Innistrad: Crimson Vow Limited Set Review: White

Faithbound Judge Art by Svetlin Velinov
Faithbound Judge Art by Svetlin Velinov

Crimson Vow spoilers are already pouring in and I’m beyond excited about it! I always love to write these sorts of articles and I hope that they end up being helpful to you during your time drafting the format. No time to waste, let’s dive in!


Adamant Will

Rating: 1.5/5

This is clunky and mediocre, but it’ll still get the job done if you’re aggressive, low on removal, and in need of some ways to push your creatures through.

Angelic Quartermaster

Rating: 3.5/5

We’re starting off strong here with a pretty fantastic finisher for any white deck. This is a beefy, flying Saddleback Lagac that leaves behind some decent value even if it is answered. I see a lot of games ending quickly once Quartermaster hits the battlefield, so I wouldn’t expect to be passing this often. It takes a lot for a five drop to impress me in Limited since late game plays are a dime in a dozen, but this is the exception and more than delivers.

Arm the Cathars

Rating: 1.5/5

I could definitely be wrong here, but this is giving me major Righteous Charge vibes, which was not good in its respective limited format. Giving Vigilance is nice, but sorcery speed pumps are really easy to play around and block effectively in combat. The good ones are usually only cards like Overrun because the Trample stops your opponent from being able to chump block profitably.

Bride’s Gown

Rating: 1.5/5

This downside is too low for me to ever be actively trying to assemble the wedding finery combo. Marauder’s Axe is just too bad of a card and the only way I could see myself playing both this and Groom’s Finery is if I was a very aggressive Orzhov deck that had 1-2 of each. Even then, I could see it being incorrect to ever play this because you only want so many equipment in your deck.

By Invitation Only

Rating: 4/5

A five mana wrath with upside is going to be great on just about every board state. I like that you can play this and clear an opponent’s horde of creatures while still keeping your bomb in play. Not to mention that this plays around Indestructible tricks like Adamant Will since your opponent is sacrificing instead of destroying their creatures.

Cemetery Protector

Rating: 4.5/5

This will often be able to ambush a creature in combat and then start accruing a nice stream of creatures for you. If you end up exiling a land you get to live the dream of making your own Emeria Angel! Being able to hit any graveyard also makes it unlikely for this to have no targets while also making it a stellar answer to a graveyard synergy that your opponent is trying to pull off. I don’t foresee myself passing this often.

Circle of Confinement

Rating: 3/5

I’ll definitely take a Silkwrap with irrelevant bonus text! A sweet situational removal spell with sweet flavor that I’m always going to play but will rarely be blown away with.

Dawnhart Geist

Rating: 1/5

A two mana 1/3 with little upside is near unplayable in modern day limited. Gaining two or four life off of this is fine and all, but even then that’s nothing special. Don’t be tricked into trying to get this to work, the payoff simply isn’t there!

Distracting Geist

Rating: 3/5

This is a great creature in any deck that should open up combat and make it way easier to Train your creatures!

Drogskol Infantry

Rating: 2.5/5

White has a lot of solid common two drops, which makes me optimistic about the color’s ability to be aggressive. I’d happily play as many of these as possible since they leave behind value after trading and help grow a flier and keep Training triggering.

Estwald Shieldbasher

Rating: 2.5/5

This hits hard and is impossible to profitably block once it’s Indestructible. I expect to see a lot of these from the aggressive human based decks of the format since this is an amazing way to Train your creatures!

Faithbound Judge

Rating: 5/5

This is very difficult to attack through early on, and then turns into a Serra Angel a few turns down the line. That alone is a fantastic deal for three mana. However, what makes this insane is that your opponent can’t kill it unless they have an answer to an enchantment or are able to end the game incredibly quickly. Seven is a lot, but this is insanely hard to answer and is going to be near unbeatable on most board states, so I would never under any circumstances pass this and would not be surprised if it was the best limited card in the entire set.

Fierce Retribution

Rating: 3/5

Both of these modes combine to make a solid removal spell. If you’re behind you’re able to kill an attacker and manage the board, and if you’re ahead you can pay the Cleave cost and push your advantage. I think you’re going to be seeing a lot of this card throughout your time playing the format.

