Friends and family of all genders, we are gathered here together to celebrate the blessed union of Crimson Vow and our Magic collections. After a whirlwind courtship filled with non-stop romance and exciting reveals, I'm pleased that these two crazy kids have finally decided to get serious and make things official. I'm sure they'll be happy together for many years to come.
Of course, our Magic collections have all had a tough couple of years. With so many exciting Magic products hitting the shelves every month, it can be easy to find yourself overwhelmed and burnt out. Heck, Magic usually only sees four Standard-legal sets released each year, but Crimson Vow is the 5th such set released in 2021. I don't blame anyone who checks the "Will Not Attend" box on this particular wedding invitation.
That's where my Buyers Guide comes in. As TCGplayer's resident finance expert, I did all the work sifting through Crimson Vow in order to give you my best recommendations on how best to deploy your limited budget on products from this set. Which Standard cards are making an early impact, and which are overrated? Which legendary creatures from Crimson Vow are already proving themselves as popular Commanders, and which versions of those cards are worth picking up? How good are the Collector Boosters this time around, and what's up with those sweet-looking Dracula cards and Double Feature booster packs? If you're planning on buying anything from Crimson Vow, read on. I've got you covered.
When you're making your Crimson Vow wish list, it's worth thinking about which cards you want to buy on release weekend, and which cards you want to wait on for six or seven months. In general, you want to pick up sure-thing competitive and Commander staples right away, while waiting on everything else. This is easier said than done, of course — I've bought in too early on plenty of cards that immediately dropped in price, while holding off on cards that I should have been more aggressive with. The important thing is not to get too results-oriented. Trust the process, and make the best decisions you can.
Why buy most of your cards on release weekend? Because that's when a lot of the big stores and dealers crack their initial box order and list the singles in a race to the bottom. Demand is high, but supply is even higher. While many cards end up dropping below their release weekend price somewhere down the line, it tends to be the short-term bottom on most of the good cards in a given set. That means if you're reading this article on Friday, November 19th (the day it goes live), today is the short-term floor on a lot of these cards. If there are Crimson Vow staples you want to snag within the next few weeks, get them ASAP.
Now that tabletop Standard is back and driving prices again, I wanted to start here. I imagine that many of you are interested in picking up the cards from Crimson Vow that are likely to make the biggest impact in Standard, especially if you're already bought into one of the format's existing top tier decks.
We don't have a ton of data to go on yet, but as of this writing there have actually been a few major post-Vow Standard events on Arena. That means we've seen some of the new cards in action, and we've also started to get a sense of how the metagame is developing. Social media has already used the results of a single event to declare that Alrund's Epiphany decks are dead, but I'm not ready to go there yet. Aggro tends to overperform early on in a new format, and they had a great weekend on Arena as expected. Control will catch up, and there were a few midrange brews that actually looked good against the field. The Standard environment will likely look quite different in three or four weeks.
That said, this isn't a huge rotational shift in the metagame — it's just the addition of a single set. Decks that were good prior to Crimson Vow are quite likely to remain good, just with the addition of a couple of extra cards. To that end, I'd like to look at a couple of Vow cards that are already making an impact in decks that we know are good:
Here's Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which we already know to be one of the most powerful white cards of all time. Thalia is perfectly positioned to dominate the current Standard metagame, and she's already slotting right into a top tier Mono-White Aggro deck and performing quite well. Historically, Thalia's price tends to bottom out around $5, which is where she's currently sitting. My guess is that she'll drop even lower on release weekend before rebounding a bit early next week. If you don't have a playset in your collection already, this is the time to act. She's going to be a pillar of the new Standard environment, and we already know that she sees plenty of play in the eternal formats. You can't really lose here.
Moving on to Mono-Green Aggro, here's Ascendant Packleader. The card skated under my radar during my set review, but it has quickly become a new one-drop of choice in one of Standard's best decks. It doesn't take much for a one-drop to see play, and this one manages to be solid early and late. It's not a spectacular card, and I don't think it'll break the format open, but it should see more than enough play to maintain its value.
Ulvenwald Oddity is another card that I didn't consider enough during my set review. It doesn't look all that impressive, but it showed up in a pretty solid Mono-Green Aggro list last weekend and overperformed by quite a bit. It's a decent midrange creature that can transform into a game-winning bomb later on, making it a must-kill threat. With a current buy-in under $2, every green mage should snag a set ASAP. I expect this card to be a solid spec buy as well.
Izzet decks have been a cornerstone of the format for months now, and all of them are about to run four copies of Stormcarved Coast. This card is about as safe a buy as it gets, and it's definitely something to snag on release weekend while supply is high. The same goes for the rest of the lands from this cycle, but the Red/Blue land is nearly always going to be the best bet.
