Innistrad: Crimson Vow Limited Set Review: Red

Creepy Puppeteer Art by Marie Magny
Creepy Puppeteer Art by Marie Magny

Hey everyone! I’m back with red today and fingers crossed that it’s not the worst color in the format like it was in Midnight Hunt!


Abrade 

Rating: 3.5/5

Two mana deal 3’s will always be great in limited, and Abrade is no exception. This is pretty much the same as Cathartic Pyre, but maybe you’ll get the sweet satisfaction of blowing up a Dollhouse of Horrors with this!

Alchemist’s Gambit 

Rating: 2.5/5

I love me a Time Walk in Limited, but seven sure is a hefty price to pay for it. Not getting birds like Alrund's Epiphany makes this way worse than it seems at first glance. This is still fine and I’ll almost always play it if I’m Izzet, but I would never bank on casting this for three mana so don’t play it unless you’re Izzet. 

Alluring Suitor

Rating: 3.5/5

It seems incredibly easy to flip Alluring Suitor and insanely difficult to block it after it flips. I might be overrating this slightly, but curving a two drop into this and then casting multiple spells on turn four seems like a near impossible start to beat. I’m very excited to try this out and see if it performs as well as I’m expecting it to!

Ancestral Anger

Rating: 0.5/5

This is cool and has great flavor, but it ultimately is too low impact for it to interest me in limited. The only place I could see wanting this is a 14 land mono red deck that has like 5-6 of these.

Ballista Watcher

Rating: 2.5/5

Pingers are very powerful in Limited because they basically invalidate every one toughness creature your opponent has once they untap. This is expensive to activate, but that seems fine because it’s still a decent attacker on both sides. Nothing amazing, but definitely a solid four drop right here.

Belligerent Guest 

Rating: 1.5/5

A 3/2 for three just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is rarely going to connect and will often trade down, so I’d rather fill out my curve with something else.

Blood Hypnotist

Rating: 3/5

This is incredibly powerful in the Rakdos vampires decks. There’s a ton of great Blood token producers, which means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to start cracking them whenever is convenient and start crashing in for a ton of damage. This not being able to block does mean that only the aggressively leaning decks will be interested in this though.

Blood Petal Celebrant

Rating: 2.5/5

A nice little aggressive threat that nets you a Blood token when it dies is going to be plenty good in most decks. It’s nice to see that so far, Red has a nice amount of good common two drops to fill their curve with.

Bloody Betrayal

Rating: 0.5/5-3/5

Now this has gotten way better with Exploit in the format. I really hope that Rakdos sacrifice is a thing in this set, and even if it isn’t, there will be decks that can make good use of this sort of effect. Obviously if you’re controlling or don’t have good synergies with this, then don’t play it.

Cemetery Gatekeeper

Rating: 3.5/5

Things are going to get ugly quickly if you exile a creature with this and your opponent doesn’t have an answer. A 2/1 First Strike for two is already solid, and once this starts to deal 2-6 damage it’ll become amazing. This is a great card that I would probably only take the absolutely best uncommons and premium removal over.

Chandra, Dressed to Kill 

Rating: 3.5/5

This is an absolute nightmare to beat if it comes down on turn three. It ramps, draws cards, and quickly works it’s way up to the ultimate, which should win the game assuming you have a spell lying around or hit one in the top five. Obviously she works the best in primarily red decks, but I’d happily play her no matter what. The reason she’s not higher though is because she doesn’t protect herself and doesn’t do much when you’re behind or facing down a few fliers.

Change of Fortune 

Rating: 0/5

Please don’t waste four mana to cast this nonsense. I can’t think of a single way to abuse this in limited, which often means that it’s effect is probably just worse than drawing a singular card.

Creepy Puppeteer

Rating: 3.5/5

What a weird card. A four mana 4/3 Haste is above rate for Limited though, and being able to buff up a smaller attacking creature means that this should deliver a serious beat down the turn it comes down. This is solid, but far from a bomb rare.

Curse of Hospitality 

Rating: 3.5/5

Red has a bunch of aggressive creatures and great ways to push them through, especially with the help of the Trample that this is providing. A three mana Coastal Piracy that helps trigger itself seems great to me, so you better hope that you’re not behind when your opponent casts this.

Daybreak Combatants 

Rating: 2/5

This will be fine filler in the very aggressive decks and pretty poor everywhere else. A Gray Ogre is just so bad, even if they do have Haste and an okay ETB. Creatures are way too big nowadays for you to be able to play a three mana 2/2 and be able to keep up.

Dominating Vampire 

Rating: 3.5/5

Now this is quite the aggressive creature. The floor of being a three mana 3/3 is already more than acceptable in limited, and when you get a free Claim the First Born or Threaten out of this, it’s going to be back breaking. A solid card and definitely something I would try to build around if I got it early enough.

End the Festivities

Rating: .5/5

A nice board option that cleanly answers something busted like a Voldaren Bloodcaster. Keep this in the sideboard and wait to bring it in after seeing crazy powerful one toughness creatures like that.

