Innistrad: Crimson Vow Set Review: Blue

Hello! I’m Witty, my username is some permutation of “Witty Zitty” on Discord, and you can find me nicknamed under “Ban Toski” in the Gladiator server. I would like to share some of my thoughts on the Blue cards for the upcoming set, Innistrad: Crimson Vow! Hope you find this article helpful, and as always, be sure to frequent and support the Gladiator Blog!

Cemetery Illuminator

The blue creature out of the “Cemetery ___” creature cycle, Cemetery Illuminator is quite a versatile toolbox on a nice, evasive body. It slots very nicely into a wide variety of decks running blue, including, but not limited to, Spirit Tribal, Ux Tempo, and some midrange lists. It grants a toned-down Future Sight but with the upside of graveyard hate, something blue typically has trouble with. If Cemetery Illuminator sticks around, eventually you will be able to cast most nonland spells from the top of your library. Cemetery Illuminator might even see play in more control-y lists that have ways to manipulate the top of their library with cards like Brainstorm or Mazemind Tome, especially if you put a counterspell on top of your library and already have an instant exiled under Illuminator. It’s extra card advantage that is much harder to get rid of.

Dreamshackle Geist

A more versatile and cheaper Dungeon Geists, Dreamshackle Geist is quite the Tempo Spirit. Being able to tap down blockers or making things stay tapped to avoid potential crackbacks, while only costing 3 mana on a high-power body, this shackling Geist will manipulate its chains in favor of Mono-Blue Tempo, UW Spirits, or Ux Fliers.

Hullbreaker Horror

Uh- what? *rubs eyes* WHAT? *stares in horror* WHAT! Who designed this card?!

This is a sweet top-end finisher for control decks! Comparisons are immediately drawn to Tidespout Tyrant, and while the Horror can’t bounce lands, it does have its own benefits of flash, can’t be countered, and can “counter” spells by bouncing them back to hand before they can resolve similar to Venser, Shaper Savant. In Gladiator, its closest relatives are the likes of Nezahal, Primal Tide and Chromium, the Mutable. This is 100% a Control finisher; it doesn’t really fit into any other list. It is also superior to other popular “Can’t be Countered” options like Commence the Endgame since the token created is often a sitting duck, as opposed to Horror which can protect itself by bouncing spells.

If this thing resolves on your side and you have mana open and cantrips in hand, you’re set. If this thing resolves on your opponent’s side, pray you have cheap, unconditional removal like Swords to Plowshares or Infernal Grasp. Heck, what am I talking about, ‘if it resolves’?? It’s going to resolve! Unless you’re playing Commit // Memory.

Inspired Idea

Unfortunately, this card is not a strictly better Divination. Reducing your maximum hand size down to four is very detrimental to most decks besides Mono Blue Tempo and Izzet Blitz. This card reminds me of Risk Factor, albeit without Jumpstart and at sorcery speed. However, fast refueling is often what fast, tempo-based decks need, so Inspired Idea isn’t downright unplayable. Running it just for its Cleave cost isn’t particularly viable, Graven Lore or even four mana draw twos are better, especially since they’re at instant-speed.

Jacob Hauken, Inspector // Hauken’s Sight

A throwback to Origins Jace, Jacob Hauken strikes me as a weird cross between Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Azor’s Gateway. Despite being at instant speed, requiring you to have {4}{U}{U} open in order to transform into Hauken’s Sight is a hefty price in Gladiator. Hauken’s activated ability also puts you in a perpetual catch-22: Do you exile good cards to try to play for free once you transform Hauken, or do you loot out your bad cards and lose impact if you manage to transform Hauken? Hauken is also super awkward in the late game, so I doubt this diligent detective sees much play.

Mirrorhall Mimic // Ghastly Mimicr

I’ll acquiesce that this card, especially its Disturb half, is very spicy. Being able to create a copy of a selected creature on every single one of your turns seems very fun. However, Clone effects do not see play in Gladiator. I could see Mirrorhall Mimic slotting into a very niche pick in Some Brand of Cereal or Midrange decks. It really only has potential against Midrange. It gets outpaced by Aggro and just countered or removed by Control. This card does have some potential in self-mill decks, along with some other new Disturb cards. Unfortunately, clone effects don’t see much play in Blink decks since Blink decks value instant-speed flicker/protection spells over making copies of their own creatures at sorcery speed.

Click to Flip Card

Mischievous Catgeist // Catlike Curiosity

This little kitty spirit is Curiosity on a 1/1 body for two on its front side, and just straight-up Curiosity that costs two more on its back side. Having the Spirit creature type is also super nice in Spirit Tribal. Catgeist comes down early, gets pumped up by Spirit lords (ideally), perhaps draws a card or two, then comes back later enchanting one of its friends in the mid to late game. Also not bad in Mono-Blue Tempo if you can grant it evasion.

