Innistrad: Crimson Vow Limited Set Review: Blue

Syncopate Art by Marta Nael
Syncopate Art by Marta Nael


Alchemist’s Retrieval

Rating: 2/5

This is just a slightly better Disperse, which is fine but unexciting. Try not to play this in decks that aren’t full of creatures and able to capitalize on the tempo this provides.

Cemetery Illuminator

Rating: 4/5

A consistent source of graveyard management and card advantage on an already above rate flier looks fantastic to me. Every deck wants this and there’s not a common or uncommon that you should be taking over this.

Binding Geist

Rating: 2.5/5

This attacks surprisingly well since it can shrink down whatever cheap creature or token that would normally trade up with this. The Disturb side is mediocre, but this works well with Exploit and is something that most decks will play but not be insanely excited with.

Biolume Egg

Rating: 3/5

This seems fantastic to me! Blue has such powerful Exploit creatures, and assuming that you have enough of those, you’ll end up getting insane value off of this. This also will end the game incredibly quickly in the late game when you don’t need all your lands.

Chill of the Grave

Rating: 3/5

My goodness this is significantly better than Neonate's Rush. Crippling Chill was always good, but it becomes so much better at two mana. It shouldn’t be too hard to have a zombie out if you’re blue, which makes me think that nearly every blue deck will be happy playing multiple copies of this.

Cobbled Lancer 

Rating: 3/5

It should be easy to double spell with this and something else later in the game, which will lead to some back-breaking turns. Being great to trade off or mill pushes this over the edge and makes me happy to play Cobbled Lancer in any blue deck with over 10 creatures.

Consuming Tide 

Rating: 0.5/5

Consuming Tide being symmetrical means that it’s going to be very difficult to get your opponent with this while also not incinerating any tempo that you were trying to gain. Not even being guaranteed to draw a card makes this even more awkward. Again, another Commander card that limited players should steer clear of, unless you’re specifically a control deck with an incredibly low amount of nonland permanents in it.

Cradle of Safety

Rating: 2/5

Starlit Mantle is back baby! I went 2-0 in the World’s draft potion with two of those beauties in my Theros Beyond Death draft deck. Unfortunately, Crimson Vow doesn’t have Constellation to make this a truly great trick, but it does still synergize well with some of the enchantment matters cards in white. I’ll happily play a copy or two of this in my creature heavy decks, but it’s not amazing and will often serve you better as a board card against removal heavy decks.

Cruel Witness

Rating: 3/5

I love Phantom Monster in limited, and Cruel Witness is no exception. Getting to Surveil whenever you cast a spell is just the icing on the cake, and I don’t see myself ever cutting this from my blue decks.

Diver Skaab 

Rating: 3/5

Now this is a great top end play for your blue decks! Assuming that you aren’t exploiting a valuable creature, then a five mana 3/5 with an Aether Gust attached is going to be fantastic! I’m still low on taking five drops early, but I might make an exception here.

Dreadlight Monstrosity

Rating: 2/5

This is a decent finisher that shouldn’t have much issue with quickly ending the game after it’s cast. It’s expensive so you don’t want much of this sort of effect, but it’ll often end up being pretty good in most of your blue decks.

Dreamshackle Geist

Rating: 3.5/5

This is backbreaking when you’re the aggressor, and still solid when you’re behind and trying to manage your opponents board. Another rare that I rarely see myself passing.

Fear of Death

Rating: 1.5/5

This seems like an okay removal in a deck that’s looking to be controlling, which blue looks like it will excel in. Not to mention that blue has some great fliers and Disturb cards that synergize well with this, which makes me believe that most slower decks that meet those considerations will be somewhat interested in some copies of this. The only issue is that Exploit is in the format, which makes aura removal way worse. It actually makes it so much worse that the value of this plummets in this format and it’s a card that I would be incredibly reluctant to play out of the fear of getting blown out.

Geistlight Snare 

Rating: 1.5/5

A three mana Mana Leak is pretty bad, so I wouldn’t look to play this unless I had a decent number of Spirits and Enchantments. This is often going to be a worse Cancel, so I wouldn’t bother wasting an early pick on it. The few decks that do want this effect shouldn’t have a hard time wheeling it.

Geralf, Visionary Stitcher 

Rating: 4/5

This is a great blocker that stops removal from working against your other creatures, upgrades mediocre ground creatures, and makes combat incredibly difficult for the opponent since you can chump and turn whatever you’re blocking with into a zombie. It’s awkward that your zombies lose Flying once Geralf dies, but the fact that it gives all your zombies flying means that you might even be able to crush the opponent in combat as soon as this hits play! Four toughness is also a lot, so I bet that this will be able to dodge a lot of the red and green removal in the format.

