Magic: the Gathering welcomes its newest expansion, Innistrad: Scarlet Engagement. After his foray into Dungeons & Dragons and with many other collaborations with video games on the way, we ventured into the new Wizards of the Coast cartoons to talk about its artistic section, references in popular culture and some of the most striking cards that we have. found playing.
Let’s see, it is clear that card games and video games are different media. Zero doubts about it. But with the same sincerity we can say that Magic: the Gathering It has a very close relationship with the environment that concerns us. It suits me that if you like to collect monsters, read the background of a fantasy universe and study strategies or synergies; Well, the same thing you are fond of cardboards as you are of consoles. So I am not surprised by the fact that lately MTG has become so integrated into the popular culture. And is that if during the Magic Showcase 2021 we saw those collaborations with Fortnite and Street Fighter so curious, the new wave of Innistrad content has the spirit of Castlevania. His art, too.
We are talking about Crimson Vow, the expansion that has been active in stores for a few days. I had the opportunity to see some of the new letters with colleague Toni Piedrabuena during an ElStream program, where we commented among other things that the artist Ayami Kojima —The direct culprit that you have a crush with Alucard – had collaborated with distributor Wizards of the Coast to imagine Sorin Markov, here interpreted as “Sorin the Lifeless”, the vampiric planeswalker who attends the wedding between Edgar Markov and Olivia Voldaren as part of the narrative background of this content.
There is no reason to hide the inspirations of everything here. The Sorin card, which allows you to create 2/3 vampire tokens with flying and vital bond or to deal 13 points of direct damage, has three different versions: the original is signed by the Slovak artist Martina Facková and there is also a payment of the Polish Justyna Dura. But it is Kojima’s that excites the most painted. Has that elegant and delicate beauty, cold, almost sideways; as well as that red and white sensuality that comes from the roses around her, and even in the folds of her clothes. It is an unmistakable artistic style.
We have seen it in the Castlevania saga, also in Koji Igarashi’s spiritual successor Bloodstained; But as much as it hurts, we can’t dedicate all the space to just one letter, no. That duality between Sorin and Alucard is just the tip of the iceberg. If you like the vampire themeYou will be pleased to know that there are also card skins inspired directly by Bram Stoker’s original novel. For example, the Voldaren Estate card (Voldaren State) has an alternate version which is the Dracula’s castle. In the same way, Mina and Quincy Harker, Abraham Van Helsing or Count Dracula himself also make an appearance, even if it is through other cards in the expansion.
I firmly believe that those 17 skins with full art that extends to the edges of the cardboard are, along with the aforementioned collaboration with Ayami Kojima, the best that Scarlet Commitment has on an artistic level. By far, too, and I say this knowing that there are such suggestive cards out there as Grólnok (who has his own pet in MTGA, by the way) or the legendary Planeswalker Kaya. So yes, this expansion is one with great artistic weight. And more external links. But it is also a super interesting from a mechanical point of view. Of course, the day / night that became so popular with the werewolves of Midnight Hunt is back, as well as the spirits that go into exile when defeated.
The power of vampires
But the most representative of this new content are the blood tokens, which by themselves have a very simple operation: you pay a mana cost, turn the vial, discard a card and draw a new card. By itself, this already fits very well with decks based on the cemetery —If I have learned something playing with Toni, it is that the cemetery is played now much more than in my younger days— or in those who take advantage of the madness mechanics; but my favorite use is the one that comes with the Voldaren’s Blood Conjurer. It is a card that creates blood tokens as other creatures die, and when you accumulate five it transforms into the Blood Bat Summoner, which in turn turns the vials into 2/2 bats with flying and haste.
Not bad right? The black cards are perhaps the big winners of the expansion for things like that, but if you have lands or some other resource to create multicolored mana you can also add to your deck “Edgar, enchanted boyfriend” that in exchange for a simple white mana contributes a + 1 / + 1 to all your vampires and once dead, it simply becomes a coffin with a lineage counter that will come back to life to continue empowering your creatures. The other colors, as I said above, are not bad, either: we have a few spirits of interest, plus many other vampires with white or red colors; and lycanthropes in case you weren’t happy a couple of months ago.