Patchwork Crawler

This card has quite the combo potential. Most notably, having Glimmerbell and Incubation Druid in your yard with this grotesque creepy-crawly out means infinite mana once you exile both of them to the Crawler. Oriq Loremage is repeated Entomb on a stick. However, multi-card (3+) combos, especially ones involving the graveyard, are rather fragile and difficult to pull off. Glimmerbell is a bulk common that isn’t played at all, and Incubation Druid seems some play in Midrange and Stompy decks that rarely ever run Blue. Patchwork Crawler is too fragile to stand against Control, and will eventually serve as a chump blocker against Aggro, so I find it hard to believe that this little guy will see much “comboing off” in Gladiator, unless Prime Speaker Vannifar players go ham…?

Scattered Thoughts

Wow, Memory Deluge was the best draw 2 in the format, but Wizards went and gave us the second best as well! Scattered Thoughts is slightly easier to cast and also fuels your graveyard, which is preferred in Control lists over putting stuff on the bottom of your library (think Search for Azcanta and Escape cards). It also gets around Narset, Parter of Veils, which is quite relevant against Control.

Stormchaser Drake

In a deck that regularly targets creatures with spells, Stormchaser Drake can be a super efficient draw engine. In Gladiator that deck would be an Auras shell, Izzet Blitz or the like. Stormchaser Drake already sports a 2/1 flying body for two mana, which is already a nice Tempo flier, but then also turns pump spells and enchantments into cantrips if you target the Drake, which is quite good for fast beater decks.

Thirst for Discovery

There’s a new three mana draw two in town! While Thirst for Meaning cares about enchantments and Thirst for Knowledge cares about artifacts, Thirst for Discovery only cares about basic lands! Despite Compulsive Research removing the “basic” restriction, it comes at sorcery speed, while Thirst for Discovery does not. I am stoked to test this card in all my Control lists! Unless you’re playing Thassa’s Oracle and Tainted Pact, you pretty much will always have a basic land to discard to Thirst for Discovery. I am sold. Take my money (even though it will only cost an uncommon wildcard).

Whispering Wizard

While it does say noncreature spell, only triggering once each turn is a pretty big hit, as well as being extremely vulnerable to being picked off from the likes of Shock. With the likes of Sedgemoor Witch, Young Pyromancer, Poppet Stitcher, and Murmuring Mystic running around, Whispering Wizard likely won’t see much play, since an overwhelming majority of token generation from the four mentioned above come from instants and sorceries. Even Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is better.

Winged Portent

With an arsenal of 1-drop and 2-drop fliers, Mono-Blue Tempo would love this card. It’s also at instant speed, which is quite relevant against Control. Mono-Blue Tempo can have, for example, two fliers out, plus holding up a piece of countermagic, and if the Control player passes, the Tempo player can fire off Portent at end of turn as an instant-speed Divination, which is insane for refueling purposes and sticking to the theme of Tempo.

Zombie Additions

Cobbled Lancer

This card is impossible to play on one, rather difficult to play on two, and afterwards it loses its potential besides the slight upside of exiling itself from the yard for a card. Perhaps this goes in Zombie Tribal? Though Mono-Black Zombies is more incentivized to splash Blue for cards mentioned below and less so for Cobbled Lancer.

Geralf, Visionary Stitcher

The new Geralf is here! His main home is UBx Zombies. Giving all your Zombies evasion is a nice ability, and his activated ability can dodge removal spells. However, and I have next to no expertise on Zombies in Gladiator (check out this article), but my instinct tells me Geralf would be a great finisher and splash target. Luckily, his ability is instant-speed, which might have some relevant interactions where you attack with a nontoken Zombie that has been grafted with wings, then sacrifice it to Geralf to create a blocker (likely with similar, if not better stats).

Geralf may also see play in UWx midrange/control decks that turns high toughness blockers such as Beloved Beggar or the Wall token from The Birth of Meletis into 4/4 flying beaters at instant speed via MTG’s Dr. Frankenstein.

Necroduality

Reflections of Littjara for nontoken Zombies? An auto-include in UBx Zombies, this card could potentially, along with Geral, Visionary Stitcher, push UB Zombies to similar power levels as Mono-Black Zombies, or perhaps push towards a Blue splash. Necroduality notably does not duplicate Zombie tokens, which lessens its strength with regards to Army, 2/2 Zombie, or Embalmed and Eternalized tokens.

Overcharged Amalgam

This is the blue card I’m most excited for. At its absolute worst, it’s a Disallow that costs one more (if you have Amalgam Exploit itself), or just a 4-mana 3/3 flash flier, which is already quite good. However, it only gets better from there. Granted, having a creature available to Exploit may be tricky in Control decks (perhaps a Goblin token from Den of the Bugbear or a Nightmare token from Ashiok, Nightmare Muse). But in decks that run a large mass of disposable creatures, such as Ux Tempo, UBx Zombies, or even UW Spirits, this card is insane.


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