Welcome to my Crimson Vow Commander Decks Buyers' Guide! These hundred-card bundles of joy can get kind of lost in the shuffle of any set release, and that's especially true with an odd, end-of-season set like Crimson Vow. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that some of you didn't even know that Crimson Vow came with two brand-new Commander pre-cons until you clicked on this article out of curiosity! The decks are real, though, and I'm super excited to paw through them in search of hidden gems.

Whenever I'm analyzing a new Commander deck, I'm generally trying to sort cards into one of three categories:

In my experience, category one cards (think Fierce Guardianship or Dockside Extortionist) end up being the most valuable by far. This is because a wider range of Commander players are in the market for copies, and some people are in the market for more than one copy. Increased demand generally leads to higher prices.   

Cards in the second category can also have some value, especially long-term, but they also tend to be somewhat overvalued in the early going. Even if they're really powerful, the folks who want them generally want the contents of the entire deck because they're looking to build around those particular themes. These cards sometimes explode in value once the deck leaves print, but if you're going to make that gamble, it's generally better to just buy multiple copies of the sealed pre-con and flip them as a whole.

Lastly, the marginal inclusions generally end up being bulk rares. Folks cut them from their pre-cons, and then nobody wants to trade for them. These cards are generally not worth spending too much time thinking about.

There used to be a pretty large gulf between the prices of cards in the first and second category, but the addition of a commander slot to most Collector Boosters (including Crimson Vow) has flattened the curve a bit. There are now more copies of the universal staples to go around, and more people will open on-theme cards in Collector Boosters and want to build those decks without having gone out and purchased the pre-con. Dockside-level cards will always reign supreme, though, and I still prefer buying cards from that first category when speculating.

But enough general advice — let's get specific. Which of these two decks is better, and are either of them worth your time? Should you be picking them up at retail if you see them, or leave them behind? Which cards have the best shot at breaking out as future Commander staples and why? Let's get into the decklist and find out together.

Spirit Squadron – Relevant Reprints

This is not a particularly exciting crop of reprints. These decks haven't been big venues for high-level reprints in recent years, and many cards that would have been exciting at some point in the past (Ghostly Prison, for example) have been reprinted several times already. Other cards, like Kami of the Crescent Moon, would have felt like exciting reprints if we'd been looking at their price tag a month or two ago, before these decks were announced. The market is already saturated, though, so we're down to just these six reprints in Sprit Squadron's $1-or-more camp.

If you need any of these cards for your collection, they're worth snagging now while the price is nice and low. Hallowed Spiritkeeper usually sells in the $5 range, for example, and I'm sure it'll be back there within a year or two. Ditto for Fell the Mighty

WotC could easily reprint any/all of these cards at some point over the next few years, of course, and that goes double for oft-reprinted staples like Swords to Plowshares. Whatever cards don't come back are likely going to be solid long-term holds, though. Since some of them (like Kami of the Crescent Moon) really only got reprinted because of the deck's Spirit theme, and those are the safer buys by far. You can't really go wrong picking up a grip of them now with plans to sell in the $5 range somewhere down the line.

Spirit Squadron – New Cards

I don't see any cards in this deck threatening to become the next Dockside Extortionist, but that doesn't mean they won't become mid-tier staples at some point. There are quite a few cards with a shot at seeing play in all sorts of different decks, and that means there's an opportunity to make some decent money if you make the right buys.

Potential Category 1 Staples (Universally Powerful Cards)

Disorder in the Court

Disorder in the Court

There are certainly more powerful flicker effects out there than Disorder in the Court, but the fact that you can use this on your opponents' creatures in a pinch gives this card quite a bit of flexibility. I don't think there's a ton of universal application here, but Clue-based decks are going to want this card, and so are all the Bant Flicker brews out there. It's a solid buy with range beyond this particular pre-con.

Haunted Library

Haunted Library is also kind of underpowered for a token generator, but it's a reliable source of flying creatures on a relatively low-CMC enchantment. Repeatable token generation always ends up having more demand and being worth more than I expect, even if it appears somewhat underwhelming. Haunted Library should continue that trend, and it's a solid buy at just under $1.50.

Sudden Salvation

Sudden Salvation is a pretty marginal inclusion on this list, but it's a really well-designed card with some interesting potential applications. The fact that it's white reanimation that can also work as a political tool makes me somewhat intrigued despite (yet again) the low overall power level. I wouldn't go too deep on this one, but I bet it'll find a home somewhere.  

