What Crimson Vow Cards (So Far) Will Impact Standard?

Coming in to Crimson Vow Standard, Izzet Epiphany and Mono-Green have been the two best decks for the last couple months. In addition, there has been some Mono-White, Izzet Dragons, Grixis, Temur and some more fringe strategies. When evaluating Crimson Vow cards as they’re previewed, in this type of environment, there are a few questions I’d ask myself.




Header - Question #1

Is this card good in what is already one of the top couple of decks?


Alchemist’s Gambit is a card that people have talked about on social media as something that might give “more turns” to the Izzet or Grixis Epiphany decks. I don’t really see it. First of all, to play cleave, you’re spending seven mana. This is only one more than the six for Alrund’s Epiphany, but it’s significant because a big part of the deck is to play Galvanic Iteration in advance to the Epiphany. Alchemist’s Gambit might have a role, but without making the Birds, I just don’t see the Izzet deck adding it. I think it’s more likely that this finds a home in decks with Goldspan Dragon, where you’re more often interested in casting it for only three mana.


Manaform Hellkite is interesting. In theory, it would be at its best in a blue-red deck, or some red/x deck full of noncreature spells. Izzet Turns is a natural pairing. I first saw the card and imagined the upside of casting this and then playing Alrund’s Epiphany and doing seven damage right away with the token. However, I think in reality, if you’re playing this kind of card, you’re likely better off just playing Goldspan Dragon. Manaform Hellkite could definitely have a home in an Izzet deck or something else, but I don’t really see it just slotting in to the deck we’re used to seeing.

It might be an interesting sideboard card, meant to apply board pressure and force the opponent to try to go off quicker than they might otherwise want to, but I guess we’ll see. One interesting thing about the way Manaform Hellkite is worded is that you can cast spells in your opponent’s end step, then untap and attack with the token, so it doesn’t force you to start playing spells at sorcery speed to get value.

The good news is, that at least so far, I haven’t seen much that I think is going to easily slot into either Izzet or Mono-Green and make the decks even more dominant. That being said, there are still a lot of cards to be previewed, so we’ll have to wait and see how it breaks out.


Header - Question #2

Does this card help an already established deck improve against other top decks?


A good example of a card I’d evaluate on this axis is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I think it’s very clear that Thalia is going to give Mono-White a lot better chances against the Izzet Epiphany deck. The deck is full of spells, and taxing them all for an additional one is very strong. Even simply just the interaction against Expressive Iteration is enormous, effectively making the card unplayable until turn four. Of course, a lot of the Izzet decks play cheap removal and Spikefield Hazard, so it’s unclear if Thalia is an absolute matchup changer, but every little bit of disruption helps, especially from an aggressive deck.


On the flip side, let’s look at Sorin the Mirthless. This looks like a great card to me. However, I don’t really think this is a card that would really shine against either Izzet or Mono-Green. Sorin is a quintessential midrange card. It takes time to gain advantage and will likely just be overpowered by Alrund’s Epiphany.

Against Mono-Green, Sorin could be a little stronger, with the plus enabling the Sorin player to find additional creature removal to keep the opponent’s creatures under control. Unfortunately for Sorin, I think the power midrange cards are going to struggle in an Izzet Epiphany metagame. Sorin is a great card, but I’m not exactly sure what its home will look like or if it can compete in the world of time walks.


Valorous Stance looks like a card that has a lot of potential. It’s not great against Turns, but it can occasionally kill a Smoldering Egg or Goldspan Dragon. But also, it can protect a creature from a removal spell as well. Against Mono-Green, it can kill a lot of things including Esika’s Chariot or a Wrenn and Seven token. Even against Mono-White it can occasionally pick off a runaway Luminarch Aspirant. Overall, an additional way to remove Esika’s Chariot with some versatility could be something we’re interested in.


Header - Question #3

Does this card provide an integral part of a new strategy that’s good against some of the top decks? Is this card so strong that it will likely be a new archetype of its own? If so, how do we anticipate that type of deck will do against the already established top decks?

