With Innistrad: Crimson Vow now released on Arena, and with the prerelease in the rearview mirror, people are starting to come to some conclusions about the set. The Limited environment and its impact on Standard are starting to be explored, and so far it has been a great experience. With many interesting limited archetypes and useful cards for constructed, I have started to pick up on a number of combos and synergies between cards from the set. This week I’ll be exploring the happy marriages of this wedding-themed set; pairs of Crimson Vow cards that work great when put together. 

Dormant Grove + Cloaked Cadet

These two uncommons from Crimson Vow are each powerful in their own right, but when combined they can provide a convenient extra card every turn. Dormant Grove flips if it puts a counter on a creature with toughness six or greater which means it can only put two counters on Cloaked Cadet before flipping. However if you want to keep drawing cards you can just put the counters from Dormant Grove on any other human you control, and Cloaked Cadet will still trigger. The best part of this combo is that both cards fit perfectly into the same GW Counters archetype in draft. However, if you’re not drafting a counters deck both cards can still elevate each other, regardless of their surroundings. 


Estwald Shieldbasher + Gryff Rider

These two common white creatures make another power couple in Crimson Vow limited. Since Estwald Shieldbasher can attack into anything and Gryff Rider can usually fly in unblocked, these two attackers can repeatedly swing in together and trigger Gryff Rider’s training ability. After two attacks the Gryff Rider will be a fearsome 4/3 flyer. This coupling isn’t just a scary offence, it’s also a fun marriage to picture, with the Shieldbasher training the Rider who watches their partner from above.


Ancient Lumberknot + Unhallowed Phalanx

While they may not be the prettiest couple, these two pack quite the punch in Limited. Neither card is particularly good on its own, but the combination of the two can easily end games in Limited. The fact that they curve into each other so nicely helps too; if this is your four-drop and five-drop then you’re in a good spot. 


Olivia, Crimson Bride + Drana, the Last Bloodchief

Next up we have a pairing that looks great for Brawl (in Historic or Standard)! If you’re playing a deck with the ability to get Drana and another powerful creature into the graveyard by turn six then Olivia can wreak havoc with just one attack. Just play Olivia, attack, bring Drana from the graveyard to the battlefield, and then use Drana’s ability to bring another creature back. Although Edgar, Charmed Groom may not approve, this is a match made in heaven and could put an end to many games of Brawl. The best part is that Drana is a legendary vampire herself, meaning she won’t die if Olivia leaves the battlefield.


Undying Malice + Fell Stinger

Undying Malice works quite well with all the Exploit creatures in the set, but this particular pairing provides the most efficiency and is easy to pull off. Exploit creatures can sacrifice themselves to get the exploit effect, and Undying Malice can be cast on an exploit creature when it enters the battlefield and then bring it back when it is sacrificed. In this instance this will provide you with four cards (or it can deal four damage to an opponent if they are almost dead). As well, the Fell Stinger will get a +1/+1 counter when it returns. A 4/3 deathtouch creature that draws four cards and costs four life is quite good, especially at the cost of just four mana and two cards.


Hopeful Initiate + Luminarch Aspirant

Lastly I have a pairing that is sure to be great in Standard. The one-drop Initiate and two-drop Aspirant have the capability to get very big together, and can win games without the need for more expensive creatures. Since Luminarch Aspirant can continually grow it can also continually put counters on Hopeful Initiate, and unless the opponent has removal the two of them will simply get out of control. This opening will be the most feared first two turns in all of Standard, so get ready to face it often. 


This set has been a blast to play so far, and the games have been quite interesting in both Limited and Constructed. It has been fun to come across all these little happy marriages, and I have been fully enamoured by the wedding theme of Crimson Vow. It’s very original for a Magic set and they have really committed to the bit; opening a wedding invitation in my prerelease kit was a great surprise! I hope you have been having as much fun with the set so far, and feel free to let me know of any other great combos you’ve discovered.

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