Gutter Skulker

Rating: 3/5

This is a great attacker, and if it does trade it guarantees that the biggest creature on the board will be able to keep up the intense pressure that this puts down. I’d always play this.

Hullbreaker Horror

Rating 4.5/5

This is really expensive, but it should catch you up as soon as it hits play because it’ll easily gobble up your opponent’s best attacker. Once you untap with this, it basically becomes impossible to kill because you can Unsubstantiate itself or whatever removal that is targeting it. This seems incredibly difficult to answer and beat, which makes it a bomb in my book!

Inspired Idea 

Rating 3.5/5

At five mana this is still fine, and at three in the late game it’s phenomenal. It’s not too difficult to empty your hand in limited, and it’s really important to have cards like this in order to prevent flood from costing you the game. I’d play this in any deck and foresee it being a top-notch late game play.

Jacob Hauken, Inspector

Rating: 4.5/5

An early looter that eventually transforms and takes over the game seems pretty darn great to me. Take it and do everything that you can to play it!

Lantern Bearer

Rating: 3/5

I absolutely love this design. This pecks in early and then turns into an Arcane Flight later on in the game and helps you keep the pressure up. This also works well with Exploit, which makes me think that most decks are going to want as many Lantern Bearers as possible.

Lunar Rejection 

Rating: 3/5

At worst you get a four mana Repulse, and getting this effect for two mana against your green/red opponent is going to feel dirty. Another card that I never see cutting because of it’s high floor and ceiling.

Mirrorhall Mimic

Rating: 4.5/5

This seems unbelievably powerful to me. At first it’s clone, which is already solid, and then once it flips it turns into a Helm of Hosts aura. Never pass this because it really is that good, and hopefully you have some removal ready for when your opponent Disturbs this, otherwise the game will end in turn or two.

Mischievous Catgeist

Rating: 3/5

Awe, now this has got to be the cutest card in the whole darn set! It’s also really powerful because you can easily run away with a game after playing this on turn two and following it up with some creature removal. Getting a Curiosity once this Disturbs will also end up being solid with all the great fliers in blue. Another great Disturb card that you should always be playing.

Necroduality 

Rating: .5/5-4/5

This is awful if you’re lacking zombies, and absolutely busted if your deck consists of mostly zombies. The game will probably just end once you copy your second zombie, so I recommend taking this early, building around it, and making your opponent concede by turn six because you popped off so hard with it.

Overcharged Amalgam

Rating: 4/5

A beefy flash flier is already great because of how easy it is to ambush a creature in combat. Getting to trade a trash creature for an opponent’s valuable spell pushes this over the edge and makes it incredibly backbreaking in way too many situations.

Patchwork Crawler 

Rating: 3.5/5

I love two drops that scale well into the late game. It’s not great that this can only target your graveyard, but this is going to get out of hand quickly after you’ve been trading all game and then start activating it after you’ve used all the spells in your hand.

Repository Skaab

Rating 2.5/5

I love Ardent Elementalist, but having to give up a creature to get the effect is a little costly in my book. Getting a bigger body out of the deal is solid, which makes me think that this will be awkward some of the time but mostly a decent playable for the spell heavy blue decks.

Scattered Thoughts 

Rating: 3/5

I love Tamiyo's Epiphany in limited, and this is way, way better that that because it’s an instant. Every blue deck is going to be trying to get at least two of these, and I for one cannot wait to draft a control deck with loads of this, counters, and removal!

Screaming Swarm 

Rating: 3/5

I could be overvaluing this slightly, but I really like how difficult it is to kill and how it can end a game out of nowhere in the super late game. This does have the issue of unintentionally fueling the opponent’s graveyard synergies though, which isn’t the best.

Selhoff Entomber

Rating: 2.5/5

I really like looters that can block well and that don’t cost mana to activate. This fulfills both of those rolls, and makes me think that it will be a pretty good two drop in the blue decks that aren’t hyper aggressive.

Serpentine Ambush

Rating: .5/5

I really hate mediocre two mana combat tricks, and that is exactly what this is. I would never play this unless I was low on playables.

Skywarp Skaab

Rating: 2/5

The body here is fine for the cost, and this becomes quite good once you’re able to draw a card off of it. Exiling two creatures is a lot, but you’re not forced to do it which gives this a pretty high floor. Nothing too special, but a fine five drop right here.

Soulcipher Board

Rating: 2.5/5

I’m scarred from Heirloom Mirror and how awful that card was, and this is similarly clunky but does have the added benefit of being able to flip from you milling or trading creatures in combat. I still don’t love this because it can’t block and it’s activated ability is so expensive, but I imagine that this can be built around and end up being a two mana suspend card that eventually turns into a powerful flier.