Fleeting Spirit

Rating: 3/5

This isn’t nearly as good as Adanto Vanguard or Seasoned Hallowblade, but it still looks good to me! Discarding a card to blink it makes this a decent blocker at times, but what really interests me is giving this First Strike, picking off their attacker or blocker, and then blinking out Fleeting Spirit to save it. Three cards is a real cost though, so I don’t think you’ll be able to activate this more than once or twice a game. Fleeting Spirit is still an insanely cool design that I can’t wait to play with in draft!

Gryff Rider

Rating: 3/5

A solid flier that grows as the game goes on is the exact kind of card that you’re going to be gunning to have as many copies as possible in your aggressive decks. It’s also nice that even if you don’t trigger Training, this is still serviceable as a 2/1 Flier. I love prioritizing cards with a high floor and a high ceiling, especially when they’re so good at fueling other cards with the set mechanic!

Gryffwing Cavalry

Rating: 3/5

Training this feisty bird is going to be trivial since you can give flying to whatever huge beater that you want this to train with. The initial body is small, but this is so good at beating down that I have high hopes for it.

Hallowed Haunting

Rating: .5/5

I want to give this a 0/5, but if you have like 12 enchantments then I suppose that this could be powerful. A super strange card that’s meant for EDH and not for Limited play.

Heron of Hope

Rating: 2.5/5

A nice bread and butter playable right here. Gaining three life per hit is good, and a 2/3 Flier for four is passable. For reference, I would assume that this is about as good as Sunmane Pegasus was in Theros Beyond Death.

Heron-Blessed Geist

Rating: 2.5/5

A 3/3 Flying for five is playable but unexciting, but being able to turn this into more fliers after it dies brings it’s value way up. Needing to have an enchantment is annoying, but it’s nice that by the time you want to get the spirits out of this, the game will probably already have dragged on to the point where you have an enchantment or two out.

Hopeful Initiate

Rating: 3/5

Training this early on is when it’s going to overperform, but I worry about how mediocre this is later on in the game when the board gets clogged. I do like that it provides incidental answers to artifacts and enchantments and that this can use counters from any creature, but I doubt this is going to perform as well as I’m hoping for.

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr

Rating: 3.5/5

This is fine even as a 1/1 Flying, Lifelink, Protection from Vampires, but I can see this getting big in the late game as you deploy more spirits and enchantments. The disturb side is also great because it makes another huge threat for you, so I expect this to be a very powerful rare to start a draft with.

Kindly Ancestor

Rating: 2.5/5

Nothing too flashy or powerful here, but a nice filler for whatever deck you’re playing, especially if it’s going to be slower. Also look at the flavor, it’s so sweet!

Lantern Flare

Rating: 3.5/5

Only being able to hit creatures is a bummer, but this is still a solid removal spell whether you’re Boros or just playing white. It’s going to be especially brutal in racing situations when you can pay the Cleave cost though now that’s for sure!

Militia Rallier

Rating: 1.5/5

My goodness, why does white get these stinkers? This is a worse Centaur Courser, which isn’t even all that great nowadays. There’s way better cards than this and I’d only play this if I had a bunch of human synergies to back it up with.

Nebelgast Beguiler

Rating: 1/5

Armored Cancrix unfortunately is atrocious by today’s standards. This being a tapper and a good blocker make it playable, but it’s way too small for the cost for me to ever want to willingly play this.

Nurturing Presence

Rating: 2/5

Two mana for a 1/1 Flier isn’t great, but this could help buff a creature and get it profitably attacking and triggering Training, which makes this somewhat interesting. I’m skeptical and assume that this will underperform, but I’ll need to try it out in order to confirm that it is indeed mediocre, but still playable.

Panicked Bystander

Rating: 3/5

Holy beans, and the award of the creepiest card in the entire set goes to… Panicked Bystander! My goodness is the flavor here beyond scary. This is still an excellent card that every white deck will want considering that it turns into a huge, near impossible to profitably block Zulaport Cutthroat.

Parish-Blade Trainee

Rating: 2.5/5

Now this is a two drop that I’m happy to play! It should be easy to start Training this up, and it’s great that you get value after it trades off. This is exactly the type of creature that I want to be filling my aggressive white decks with. Keep in mind that the Training mechanic makes fliers way more valuable because they are way more likely to be able to attack profitably and trigger all your Training creatures.

Piercing Light

Rating: 2/5

Righteous Blow was always mediocre but playable, and I assume that adding a Scry one won’t change much. Creatures are a lot bigger nowadays, but I still like that this is able to kill Training creatures with ease because they tend to start out small.