On the other hand, gurus are seeing the appeal of the mechanical “trim” which allows the user to pay an alternative invocation cost (more expensive than the original) in exchange for removing the bracketed text from the effect. The point is that this not only gives the cards versatility, but in some cases allows them to come up with absurdly drastic plays. For example, for a single blue mana you can go down to the “Deliver to the Sea” table that counters spells that have not been cast from the opponent’s player’s hand. But in exchange for two blue mana and one colorless one, you can counter any enemy spell. If you’re seeing so much it’s because there’s basically no reason not to want it in your deck.
Then we have a much more drastic case, which is that of the “alchemist’s tactic.” I estimate that the chances of seeing it active are almost nil, but watch what it does: for two red mana and one colorless one, you have a spell that it gives you an additional shift for you where combat damage cannot be prevented. That is your last resort, be careful, because if you do not win in that fight, you lose the game. For one red, two blue and four colorless mana (a very expensive cost for a beastly effect) you cut the part that says you lose the game. Essentially an extra shift. Crazy, right? There aren’t many new red cards in Scarlet Engagement, but the ones that are there are that good.
Great creatures of other colors
The letter “Palaciegas de Olivia” he is a 6/6 vampire who can deal 1 point of targeted damage in exchange for two colorless mana and one red mana, as well as converting all damage done into blood tokens. Knowing that the latter are also focused on burning letters, the subject is done. It is curious that being red it has such a high summoning cost (four colorless and two red) but it is not even the only one in that position. For exactly the same cost you have the “Incendiary Spawn”, a 6/4 that deals 3 damage on death; And it’s also worth paying high for the “Magma Piercer” a 0/0 that carries as many + 1 / + 1 counters as the optional colorless mana you pay for it. When he is dealt damage, he detaches those counters and transforms them into damage to direct (watchful) any target.
Who was going to tell us! I’m glad to see so many incentives to mix black with red and lower creatures to the table. Of the green decks that’s expected, too, although in this case we go from vampires to wolves and (drum roll) lycanthropes. It is true that the mechanics of night and day did not like everyone, but if you are determined to take advantage of it, you have a creature that is a joy and is called “Avabruck Caretaker”, a antimalfication which puts two + 1 / + 1 counters on another creature upon entering and when it transforms into the “Huntmaster of Hollowhenge” at nightfall it goes from a 4/4 to a 6/6 that has hexproof and carries that same effect to all permanents you control. As if that wasn’t cool in and of itself, it also gives your creatures + 1 / + 1 in each combat phase of yours.
Is it mandatory to put it in your deck? Yes, it is, ball point. There are two other letters that I really liked from that collection and I wanted to comment before I go. The first is “Ulvenwald Rarity”, a trample and rush 4/4 that is lowered for two green and two colorless mana. It is expensive to transform it into the Behemoth of Ulvenwald (two green and five colorless) but if you can pass hexproof to make it last longer in combat you can turn it into an 8/8 that is overwhelming and in a hurry to all your creatures. The other is very lategame Also: “Cultivating Colossus” gives you for three green and four colorless mana a creature whose power and toughness equal the number of lands in your power.
Scarlet Commitment offers a second visit to Innistrad where the arts have a lot to talk aboutBy itself, it is one of these unplayable fantasies that realistically costs a lot to unfold in most situations. In the hypothetical case that you manage to do so, pay attention: it lets you drop a tapped land from your hand, draw another card, and repeat the process. And overwhelms. Again, I am fully aware that he is not the type of creature you would want to put in any deck – not even the ones above – but I also know that within his field he is one of the best tricks. And so is Scarlet Engagement: a second visit to the Innistrad plane where the artistic is a lot to talk about and in the playable we have a handful of drastic mechanics.
Wizards has been able to put together the latest expansions very well and even when something comes out frog, like those werewolves we saw in September, I think now there are plenty of reasons to want to give them a new chance. For everything else, you have those vampires who star in the story and the blood tokens that go with them.