Storm of Souls

I really like Storm of Souls. In the right deck, this is a really solid finisher, and you don't need to be playing any spirits for it to be good. In a deck that fills its graveyard fast, which is common in Commander, Storm of Souls is a heck of a combo piece. Copies are selling for under $1 right now, and that's a solid buy for me.

Ethereal Investigator

Ethereal Investigator will make an extra Spirit each turn for blue decks that like to draw cards, and that includes your opponent's turns. I can easily imagine lots of folks turning to this as part of an engine, or at least as a way to provide you with some cheap flying defense while you set up your combo. With a current price of less than $1, it's a decent spec flier (pun intended).  

Priest of the Blessed Graf

Priest of the Blessed Graf is unplayable outside of a large multiplayer game, but cards with the potential to passively make 3 or 4 tokens a turn are always worth considering. This card has a somewhat low ceiling, considering nobody who plays 1v1 is interested at all, but the current buy-in is so low that I kind of feel like Priest of the Blessed Graf is being underrated regardless. 

Potential Category 2 Staples (Great Spirit-Themed Cards)

All four of these cards are very powerful in a dedicated "Spirits Matter" deck, but they don't do much outside that sort of build. The price is already so cheap that I don't hate buying any of these cards right now, but keep in mind that they're likely to take longer to pay off if you're engaging in long-term speculation. Of the four, Drogskol Reinforcements seems like the most powerful, especially for its current price tag. That's where I'd focus the bulk of my speculation efforts on this list. 

Category 3 (Marginal Inclusions)

It's possible that I'm wildly underrating Donal, Herald of Wings, since its $2 price tag is higher than most of the cards I touted in Category 1. I just don't think it's that powerful, and I don't see it finding a home outside of its incredibly narrow niche. You should definitely consider snagging a few copies if you disagree with me, though, because the community at large seems a lot higher on it than I am.

Otherwise, I can't muster much of an argument for any of these cards. I feel like I'm probably cutting them out of this pre-con if I buy it, and I can't see myself using them anywhere else.

Is Spirit Squadron Worth Buying?

To be honest, I don't see any reason to buy Spirit Squadron unless you really like the decklist and only want to modify it a little. There are few cards in the entire deck selling for more than $1 right now, and none selling for more than $2. Spirits aren't really a popular tribe in Commander anyway, so I can't even recommend it as a solid long-term hold for the next time there's an Innistrad set. I suggest picking up the singles you need and ignoring the deck otherwise.

Let's move on to a deck I like a little more, shall we?

Vampire Bloodline – Relevant Reprints

Finally, some exciting reprints we can talk about! While most of these cards are best in a Vampire-centric context, there are some real all-timers here. For starters, the chance to pick up Nirkana Revenant for under $10 doesn't come around all that often, and I'd jump on it if you're in the market. This is a super popular card in the world of Commander, and demand will continue to outstrip supply unless it gets another high-profile reprint in the next year or two. Nirkana Revenant is a very safe buy right now, and I'm definitely going to snag a copy or three.

Vandalblast is also super cheap right now. This card isn't reprinted all that often, and it's one of the best artifact removal spells ever printed. I do think it will eventually be reprinted enough to land it in the permanent $1 to $2 range, but it could spike up toward $5 to $7 again before that happens.

Blood Artist is also consistently terrific. It's one of the best uncommons ever printed, especially in Commander, and it has proven itself just as reprint-resistant as Vandalblast. There isn't a ton of upside here, but if you need a personal set, this is a nice little buying window to pick up a few copies on the cheap.

Vampire Bloodline– New Cards

While I like the Vampire Bloodline deck a lot more than the Spirit Squadron deck, there aren't a lot of new potential high-end staples here, either. As with the last handful of new cards we looked at, there are a couple of $1 or $2 cards that have potential, but that's about it. It's possible that WotC is just getting better at not printing absurd $30+ Commander cards in decks like this, which I honestly appreciate. It leaves more copies of these decks on the shelves for folks who actually want to play them.  

Potential Category 1 Staples (Universally Powerful Cards)

Predators' Hour

Predators' Hour is an excellent payoff for go-wide decks, which are absurdly popular in Commander. Every Orzhov or Rakdos Tokens deck is going to at least consider Predators' Hour, especially since the menace part of the card is better than it looks. I don't love playing sorcery-speed combat cards myself, but there should be plenty of demand for this one regardless. It plays well with too many popular decks for me to ignore it. 

