Magic: The Gathering – New Innistrad: Crimson Vow Mechanics We Know So Far

The new Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is coming in a few weeks, and it is time to whet our appetites for more playable cardboard. The new set, Innistrad: Crimson Vow, continues the journey in the Gothic horror plane of Innistrad, and brings with it some new mechanics that will make for an interesting deckbuilding experience.


Creatures with this new keyword gain a +1/+1 counter whenever they attack with a creature of higher power. For this mechanic to be useful, the player will need to have at least two creatures on board, including the one with the Training keyword. Once the ability triggers, which is the moment they attack, it will resolve. It doesn’t matter if the higher-powered creature is destroyed or de-buffed, the +1/+1 counter will go on the creature with Training at that point. However, the ability will only trigger once every attacking phase, so it doesn’t matter if it attacks alongside 50 other creatures of higher power, it will only get a single +1/+1 counter.

Given the nature of this mechanic, it seems like it’ll be worth looking at for aggro and mid-range decks looking to chip away at the opponent early in the game with multiple creatures on board. Thematically, with card featuring vampires and vampire hunters, it fits the idea of a novice hunter shadowing a more experienced veteran and becoming stronger under their guidance.


Cleave is an interesting keyword. It offers an alternative mana cost that players can use instead to cast the spell. The difference is that when a card is cast via the Cleave mana cost, the text on the card will be tweaked a little bit.

For example, the card “Dig Up”, if cast with its regular mana cost, has the effect of “Search your library for a [basic land] card, [reveal it,] put it into your hand, then shuffle.” However, if cast with the Cleave cost, which adds one colourless and two black mana on top of the regular one green mana, the words in the square brackets will be ignored. This means the caster will search for any card they want from their library and put it into their hand without revealing it.

Cleave can remove undesirable effects from a card and improve effects of certain cards. This essentially breathes new life into cards that could fall off in usefulness after the early game, and makes cards more versatile.


In a set themed around vampire lore, it is only natural that the blood they thirst for becomes a mechanic of some sort.

There are cards in this set that creates Blood Token Artifacts. They are tokens that let the player discard a card and draw a card by paying one mana, tapping the token, and then sacrificing the token. Not only that, some cards synergise with Blood tokens, adding on to the benefits that the tokens will give to the player.

For example, when “Gluttonous Guest” is on the board, whenever a Blood token is sacrificed, the player gains one life. If a player has a board full of Blood tokens or cards that add on the effects of Blood tokens, each token sacrificed could lead to a cascade of effects like a bloody Rude Goldberg machine. This is a mechanic that some people will build decks around just to try it out.

Innistrad: Crimson Vow looks like it’s going to be bloody fun, and we can’t wait to get our hands on some booster packs and unleash some of these creatures of the night.