Crimson Vow’s New White Cards are Cracked

Kristen GregoryDesign

There’s a lot to talk about for Innistrad: Crimson Vow already, and where better to begin than with the stellar new white cards we saw last week, including those on the first look stream, which was a blast to watch. 

Thalia? In Standard? In This Economy?

I can’t talk about new white cards without first discussing a stellar reprint into Standard: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. You know things are getting intense for Spellslinger archetypes when Thalia shows up, and given Mono-White Aggro is already enjoying a fair slice of the metagame, adding Thalia to the mix should cement its place going forward — remaining previews pending, of course.

View the full decklist here

Thalia is of course looking stunning as ever with artwork by Magali Villeneuve, who designed two of the pieces in the Thalia Secret Lair last year. My favorite has to be the Thalia outside the Helvault, but the new art evokes the tension and sheer exhaustion of fighting for humanity on the gothic plane. Oh, and what about those box toppers? Mina Harker looks glorious, straight out of a novel. 

Rejuvenating White’s Recursion

First up, let’s talk about Savior of Ollenbock. What a damned powerful little three-drop… I’m absolutely enthralled by the power level of this card. It’s perfect. 

So, the condition is that you attack with both this and a creature with greater power. To get multiple triggers of this ability, you need to have some stronger creatures in your deck, but you only need a two-power creature to get a trigger.

The ability is modal, when you consider what you can do with it. Because it’s written with a separate “leaves the battlefield” trigger, you can trigger that ability before the first trigger has resolved. This means your options are:

  • Exile an opponent’s creature until Savior leaves play, after which the creature returns to play
  • Exile one of your own creatures until Savior leaves play, after which the creature returns to play
  • Exile a creature from an opponent’s graveyard until Savior leaves play, after which the creature returns to play
  • Exile a creature from your graveyard until Savior leaves play, after which the creature returns to play

But wait, there’s more. If you sacrifice or flicker Savior before the training attack trigger resolves, you can permanently exile a creature that was in play, or immediately bring back a creature from a graveyard to play. For the latter, that will overwhelmingly be one of your creatures, but in Commander, stranger things have happened. 

This card reminds me a lot of Angel of Serenity, a classic EDH card that can seem a little on the slow side with the power creep we’ve seen in recent times. I’m stoked to replace the Angel in my Aurelia deck with Savior of Ollenbock, not least because Aurelia can trigger Savior twice in one turn. My Aurelia deck is already a reanimator deck, and so I’m excited to add another cheap tool to her arsenal. Be sure to include cards like High Market or other sacrifice outlets if you’d like to get maximum value out of this amazing card!

It’s a Good Day for a Bite Wedding

While most people were a little down on the fact that you couldn’t perpetually keep this thing drawing you cards, I was more enamored with how much it resembles Don and Betty Draper. What can I say, I’m enjoying a rewatch. 

While Wedding Announcement would indeed be “better” if you could reliably draw more cards from it, that doesn’t make it a bad card. For Standard, this is probably right where it needs to be. Giving aggro decks too much card draw in 60-card formats isn’t a good idea, and at least you get a token if your plans are foiled by removal. Why Human tokens? Well, as Cordial Vampire so elegantly put it: “Please, come in! Hors d’oeuvres are on the table.”

Putting a cap on white card draw feels miserly, so getting an anthem once you’ve had your time to prepare for the wedding is a nice way to balance the card. Creature anthems usually cost around this much, anyway, so it doesn’t feel like a bad deal, all things considered. 

That’s not to say that there aren’t ways to keep this going, though. Solemnity stops counters being put on it so it won’t flip, and Flicker of Fate can reset it in a pinch. That said, if you’re running Solemnity, you’re probably doing more disgusting things with it, and Wedding Announcement hardly seems necessary. 

If You Like It, Put a Ring on It

Now here’s a Commander card worth dissecting. Wedding Ring is hard to grok at first glance, so let me break it down. The key part is that it triggers whenever an opponent gains value during their turn. So while Angel of Destiny is a great way to punish that opponent gaining life during their turn — as it’ll take you closer to your goal — it means it won’t give you a double dip on lifegain when you attack them with it. This is really important because if it did, it would go on forever and end the game in a tie. 

The other thing to keep in mind is that you can’t flicker it to reset it; you have to cast it to donate the token copy. Still, even despite these limiters, it remains a very interesting card, held back only by the fact that, like every other decent way for white to draw cards, it costs four mana. 

You’ll want to be giving this to someone who’s in any of the Sultai colors and drawing a lot of cards. While most white decks do gain life, giving life to these opponents is worth a lot less than them giving you their card draw. Get in on Rhystic Study, Guardian Project, or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Take your share. What’s mine is yours and all that. Just… don’t be weird about it when you’re sitting across from people. It’s just a game piece. 

Papers, Please

By far the most exciting of the designs offered to us so far in Crimson Vow, By Invitation Only is both the last thing I expected to see on a white card and also the thing I am most pleased to see on a white card. It’s a fairly revolutionary design, all things considered, and perfect for Commander. 

One-sided wraths are the flavor of the week right now in EDH; that, or cheap ones. By Invitation Only fills in the one-sided aspect where Vanquish the Horde fills in the cheap one, for a one-two-punch of solid white board wipes. 

You’re likely to have a bunch of tokens in white, so being able to sacrifice them to get rid of green fatties or other scary creatures is something I’m really high on. Sacrifice gets around indestructible and hexproof, too, which is pretty neat. Combine this with Guardian of Faith or Glorious Protector, and you’re onto a winner. 

Perhaps even more exciting still, it slots right into decks playing the new Liesa, Forgotten Archangel, Gisa, Glorious Resurrector, and classic grave hate Anafenza, the Foremost. While some playgroups avoid the likes of Tergrid, God of Fright, it’s hard to deny the sheer value that running this wrath with cards like Tergrid and It That Betrays offers. 

Closing Time

Sigarda’s Summons: Bundle promo and standard art

One last call for alcohol, so finish all your blood rituals, dear. It’s closing time, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

I know who I want to take me home, and it’s Sigarda. As much as I love me some Vampires — and I’m definitely team Edward Edgar — I’ve always been way more interested in the Angel sisters of Innistrad. Crashing the party in style, Sigarda’s Host of Herons are not only magnificently depicted on the two versions of this enchantment, but also feel appropriately powerful in-game.

White has hungered for true finishers beyond the likes of Cathars’ Crusade and Akroma’s Will, especially given Akroma’s Will is a lot more useful reactively rather than proactively. Elesh Norn is certainly one option, but one that not everyone has access to, or indeed wants to play, especially in more thematic or tribal builds. 

Sigarda’s Summons offers a decidedly powerful finisher for white decks that don’t have access to green’s overrun, and it feels really quite strong all things considered. As far as setup goes, it asks only that you’re able to use +1/+1 counters in your strategy, which plenty of decks are capable of. 

Luminarch Aspirant, Together Forever, Heliod, Sun-Crowned… and that’s without considering the excellent options in Selesnya. Kyler from the Coven Counters precon is a great place to put this one, and once you’re done reading our Coven Counters upgrade guide, then EK has a great quick guide to building it. This is a great finisher that rewards white decks for staying on a strategy, and I’m excited to jam with it.

I’m Excited for White Cards Again

While the power level of white cards has long been a contentious issue, I can honestly say I’m excited to see new white cards again. Wizards is clearly letting white do more fun stuff, even if they’ve decided that Smothering Tithe and even newer iterations like Monologue Tax are now out of the color pie for white (check out the updates, it’s a good read). 

I hope you’re as excited as I am about some of these designs. Let me know on Twitter!