Steelclad Spirit

Rating: 1.5/5

This is a way worse Prismari Pledgemage because of how hard it is to get this to attack. Slow decks might want this and maybe you’ll board this in against aggressive decks, but for the most part I would try to avoid a card that isn’t particularly good at any point in the game.

Stitched Assistant

Rating 2.5/5

The value of good Exploit fodder goes up and up as I see more of these solid, common creatures with good Exploit abilities. The body isn’t great here, but getting rid of a mediocre creature in the late game for an Opt makes this seem like a fine playable to me.

Stormchaser Drake 

Rating: 3.5/5

Holy smokes this is an incredible two drop! Welkin Tern is already solid, but if you build around this you could chain off pretty easily. I can’t wait to build around this beauty in draft!

Syncopate 

Rating: 2.5/5

Syncopate is always decent and rarely amazing. I’m happy to play it in pretty much any blue deck since it’s decent at pretty much every stage of the game. Exiling is also nice in a set that’s full of Disturb.

Syphon Essence

Rating 1.5/5

This is the Flip the Switch of the set, except making a Blood token is way worse than making a Decayed token, and not being able to hit spells is kind of lame. Sometimes you’ll play this, but I doubt it will ever perform particularly well. 

Thirst for Discovery 

Rating 3.5/5

Another fantastic draw spell right here. Compulsive Research was already amazing in draft, and this being an instant for practically no downside makes it much better. It’s gonna feel so good to peel this in the late game and be nearly guaranteed to hit two or more spells off of it.

Wanderlight Spirit

Rating: 2.5/5

This is good when you’re looking to beat down, and mediocre when you’re not. I love fliers though and they tend to overperform, so I’d play this more often than not. 

Wash Away 

Rating: 1.5/5

Cancel can never be awful, but it’s also almost never great. Do keep in mind that this is just a Cancel, and that I’d refrain from playing it in draft but still happily play it in sealed.

Whispering Wizard 

Rating: 3/5

Murmuring Mystic this is not because of how much worse a 3/2 is than a 1/5 with this effect. Triggering once a turn isn’t the biggest drawback though since you can just cast a spell on your turn and wait to cast your instants on the opponent’s turn. When built around this will take over the game pretty quickly, so even if the body is fragile, the risk is well worth the reward here.

Winged Portent 

Rating: 2.5/5

This grade assumes that you’re Simic, but even if that is the case, then this is still just a clunky, inconsistent draw spell. The ceiling is incredibly high though, which is why I’m taking a chance and giving this a decent rating.

Witness the Future 

Rating: 1/5-3.5/5

This is giving me major Clear the Mind vibes since it’s impossible to mill out if you have two of these in your draft deck. The super controlling decks that want this effect will almost certainly be able to abuse it since you’re still getting an Impulse while also ensuring that you still have enough juice in your deck to answer every threat that your opponent throws at you. Don’t play this unless you’re a very specific deck, but if you are that type of deck then you’re gonna kill for a copy or two of this.

Wretched Throng 

Rating: 1/5-3/5

If you have multiples of these then you pretty much get to Exploit for free, which could be very valuable. I wouldn’t go out of my way to take this early, but if you see a bunch wheeling then I say go in and try to live the dream of getting five and having them be your only two drops.

Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.

2 Responses

  1. Draugdur says:

    Thanks for the great overview (as always :))! I’m very much looking forward to drafting blue, looks very strong here – some awesome tricks and synergies and a very solid lineup. I hope I get to live the dream of picking all the Throngs and Eggs and laying waste to my opponents with exploit creatures 🙂

    I wonder if you’re not underrating Consuming Tide though? It’s not quite a wrath of course, but not far off either, and if you see it as one, it’s basically bounce-wrath with quite a few potential upsides – it can be one-sided (if the opponent has a load of tokens and you don’t), it can draw you a card, you can get your ETB triggers again, you reset your disturb cards… Sure, it’s bad if none of the above applies, especially if you have more permanents on board, but in that situation you wouldn’t want to cast a proper wrath anyway either. I doubt it’s first pick material, but I think it’s worth picking mid-pack and running if you’re already blue, at least for more controlling and midrangy decks.

    • Arix says:

      We’ve seen this kind of effect a couple of times recently, and it rarely works out well. The problem is that unlike a wrath, it doesn’t actually deal with an opponent’s board, it just sets them back a bit. They get the first chance to start replaying the cards they lost. You’re more likely to have to discard more cards. In the late game, if you’re behind, unlike a wrath which will set the opponent back to your level, this buys you a turn at best. This is the sort of effect that always looks better than it usually ends up being.