Innistrad: Crimson Vow Mechanics Revealed

Learn more about cleave, training, blood tokens, and more!

Wedding Invitation, illustrated by Justyna Gil

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) announced all the new and returning mechanics coming in Innistrad: Crimson Vow.


Cleave is a new keyword ability that appears on instants and sorceries. Cleave is followed by an alternative cost that you can choose to pay instead of a card’s normal casting cost. If you do, you get to play the spell with new conditions by excluding the rules text in brackets.

Dig Up shows off cleave. For just a green mana you get a Lay of the Land, however, you can pay the cleave cost 1BBG and suddenly have Demonic Tutor.

Lay of the Land Demonic Tutor

That’s quite the upgrade, but in the early game you won’t always want a four-mana Demonic Tutor. Cleave offers flexibility and power — something Magic players love.


Training is a new mechanic that functions similarly to mentor from Guilds of Ravnica. If a creature with training attacks alongside another creature with greater power, you put a +1+1 counter on the creature with training.

Training is pretty simple and will show up on creatures from common Limited fodder like Apprentice Sharpshooter up to potential Constructed staples like the mythic rare Savior of Ollenbock.

Blood Tokens

Blood tokens are similar to other tokens from Magic’s past like Food, Clue, and Treasure tokens. Blood tokens can be sacrificed for one mana and tapping them to discard a card and draw a card. Many cards let you create Blood tokens and provide synergies for using them.

Gluttonous Guest gives you a Blood token and gives you a life boost when you sacrifice one while Voldaren Bloodcaster offers you Blood tokens when a nontoken creature dies and then allows you to transform her once you control five or more Blood tokens.


The day and night cycle continues in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, but it will only appear on double-faced Werewolf creatures.

While Innistrad: Midnight Hunt was a Werewolf set with Vampires, Innistrad: Crimson Vow is a Vampire set with some Werewolves.


Disturb returns after its debut in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, but with a twist. All the cards with disturb in the previous set returned to the battlefield as Spirit creatures, now they return as enchantments with their front halves already being Spirits.

Dorothea, Vengeful Victim is a rare Spirit that makes sure it finds a way into a graveyard then can come back as an aura with a nod to Geist of Saint Traft from the original Innistrad block.

Drogskol Infantry is a simple 2/2 for two mana but can come back as an aura to give an enchanted creature +2+2.


Another returning mechanic is exploit, flashing back all the way to Dragons of Tarkir. Exploit will show up on Zombie creatures and offer you a bonus if you sacrifice a creature when you play them.

Prepare to have some sacrifice fodder on the battlefield so you can play these cards and get their extra abilities. Overcharged Amalgam is a new take on Mystic Snake while Fell Stinger has some serious Mulldrifter vibes.

What do you think of the new mechanics and the returning ones in Innistrad: Crimson Vow? Which one do you look forward to playing with the most?

Innistrad: Crimson Vow is currently scheduled for release on November 19. View our official preview gallery.