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Crimson Vow Limited Set Review: Black and Red

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Welcome back to day two of the Crimson Vow Limited set review!

This article is the second of four, and in it I will be evaluating every Black and Red card - scoring them on a scale of 1-5. These ratings are purely based on Limited formats and have no bearing on Constructed play. I would also like to note these ratings are based on how I believe the card will perform in an AVERAGE Sealed or Draft deck. Often this means a lower score for cards with great potential in a highly synergistic deck.

Rating - Explanation

1- Ideally not making the cut in any of my Limited decks.

2- Not good, but a necessity for curve filling and smoothing out draws.

3- Value cards I am happy to fill my deck with.

4- Cards to get excited about and Premium Removal.

5- Reserved for cards that will win the game if left unanswered.

Black

Aim for the Head
Aim for the Head - 2 - This format is faster than we have seen in the past few sets, so this Mind Rot ability is not going to be as impactful as the last few. This is a great card to pick up for the sideboard and is playable if you can find the room. The zombie removal is a nice bonus as well.
Archghoul of Thraben
Archghoul of Thraben - 3 - Without any other zombie synergy, the Archghoul is worth playing. Even if you are unlikely to draw a free zombie there will be enough random surveil triggers to make it worth playing.
Bleed Dry
Bleed Dry - 4 - Premium removal at its finest. This will kill anything in the format and even deal with those pesky recursion effects like disturb...it even kills Edgar, Charmed Groom // Edgar Markov's Coffin!
Blood Fountain
Blood Fountain - 2 - I have always liked double creature recursion spells. This costs a bit more than I would like, but it does give that extra blood token to help enable other cards in the deck. Always happy to run one of these.
Bloodcrazed Socialite
Bloodcrazed Socialite - 2.5 - Menace can be really strong in faster formats. Bloodcrazed Socialite can create a ton of pressure and be very difficult to deal with. There are also a lot of random blood tokens in the format, so triggering her ability should not be difficult.
Bloodsworn Squire // Bloodsworn Knight
Bloodsworn Squire // Bloodsworn Knight - 3 - Bloodsworn Squire // Bloodsworn Knight will take a few turns to really get going, but it is a strong card that will be difficult to deal with. It also gets better the longer it stays on the field and that is always a nice bonus.
Bloodvial Purveyor
Bloodvial Purveyor - 4.5 - Letting the opponent rummage is such a minor downside here that it's almost not worth mentioning. This massive flampler will end games quickly. Definitely worth a 1st pick.
Catapult Fodder // Catapult Captain
Catapult Fodder // Catapult Captain - 2 - This butt slingshot is interesting to say the least... There is a really cool toughness deck that will love to play as many of these as possible. This is more of a build around but can be playable in any deck
Cemetery Desecrator
Cemetery Desecrator - 5 - This creature has a built in removal spell. Chances are this card will kill a creature when it enters the battlefield...and another one when it leaves. Getting to trigger the ability the turn it comes into play means it is at least a 2 for 1. There is also some upside to removing cards from an opponent's graveyard as well.
Concealing Curtains // Revealing Eye

