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Olivia's Attendants

Innistrad: Crimson Vow Draft Guide – June 2023 Update

Learn how to draft Innistrad: Crimson Vow effectively with our latest draft guide on this Limited format!

Hey everyone! The Midnight Hunt throwback has come to a close, but the party doesn’t stop as we head right back into the hottest vampire wedding of the summer. That’s right, we’re switching from Team Jacob over to Team Edward and the rest of the sparkly vamps.

How did we end up here? Apparently Olivia loved her wedding so much that she’s already dragging Edgar back to the alter AGAIN (how many times is this now) so we can run it back premier draft style. So, let’s get you prepped to run the table on everyone!

Key Ideas of Innistrad: Midnight Vow

The first thing that always comes up when talking about Crimson Vow is the bombs. I’m here to say that they don’t matter nearly as much as everyone complains about. There are busted bombs in every format and sometimes you just lose to them. It’s a part of drafting that’s been happening since we started passing packs around a table long, long ago.

People also tend to focus on the times that it happened to them and not the times that they won because of them. Is Avabruck Caretakerreally that much worse than Kiora Bests the Sea God? They are both mythics so they don’t pop up that often, but they do some serious damage when they do.

The thing here is that there are plenty of times when someone says “They played Dreadfeast Demon, GG, what am I supposed to do about that?”. Then you review the game and see that they used a Bleed Dry to push a few damage that didn’t really matter.

Taking into account that these cards are in the format rewards better players who can evaluate in real time how critical using a removal spell is compared to holding it for something more important. While getting a two for one is a core part of normal limited game play, sometimes it doesn’t really matter when you are far enough ahead that the only way you lose is to not dealing with a bomb.

Basically this is a very skill rewarding format that you shouldn’t be talked out of just because of the existence of some busted cards.

The best archetype in Crimson VOW is Rakdos because both colors have access to blood and it has some great synergistic pieces. It has an amazing removal package and access to a lot of bombs. That said, almost every color combination is viable in VOW under the right circumstances (except Selesnya, don’t fall into the training trap). That makes staying open and drafting the hard way the advised course of action.

Blood is one of my favorite limited mechanics ever created because it helps to minimize flood and screw while making your decisions matter. It gives you some tension over whether you use it to try to hit land drops or sit back on them to try to maximize card quality later. You can’t beat the feeling of having so much agency over how the game plays out.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with blood is just using their tokens early to try to filter non-lands into specific cards when they would have been much better off just developing their board. Waiting gives you an advantage because it’s a lot easier to know what you actually need as the game goes on.

The value of a blood token is about 2/3 of a card, but later in the game it is almost a full card. That makes Falkenrath Celebrants a bigger Mulldrifter with menace. Of course, there are diminishing returns if you produce too much blood and can’t properly utilize it all.

There are a bunch of really powerful commons that are all totally fine first picks.  Bleed Dry is considered to be the top of the heap, but Traveling Minister, Abrade, and Flame-Blessed Bolt are also amazing.

Some of you just did a double take when I said Traveling Minister. I was super high on it during preview season and by the end of the format almost everyone else was taking it high too. It does so much for a one drop and gets insane in multiples. Since it pumps a creature and gives you life, it’s tapping for a two-point life swing every single turn without requiring any mana outside of that initial investment. That’s not even getting into how sick it is with Heron of Hope. There is a good chance that people make the same mistake of underrating it again so take advantage of it if you can.

There is a huge suite of good removal floating around. Outside of all the ones I’ve already mentioned, Fierce Retribution, Sigarda's Imprisonment, Grisly Ritual, and Wolf Strike are all really solid at common. There’s a bunch of even better removal at uncommon too. The morale of the story is that you shouldn’t get too attached to your creatures while attending a vampire wedding because they will most likely die a horrible, horrible death.

There are also plenty of playable counterspells hanging around in VOW. Geistlight Snare, Syncopate and even Syphon Essence are all fine. Blue even gets Thirst for Discovery as a way to still do something useful EOT if they don’t play something for you to counter.