Falkenrath Celebrants

Rating: 2.5/5

This is some decent top end for the red aggressive decks that will help to fuel your other vampires with all the blood it creates. This isn’t an all-star five drop like Diregraf Horde, but it’s still quite good and something that I would be happy to top my curve with.

Fearful Villager

Rating: 2/5

I love early creatures with Menace, though it’s a lot better when they’re a 3/2 instead of a 2/3. This feels very similar (though slightly better) than Harvesttide Infiltrator, which was a decent curve filler but only really shined when played with a bunch of wolf/werewolf payoffs. I’d play Fearful Villager in most aggressive decks, but it’ll probably only perform slightly better than Brimstone Vandal, which is kind of disappointing.

Flame-Blessed Bolt

Rating: 3/5

You can never go wrong with playing as many Magma Spray as possible. Cheap removal will without fail always be a solid pick and great in limited.

Frenzied Devils 

Rating: 2.5/5

For the most part, this seems like a worse Storm Skreelix since it’s easy to chump. However, the Skreelix was always solid in the Izzet spell decks, and I assume that the same will be true for Frenzied Devils. I also foresee people struggling to play against this because of how hard it is to know when to block this or not. The Haste is a little strange here considering that you won’t often attack with this the turn that it comes in because you won’t have the mana to cast spells and buff this.

Honeymoon Hearse 

Rating: 3.5/5

This gives me major Renegade Freighter vibes, which worries me a bit. A three mana 5/5 Trampler is enormous, and tapping two creatures to crew it seems very doable. You’ll need a very high creature count to make the best use of this, but it seems tough to beat this on turn three after your opponent follows it up with a few creatures.

Hungry Ridgewolf 

Rating: 2.5/5

This is a pretty decent early beater in pretty much every Red deck. It shouldn’t be difficult to get a couple of these and some werewolves in your deck, at which point this should be consistently powered up. Two drops are the most important part of aggressive decks, and I see this being a key curve filler in the format.

Ill-Tempered Loner

Rating: 4/5

Combat becomes impossible once this flips, and even if it never does, this is a must-block creature that will often trade for two creatures or just straight up kill the opponent. The backside is so good that I would rarely ever pass this.

Into the Night 

Rating: 0/5

How many discard/draw effects are in this set? They’re all awful, so please don’t play them. Making it night for four mana and doing some rummaging is way too expensive and anemic. You have to impact the board in some way when you’re spending that much mana.

Kessig Flamebreather 

Rating: 2/5

This will be fine in the Izzet spells deck and basically unplayable everywhere else. Even in Izzet this will only be okay, so don’t get duped into overvaluing this by thinking about the best case scenarios of playing this on turn two and unleashing a flurry of spells.

Kessig Wolfrider 

Rating: 3/5

This pecks in for a few points early on and then starts cranking out a 3/2 or two? Sign me up, this is good at every point of the game and is a card that I never plan on cutting from my red decks.

Lacerate Flesh

Rating: 2.5/5

A five mana deal four is a little clunky and awkward when it’s a sorcery, but at least you get paid off for sending a lot of mana to kill a small creature. This is an okay removal spell, but I can imagine it disappointing often when I’m not able to kill the threat or bomb that’s dominating the game

Lambholt Raconteur

Rating: 2.5/5

This fits nicely in the Izzet spells deck because of how quickly it will end the game after flipping. I love the play pattern of this and how good it will feel to pass, flip this, and then start casting a bunch of instants and shocking the opponent to death.

Lightning Wolf

Rating: 2.5/5

Nothing too flashy here, but this is a fine attacker and blocker that even works well with the random wolf/werewolf synergies in the set!

Magma Pummeler 

Rating: 3.5/5

This seems like a nightmare to slog through in combat. A huge Magma Pummeler will end the game quickly, and even if it’s only for two or three, it should be able to hold down the ground nicely. Keep in mind that this can even attack and block creatures with Deathtouch profitably!

Manaform Hellkite 

Rating: 4.5/5

A 4/4 flier for four is always going to be great in limited, but the effect here puts this way over the top. Manaform Hellkite kills the opponent incredibly quickly assuming you have a spell or two to follow it up with. This also makes it near impossible for your opponent to attack into your open mana since they always need to fear you casting a spell mid-combat, getting an illusion, and then trading it for their best creature. Again, never pass cards as powerful as these.

Markov Retribution

Rating: 3/5

This will dominate a lot of board states assuming that you have the 8+ vampires needed to make sure this is consistently turned on. I know that I’m going to obliterate my opponent  in combat a large percentage of the time that I cast this!

Olivia’s Attendants

Rating: 4/5

This is one of those “kill it quickly or you lose” sort of rares. It’s nice that this can be answered and the game can resume, but if it isn’t, it should easily dominate the board and quickly get to work on the opponent’s life total. At least it costs six mana and takes awhile to take over the game!

Pyre Spawn

Rating: 2/5

Dang, red actually has some decent top end for once it seems. This is awkward if it’s bounced or exiled, but for the most part this should be similarly powerful to Pitchburn Devils from original Innistrad. I like the idea of topping a lot of my decks with this. Do keep in mind that the abundance of decent late game in red means that you should rarely be prioritizing these sorts of cards.

