Innistrad: Crimson Vow has some surprisingly spicy reprints! There is everything from iconic Innistrad cards to powerful removal that defined various Standard formats, and even a Commander favorite to boot! Let’s have a look at the five best Crimson Vow reprints coming our way.
Syncopate has always played a bit of a second-fiddle role in controlling blue decks whenever it has been in recent Standard formats. It’s usually played as a one or two-of, backing up a playset of whatever Cancel-with-upside is being played at the time. Back in Return to Ravnica Standard you would play four Dissipates or Dissolves and two Syncopates, whereas in Dominaria Standard it saw a play alongside Disallow.
Its strength is, of course, acting as a two-mana hard counter in the early turns. It does scale into the late game – certainly better than something like Mana Leak – but becomes expensive and clunky. It also does exceptional work in graveyard-dominated formats. Innistrad sets tend to encourage playing out of the ‘yard, and while Midnight Hunt didn’t lead to too much graveyard-based play, Syncopate will be a useful safety valve if that changes. There’s even Dissipate to go along with it, just like back in 2012!
The real downfall with this card is its rarity shift, from rare to uncommon. This was good enough to be a rare when it was first printed back in original Theros, but power creep makes fools of us all and Hero’s Downfall – a flexible, all-purpose removal spell for the middling price of three mana – is now an uncommon.
Broadly speaking, you point a Hero’s Downfall at a threat you don’t like being there, and the threat goes away. Being able to deal with both creatures and planeswalkers is huge, as it greatly reduces the number of matchups in which it’s a dead card. Control decks often lean on planeswalkers both for value and to close games out these days, so having your removal suite not just be completely dead against control is always a nice bonus.
But is it good enough, these days? Three mana is a lot of mana, and when you’re up against decks like Mono-Green and Mono-White, you’re often trading down on mana. I’m glad to have Hero’s Downfall back – it’s a nice reminder of my absolute favorite period playing Magic, 2012-2013, but almost 10 years later I wonder if this hasn’t just downshifted in rarity, but also playability.
Splendid Reclamation didn’t ever make too much of a splash in Standard, back in the day. People speculated a little bit about the role it might have played with Amonkhet lands, such as the Deserts that sacrificed themselves, but nothing came of it, broadly speaking, and the card was relegated to Commander. It held a steady price that crept up slowly, topping out at about $7 or so – a price that will come down quickly now that it’s been reprinted.
Not a bad deal for EDH fans who might want to pick up a copy for a deck with a tighter budget, but what will it do in Standard? My suspicion: not a huge amount. There is the 10-card cycle of lands from Kaldheim that all sacrifice themselves for a spell-like effect, but… come on. Hit ’em with the old Gnottvold Slumbermound, then pay four to bring it back? I don’t see it happening.
Without fetchlands or other lands that have free (or at least cheap) activation costs to sacrifice, it’s hard to see Splendid Reclamation doing its best work. There is Mulch – another reprint – and other ways to mill yourself, but a condition four-mana ramp spell in a format that is so aggressive, and nothing like Ugin to untap and play? Again, I just don’t see it happening. Still, it’s a nice reprint for Gitrog Commander fans!
Abrade is back, and better than ever! This versatile removal spell has seen a ton of play across multiple formats, even included in Legacy sideboards as a way to deal with problematic artifacts that isn’t dead if they don’t draw their hate piece. It doesn’t look like much, but Abrade is the real deal and I expect it to be a staple in Standard for the duration its legal.
Why is Abrade so good? Flexibility. That’s all there is to it. In fairness, it was last legal in a format where Kaladesh was in Standard, so there were a lot of artifacts around, but all the same the fact that it can snipe small creatures at a decent rate and clean up any artifacts that might be laying around mean that it’s rarely dead – and, as we pointed out with Hero’s Downfall, having a removal spell be useful in a range of situations really juices it up.
Plus, on top of all that, the new art is incredible. I’m pleased to see the new direction Wizards has taken with the art on some cards recently. Art that is a little more abstract and a little less literal – things like Fates’ Reversal from AFR, or the Sagas in Kaldheim. Generic fantasy art is all well and good and the art on Magic cards is generally absolutely world-class, but I like seeing the boundaries pushed a little bit.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has been a multiformat all-star since she was printed – the centerpiece of an entire strategy, really in Death and Taxes. She is the defining card of Death and Taxes lists in both Modern and Legacy, and now she rejoins Standard and is introduced to Pioneer as well to do what she does best – disrupt the opponent’s plans while pressuring their life total.
Thalia will delay a sweeper to the point it’s no longer good enough, she’ll force you to spend extra mana on the removal spell you wanted to save for a real threat and “waste” it on a 2/1. She’s remained competitively relevant for the almost 10 years since she was printed, and white aggressive decks will benefit enormously for her coming back to Standard.
She’s a kill-on-sight threat for control decks, provides a respectable body as a two-drop, and even does great work on defense in aggressive matchups when needed, as two power of first strike is difficult for aggro to get through. I’m expecting big things from Thalia – she’s got the pedigree to prove she can put work in, so it might be time to dust off those old copies from Dark Ascension!