Innistrad: Crimson Vow Set Review: White

The sun has set on Innistrad. A pale moon glows on the shadowed lands, where the dead rise again to fight the living. Vampires are gathering to celebrate the bloody wedding of Olivia and Edgar. Will the light forces find a way to overcome this dark age? Let’s find out, as we review the white cards from Crimson Vow!

First let’s give a quick honorable mention to the return of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (and Valorous Stance). If you don’t own or know of Thalia, now is the time to get a copy, as it is one of the most powerful white cards of all time, certainly no exception in Gladiator.

By Invitation Only

Olivia did set up a strong security policy, allowing attendants to her wedding By Invitation Only. It sure is five mana and at sorcery speed, but it is quite effective. 

Does your opponent have less than 13 creatures? They will lose them all. Do you have more creatures than your opponents? You will get to keep some of them. The best upside is to ignore indestructible by forcing your opponent to sacrifice their creatures. No more Toski, Bearer of Secrets, Adanto Vanguard or Selfless Savior to survive your wraths: they are gone for good. 

We didn’t have white wraths with this upside besides Settle the Wreckage before. The expected cost of wraths in Gladiator is four mana, but this one has an upside that is worth trying in Control decks.

Cemetery Protector

Cemetery Protector looks like a one woman army! First of all it can remove any problematic card from a graveyard like Uro, Titan of Natures Wrath or a card with Flashback. But choose wisely: the type of the card you removed will rule the way you create your 1/1 Human tokens later, as you will get one of them any time you cast a spell of that type (or play a land if you exiled a land). Many decks have ways to take advantage of these tokens, and white offers many cards to increase their power and toughness.

Flash allows her to fight counterspells efficiently. We have already seen Restoration Angel being a powerful card for her body alone. Cemetery Protector, while not having the same evasion, offers additional bodies and utility. It might be one of the best cards of the set for white and should see plentiful play, although primarily in Midrange decks.

Faithbound Judge

Faithbound Judge is a 4/4 Spirit with flying, vigilance, and defender for three mana. Having defender is rough for aggressive decks, but completely fine for Control decks who can use it as a way to stop most of their opponents’ attackers, before being able to attack with a Serra Angel body a few turns later if it survives.

If you had to spend a board wipe removing your Judge, don’t worry : it also comes with a Disturb ability that wins you the game eventually. It works a bit like Approach of the Second Sun, cursing your opponent and having them lose the game in three turns if they don’t find a way to remove it. 

Click to Flip Card

Overall, this card should be seen in UW or Jeskai control decks and as a fan of this archetype I’ll probably try it out.

Fleeting Spirit

This Spirit gathers frightening abilities on a powerful body: being 3/1 for two lets it hit above its weight class. It also has a first ability that can grant it first strike by exiling cards from your graveyard and paying {W}, so your opponent will have to think twice before blocking it if you are able to pay. 

The other ability allows it to flicker itself by discarding a card, returning to the battlefield under your control by the next end step. This makes it the first white two-drop able to avoid -X/-X, bounce or sacrifice effects, whether stapled on a wrath or a removal. 

There is an obvious comparison to this card as we have the notorious Adanto Vanguard and Seasoned Hallowblade in the format. However, while both of them getting indestructible is more helpful when you fight creatures against creatures, Fleeting Spirit offers more resiliency to interaction overall, likely allowing it to be more effective in Control matchups.

Expect this card to see play in Aggro and Midrange decks.

Hallowed Haunting

At first glance Hallowed Haunting may remind you of Sigil of the Empty Throne. We have here an enchantment that creates tokens each time you cast another enchantment. The Spirit tokens start small, but they won’t stay that way for long as the more you have, the bigger they get. And eventually, as you reach seven or more enchantments, Hallowed Haunting even grants all of your creatures flying and vigilance. 

This card gets an easy home in enchantress-style decks alongside Sythis,  Harvest’s Hand, Enchantress’s Presence or even the Shrines. Is it better than the Sigil though? Not really: while its cost is cheaper, the Spirits’ dependence on each other exposes you to spot removal while blocking several creatures. You also need quite a board presence before they get flying too. But if you get it to stay a while on the board in a dedicated deck, it has the potential to end the game in a similar way a casted Shark Typhoon would do.

Hopeful Initiate

White is famous for its powerful one drops, so where does this one fit on the list? A 1/ 2 body is nothing to overlook, as Thraben Inspector already proved many times. But this one uses Training to grow bigger, which with the help of almost any two drop can happen by turn three. Even better: you get a way to destroy problematic enchantments and artifacts by removing counters from among creatures you control.

Worst case, we still have an on-rate creature in the supported Human tribe with a growing body. Expect this card to see play in various White Aggro, Tribal and/or +1/+1 counters decks.

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr

Returned from the dead as a Spirit, Katilda now mostly cares about enchantments. As a three drop, she offers to be as big as the ones you control, which might not be a lot to begin with if she arrives by turn three. But flying and lifelink is a powerful combination: if she ain’t big enough to block effectively on the first turns, her evasion should help her sustain you the time you need to set up the other enchantress pieces and card draw. Later in the game, her body should be strong enough to dismiss most creatures from attacking you, providing an effectively Baneslayer Angel-style finisher. At this point, your opponent will need to deal with her twice as you likely have the mana to cast her Disturb side on another creature. 

Click to Flip Card

Katilda also cares about the number of Spirits you control, but it’s harder to have enough of them at the same time on the battlefield than to have enough enchantments. She still looks like a decent option for a Spirit Tempo deck, playing Curiosity or similar effects and aiming to fight the more aggressive metas. Besides those homes Katilda’s wording doesn’t allow her to really go farther. Only time will tell if she helps them see more play in our format.

