The first ever MTG Arena Draft Open is this weekend, which is an awesome moment for online Magic play.
While larger scale organized play has had its issues over the last few years (both with poor planning as well as Covid complications), one shining gem has been the MTG Arena Opens. For the uninitiated, MTG Arena Opens are two-day, asynchronous events played on MTG Arena for big cash prizes played right from the comfort of home.
Entry is 25,000 gold or 5,000 gems (about $25) and you can enter as many times as you would like on day one, while a good enough record will get you one shot on day two for cash prizes of up to $2,500! It's like playing a large-scale Grand Prix or SCG Tour event, but with no travel and best of all the play is on demand, meaning there's no waiting for rounds and you can take breaks whenever you want.
I may sound like I'm gushing a bit here, but the MTG Arena Opens are one of the best things to happen to tournament Magic in a long time. Full info is here.
Draft Takes Center Stage
So, let's talk about Crimson Vow draft!
Today I want to highlight three very unassuming draft commons that look simple, but are actually major players in the format. They are cards you definitely want to look out for in your drafts and be ready to build around.
Traveling Minister looks so innocent.
A one-mana 1/1 that gains life doesn't jump off the page in Limited, as one-mana 1/1s are rarely playable and life gain is often also not exciting (see Soul Mender), however Traveling Minister does literally everything.
On pure rate, Traveling Minister is usually good for an extra damage and life per turn, which is already pretty solid for such a low investment, but it also has a big effect on your ability to trade up in combat by allowing your smaller creatures to attack into larger creatures as the game goes on or augmenting your clock on your evasive creatures. This is already well worth such a low cost, allowing you to curve out and pressure early while also maintaining utility later in the game. The constant flow of life also helps you to win races or prolong the game as needed.
However, what makes Traveling Minister extra special is how well it interacts with many of the set's main themes.
With cards like Courier Bat and Heron of Hope at common, as well as many more payoffs at higher rarities, the life gain from Traveling Minister has even more utility than is seen at face value, allowing you to effortlessly trigger your life gain synergies.
Traveling Minister also plays excellently with the Training mechanic, making it extra easy to level up your training creatures by putting that added power where you need it. It's even a human for various human synergies!
There's a much higher density of good 1-drops in Crimson Vow Limited than most Limited formats, and Lantern Bearer is no exception.
On the front side, a 1/1 flying creature for one is on the edge of playability but not quite there. The good news is that it is a spirit for some spirit synergies, but like in Midnight Hunt the disturb effects are far better than they appear at first glance because they are strict card advantage.
You also wouldn't play Lantern's Lift if it was just a card by itself, but a creature enchantment spell that gives your good sized creature flying can swing games heavily in your favor. And unlike a normal aura, if the creature gets killed you've already gotten some value out of the front side so it's not nearly as bad.
And that's to speak nothing of the synergies that Lantern Bearer has in the format as well.
Lantern Bearer is an excellent piece of exploit fodder, giving you a cheap early creature you're happy to sacrifice for value that will have returns later. There are also some spirit synergies as well, although not nearly as much as some other tribes. There's also just the fact that Lantern Bearer plays very well with creatures with keywords or as a vessel for other disturb auras. Just putting Lantern's Lift onto a simple lifelink creature like Desperate Farmer can be a huge swing.
It may not look like much, but Lantern Bearer is the kind of card that you take early and often and get as many as you can.
Our last card of the day is a card that I like to refer to as a "glue" card - that is, a common card that can hold multiple archetypes together.
Gluttonous Guest looks unassuming. A 1/4 for three mana isn't getting anyone excited, and while blood tokens are great you'd like to be getting a better rate for them. But while Gluttonous Guest is only okay on rate, it's a card that slots an important role in almost every archetype.
Red/Black vampires/blood is the obvious home for Gluttonous Guest, being a vampire that makes blood, and being able to buy a little more time with each blood to improve your draws is a nice bonus. However, it's honestly even better in other archetypes. In a Black/White deck with lifegain themes, Gluttonous Guest is a very stable way to gain life on demand, while also playing good defense to keep the game stable while you get things set up. Lastly, in the Green/Black big butts deck, Gluttonous Guest provides a very solid 1/4 body that plays into the synergies of the theme while also playing defense and providing flood insurance.
That's a lot of roles for a card that's already fine on rate.
Making the Most Of It
Bomb rares and clutch uncommons are obviously a major part of draft formats, and Crimson Vow is no exception. However, it's filling your deck out with the common role players that will keep you getting consistent wins.
If you're playing in the Open good luck! And if not, make sure to keep an eye out for these cards in your drafts online or off!