Concealing Curtains // Revealing Eye - 3.5 - Getting an early blocker that turns into a decent threat later in the game is really neat. We often see this type of ability in Black (like Heirloom Mirror // Inherited Fiend in MID) where it starts off slow with some incremental value before turning into a decent threat. This is definitely a 1st pick card.
Courier Bat
Courier Bat - 3 - There are so many random life gain synergies to make Courier Bat worth playing. A Desperate Farmer // Depraved Harvester or Gluttonous Guest should make it easy enough to get value here. Even without getting the extra card this is still a Wind Drake, and I am fine with that.
Demonic Bargain
Demonic Bargain - 1 - Not a card I am interested in playing in Limited. Exiling 13 cards in the spoopy set is nice flavor, but that is all it is.
Desperate Farmer // Depraved Harvester
Desperate Farmer // Depraved Harvester - 2.5 - Everything about this creature is fine. The front is a bit below rate and the back is slightly above. This is a decent 3-drop to help the curve and enable any lifegain synergies the deck might have.
Diregraf Scavenger
Diregraf Scavenger - 2.5 - Not a huge fan of deathtouch creatures at 4 mana, but it does remove threats from the graveyard and drain when needed. There is enough upside to make this worth playing.
Doomed Dissenter
Doomed Dissenter - 2.5 - Doomed Dissenter is the perfect reprint in a format with exploit. Definitely worth picking up when possible.
Dread Fugue
Dread Fugue - 1 - Getting to look at an opponent's hand is helpful, but the format is too fast for this to make the cut in the main deck. Definitely worth picking up for the sideboard.
Dreadfeast Demon
Dreadfeast Demon - 4.5 - This card is insane! If you have any other creatures on the board with it, it will likely end the game immediately. The only reason this is not a 5 is because it does require other creatures to be on the field, but the upside is nuts...
Dying to Serve
Dying to Serve - 1 - Most decks will not discard enough cards to make this worth playing. There will be heavy blood decks that will find a home for this, but the average deck won't be able to find the value for it.
Edgar's Awakening
Edgar's Awakening - 2.5 - With a few discard outlets this is definitely worth playing. Without a fair amount of blood tokens this recursion spell doesn't interest me.
Falkenrath Forebear
Falkenrath Forebear - 4 - Falkenrath Forebear has a lot to offer. This evasive threat will provide long term card advantage through cycling while also being a recurring threat itself. Honestly there is nothing I don't like here. This is a strong rare and worth a 1st pick.
Fell Stinger
Fell Stinger - 3 - Finding cards like Doomed Dissenter to sacrifice isn't too difficult in the format. It is likely that Fell Stinger will offer a fair amount of card advantage and is definitely worth playing.
Gift of Fangs
Gift of Fangs - 3 - This removal spell is versatile and that makes it worth running. There are enough x/2 creatures worth killing in the format, and you never know when giving a vampire +2/+2 will just be lethal.
Gluttonous Guest
Gluttonous Guest - 2 - On its own this card is not super exciting. With any lifegain payoffs this will be worth running with all the random blood tokens in the format. I would also consider playing Gluttonous Guest with Restless Bloodseeker - It's super cute!
Graf Reaver
Graf Reaver - 3 - An aggressive deck's dream! This early threat can snowball into some quick wins. With some drain or flying creatures for reach this is the perfect card to open with. This is possibly even Constructed playable.
Grisly Ritual
Grisly Ritual - 3 - A bit expensive for removal, but sometimes the deck will take any removal it can get. This will be much better in Sealed than Draft - playable in either.
Groom's Finery
Groom's Finery - 2 - The set of equipment is cute, but offers minimal reward. These are playable-ish. I would look for other cards whenever possible.
Headless Rider
Headless Rider - 3.5 - Worst case this creature offers 2 bodies for one card. With any other zombies, this has some major upside. There are a lot of zombies in the format, so it won't be surprising to see this closer to its ceiling rather than its floor.
Henrika Domnathi // Henrika, Infernal Seer
Henrika Domnathi // Henrika, Infernal Seer - 4.5 - This creature has it all! Henrika has built-in removal and replaces herself. After all of that she transforms into an amazing creature on the back. This is by far one of my favorite creatures in the set.
Hero's Downfall
Hero's Downfall - 4 - This was an amazing removal spell the 1st time it was printed and I am glad to see it back for Standard. It is interesting that it was printed as an uncommon this time around, but after seeing cards like Infernal Grasp at uncommon as well it is no surprise.