Kamber, the Plunderer

I'm pretty low on Kamber's partner, Laurine, the Diversion, but Kamber itself has some promise as a staple all on its own. The key here is that it triggers on creatures dying, which happens a lot in all sorts of Black-based Commander decks. The Blood tokens here are still solid without any other synergy, so I wouldn't be surprised if Kamber finds a small following in other brews that rely on churning creatures on and off the battlefield.

Shadowgrange Archfiend

Shadowgrange Archfiend is my favorite spec target in Vampire Bloodline. You do need a reliable number of Madness outlets to make it really sing, but Fleshbag Marauder is one of the best cards in every deck that runs it, and all of those decks are at least going to consider Shadowgrange Archfiend. That's quite a bit of demand before you get into any potential Madness or Demon-based synergy. Shadowgrange Archfiend should be a $6 or $7 card at some point. 

Imposing Grandeur

I'm not sure I'd actually play Imposing Grandeur in this deck, but wheel effects are always going to see play and hold value, even if they're conditional and weird. Imposing Grandeur is going to be a house if you've got a super expensive Commander and your opponents do not, which is common enough to generate demand. The fact that this card doesn't force your opponents to discard is going to keep it from ever being a truly high-end staple, but it will have its fans regardless. 

Sinister Waltz

I'm not a huge fan of the massive sorcery-speed cost or randomness that you have to deal with when you cast a Sinister Waltz, but this card is getting some rave reviews on the Commander forums, and it's fairly high up the EDHREC list for a sub-$1 card. The flavor is certainly great here, and the fact that it can reanimate something huge without additional conditions is really nice. I don't anticipate this becoming a massive staple, but it does appear to be underpriced right now.

Potential Category 2 Staples (Great Vampire-Themed Cards)

There are a lot more Category 2 cards in this deck than in Spirit Squadron, which is not a bad thing. The Vampiric Bloodlust deck from Commander 2017 is currently selling for well over $300, which tells you just how popular the Vampire tribe can be. 

While nearly everyone agrees that this pre-con is significantly less powerful than Edgar Markov's 2017 deck, there are still quite a few cards that shine in pretty much any potential Vampire brew. For instance, both Strefan, Maurer Progenitor and Timothar, Baron of Bats have gotten rave early reviews, while Scion of Opulence and Olivia's Wrath are going to be staples in most Vampire decks for years to come. All four are solid spec buys right now, and all the cards on this list seem fine to me.

Category 3 (Marginal Inclusions)

I don't mean to pick on poor Laurine, who makes a perfectly fine partner Commander. It just doesn't fit into either of the other two categories, and it doesn't look particularly powerful to me. Future bulk rare.

Is Vampire Bloodline Worth Buying?

Yes, Vampire Bloodline is worth buying. Vampires are an incredibly popular tribe, as evidenced by the fact that the 2017 Vampire pre-con is currently selling for nearly $350. Vampire Bloodline might not be quite that good, but many of the Vampire cards will surge in price the next time WotC releases a Vampire-focused set. In addition, the deck has a couple of possible multi-deck staples and a handful of high-end reprints. There are also just far more $2+ cards here than in Spirit Squadron. If you want to buy the deck and either keep it sealed or mess around with it for a few years, you will almost certainly be able to resell it for at least a small profit. In addition, there are a handful of cards here that look like solid long-term specs. I'm definitely going to buy myself a copy, and pick up a handful of additional singles.

The Set Booster Exclusives

As with Midnight Hunt, Crimson Vow includes eight additional cards that are part of the Crimson Vow Commander set, despite not actually appearing in either of the set's two Commander pre-cons. These cards will only show up in Crimson Vow Set and Collector Boosters, and because of that they'll be quite a bit scarcer than all of the other cards we've talked about today. Let's review all of them!

Wedding Ring

I'll admit, I'm a little worried about the fact that Magic now has a way for one player to non-consensually "marry" another player at the table in Commander. There are far too many Magic players out there who could easily use this card as an excuse to be creepy or weird to the only woman at the table, which is already a tough spot to be in. I really hope that folks use Wedding Ring responsibly, and I'd like to ask all of you to speak up if you see anyone in your playgroup or LGS using this card in an inappropriate manner.