Lantern Flare

Cleave gives Lantern Flare quite some flexibility: by default dealing damage determined by your amount of creatures like Kabira Takedown, it can also be casted alternatively for {X}{W}{R} if you don’t have the adequate creature number to get your target. You also gain life in the process, which can be a big tempo play in Aggro matchups. It reminds me in some ways Erebos’s Intervention, with the ability to exile cards from graveyards exchanged with a way to hit planeswalkers too. 

In my opinion, the best deck able to take advantage of this card is Jeskai Pyromancer. As a spell based deck aiming to flood the board with many creatures, it will have spots where it can use the default mode to be a great removal, and others where having the cleaved option is better, either way able to trigger any spellcasting effects they may have. But I can also see people trying Lantern Flare in other generic decks like Jeskai Control or Boros Aggro for instance, although they might not get as often the same flexibility.

Ollenbock Escort

First look at this card. Then look at Selfless Savior. Now again at Ollenbock Escort. Do you see it? Yes, this card has more or less the same ability, with a few key differences. 

First we get some relevant creature types, both Human and Cleric having strong tribal support available. Then, we can sacrifice it to give indestructible (and lifelink although it isn’t as relevant) to another of our creatures. One condition: the target has to have a +1/+1 counter on it. This is a big requirement that shall restrain this card to dedicated counter decks, or in lifegain decks who tend to stack those counters on their best threats. The Escort will be able to save them from a wrath or a removal spell the same way the Dog did. Vigilance is a nice upside too.

Expect this to see plays alongside the Dog in the aforementioned decks.

Radiant Grace

Radiant Grace is a nice one mana enchantment that fits in aura decks. At first this effect isn’t that great, only giving +1/+0 and vigilance. However, having the ability to transform as soon as the creature dies is great because it does not give you card disadvantage. The effect of neutralizing future blockers for one turn is important in aggressive decks.

Click to Flip Card

Savior of Ollenbock

Savior of Ollenbock is our only mythic featuring the Training mechanic. When it attacks, you’ll get to exile a creature on the battlefield or from the graveyard, to be returned on the battlefield only when and if it leaves it. Our Savior doesn’t have great stats as just a 1/2, but this makes it easier to trigger Training. This card is tricky to evaluate, as it requires a lot of setup to work. Banisher Priest and its more recent versions like Brutal Cathar or the more versatile Skyclave Apparition removed the enemy creature when entering the battlefield for the same amount of mana, while savior needs to wait a turn before doing so. Also attacking with him and with other bigger creatures exposes them both to bad trades. On the other hand, if you have something big to reanimate from your graveyard, you can exile it with the savior so that your opponent will have to think twice before removing it and giving you back the creature(s) you exiled.

Savior looks like a card worth exploring, however waiting until turn four before being able to get real value from it seems painful, and the three-drop slots of white have a lot of competition these days. We’ll have to wait and see to know if Savior finds a home.

Voice of the Blessed

A 2/ 2 for two, which gets a counter every time we gain some life? That sounds like the famous Ajani’s Pridemate, one of the main payoffs of lifegain decks. But this is its new and improved 2021 version, so we have additional effects: by four counters, it gains flying and vigilance, now being effectively an Angel-sized threat able to reach the opponent’s face without worrying about foot soldiers. By ten counters, it also gains indestructible, getting through most board wipes and removal. The Cleric type line can trigger lifegain effects too, but the Spirit type line, while nice, isn’t enough to open it up to Spirit decks. With the double white pip, it will probably stay only in mono white decks.

This card should see play anywhere Ajani’s Pridemate did.

Wedding Announcement

One of the most efficient things to stop creature based decks is an early board wipe. The players know it: committing too many resources on your early game can expose you to a fast defeat. But also, if you didn’t commit enough at the right time, you might not apply pressure fast enough. Wedding Announcement has the nice upside of fitting the current pace of the game without exposing you so much. Are you ahead, and were you able to attack your opponents with two or more creatures? Then you can draw a card and keep your plan going. Do you need a better board presence? Then let’s create a 1/1 Human token to increase your ranks. Finally after three turns of such benefits, you get a Glorious Anthem to pump all your team and finish the game. 

Click to Flip Card

Once again, there is a lot of competition in the three-drop slot of aggressive white decks. But this card has potential, and it should shine in Human tribal decks and beyond.

Welcoming Vampire

Callback to the famous Mentor of the Meek, Welcoming Vampire will give you cards if a creature with power two or less enters the battlefield under your control. That’s a legitimately solid ability, which works both on tokens and non tokens and doesn’t care whether the creature was cast, blinked or reanimated. The bad news is that it’s restricted to one card each turn, but you can get around that with flash or instant tricks on your opponent’s turn. The good news is that you won’t have to pay one generic mana for it. It also has a better body, as a 2/3 flyer able to reach problematic planeswalkers and effectively block most 2/x creatures from your aggressive opponents. 

While the three drop slots are competitive these days, the fact that white decks rely on powerful bear-sized creatures should grant it some play in our format. Expect to see it in a wide variety of decks, Aggro, Tempo or Midrange, that play the creatures to trigger her ability.

Conclusion

Our forces have gathered. An army of Spirits, Humans, Soldiers stands ready to press the assault on Olivia’s castle. Are you ready to cancel the wedding? Ready to stand together in Sigarda’s holy light, to start a fight when all hope seems lost, while the plane is lost in an eternal night? It looks like we got the cards to do so.

Thanks a lot for reading our review this far, and see you in the Arena!

BLM and Dracosinus


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