The Great Innistrad: Crimson Vow Deck Update

Innistrad: Crimson Vow left a mark on Sheldon Menery’s Commander MTG decks. He shares his updates and why those cards caught his eye.

Wedding Invitation, illustrated by Justyna Gil

Updating your suite of Commander decks is one of the most fun things to do outside of playing them.  It’s even more exciting when you have a great batch of cards to pick from.  That’s the case with Innistrad: Crimson Vow, as there is lots of spice from the main set and the new Commander cards, which also includes things you’ll only get in set boosters. 

As always, it’s difficult to find room in existing decks for cards, regardless of how sweet they are.  It’s time to say goodbye to some old friends to make way for new ones.  If there’s a card from this set that you think is pretty good and you don’t see it here, it’s most likely because I’m saving it for building a new deck.  I’m reasonably sure that a third Zombie deck is going to come out of the cards from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow, mixing with the other two to provide maximum undead hijinx. 


Breathkeeper Seraph

Into:  Trostani’s Angels

Space is getting precious in the Angel deck, but I’ll definitely find room for Breathkeeper Seraph.  I’m a fan of Innistrad: Crimson Vow Commander bringing back soulbond and they’ve done it with some very cool cards.  This one just saves stuff, and in this deck, there’s usually a mana cost involved that’s worth protecting.  I could also see this going into one of my three Karador, Ghost Chieftain decks. 

By Invitation Only

Into:  Jenara, Used to be Chulane

A neat battlefield sweeper that scales to what you need it to do and potentially keep all some creatures around.  As I said in my set review, I’m happy that designers are thinking for different and creative sweepers, even in the color that’s used to having lots of them. 

Hallowed Haunting

Into:  Guess it’s time to build an Enchantress deck!

I don’t have one, they’re all the rage, and this seems like a neat card.  I’m not going to mention all the cards that might go into yet-unbuilt decks, but Hallowed Haunting is noteworthy.

Hopeful Initiate

Into:  Karador Do-Over

A deck that’s thick with +1/+1 counters can definitely make use of Hopeful Initiate.  It’s inexpensive and can get bigger the more you battle with it.  Maybe a little less than we want out of a rare, but it’s a solid role-player.

Savior of Ollenbock

Into:  Karador Do-Over

I’m a fan of being able to train up the Savior in order to get creatures which have died.  There’s also the alternate route of taking out important stuff from an opponent’s graveyard, but you run the risk of letting them have the things back.  Playing the card is a little tricky, because it’s only a three-drop, but casting it early might not have much value.  We’ll see how it plays. 

Sigarda's Summons

Into:  Karador Do-Over

With several creatures that have base power and toughness of 0/0, making base 4/4 Angels out of them is all upside.  This is also a reminder that Phantom Nishoba is a house.

Wedding Ring

Into:  Halloween with Karador

I’ll somehow find room in one of my signature decks for one of the signature cards of the set.  Here’s me also saying once again that if you’re playing with strangers, please be careful of the kind of things you say around playing Wedding Ring.  If you think it might be over the line, it probably is.


Consuming Tide

Into:  Brokkos, Apex of Mutate

Consuming Tide seems right for Brokkos’s Voltron-like style without needing all those enchantments.  Sure, everyone gets their best creature or other permanent, but unless that creature is somehow bigger and better than the Brokkos stack, we’re in good shape.

Dreamshackle Geist

Into: The Threat of Yasova

The deck is about doing stuff during the combat step, so this nicely costed creature will offer a good deal of help.  Its triggered ability costs nothing, so there’s still mana free to do Yasova tricks, getting a potentially irritating blocker out of the way or keeping it tapped for next time. 

Hullbreaker Horror

Into:  Dreaming of Intet

I used to have Tidespout Tyrant in this deck, but it just became a card to not play because it got old.  Hullbreaker Horror is spicy and new, although it’s more of a play-with card for Tidespout Tyrant, not a replacement.  One of the fun things in this deck with Hullbreaker Horror is that it has a number of Clones.  Two Hullbreaker Horrors are definitely better than one.

Imperious Mindbreaker

Into:  The Millmeoplasm

The deck features Lord of Extinction, Consuming Aberration, and Phenax, God of Deception.  Someone’s getting milled big time.  It’s interesting how this deck, now ten years old, has changed over the years from mill being just a thing to get stuff into the graveyard to eat with The Mimeoplasm to mill being its primary win condition. 