Orzhov is the king of the mountain when it comes to slowly grinding out a match. There are so many times that my opponent got me down to two life and I ended up winning at something absurd like thirty-eight life. The Traveling Minister really powers this deck either through Heron of Hope or with the Markov Purifier card draw engine. Just make sure you have a way to eventually get across the finish line.

It’s also the only deck that I want to play a single Ceremonial Knife in. It’s a pretty bad card card, but you end up playing very long games with a large life cushion that it can prevent you from flooding out. One of the biggest mistakes of the format was people shoving that card into every deck. Don’t be that person, only play one in Orzhov unless something has gone horribly wrong in your draft.

Dimir can feel really mediocre because Exploit didn’t quite get there as a mechanic. Though if you are the only one at the table and get the right opens, it can be one of the most frustrating decks to play against. The multiple Skull Skaab versions can just go so wide, so fast that there is no real recourse to get out of it. Any start with Biolume Egg immediately puts your opponent under so much pressure that they are going to have to react to your plan instead of executing their own.

Ironically the werewolf deck is much better in the vampire set than it was in the werewolf set. Gruul was actually pretty huge at the beginning of the format with a lot of weird cards like Snarling Wolf overperforming. As the format developed, it moved more towards a larger creature deck with Hookhand Mariners and Flourishing Hunters. It doesn’t even mind playing the long game with Child of the Pack. If you just want to smash, then feel free to crash the party with a pack of Lycans.

The other deck that I want to talk about is the Izzet spells deck. It really wants to play cheap interaction like Flame-Blessed Bolt and flyers like Lantern Bearer. This is a good route to start heading down if you see some late Kessig Flamebreather or Ancestral Anger going around.

It can even get so crazy that you want a copy of Serpentine Ambush to push through damage. I can assure you they never see the Serpentine Ambush coming until it smacks them right in face.


The big hit everything sweepers of the format are By Invitation Only and Path of Peril. Trying to play around By Invitation Only like a traditional sweeper lets them build a huge advantage where they keep their best creatures while wiping your side.

The damage-based sweepers are Vampires' Vengeance and End the Festivities. Vampires' Vengeance is definitely main boardable and can be devastating against most of the white decks in the format, but can be the worlds most expensive rummage in the vampire mirror.

While End the Festivities was an amazing sideboard card, VOW is only available in best of one this time so your deck is going to have to be pretty bad for it to make the cut.


While it’s pretty obvious once you’ve played the format some, Cradle of Safety can be a huge blowout if you don’t see it coming. Getting your removal spell countered while they get an aura pump and a spell cast trigger can swing the game really hard.

The green pump spells are Witch's Web and Massive Might which are fairly interchangeable depending on the matchup. Since it’s premier draft, I would run one of each before I ran two copies of either. I can’t tell you how many times people forget that Witch's Web untaps and gives reach so try not to be that person who runs your flyer into it.

One of the most underrated tricks is Undying Malice. You can pull off so many shenanigans either through Exploit or just when your poor opponent thinks it’s just an innocent trade. Getting both a +1+1 counter and the comes into play ability for only one mana is pretty big game.


These are the Pack One Pick One (p1p1) no doubt, windmill slam, just take them rares of the set. These are not in rank order, just take these over any uncommon or common.

Mythic Uncommons

These might be uncommons, but they sure don’t play like they are.

Do Not Draft List

These are the ones that some people talk themselves into, but you should always pass.

Wrap Up

This is actually a great, skill testing format that gets a bad reputation because of the large number of bombs floating around. While I agree that some of them should have been shifted up to Mythic, don’t let that hold you back from enjoying the craziest vampire party of the summer.

Thanks for reading! I hope you love your trip back into the lands of Innistrad Crimson Vow and I’ll be back soon with my next article. Until then, stay classy people!

I’m always open to feedback, let me know what you loved, what you hated, or just send dog pics. You can contact me at:

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Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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