Hullbreaker Horror may be the biggest early surprise in Crimson Vow. It looked like a purely Commander-centric card to me, but it is showing up and doing work in Izzet Turns decks as well as other control brews. I've even seen some people calling it better than Alrund's Epiphany, though that seems like a stretch to me. Regardless, it seems clear that Hullbreaker Horror is on the rise and will be a future competitive staple. While I'm reluctant to pay $7+ for a non-mythic rare that hasn't fully proven itself, every pro player I've talked to is gushing about Hullbreaker Horror's potential right now. I don't think you'll regret snagging your copies now if you play Standard.
I'm finishing this list with Concealing Curtains, a card that has yet to find a home in Standard but which I am nonetheless quite high on. I saw a lot of pro players gushing about this card on social media over the weekend, and was shocked to see that it was still selling for bulk rare prices. I'm not sure where it'll find a home, but with a buy-in around $0.50, it doesn't have to do all that much to pay off as a penny stock spec. If the card hits $2, you're well into the profit. At the very least, throw a playset of these onto the end of your order today and thank me later.
We got Tovolar, Dire Overlord in Midnight Hunt, but I don't see any similar S-tier commanders in Crimson Vow. That doesn't mean the set is a bust for Commander — it's actually a solid Commander set — but I don't see any cards there that are likely to be represented in every single playgroup. That's kind of a bummer, because I was hoping we'd get the Vampire equivalent of Tovolar in this set. Ah well.
At any rate, here are the Crimson Vow commanders that I do expect we'll be seeing quite a bit:
Of these cards, Olivia and Eruth have Dracula series copies, Olivia, Runo, and Odric have Vampire showcase frames, and Toxrill, Runo, Eruth, and Grolnok have black and white showcase copies. As we learned in my deep foil dive, these are the copies that will hold their value best — or even gain ground — going forward. It's especially worth noting that there's only one showcase variant of Toxrill, the Corrosive, which is the most popular new Commander in the set. Foil versions of that variant are going to be really expensive a year or so from now.
Speaking of Toxrill, the Corrosive, there are quite a few high synergy cards from Toxrill decks that might see some financial gains as folks pick up their copies in the coming weeks. For example, take a look at Polymorphist's Jest:
There isn't a ton of upside here since the card was released in M15 in addition to Commander 2017, but look at that juicy demand jump and price increase over the past few weeks! There's definitely a little more room to run here.
Other Toxrill staples include Hunted Phantasm, Mass Diminish, Black Market, Massacre Wurm, Spark Double, Revel in Riches, and Inexorable Tide. I haven't seen the same level of gains here, but it's very possible that most of the Toxrill spikes are still in our future.
Moving on to Runo Stromkirk, there have already been a few spikes. For instance, we took a look at Quest for Ula's Temple in last week's newsletter:
As I said in that newsletter (which you should subscribe to if you haven't yet!), a lot of Kraken, Leviathan, Octopus, and Serpent cards could spike due to Runo's popularity. Spawning Kraken, Serpent of Yawning Depths, Wrexial, the Risen Deep, Stormsurge Kraken, Nadir Kraken, and Breaching Leviathan all seem like solid buys to me.
Let's finish this section up with a look at Grolnok, the Omnivore. It's definitely the quirkiest Commander of the three, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Frogs! Who knew?
There aren't a ton of Frogs in Commander, but there are quite a number of ways to mill cards from your own library. Let's start with Hermit Druid, which I was 95% sure was on the Reserved List but actually is not:
I don't see a ton of added demand here, but the price is jumping, and folks are definitely aware of this card's synergy with Grolnok. It has been reprinted on The List, but that doesn't add a ton of extra copies into circulation, so it's very possible that Hermit Druid will sell out and double in price in the coming weeks. I'd try to pick up my copy beforehand if I were in the market.
Beyond that, we've got Thassa's Oracle, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, Intuition, and Mesmeric Orb as potential gainers. It's also worth noting that Grolnok itself will likely spike the next time WotC prints an exciting new Frog card in either green or blue. If you ever want to brew up this deck, snag a foil showcase copy sooner rather than later.
Moving on from the best new Commanders, let's look at the cards that folks are most excited to slot into their piles of 99. These are often the best long-term holds in any given set, so sleep on this section at your own risk:
Compiling this list is always one of the most interesting parts of doing my buyer's guide. For instance, I would have expected Cultivator Colossus to land firmly on the A-tier here. It's possible that things will shift around and it will end up there at some point, but the fact that it isn't there now makes me a tad lower on this card's long-term prospects than I was when I wrote my set review last week.
As for the cards that are on A-tier, it's no surprise to see Hullbreaker Horror show up again. Between the card's early breakout in Standard and its presence here, I have no doubt that Hullbreaker Horror is going to remain one of the most valuable rares in the set for some time. Whatever your reason for wanting this card, there are a lot of signs pointing to it as a pretty safe hold. Ditto for the land cycle, which is going to see a ton of play in Standard, Commander, and perhaps a few other formats as well.