This is the most fun question. Usually, cards that we start to think about on this axis tend to be unique and extremely powerful. I’ve seen some cards that I’m interested in so far, and even started to brainstorm a little, but in the end I decided there were not quite enough cards to write standalone articles about them quite yet, but maybe soon.


This card really jumped out at me. It’s an extremely powerful effect – every time you cast an enchantment, you get a creature. There are no enchantresses legal in Standard though. The closest thing is Rite of Harmony. I’ve never actually seen that card played, but it does seem to combo pretty well with Hallowed Haunting. Imagine on around the fifth turn, if you’ve played a Hallowed Haunting on turn four, you can play Rite of Harmony, Ranger Class, draw three cards and maybe a one-mana enchantment to draw two more.

I think for this deck to be good, Curse of Silence will have to be good enough to buy time against the Izzet decks. I’m not sure if it will be, but if you’re able to get one or two copies into play, Alrund’s Epiphany costing eight or 10 could possibly be enough to make a difference. Another problem is the deck could end up being too reliant on Hallowed Haunting, depending on what other new enchantments are printed. In any event, it’s definitely a card I’m keeping my eye on.


I have a feeling this is going to be a great card. First thing I noticed was that the exile trigger doesn’t target. This means that the opponent can’t mess you up by flashing back a card for no gain after you target it, and also increases the effectiveness of the passive ability.

I think this will end up being a good card in a slower UW control-type deck, likely a deck playing a lot of instants of your own. You can exile an instant from yourself or the opponent, and then cards like Consider or Memory Deluge will make us some 1/1s. The flash 3/4 is also decent at blocking against some of the weenie decks, and if you’re able to make a control deck with a card like this, the previously mentioned Valorous Stance would be a natural inclusion, since you can kill opposing creatures as well as protect your Protector.


This card has an extremely powerful effect. Basically, while Grolonk is in play, you can attack to draw three cards. I had thought about how best to keep it in play and one idea I had was to include it in a sort of Bant Party-type deck. With Bears of Littjara and Masked Vandal, you have the opportunity to curve Frog into Frog into Frog, while also getting maximum value from the Bears. Also, Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate can be used to set up protection for Grolnok, which might be important.

In addition, you can build your deck in a way to have cheap answers to things, most notable Concerted Defense, which was always a superstar in the Bant Party deck. If your opponent leaves their shields down and you can play Grolnok and attack with a Frog on the same turn with one mana up, and you have a Defense, it could end the game. Another bonus of this card in that shell is the deck has tons of cheap cards in general, so it’s easier to cast a lot of the cards right away, or even play a second Grolnok and spells from exile on the same turn.


I’m not sure of the best way to use this card, but it’s really powerful. If you can use the Blood mechanic to loot away some big creature, Olivia should be able to return them on turn six. I looked through the biggest creatures in Standard, and none of them particularly jumped out. Koma, Cosmos Serpent is perhaps the most powerful, but getting that into play on the sixth turn isn’t that exciting. Plus, part of the appeal is Koma’s indestructibility, and Olivia’s drawback sort of negates it. Maybe Olivia could just be used with value-type creatures. It’s also conceivable that there’s a giant creature or two left to be previewed. 


People are comparing this card to Siege Rhino. I get it, though it’s definitely not as good. First of all, it’s legendary, so you can’t keep playing them turn after turn. That being said, it is a four mana 4/5 with another bonus ability. Paying two mana to sacrifice a creature or Blood and drain for two is big. If you play a very aggressive strategy, and you curve into this on turn four, you can likely get your opponent low enough to sacrifice a bunch of things and drain them out. A 4/5 is a particularly the sweet spot because it can do a bit of a better job of playing defense against Esika’s Chariot as well. Vampires were not really a viable deck before, but maybe after the release of Crimson Vow, they will be.

Overall, these are mostly first seeds of ideas. Hopefully soon we will have some more cool stuff to look over and I’ll start writing some articles with more concrete ideas, brews and so on.

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