Welcome back to part two of my look into the best Crimson Vow Commander cards. If you missed my last part, you can find all the links below!
As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. These days, I’ve been leaning more toward a desire to play three 40-minute games in lieu of one two-hour slog, but I’ll be talking about cards from the wider social perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game – or at least doing the thing my deck set out to do – so if that’s your mindset as well, these reviews will probably resonate with you. I won’t be reviewing reprints, so you can just assume I feel the same way about Thalia, Guardian of Thraben as I did before we found out it was in this set. I also don’t review every card – if I feel they’re not worth mentioning, I don’t give them a write-up, but we all know there’s a deck out there for every card. When you inevitably disagree with a review (or think I skipped something good), please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!
Oh, and one more thing – if I don’t mention a card that has one of the set’s core mechanics, then I probably don’t think much of it outside of a deck that’s laser-focused on that mechanic over all else.
Since Zombies die all the time, often by their controllers’ hands, this is a really sweet pickup for Zombie tribal decks (just one among so, so many, in fact.) Sure, Grim Haruspex already exists at this cost, but it doesn’t trigger off tokens dying, which Archghoul does. Sure, you won’t always get a card draw out of it, but you can just push right past those pesky non-Zombie cards if you so desire! Decayed tokens seem like a total no-brainer (heh) with the Archghoul as well.
If you’re hoping to give opponents tons of artifacts and then punish them for it with some deeply niche cards like Ancient Runes or Emissary of Despair, or if you’re the kind of person that wants to play Stony Silence and Null Rod, I suppose this card will help you do wacky stuff. I don’t see it as having wide applications, though.
On the one hand, this is a lot of value for your card – you get to exile two things from graveyards and, most of the time, kill two creatures/planeswalkers over the un-life span of this Zombie. That said, at six mana, I don’t know if this is the deal we’re looking for. Zombie decks are often light on curve-topping creatures, and those creatures usually need to be very strong to make the cut.
I love the multiplicative aspect of this card! Mana value seven makes it a little awkward with Endrek Sahr, but I still think they’re a fine pair. At some point, you won’t be able to make creatures fast enough to keep up with the demands of these Demons (most likely, anyway) but the good news is there’s no consequence for running out of sacrifices – you’ll just have tons of Demons! It does hamper your ability to play more creatures later, though, so keep that in mind.
Dying to Serve
If you’re playing Anje Falkenrath or can otherwise reliably discard once per each opponent’s turn, likely in a madness deck, this can be a solid augmentation to your strategy even if it’s not that huge of a payoff. This is the kind of card that probably plays better than it looks, so give it a few games before edging it out for something more focused – you might be surprised!
The Rotlung Reanimator variant I’ve dreamed of for years is finally here – Zombies dying gets us more Zombies! Obviously it can’t trigger off of tokens, but it provides yet another way to go off with Gravecrawler as well as even more incentive to sacrifice things to Geralf, Cleaver Skaab and more.
Oh, and of course, Wilhelt needed a new best friend – sac a nontoken Zombie with both Wilhelt and Headless Rider on the battlefield, get a decayed token and a non-decayed token, and then sac the non-decayed token for a decayed one! That’s four sacrifices out of a single Zombie, which is just so much value. Plus, this makes Zombies, an already-tough creature type to wrath out, even more resilient.
You can make this the commander of your deathtouch-themed deck or just make something Nighthawk-themed with only creatures with flying, deathtouch and/or lifelink! That said, I think it’s also likely to go well in a low-to-mid power Vampire list, so probably not the big Edgar Markov decks.
If you need another Reassembling Skeleton and don’t mind paying more for the activation, well, now you have one. I think the need for this is going to be pretty sparse, but that’s honestly fine.
Sorin the Mirthless
I’m just checking in to say that I think this is a fairly mediocre planeswalker in the context of Commander.
Toxrill, the Corrosive
Well, it’s not too hard to get me hyped about a Slug commander. Sliming everything is probably too big a bookkeeping nightmare for SpellTable games, but I’ll be happy to bust this out in person and slowly eat away at the board state. Anything that doubles your triggers or makes non-legendary copies of Toxrill is going to be clutch, so break out your Strionic Resonators and Spark Doubles. Oh, and make sure to grab some cheap defensive counterspells to protect this wonderful new friend.
Hey, our first real reason to play a deck with a Blood token subtheme! Once you’ve built up your blood bank, which won’t be too hard to do as long as this isn’t your only Blood generator, you can start making the Blood more useful to you in combat. There are quite a few niche cards that do something vaguely desirable and generate a Blood token that get a lot better when paired with Voldaren Bloodcaster – Pointed Discussion comes to mind right off the bat.