Welcoming Vampire is a bit of a surprise! We haven't talked much about this card yet, but it's the perfect way to generate value in a white-based aggro deck…or in a tokens brew. Since most white Commander decks already expect to generate a ton of tokens, Welcoming Vampire does a pretty good Phyrexian Arena impression in one of Commander's most popular strategies.
Based on this price chart, things look pretty stable around the $4 mark right now. With this much Commander demand, it seems like a safe and solid pickup on release weekend if you're interested in a copy. Since I haven't seen much buzz around the card yet, it's possible that the price isn't going to get much lower from here. Once more folks discover it, Commander demand could increase by a lot.
Since Crimson Vow and Midnight Hunt are sister sets, let's take a look at the difference between the two collector boosters. Are the Crimson Vow boosters better, worse, or equally as good as the Midnight Hunt boosters? Let's go slot by slot and see if we can figure it out.
Both Boosters Contain:
Midnight Hunt Boosters Also Contain:
Crimson Vow Boosters Also Contain:
Spelled out like this, it's pretty easy to see that the only real difference between the Midnight Hunt Collector Boosters and the Crimson Vow Collector Boosters are the Dracula cards. In Crimson Vow, they show up in the same drop pools as their respective showcase rarities.
Since Crimson Vow also has a bunch of non-Dracula showcase cards, this makes them all slightly scarcer. You'll have to open more packs to open any of the foil showcase, borderless, or extended-art foil rares, because they'll be fighting with the Dracula cards for real estate in each Collector booster pack. I'm not sure this will make a huge difference to the price of the pack, but when you combine it with the fact that the best cards from the Dracula subset will also be worth quite a bit, I suspect these boosters will hold their value and provide slightly more of a return than the Midnight Hunt Collector Boosters did.
Does that mean you should run out and buy a ton of Collector Booster boxes? Only if you want to. I still vastly prefer Collector Boosters with Modern and Commander staple reprint subsets like Modern Horizons, since that's where the real long-term value lies. At the end of the day, all of the cards in Crimson Vow Collector Boosters are still Crimson Vow cards, whether or not they have cool pictures of Dracula art on them or not. That's not a bad thing, but it's worth knowing before you drop a few hundred dollars on a loot box. I definitely still prefer to pick up singles when possible.
One last thing. The foil showcase version of Sorin the Mirthless is currently Crimson Vow's main chase card, and with good reason. It was drawn by famed Castlevania artist Ayami Kojima, one of the titans in the world of video game visual design. She is a legend, and I can imagine lots of Castlevania fans who don't know anything about Magic wanting this card, not to mention all the Magic players who grew up loving the Castlevania series. There's a reason it is currently selling for almost $200:
It's certainly possible that this version of Sorin will keep climbing over the short term, but I'd be patient if you want a copy for your long-term collection. I'd compare this card's current hype with the Japanese copy of Liliana, Dreadhorde General illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano and the Phyrexian language copy of Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider. Here's what those respective price charts look like right now:
As you can see, neither were very good release weekend buys. The community was all over them, so there were no deals to be had. With cards like this, it's always better to wait until the hype dies down. Liliana would have been a great pickup a few months after release, while Vorinclex continues to drop as recent Secret Lairs have made Phyrexian language cards feel less special and unique.
This version of Sorin isn't quite as scarce as the Amano Liliana, but I expect the foil to follow a similar trajectory. It's a very exciting, very collectable card, and the foil is a great long-term hold, especially in gradable condition. Just be patient and buy in next spring, when everyone is focused on other things.
I'm sure I'll get deeper into Innistrad Double Feature when it releases in late January, but I've got to be honest, I'm not super excited for that set. It doesn't appear to be a curated "Innistrad Remastered" set — just Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow shuffled together and placed in the same booster pack. That's fine, and it might be a cool draft environment, but it's not particularly special or exciting.
The presumed draw of Innistrad Double Feature are the Silver Screen cards, which feature a black and white treatment using a silver substrate that is supposed to give the card a cool old horror movie look. It's definitely possible that these cards will look amazing in person — I've never seen a silver substrate Magic card before — but the images on the product overview page look really disappointing. Several members of the community expressed a strong dislike of these cards from an accessibility level, because the black-and-white look makes them so much harder to identify by sight.
As a former film scholar, I also take issue with art that was designed to be viewed in color and simply run through a desaturation filter. Good black and white art was created to be viewed in black and white, and the artist likely made a lot of deliberate choices with light and contrast to reflect that. If you simply take color art and make it black and white, you often get a really muddy and visually unclear mess. That's what a lot of these Silver Screen cards look like to me, and if I had illustrated one of these cards, I wouldn't be very happy.
It's certainly possible that the Silver Screen cards will look way better in person, or that Double Feature will be priced low enough to make it an enticing buy regardless. For now, though, I wouldn't wait around for this particular product. If you want cards from Crimson Vow, go for it. It's a pretty cool set!
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