Innocent Traveler // Malicious Invader
Innocent Traveler // Malicious Invader - 2.5 - Innocent Traveler // Malicious Invader is a bit confusing. The creature on the front is horribly overpriced, and asking an opponent to sacrifice a creature to prevent it from transforming is a huge cost. I would expect this creature to be insane on the back, but honestly it's just... fine. If the opponent has a creature we are starting to see the 4-mana cost being worth it - if they don't, it is just a slightly below average playable. Not exciting at uncommon.
Mindleech Ghoul
Mindleech Ghoul - 2 - Sacrificing a creature is not always going to be worth the worst card in your opponent's hand. This becomes worth playing when the deck can make a fair amount of tokens, or has sacrifice synergies with cards like Skull Skaab or Biolume Egg // Biolume Serpent.
Parasitic Grasp
Parasitic Grasp - 4 - There are a fair amount of restrictions on this removal spell, but none of them are bad enough to make me not want to play this. I consider this to be a 3-mana spell with the upside of possible cost reduction.
Path of Peril
Path of Peril - 3 - When not playing Orzhov this is likely to be kept in the sideboard. The ceiling is much higher if the deck is White/Black or has access to the tools to splash White. This is much closer to a 4 when reliably cast for the cleave cost.
Persistent Specimen
Persistent Specimen - 2.5 - This creature isn't just an annoying blocker, it is also a premium exploit target. This little 1/1 can enable so many cards in a single game it's great.
Pointed Discussion
Pointed Discussion - 2.5 - Black draw spells are always good to have, and paying two life is minor enough that I am always happy to have one of these. The blood token actually makes this version much better than we typically see in Limited.
Ragged Recluse // Odious Witch
Ragged Recluse // Odious Witch - 3 - The trickiest thing about Ragged Recluse // Odious Witch is to remember that it transforms at end of turn and not when you discard. I have tried to use this as a combat trick...More than once. It didn't work...
Restless Bloodseeker // Bloodsoaked Reveler
Restless Bloodseeker // Bloodsoaked Reveler - 2.5 - Without consistent lifegain triggers this card is sure to underperform, but is still worth playing with even a few. Gluttonous Guest makes a great combo with Restless Bloodseeker // Bloodsoaked Reveler.
Rot-Tide Gargantua
Rot-Tide Gargantua - 3 - The strength of Rot-Tide Gargantua depends on the power level of the opponent's deck. The fewer creatures they have the better this will be. Sometimes your weakest creature will be better than theirs so it might not be worth exploiting. Token generators will help this find value.
Skulking Killer
Skulking Killer - 2 - This card seems decent but is actually very unexciting. Without flash or any other ability this is likely an overcosted 4/2. This is a 23rd playable and won't likely see much play.
Sorin the Mirthless
Sorin the Mirthless - 5 - This Sorin is just as strong as I would expect in a format about vampires. As far as Planeswalkers go, this one does it all! Sorin gives card advantage, protects itself, and can even just outright kill someone - What's not to like?!
Toxrill, the Corrosive
Toxrill, the Corrosive - 4.5 - This is definitely one of the fan favorite cards in the set. The art is sweet and so is its ability if this snail is left on the board for any length of time.
Undead Butler
Undead Butler - 2.5 - Undead Butler is an ideal creature to exploit. So much value in exploit when the creature that gets sacrificed actively wants to be dead.
Undying Malice
Undying Malice - 2 - Meh. We see one of these cards in every set, and they are always borderline playable. This is a fine 23rd card when you are short on playables.
Unhallowed Phalanx
Unhallowed Phalanx - 1.5 - Most decks will not be interested in running this creature. There is a cute Black/Green butt deck where I get excited to play this, but that is a build around you won't see much of.
Vampire's Kiss
Vampire's Kiss - 1.5 - Without a lot of premium life gain payoffs this is too low impact to consider. I am sure there is a lifegain / blood deck that will consider this, but that is so situational I doubt I will ever play this card.
Voldaren Bloodcaster // Bloodbat Summoner
Voldaren Bloodcaster // Bloodbat Summoner - 4 - Voldaren Bloodcaster // Bloodbat Summoner is doing everything a vampire deck wants to be doing. This creature is aggressive, evasive, and gives value over time - What's not to love?
Wedding Security
Wedding Security - 3 - Having an alternate use for extra blood tokens is a great option to have. There are so many extra blood tokens floating around that this creature is sure to get out of hand quickly. This is also a vampire and that will be very useful in this format.