Ollenbock Escort

Rating: 2/5

A non-evasive one mana 1/1 isn’t great, but this does get better once you start filling your deck with a bunch of creatures with Training. Still, I see a lot of situations where this is unable to protect the creature that I want it to, which is disappointing and why I’m not too high on it.

Radiant Grace

Rating: 1/5

The backside of this is fine, but the front side is atrocious. I wouldn’t recommend playing this since it’s so easy to get blown out by bounce or exile and have this not flip. Even when it does slip, only the most aggressive decks will be able to take full advantage of it.

Resistance Squad

Rating: 3/5

Now this is a white three drop. This is a top notch three drop in any human deck seeing as a three mana 3/2 that draws a card is way above rate. I know that I’m gonna roll my eyes in disgust when my opponent curves a two drop human into this!

Sanctify

Rating: .5/5

This is probably better than Disenchant in Limited because gaining three is quite relevant, but this should still only be a board card.

Savior of Ollenbock

Rating: 4.5/5

Wow, you better kill this quickly otherwise your board is going to be decimated and your window to profitably kill this will close. Sure this exiles your opponent creatures, which is great, but what really interests me is exiling creatures from your own graveyard with this so even if it is answered, you still get a bunch of value from reanimating some of your creatures. It’s also nice that this clears the way for itself when you attack and Train it, so I foresee this playing incredibly well and being very difficult to beat.

Sigarda’s Imprisonment

Rating: 3/5

Oh no, my favorite Innistrad angel ain’t doing too good! Ah jeez, regardless this is just Luminous Bonds with upside, which I’m always going to play in my white decks.

Supernatural Rescue

Rating: 1/5

Really expensive, situational, and being easy to blow out makes this all risk and no reward. This doesn’t even have Flash all the time, so that means that it’ll often just be a way more expensive and clunky Abandon the Post, which saw little to no play in Midnight Hunt.

Sigarda’s Summons

Rating: 0/5-3/5

This is going to be awful in most decks, but if you have a lot of Train and counter synergies then feel free to play this and try to live the dream! The payoff is definitely there if you get it to work. This kind of reminds me of Divine Visitation, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to build around it.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Rating: 3/5

One of my favorite cards of all time! Unlike in constructed however, her second ability isn’t normally that stellar since most Limited decks (including yours) will have 7+ noncreature spells in it. Regardless, a 2/1 First Strike is still solid and this is going to be particularly punishing if you end up playing against some of the slower blue and black decks of the format.

Traveling Minister

Rating: 2/5

This feels very difficult to accurately evaluate, because I’ve honestly never seen a card that’s similar to this. Personally, I think that it’s going to perform well because it pecks in early on, gains a decent chunk of life, and then opens up a lot of attacks that trigger all your Training creatures. That’s a lot for only one mana! I love the design here and am looking forward to trying it out!

Twinblade Geist

Rating: 3/5

This works very well with Drogskol Infantry, Traveling Minister, and a whole bunch of commons in white which makes me optimistic about the power level of Fencing Ace in this set. The Disturb side should also be especially difficult to beat when it’s on a big flier or lifelinker.

Unholy Officiant

Rating: 1.5/5

It feels like every weak card nowadays is given Vigilance in an attempt to boost its power ever so slightly. This is way worse than Traveling Minister and feels like a way worse Anointed Chorister too, which was decent but rarely fantastic. There’s better early plays than this that don’t take a ton of mana before they’re able to impact the board. I love how white is getting some vampires in this set though!

Valorous Stance

Rating: 3/5

Another really sweet reprint right here. Creature protection and situational removal stapled together end up making a very solid spell, so I’d happily play this in every white deck. It’s just so versatile and it never hurts to have extra answers to some of the huge demons and dragons of this set.

Vampire Slayer

Rating: 2/5

There are a lot of vampires in Crimson Vow, but at the end of the day this is still going to just be a 2/2 for two with Deathtouch like 25% of the time. That’s not great, but also not bad so don’t be concerned about filling your curve in with this when you’re in dire need of some early game.

Voice of the Blessed

Rating: 3/5

This more often than not is just going to be a harder to cast Ajani’s Pridemate, but that’s not a bad floor to have! If you end up having a consistent way to gain life, then this will easily take over the game once it gets four counters on it. If you take this, definitely start taking Traveling Ministers way more highly.