Reckless Impulse 

Rating: 2.5/5

If you have a low curve and are planning to be aggressive, then this should perform well. Keep your curve in mind when playing this because the last thing you want is to play it and only be able to hit one spell off of it.

Rending Flame

Rating: 3.5/5

This is mostly just Soul Sear, which is normally just an easier to cast Murder. I’ll always play as much removal as I can get my hands on, and Rending Flame is no exception. Getting to deal two is just gravy, but when that does happen it’s going to be particularly disgusting. Though with all of the Disturb in the format I bet that this will be dealing two surprisingly often!

Runebound Wolf 

Rating: 3/5

This is a fantastic payoff for werewolf decks and a great playable in any red deck. I love how this can beat down early and then deliver the last few points of burn in the late game after the board gets clogged up. This is a very solid two drop and a big reason to look to go Gruul werewolves.

Sanguine Statuette

Rating: 1.5/5-3/5

This mostly seems like a mediocre attacker and blocker unless your deck is filled to the brim with Blood producers and users. Almost no decks will want this, but the few Rakdos vampire decks that do will most likely be able to make good use of it.

Stensia Uprising 

Rating: 3.5/5

Getting a 1/1 every turn is more than good enough to see play, and the fact that this ends the game rather quickly with the deal seven makes it an even scarier threat. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get to thirteen permanents when you’re looking to crack this and end the game. Any card that provides a consistent advantage over the course of the game will often be especially powerful in limited because games tend to go so long. That’s why planeswalkers are so good and that’s why I believe that this will be great.

Sure Strike

Rating: 1.5/5

A classic mediocre, yet still serviceable combat trick right here. It’ll get the job done, but not efficiently. It never blows you away, but it’s always there for you when you need it. I love me a trusty Sure Strike and I’m looking forward to begrudgingly including it in my aggressive decks that are lacking removal.

Vampires’ Vengeance 

Rating: 3/5

This of course gets better or worse depending on the density of vampires in your deck. This is going to be pretty nuts though when you’re playing Rakdos and cast it post combat, killing three of your opponents creatures and none of your own while also getting a Blood token. Even if your red deck is low on vampires and high on low-toughness creatures, this will still be a great board option.

Volatile Arsonist

Rating: 4/5

This hits very hard on both sides and should be a major headache for the opponent unless they have some instant speed removal in hand or a couple huge creatures laying around. This is obviously great and I would always play it, but I do wish that it could do more on clogged board states.

Voldaren Epicure

Rating: 1.5/5

Now this is a weird one to evaluate. This provides a decent amount for one mana, but at the end of a day a one mana vanilla 1/1 is rarely going to do much. Maybe if you have a ton of Blood users or are mono red I would include this, but for the most part this seems way too low impact for my liking.

Voltaic Visionary

Rating: 3.5/5

This is a stellar two drop. Sure, you have to deal yourself two to flip it, but you get to draw a card and get a huge beater once you pay that price. Every deck will want this because of how powerful it is at nearly every point in the game. Don’t be afraid to burn yourself a little if it means you’re getting this much value!

Weary Prisoner

Rating: 1.5/5

This feels almost identical to Tavern Ruffian, except it’s slightly worse. This is a good blocker that does transform into a powerful threat, but you can do better for four mana in this set. I’d probably still play this if you have the werewolf synergies to back it up and bench it if you don’t.


Top Three Commons

  1. Abrade
  2. Flame-Blessed Bolt
  3. Blood Petal Celebrant

Top Three Uncommons

  1. Rending Flame
  2. Honeymoon Hearse
  3. Voltaic Visionary

Yikes. Red had some great uncommons, but besides Abrade and Flame-Blessed Bolt the color feels somewhat lacking on good commons. Blood Petal Celebrant is decent, but it’s shocking to be rating it as the third best red common. I unfortunately fear that Red may yet again be the weakest color in the set, but we’ll see for sure at the end after I’ve reviewed all the cards and thoroughly went through the entire set.

Thanks for reading!

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.

4 Responses

  1. Arix says:

    Chandra really doesn’t seem very good, I think. Assuming 15 red spells in your deck (which I think is a pretty high estimate), the second +1 only draws you a card about a third of the time, and that’s definitely the better of the two abilities. The ultimate is admittedly game winning, but that requires you keeping your planeswalker unmolested for four turns – and considering she does nothing to protect herself, you’re putting in all the work to make that happen. I think the best part of her is the “planeswalker effect”, where some players will waste time and resources trying to take it down because scary planeswalker, even if it doesn’t actually do all that much.

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      I for sure see where you’re coming from. But I feel like the mediocre abilities add up to make this very good on turn three on the play and very good in board stalls, but I suppose that’s about it. Planeswalkers are always tough to evaluate in limited, but I feel like the upside of Chandra makes her a very unique effect that is probably around a 3-3.5 in power level. I’d still definitely take Abrade over her in a Mythic Championship draft or something though. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Thalassemia says:

    red seems to have amazing uncommons but really poor commons…. that’s probably not a good sign for the color in a draft format. it basically means red needs to be underdrafted enough for someone to get multiple uncommons to be very good.