You already weren’t playing Final Fortune most of the time, and you probably weren’t playing seven-mana Time Walks. I prefer my gambits fiery, but that’s just me.
While this can be amusing as a worse Zo-Zu, I think most of the decks that will be interested in this will be the type that cast Heartless Hidetsugu and fit into the “group slug” mold. And no, I don’t mean “group slug” like Toxrill, though I’m sure Toxrill eats plenty of mold.
Chandra, Dressed to Kill
Oh, for a world where the second ability doesn’t say “if it’s red.” Even in mono-red decks, not being able to play lands you hit is kind of a bummer, but if the one mana reduction versus Chandra, Fire Artisan really makes a difference (a red/black deck that’s secretly mono-red and runs Obosh?), go for it.
Change of Fortune
Doing a little personal wheeling can be fun, but this card is best when you’ve already spent some time discarding earlier in the turn. Whether you’re blasting through cards one at a time with Anje Falkenrath or going all in with Fateful Showdown, it might be good to do all that before you cast this, just so you can reap the greatest possible amount of rewards.
Curse of Hospitality
If you like the idea of Shared Fate but also enjoy what is broadly considered fun, this might be the curse for you. Of course, the best way to maximize this in your favor is to have the widest board, which means this could be a lot of fun in Goblin decks. I think Grenzo, Havoc Raiser would love to put this on an opponent and just hit super hard! The trample is mostly going to be for other people, since quantity trumps quality here, but it also ensures the cursed player can’t hide behind chump blockers and is therefore likely to die faster. What a delightful design, honestly.
Grabbing a single creature for a turn isn’t necessarily the greatest payoff for having lots of Vampires, but it can be nice to attach that to an on-type creature with okay stats, so I’m not too down on this card. Plus, since Vampires often want to be pretty aggressive, this could be a difference maker. It’s certainly better than playing an actual Threaten.
I’m always happy to see a Mogg Maniac, but of course, it’s hard to get too much value from one without a lot of work. Once this transforms, though, Howlpack Avenger is truly terrifying. Want to end the game with a single Blasphemous Act? Howlpack Avenger and just a few more creatures all together will easily get the job done – every creature you control gets you a lucky 13 damage to point wherever you want!
Into the Night
Forcing the issue on turning day into night can be a dealbreaker for Werewolf decks full of the new daybound/nightbound cards, so this will see some niche play.
This is a better stat line for this creature than Firebrand Archer’s 2/1, making this a small upgrade a decent amount of the time.
This card isn’t going to be relevant in most decks, but look at that fuzzy friend. Hello! Yeah. Good doggie.
If you’re going big on X-spells with cards like Rosheen Meanderer, Magma Pummeler could be fun. It’s hard to chump-block and very threatening as a blocker as long as you get a decent-sized X.
Talk about spellslinger payoffs! Sure, the tokens go away at the beginning of the next end step, but if you’re willing to spend some mana on your own turn casting high mana value spells (hello, Treasure Cruise!) you’re going to push some serious damage through. Don’t underestimate the ability to generate blockers either!
If you’re looking for the high-end Blood token generators, well, you found one. I’m not usually a huge proponent of Kumano, Master Yamabushi and that style of effect these days, as cards have just gotten better, and this does have the dubious honor of its effect costing more.
That said, three mana to deal a damage and create a Blood token is fine if you’re collecting Blood tokens for some synergy or you just want artifacts to enter the battlefield, and that’s the deal you’re generally getting here. Attacking with a 6/6 menace is going to be feasible a decent amount of the time too, and that means six Blood tokens!
I can’t imagine getting my board wide enough in most Werewolf decks for this to work, but I want to make a special note of just how good this is with Feed the Pack. Play and sacrifice some larger creatures to fill your board with Wolves, then blast off the activated ability for big damage. Of course, it costs a lot to activate, so copying the ability with Rings of Brighthearth is probably better than trying to untap and reuse it.
This is a fun little subgame to play in red token decks, and as long as you have a sacrifice outlet, it shouldn’t be too hard to get to lucky 13 in the midgame. At some point it becomes kind of tough once you have eight or more lands in play, since those count, but after a wrath, this starts to look a little simpler. That said, it’s not an audaciously powerful card – just a fun one.
It’s a moderately-well-statted Werewolf with some decent keywords and an okay attack trigger. Perhaps Wulfgar of Icewind Dale would be interested in this?
Eric Levine, also known as RagingLevine, is an accomplished Magic Judge, having head judged many Grand Prix events as well as the Mythic Championship. He's been writing about Commander since 2012 and enjoys building casual, fun decks to play with friends after long days at tournaments.