Top 3 Black Commons

  1. Bleed Dry
  2. Courier Bat
  3. Gift of Fangs

Red

Abrade
Abrade - 4 - Abrade is a removal spell we have seen before. It was good then and I think it is even better this time around. This is a common I am happy to take as a first pick.
Alchemist's Gambit
Alchemist's Gambit - 3 - I'm so glad to see another extra turn card printed... but in all seriousness this is playable in Izzet and nothing else. Taking extra turn cards are actually not super exciting in Limited. When behind, this will rarely save you and when ahead, this is a win more card.
Alluring Suitor // Deadly Dancer
Alluring Suitor // Deadly Dancer - 3 - Alluring Suitor // Deadly Dancer is great for any aggressive deck. This creature is above rate and will help keep the pressure high. It also has a relevant creature type and can synergize well with other cards in the deck.
Ancestral Anger
Ancestral Anger - 1.5 - These spells that get better in multiples come up from time to time, and they are always very underwhelming. This one replaces itself so it's not awful to play when short on playables.
Ballista Watcher // Ballista Wielder
Ballista Watcher // Ballista Wielder - 3.5 - Getting to deal damage to any target is nuts. This can make combat extremely difficult for an opponent. Once it becomes night, this Werewolf will have no trouble ending games quickly. This creature has a lot to offer for any Red deck.
Belligerent Guest
Belligerent Guest - 2.5 - Belligerent Guest is surprisingly good. It trades well while also getting in some chip damage. Whenever this makes more than one blood token I am exceedingly happy. This is also a vampire so it will trigger a ton of other random synergies.
Blood Hypnotist
Blood Hypnotist - 2.5 - Red decks hate blocking... So, I see no downside here! This creature is on rate and does everything I want my aggressive Red decks to do. Definitely happy to pick up these solid vampires when given the chance.
Blood Petal Celebrant
Blood Petal Celebrant - 2.5 - Another aggressive vampire. I am starting to see a trend here. These are great to pick up some early damage and will even help to enable other cards later with the free blood token it creates.
Bloody Betrayal
Bloody Betrayal - 1.5 - I am never looking to play steal spells without solid sacrifice outlets in the format. Exploit is an option, but needing to cast this plus a decent exploit spell in the same turn seems a bit ambitious. I am going to pass this set. They can't all be Adventures into the Forgotten Realms.
Cemetery Gatekeeper
Cemetery Gatekeeper - 2.5 - Cemetery Gatekeeper is a great aggressive 2-drop for Constructed, but it will also be a good creature for any Red deck in Limited. This 2-drop offers a lot and has very little downside. The more aggressive the deck the better.
Chandra, Dressed to Kill
Chandra, Dressed to Kill - 3 - I am very surprised that this Chandra has such a low power level. Typically, Chandras are the most powerful Planeswalkers there are, and that is definitely not the case here. This seems a lot more Constructed playable than Limited.
Change of Fortune
Change of Fortune - 1 - 4 mana for overall card loss seems really bad for Limited. This was created for Constructed formats with graveyard themes.
Creepy Puppeteer
Creepy Puppeteer - 3.5 - This rare is above rate and can help an aggressive deck snowball into a quick win if played on curve. Nothing to get too excited about, but definitely worth playing in any Red deck.
Curse of Hospitality
Curse of Hospitality- 3.5 - Surprisingly I think this is the best curse out of all the ones here and in Midnight Hunt. Getting trample and card draw is very powerful. A few fliers makes this an absolute homerun.
Daybreak Combatants
Daybreak Combatants - 2 - The ETB effect on this creature is decent. Creatures that are not vampires in Red are a bit underwhelming, but this can be a playable filler in a deck that needs 3-drops.
Dominating Vampire
Dominating Vampire - 3 - Getting to steal a creature is a nice bonus, but it often won't hit anything. This is just an on-rate creature with some upside in a more aggressive deck. Definitely not exciting for a rare.
End the Festivities
