Sink Your Teeth into the Booster Fun of Innistrad: Crimson Vow

Posted in Feature on October 28, 2021

By Clayton Kroh

Clay is a content strategist, writer, and editor. He's a content editor and writer for DailyMTG, and has contributed creative work for Magic: The Gathering sets. On the side, he writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Who doesn't love a wedding? Where your chalice is full of warm blood, and the hearts of the beautiful servants who keep it that way beat with delicious life—at least until your plus-one becomes peckish. And the finery! The bride's gown is exquisite, the material positively ephemeral, as if woven from immortal souls! (Is . . . is that a face swimming in the train?)

This is an Innistrad wedding, so you can count on it being a wicked-fun affair—emphasis on the wicked. Of course, with a set called Innistrad: Crimson Vow, you know the Booster Fun team will celebrate that wicked fun in all its dark glory.

Bringing the Booster Fun

Work on Booster Fun involves a lot of talented people to make the treatments happen in each new set, some of whom you've been introduced to in the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Booster Fun article. Innistrad: Crimson Vow picks up where Innistrad: Midnight Hunt left off; so many of the same folks have worked on both, keeping the feel consistent between the two sets.

"Initially we worked on both at the same time," said Creative Manager Tom Jenkot, "mostly for the concepts." This initial work on card treatments included UX Designer Daniel Holt, Senior Graphic Designer James Arnold, and Art Director Crystal Chang. "After we had the concepts solid, we did separate them out for development, refinement, and art commissioning."

The Booster Fun team watched vampire movies and looked at the representations of vampires in popular culture, but they had an amazing resource working in-house. "Most of the inspiration for the Booster Fun card treatments came from the amazing work of Art Director Taylor Ingvarsson and the concept artists he brought in to image this visit to Innistrad. That was the last concept push before the pandemic forced us to work from home, and we left the office after having worked right by a wall with hundreds of drawings of the coolest of ideas for this vampire wedding—enough inspiration for all the Booster Fun card treatments!"

Showcase Eternal Night Continues

The showcase eternal night card treatment with its classic black-and-white pulp-horror-inspired style bleeds into Innistrad: Crimson Vow from the preceding set, continuing for both legendary creatures and full-art basic lands.

PlainsPlains

IslandIsland

SwampSwamp

MountainMountain

ForestForest

Traditional foil eternal night Swamp

"We thought it was a nice touch to have a common thread tying the two sets together," said Tom. "And they look so cool, we wanted more! Crystal Chang art directed all the art for these cards, just as she did for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. So many of the same artists returned to lend a hand and few new ones brought their A-game."

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben eternal night treatment

Traditional foil Thalia, Guardian of Thraben eternal night treatment

Borderless and Extended-Art Treatments

As always, both borderless and extended-art treatments can be found in Innistrad: Crimson Vow. You'll find borderless art treatments on rare dual lands and planeswalkers.

Stormcarved Coast borderless dual land cardSorin the Mirthless borderless planeswalker card

Select rare and mythic rare cards also get to spread beyond their usual frames with extended-art treatment.

Voldaren Estate extended-art card

Traditional foil extended-art Voldaren Estate

Showcase Fang Frames: All the Pretty Vampires

Exclusive to Vampires in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, the new showcase fang frame card treatments bring a refined elegance that offers an aesthetic counterpoint to the wilder, rawer Innistrad: Midnight Hunt equinox frames. "The amazing hand-drawn quality of the harvest-themed equinox card was perfect for treatments in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt," said Tom, "while the more traditionally rendered fang card treatment speaks more to a gothic architecture—and, of course, fangs."

Voldaren Bloodcaster
Bloodbat Summoner

Creative Production Manager Chrissy Wiley agreed. "Both Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow really raised the bar for how we thought about Booster Fun frames," she said. "The showcase card treatment is a great example of how we're really leaning into the details of the worlds to create beautiful frame designs."

The frames started with a commission from artist Alix Branwyn. "She's worked on a bunch of frames for us—some released and some not," said Tom. "She gave us half a dozen concepts that were all very strong (as well as fangy). The one we selected was refined in-house by James Arnold and made into all the colors we needed."

That contrasting aesthetic also fit with the unfolding story of Olivia Voldaren and her vampire wedding for the ages. "[The showcase fang treatments] are ornate, gothic, and a perfect container for a vampire wedding setting. We were going for a romantic/romance novel type of look—soft focus, dramatic light, and lots of pretty vampires. Of note we commissioned a Sorin piece from famed Castlevania artist Ayami Kojima that turned out amazing."

Sorin the Mirthless with showcase fang frame and art by Ayami Kojima

The vampires of Innistrad have another dark gift besides the bloody one; they really know how to dress for a party. "The fashion on the vampires is impeccable," said Tom. "Gorgeous on so, so many pretty vampires—they're all so pretty, right?"

Olivia, Crimson Bride with showcase fang frame

Traditional foil fang frame Olivia

"The most fashionable thing besides the vampire attire is the gothic structures they live in," said Tom. "We knew early on we wanted this to be a major inspiration for the card treatment here. I just had no idea Alix and James would kill it so hard."

Dracula Drops In

"My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side."

— Count Dracula, chapter 23, Dracula by Bram Stoker

You cannot throw a swanky vampire event and not invite the vampire. After all, he might get cross, and you know how he feels about those. So, Innistrad: Crimson Vow has rolled out the blood-red carpet for literature's most iconic hematophagous horror, Count Dracula himself.

Voldaren Bloodcaster
Bloodbat Summoner

But there are a lot of "Draculas" out there in movies, comics, plays, television, books—seriously, the guy gets around. In each one, the infamous count is represented a little differently. For Innistrad: Crimson Vow's Booster Fun treatments, the team went back to the source: Dracula by Bram Stoker.

"The only inspiration we used was the book," said Tom. "In fact, we carefully avoided overlapping with any other representation from comics, movies, TV, and others. That was their thing, and we wanted to stay true to the book."

Sticking to the original novel's depiction of Dracula did present challenges, however. "There are not a lot of instances that describe the characters in detail," said Tom. What's more, as the novel progresses, Count Dracula seems to become younger as he feeds, changing in appearance. "Doug Beyer wrote all the art descriptions for the Dracula series cards, really scouring the text for clues we could provide the artists."

Sorin the Mirthless with Dracula treatment

Dracula didn't come alone but brought along an entourage of well-known characters, locations, and objects—18 cards in total (be sure to check out Mike Turian's article, Collecting Innistrad: Crimson Vow, to find out how you can get your hands on these)—that bring Transylvania and Innistrad together. "Atmosphere did a lot of the work here. The silent and confident power of Dracula was a big part of it, too. There are a lot of words to work with that helped hone the approach and concepts."

Finding the artists to create that atmosphere and render those characters for this treatment was for Tom, well, a treat. "The artist selection was so fun. I literally typed 'vampire' into our card database, pored through hundreds of images, picked my favorite classic vampire images, and reached out to those artists. Each artist was so thrilled to have been picked, more than I even expected. They were floored to be working on Dracula—and inside Magic!? Crazy. The results show that enthusiasm."

Olivia, Crimson Bride with Dracula treatment


Now that you've had a glimpse of the Booster Fun treatments to come in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, hop over to Harless Snyder's Product Overview to get the complete picture of the set, and then study Mike Turian's Collecting Innistrad: Crimson Vow article to learn how and where you'll find it all!

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