Doom Weaver

Into: The Millmeoplasm

There’s a Spider sub-theme to the deck, inspired by friend of the show Brian David-Marshall, and Doom Weaver creates pretty good value.  This also creates a nice opportunity to remind you to stay in school, eat your vegetables, and play your (Spider) Fogs

Dreadfeast Demon

Into: Adun’s Toolbox

While one might think about Demon tribal with Dreadfeast Demon, I’m inclined to put it into a deck, like my Adun Oakenshield, which has small utility creatures that it doesn’t mind sacrificing.  That Adun can get them back is a big plus. 

Path of Peril

Into:  The Wrath of Obzedat

This is the deck it’s been the longest since I’ve played, so I’ll be trotting it out on the stream sometime soon.  Path of Peril goes here because it doesn’t hit my commander unless I really want it to, while getting rid of some chumps that make Obzedat’s life inconvenient.

Toxrill, the Corrosive

Into:  Durdling with Muldrotha

While there’s an argument to put Toxrill into a proliferate deck, I’m happy with it in a deck that likes getting opposing creatures out of the way.  There are few enough artifacts in it to also consider putting in Molder Slug, currently the only non-Shapeshifter Slug that seems worth playing (and I do in Adun’s Toolbox and Prossh, Which Was Karrthus Do-Over). 


Bloody Betrayal

Into:  The Threat of Yasova

This one’s a pretty simple replacement for Threaten, since it does a little more for the same cost.  Things like investigate or scry are nice ways to slightly power up older cards into new ones without overpowering them. 

Cemetery Gatekeeper

Into:  Rakdos Life is Short

Rakdos leads my Vampire deck and Cemetery Gatekeeper is a fine, non-combat Vampire.  In our group, that early land in the graveyard is more likely to be Evolving Wilds than a fetchland, but they both still serve the same purpose here. 

Dominating Vampire

Into:  Rakdos Life is Short

Okay, are there maybe now enough Vampires for two Vampire decks?  Until then, I’m enjoying the new red ones we’re seeing.  It would take some serious work to remake it into a Blood token deck, so I’ll pick and choose a little carefully for now.

Mirage Phalanx

Into:  Kresh Into the Red Zone

There’s so much stuff in this deck to soulbond with Mirage Phalanx.  It starts with Acidic Slime, heads towards Malignus, and wraps at Stalking Vengeance.  Getting two triggers off the latter will reduce life totals quickly.  What I like about the card is that nothing has to attack, even those it’s a combat trigger.  The tokens are then fine sacrifice fodder for Goblin Bombardment or Greater Good.  This is my kind of card.

Olivia's Attendants

Into:  Rakdos Life is Short

I don’t need to completely change the deck in order to play some of the Blood token cards.  This one makes the cut because it’s large and has a great triggered ability.  It can take out a chump blocker and get a bonus while doing so. 


Ascendant Packleader

Into:  Zegana and a Dice Bag

You don’t need Wolf tribal for Ascendant Packleader, just a deck that likes counters and has four-mana spells in it.  My Prime Speaker Zegana deck fits both of those categories.  Sweet card.

Cartographer's Survey

Into:  Ikra and Kydele

I’m going to give Cartographer’s Survey a whirl in Ikra and Kydele to replace Ranger’s Path.  With lands like Cabal Coffers; Miren, the Moaning Well; and Temple of the False God in there, I’m going to get some pretty good hits.  It might could go into Trostani’s Angels as well, where the big hits would be Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Temple of the False God.

Cemetery Prowler

Into:  Durdling with Muldrotha

Another excellent non-tribal Wolf, Cemetery Prowler will do some work against graveyards.  Getting an early creature is going to be the best, obviously.  In this deck, I don’t necessarily have to worry about it dying in a combat, since it can just come back later.

Cultivator Colossus

Into:  Old Stickfingers

The deck is so new that I’ve only played it twice and don’t have the full list loaded up just yet.  My experience is that there have been plenty of lands in hand, sometimes courtesy of Wrenn and Seven.  Note that repeating the process stays within the resolution of the triggered ability, so if stuff triggers off those lands entering the battlefield, like with Kodama of the East Tree, they don’t go on the stack until you’re completely done resolving said trigger.  This card can be bonkers in so many decks. 


Grolnok, the Omnivore

Into:  Yidris Rotisserie Draft

I had to find a deck that didn’t really do graveyard stuff, like Muldrotha, the Gravetide.  Croak counters are just funnier to me than they should be.  Maybe the call here is to build around Grolnok, but for now I’ll just see how it operates as one of the 99.