End the Festivities - 1 - This is a decent sideboard card against token decks. There are a few X/1s in the format that will hate to see this come out of the sideboard.
Falkenrath Celebrants
Falkenrath Celebrants - 3 - I actually love Falkenrath Celebrants. Menace seems extremely strong in this aggressive format. This will be a great top end card for Red decks that can get in a ton of early damage. The blood token is a nice bonus too.
Fearful Villager // Fearsome Werewolf
Fearful Villager // Fearsome Werewolf - 3 - This is a solid Werewolf and a good curve filler for any Red deck. Menace is great in faster formats like this one, and it will be hard to deal with at night.
Flame-Blessed Bolt
Flame-Blessed Bolt - 3 - There are a lot of x/2 creatures in the format worth killing. I would not call this 1st pickable removal, but I would always be willing to run 1 or 2.
Frenzied Devils
Frenzied Devils - 2.5 - A 3/3 with haste is not what I want to get for 5 mana but the pump ability similar to Kiln Fiend means this can become a terrifying threat in a hurry in an Izzet spells deck. Playable outside of Izzet but only exciting in that color pair.
Honeymoon Hearse
Honeymoon Hearse - 3 - A new twist on Vehicles as this gets turned into a creature by tapping two creatures of any size rather than needing a specific total power. A 5/5 trample is a relevant body and being able to attack with this on turn four when your smaller creatures may be bricked helps give the Red aggressive decks a chance to compete with bigger creatures.
Hungry Ridgewolf
Hungry Ridgewolf - 2.5 - Your classic bear (or Wolf in this case) with a slight upside, there are enough Wolves and Werewolves in the set to make this a 3/2 trampler often enough that it's worth playing in an aggressive deck. This is definitely at its best in Gruul but a reasonable curve filler in any Red deck looking to beat down.
Ill-Tempered Loner // Howlpack Avenger
Ill-Tempered Loner // Howlpack Avenger - 4 - During the day, Ill-Tempered Loner // Howlpack Avenger is a solid 2 for 1, but at night it is an absolute bomb. The only reason it is not rated higher is because it is easy to remove. Casting this during night will be a huge surprise for an opponent and make combat exceedingly difficult.
Into the Night
Into the Night - 1.5 - Not impressed by this spell. Getting to turn into night can be important, but I don't know that I want to spend a card on that when I can just do nothing for a turn to make that happen. With blood tokens being in the format I would rather redraw with those than use this.
Kessig Flamebreather
Kessig Flamebreather - 2 - Seeing this ping ability say "noncreature" and not instant or sorcery is interesting. It gives it a bit more range. There is a noncreature sub theme in the set, but it doesn't seem very powerful. This is likely just a mediocre filler card when the deck is short on 2-drops.
Kessig Wolfrider
Kessig Wolfrider - 3 - Menace means this 1-drop will get in some eary chip damage. It is also a decent late game card if played when the graveyard is already full of cards. Getting to make three extra bodies late in the game can break a board stall easily enough.
Lacerate Flesh
Lacerate Flesh - 3 - A bit disappointed that the five-mana removal spell is sorcery speed, but it is still worth playing. Getting to kill most creatures while also providing a bonus when hitting smaller creatures is a nice perk. This can help to enable all the other blood-related spells and smooth draws later in the game.
Lambholt Raconteur // Lambholt Ravager
Lambholt Raconteur // Lambholt Ravager - 3 - This creature is a payoff card for the spells deck. It is interesting that the backside is the best for casting non-creature spells, but will punish you for casting more than one on your turn. This will play well with instants where you can cast one spell on each turn.
Lightning Wolf
Lightning Wolf - 2.5 - Needing to use the ability at sorcery speed is a bit of a downer, but this lightning doggo is still a creature in an aggressive deck. Costing only 2-mana means you can still progress the board in a cheap deck while keeping the pressure high.
Magma Pummeler
Magma Pummeler - 3.5 - Creatures with X in the mana cost are always decent in Limited. Getting to cast them at any point in the game is a great perk that helps smooth draws and increases the overall power level of the deck by a fair amount.
