Oddballs and Build Arounds in Crimson Vow Limited

One of the things I find most fascinating about Limited Magic is evaluating and proposing homes for some of the more oddball and “build arounds” in each set. Even after decades of limited Magic, R&D never fails to design a handful of cards each set that make you go “well that seems pretty bad… I think… actually is this just good?” Sometimes these cards end up being flops like Heirloom Mirror, but other times they end up being great cards in the right deck like Ominous Roost.


A quirk about these types of cards that can translate to a competitive advantage is the fact that early on in a format, they’re on average drafted and played far less frequently than your generic well-statted creature or fine removal spell. Sometimes they’re confusing, read worse than they play or simply just have too many words for someone to read in less than a minute while still looking at the rest of the pack. What this means is that if you’re privy to the fact that one of these oddball cards ends up being pretty good, you’ll get to draft an above-average card at a later pick than cards of similar power level usually go.

However, because these cards don’t get played as often early in a format, it’s uncommon that you get the advantage of seeing how they perform on the opposite side of the battlefield like you would with the “generically good” cards. This means that if you want to reap the rewards of figuring out if one of these oddball cards is actually good, you have to put in the work yourself (or outsource it to other’s who have played with the card) in order to figure out if it cuts the mustard.

As a side note, I would usually suggest checking out 17lands.com to get a pulse on these cards as, even a few days into a format, sample size is often large enough to get a good idea of the overperforming or underperforming cards. However, I would caution this approach as in many cases, these oddball cards either A) don’t get played enough in the first few days of a format to have a reliable sample size or B) are being played in decks that are not optimized for them leading to win rates that don’t represent the true potential of the cards.

With all of that in mind, I’d like to use today to talk about some of the (numerous) oddball cards in Crimson Vow. These are cards that I think could be good, but also might just be the next Heirloom Mirror. This is less about pinpointing cards that are sleepers and more an exercise in card evaluation. My goal is to get your radar on these cards early on so that you’re not the drafter left in the dark on week four wondering about whether or not Croaking Counterpart is a good card.




Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top