Halana and Alena, Partners

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

I’m not the biggest fan of putting multiple colored pips into the Animar deck, but I’ll make an exception for this fine card.  It can buff up Animar itself, or give haste to one of the new things that entered the battlefield cheaply.  There’s nothing like a hasty Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Old Rutstein

Into:  Old Stickfingers

Old buddies unite and we get some stuff.  We obviously want to mill creatures for Old Stickfingers, which will create Insects to get buffed by Blex, Vexing Pest.  While I’m mentioning this deck, which I threw Tergrid, God of Fright into, I’ll tell you that both times I’ve played the deck I’ve had Tergrid in the graveyard and a reanimation spell in hand.  Neither time was Tergrid the best thing to reanimate.  While I get that the sampling is small, it may speak to how the card isn’t that bad if it’s not the commander.  We’re still definitely keeping an eye on it.

Olivia, Crimson Bride

Into:  Rakdos Life is Short

There’s an argument to remake this deck using this version of Olivia as the commander, but we’ll let Rakdos run the show for a little longer.  There are several other legendary Vampires, such as Anowon, the Ruin Sage and Ascendant Evincar, to protect the reanimated creature if something happens to Olivia.

Umbris, Fear Manifest

Into:  Ikra and Kydele

I looked for a deck with Oblivion Sower in it and went from there.  Other creatures in the deck that trigger Umbris are Chasm Skulker; Falthis, Shadowcat Familiar; and a slew of Clones.  The deck currently has no Bojuka Bog in it, a situation I’ll remedy in short order. 


Investigator's Journal

Into:  Karn Evil No. 9

We won’t want to drop it too early, lest is not have many counters on it.  We’ll wait until a turn in which we can draw right away off of it as well.  A solid, if unspectacular card—but sometimes you need those role-players for a deck to function well. 

Wedding Invitation

Into:  Glissa, Glissa

Artifacts keep getting recycled in this deck, so inexpensive ones that draw cards and get into the graveyard for free will make the cut even if they’re silly little commons.  There aren’t Vampires to take advantage of the activated ability, but that goes into the “whatever” file. 

Double-Faced Cards

Bloodsworn Squire

Into:  Old Stickfingers

It doesn’t take long for there to be four creature cards in Old Stickfingers’s graveyard.  Yes, we get blown out by a Bojuka Bog, but that’s the world we live in.  Bloodsworn Knight will get very large alongside its commander friend and provide an alternative threat. 

Edgar, Charmed Groom

Into:  Breena Will Do It to You

I don’t even care about the Vampire Anthem.  I just want to do the transforming tricks.  This card is such a flavor win, making the Vorthos in me extremely happy. 

Faithbound Judge

Into:  Breena Will Do It to You

The Breena deck sometimes gets a little grindy.  Faithbound Judge is just fine as is as a deterrent to the folks who might want to decline the card for attacking.  If it never has to die and transform, it means that my creatures are surviving enough to win on their own.  If it doesn’t, there are enough things that will keep me alive long enough for Sinner’s Judgment to take out the enchanted player.

Howlpack Piper

Into:  Animar’s Swarm

There will always be stuff in hand to drop onto the battlefield with Howlpack Piper.  It’ll serve as a nice backup in case Animar gets blown up too many times.  It doesn’t even need to transform into Wildsong Howler to have value.  If it does, we’ll pick the best creature and when it transforms back, we’ll have something to put onto the battlefield. 

Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr

Into:  Heliod, God of Enchantments

I don’t have an Enchantress deck, but I do have one full of enchantments, so Katilda will definitely get large.  She’ll also stay alive due to Heliod, God of the Sun.  Then, if Katilda’s Rising Dawn is attached to the commander, it could be a two-shot commander damage kill without too much difficulty. 

Mirrorhall Mimic

Into:  Lavinia Blinks

Some Clone action is nice in a blink deck, since you can reset a Clone to something better.  If the creature eventually gets killed, it can then come back as a kind of Progenitor Mimic.  It’ll likely be of something someone else controls, but my friends play nice creatures. 

Ulvenwald Oddity

Into:  Ruric Thar’s Beastly Fight Club

It’s a Beast deck, so Ulvenwald Oddity fits right in.  The transformed version will just lead to some pretty severe beatings.  I also gave some thought to putting it into Dreaming of Intet so that I’d have trample and importantly haste for those Avenger of Zendikar tokens.   This is a very savage and very Commander card. 

Wedding Announcement

Into:  Heliod, God of Enchantments

The deck doesn’t mind attacking, so we’ll draw some cards off Wedding Announcement.  Once it’s an Anthem, all those Clerics created with Heliod will be bigger.  There’s no downside here at all. 

In knew that I was going to put a fair number of Innistrad: Crimson Vow cards into the deck suite, but I didn’t expect it to top 40.  Those 40 don’t include the ones that’ll go into new decks.  This all just goes to show how compelling these sets are.  Even the cards not specifically designed for Commander hit the right notes on being good without being generic.  It’s a great place for the format to be. 

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