Manaform Hellkite
Manaform Hellkite - 4.5 - I always love seeing these sweet Red dragons, and we seem to get a new one each set now. This one is a big pay off for the spells subtheme in the format, but even without a high avg mana value instant / sorcery count this is still great. Slam this card any chance you get!
Markov Retribution
Markov Retribution - 2.5 - I knew vampires could bite... but I had no idea they could punch! This is a mini Trumpet Blast when going wide and a medium removal when needed. There are enough vampires in the format for me to be happy with the flexibility of this card.
Olivia's Attendants
Olivia's Attendants - 4.5 - This rare kinda does it all - relevant creature type, blood synergy, top end, late game mana sink. What's not to like?!
Pyre Spawn
Pyre Spawn - 2.5 - Pyre Spawn is an expensive creature, but it is a solid 2 for 1. Every deck needs a top end and without any better options this is perfectly reasonable to play.
Reckless Impulse
Reckless Impulse - 3 - Two-mana draw two? I'm in. This is a bit worse when it comes to combat tricks and other time-sensitive things, but often Red just needs to keep its foot on the gas and this is a great way for it to do that.
Rending Flame
Rending Flame - 4 - Premium removal at its finest! 3 mana for 5 damage at instant speed is as good as it gets for Red. This is a 1st pickable removal spell.
Runebound Wolf
Runebound Wolf - 2.5 - This cute curve filler has a relevant creature type and a decent late game mana sink. Definitely not a wolf to get excited about, but very playable. Aggressive decks can get stalled by large Green butts in this format so having some reach is definitely helpful.
Sanguine Statuette
Sanguine Statuette - 1.5 - Creature artifacts are never where I want to be in Limited. The requirements to turn them on are always too steep and require too much of a commitment each turn
Stensia Uprising
Stensia Uprising - 2.5 - Getting to make a free 1/1 each turn is surprisingly powerful. Even if you think it is unlikely to ever be used as a removal spell, I still think this is worth playing. Getting to count land means it won't be hard for this to turn into a nice late game removal spell.
Sure Strike
Sure Strike - 2 - Sure Strike is a reprint we have seen in a lot of sets. It is always good in an aggressive deck and at 2-mana it's not difficult to find a safe spot to cast.
Vampires' Vengeance
Vampires' Vengeance - 2.5 - This can be played in any Red deck but is better as a sideboard card. It will not be hard to find a decent spot to play this, but it won't always be great. I would look to play this post board against humans and zombies.
Volatile Arsonist // Dire-Strain Anarchist
Volatile Arsonist // Dire-Strain Anarchist - 4.5 - Having haste and menace will make it really tough to deal with this the turn it comes into play. If it happens to be night, this will likely get to kill something and that will make it even harder to block. This is an absolute bomb and something to get really excited about playing.
Voldaren Epicure
Voldaren Epicure - 1.5 - I would have thought this the perfect creature in the last set where so many vampires needed to come into play after damage. This format seems much less exciting for Voldaren Epicure, but it is a vampire so I am sure it will see some play in very aggressive decks.
Voltaic Visionary // Volt-Charged Berserker
Voltaic Visionary // Volt-Charged Berserker - 3 - This aggressive creature offers a solid card advantage and turns into an above-rate creature after a turn or two. It is important to note it does say "play" and not "cast" so you can hit lands with this as well.
Weary Prisoner // Wrathful Jailbreaker
Weary Prisoner // Wrathful Jailbreaker - 2.5 - This 4-drop is nothing fancy but playable in any deck. It blocks well and can turn into a huge creature later in the game. There are a lot of good creatures for 4 mana so this will likely get cut from most decks, but it is playable.

Top 3 Red Commons

  1. Abrade
  2. Falkenrath Celebrants
  3. Reckless Impulse

Thanks for reading and I will see you tomorrow!

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