the update to this one? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram. This way, you’ll get reminders for all of your favorite articles.
Until next time, have fun, and may you reach the seven wins in your Crimson draft with ease.