Wedding Announcement

Rating: 3.5/5

This either draws you cards or makes 1/1’s, both of which are solid. By the time this flips into Glorious Anthem, you’ll either have made three 1/1’s, drawn three cards, or some mix of the two, all of which seem very good. Global pump effects are always at their best in limited, so I expect this to be fantastic nearly every time that it’s cast. The only downside is that this can be a little slow to flip, but it is nice at least that this triggers on your end step instead of upkeep.

Welcoming Vampire

Rating: 4.5/5

I’ll definitely take a Mentor of the Meek with Flying! You trade being able to trigger Mentor of the Meek as many times a turn as you want with a way better body and no activation cost, which makes this a good amount better in my opinion. You should never run out of cards for as long this lives, which make it a must answer, insanely powerful bomb.

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.

8 Responses

  1. calebvdl says:

    Thanks, Chris, I’m new to MTG this year, and so far your limited reviews are always my favourite part of a new set! They’ve really helped me understand the game and I’m getting much better at correctly guessing your evaluations as I scroll down! White seems strong, no? I feel we have a large majority of 2.5+ cards here that will add up to make aggressive, hard to answer decks. A couple questions:

    1. Would you have any recommendations for a similarly formatted guide to yours, but for standard?
    2. If the above exists, one bonus would be that it would help me evaluate whether I should rare draft a card or not, especially if it doesn’t fit my deck. As a F2P player I like to ensure I’m getting maximum value out of my runs, though I’ve been known to pass rares/mythics if I know they’re dud in standard. Any suggestions for how to make informed decisions in this regard?

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      Hey Calebvdl! I agree that white is looking like a powerful aggressive color in the set so far. As for a standard guide, I know doggertqbones does tier lists and whatnot but I unfortunately don’t know of anyone who rates the new cards and their perceived power level before being released into standard (maybe LSV does but I’m not sure?). That is a great idea though and something I would love to do If these weren’t going to be my last few articles for mtgazone because I’m going to start at play design soon! Thanks again for your great feedback!

  2. Zaxecivobunny says:

    Hi calebvdl. I would love a similar rating for standard too! I’ve looked around and haven’t been able to find one. I assume this is because the decks are just that much more diverse, but I still think it should be possible. I tend to take the limited rating as a basis, then follow what people are playing in their mythic-ranked decks. I also occasionally check a page listing the most played cards in standard. But a dedicated ranking list would be great. Or perhaps a combined one with limited, indicating differences in the strength of cards between the formats? (Obviously, this is extra work, though, and I really appreciate the limited rankings – thanks Chris!)

    • calebvdl says:

      Yes, I think these limited reviews give a decent baseline as there’s probably mostly overlap. However, I’m guessing there’s cards that simply can’t perform in Limited but may have a strong spot in Standard: for example, I imagine some rares and mythics that are best played in multiples which is impossible to pull off in Limited.

      • Draugdur says:

        Hi guys! As someone who takes a similar approach (and has always played a bit on a budget :)), I’d recommend just waiting a few weeks and then see what the best decks in the meta play. Limited review can be indicative of a card’s performance in standard constructed, but more often than not standard is a different beast altogether.

        The problem is, while limited is a fairly contained environment (300ish cards altogether), even standard is much more broader, and a card is only strong is standard if there is a well-performing deck for it. That’s why even an absurdest of limited bombs (take eg Tovolar’s Huntmaster) can see zero play in standard, while a merely solid limited card can be a major roleplayer – like Thalia, which I’m definitely most excited about as a mono-white player. Heck, even a track record in constructed is sometimes not a certainty: take Delver of Secrets, which is one of the best creatures ever printed, but sees almost no play in current standard because there’s no support.

        There are some other sites which have constructed reviews or rankings, but even they are just an interesting read or listen most of the time.

        As concerns white, and looking to upgrade my deck: except Thalia, I’m definitely most excited about Welcoming Vampire – almost everything in mono white has power 2 or less (including the vamp itself!), and the deck otherwise has no card draw. Faithbound judge could be a player against control decks (1-2 in sideboard), but I’m not holding my breath. And Wedding announcement could be a player if mono white takes more of a go-wide form (which is possible – there are a lot of good anthem effects now).

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      Thanks Zaxecivobunny! I like how you go about using the ratings and how you don’t take them as gospel. I appreciate your appreciation and I would definitely do that in the future if these weren’t my last few articles for the site :”(