Crimson Vow Mechanic Spotlight Blood Tokens

MTG Mechanic Spotlight: Blood Tokens

Tom Anderson Design

The atmosphere is shifting on the horror-plane of Innistrad, from endless moonlit night to blood-drenched wedding day. 

Innistrad: Crimson Vow isn’t just Midnight Hunt Part Two — it’s a full expansion set in its own right. That means debuting new mechanics alongside daybound/nightbound and disturb, and the vampiric guests of Olivia Voldaren’s big wedding are happy to oblige — with some fresh new Blood tokens!

IF YOU WANT BLOOD, YOU GOT IT

Continuing WotC’s recent exploration of resource tokens like Food and Treasure, Blood tokens are identical non-creature artifacts created by other card effects. They can synergize with any other card that cares about tokens, artifacts, or permanents. These tokens can also be sacrificed to themselves to unlock a small resource boost.

Blood tokens are most similar to Clues; both allow you to dig a little deeper into your library when you’re out of good plays. But creating a Blood token does not count as investigating, and more importantly, sacrificing Blood requires you to also discard a card before you draw.

A HEALTHY CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

Despite the outward similarity to Clues, making Blood tokens a rummage (discard-then-draw) effect significantly affects when and how decks want to use them. You’re not guaranteed card advantage by using your Blood, and you can’t even be sure that what you draw will be better than what you’re discarding. It’s typical aristocrat behavior from Voldaren’s Vampires — risky and wasteful!

But there are still some scenarios that encourage such a gamble — mostly ones where you can’t afford to go slow and safe:

  • When you only need a specific card or type of card — removal for their bomb, Duress to protect your combo, that sort of thing.
  • When you expect the game to be decided before you play all your cards — like in many aggro decks — and gambling with your worst card is worth it to try and upgrade your options.
  • When you can exchange cards with low situational value: creature removal against control decks, surplus lands in the mid-to-late game, etc. Similar to how mono-black decks have used the optional looting (draw-then-discard) from Learn cards, Blood tokens can help to justify deck building with more situational cards.
  • And of course, it always helps when you’re able to get extra value on the side. You can discard cards that are useful to have in the graveyard, or you might have other permanents around that generate their own triggers off the activation. Because rest assured, there’s plenty of those about to crash this party…

SAVOR EVERY DROP

While Blood tokens seem to have found their way into every color in Crimson Vow, Olivia Voldaren’s vampiric guests are the biggest exponents.

Different Vampire cards play off different aspects of this mechanic: some help create Blood tokens, some add a little bonus when you sacrifice them, and some even offer alternative ways to spend them!  It’s worth noting that spending Blood to draw off Wedding Security or ping an opponent with Anje will still trigger Gluttonous Guest and the like — they don’t care what the Blood is sacrificed to, they just want to see it flow!

Some of the vamps don’t even need you to sacrifice the Blood to get use out of it!

THIS IS SOME REAL A+ BLOOD!

I’m a big fan of noncreature tokens in general, since they give R&D more options when designing resource-generating effects than just “draw a card.” In the best cases, they can open up more nuanced resource-management decisions even for aggro decks, which I’m definitely looking forward to here with Anje, Voldaren Bloodcaster and Falkenrath Forebear. There’s diminishing returns on adding more new resource tokens to Magic, but Blood seems very much like it will be a niche, Vampire-specific mechanic rather than something like Treasure, which goes in every set.

At least we’re getting some very adventurous designs around it while it’s here!

Overall, Blood tokens seem like they’ll take a little trial and error to get used to, but they hold a lot of potential for clever plays and smoother draws. The extra consistency and reach from Blood looks good for Vampire decks especially – and they’ll need it to live in a Standard that’s already getting scary powerful. I hope we see even cooler riffs on this mechanic through the Crimson Vow Commander decks!