This is a financial set review, though, and Wedding Ring looks like the kind of card that's going to be pretty expensive for a while. Group Hug is a pretty popular strategy in the format, and Wedding Ring is an awesome inclusion in decks like that. The fact that this card is only available in Set and Collector boosters — and at mythic rarity — should keep the supply nice and low. While this card doesn't seem to have bottomed out yet, and you might want to wait a few weeks before buying in, I do think it'll hold its value well long-term.

Umbris, Fear Manifest

Umbris, Fear Manifest is a solid A-tier Commander. I think it's more exciting as a build-around than any of the other cards we've talked about today, and the community seems to agree. According to EDHREC, Umbris is the 4th-most-popular new Commander in the set, clocking in just after Grolnok, the Omnivore and just before both Millicent, Restless Revenant and Strefan, Maurer Progenitor. It's a powerful card capable of spawning several new decks all on its own.

Just like Wedding Ring, Umbris appears to be slowly dropping in price as more Collector and Set Boosters are being cracked. While all of the cards from the pre-cons seem to have bottomed out, these cards have not. Umbris will hold its value long-term, but I'm going to wait a few weeks and see if the price ends up closer to $10 to $12. You know me — I love to hunt for deals!

Hollowhenge Overlord

Oh, hey, a new Werewolf staple! Hollowhenge Overlord is absurdly good, especially since it counts its own tokens and will just keep doubling your army every turn until someone kills it or you win the game. You do need a couple of other Wolves around to get going, but in decks where that isn't a problem? Hollowhenge Overlord is just straight fire.

While Hollowhenge Overlord's price tag is currently dropping, it appears closer to bottoming out than most of the cards on this list. Demand is really high right now, even at the $10 mark. We're obviously pretty close to the high-water-mark on Werewolf demand, so it might not be the best long-term spec on this list, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's the first card on here to bottom out and start rising again. If you want a copy and don't want to wait forever, buying in now seems fine.

Thundering Mightmare

When I first saw Thundering Mightmare, my thought was, "Okay, it's a Forgotten Ancient. Slightly better, slightly more expensive, but kind of the same general deal." Then I realized that both creatures get the counters, and I started to get more impressed. While it won't trigger off your own spells, it will get very large very quickly, as will whatever it's paired with. We already know that Managorger Hydra and Skullbriar are good, and Thundering Mightmare looks like an interesting hybrid of the two.

That said, this card (as well as every other card in this section) is still dropping in price. While I like some of them as long-term buys, I'm not touching most of them until I see a bottom. Thundering Mightmare is good, but will it end up at $4, or at $1? I'm not sure, but I'll check back in a couple of weeks from now and probably buy a couple of copies at that point.   

Mirage Phalanx

I always expect the red member of a given cycle to be the worst, especially in Commander, but Mirage Phalanx is awesome. 4RR is a lot, and you need to pair it with the right card, but the power level here is quite high in decks that have creatures with good enters-the-battlefield abilities or other fun triggers. I'm definitely going to snag a few copies of this for my collection, because I suspect it'll eventually end up in the $7 to $8 range.

Breathkeeper Seraph

Breathkeeper Seraph seems pretty underrated to me. You're obviously in trouble if your opponent has removal that exiles creatures instead of just sending them to the graveyard, but this is pretty solid protection the rest of the time. It definitely slots into Kaalia decks, and I can imagine that other white-based decks eager to keep their largest threat alive will want a copy. It's not super flashy, and the mana cost is too high for this to become a format-warping staple, but it's an okay buy at $2. There's some upside here.

Imperious Mindbreaker

Imperious Mindbreaker

Mill cards always end up being worth more than bulk, and Imperious Mindbreaker probably won't be the exception to that rule. While I'm not sure it slots into a dedicated mill deck, where all of your creatures are probably already set up to mill on attack and aren't going to be huge regardless, I'm sure there's a home for this somewhere. If it gets down below $1, I'll probably snag a few copies.

Doom Weaver

Doom Weaver is fine, and I really like the flavor, but I think it'll end up somewhere in the bulk rare range. There are easier ways to draw cards in most decks, and Spider Tribal doesn't have a lot of high-powered creatures to pair with your Doom Weaver. There might be a few decks out there that want this, but they won't have too much trouble finding copies.

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Last week's newsletter was a continuation of this topic, as I covered the cards from outside this set that are most likely to spike thanks to Commander players brewing around Strefan, Millicent, and Umbris. There are quite a few cards rising in price right now thanks to these cards, and my newsletter has a couple of suggested buys that you don't want to miss. Seriously — if you like this column, you should sign up so you can get the full story each week!