It’s new set time! Yes, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt has released and it’s time to tear through some booster packs like a werewolf opening a bag of pork rinds. Or maybe you want to be sensible and just buy the singles you need? Well, if you wanna know the best cards from the set so you can just buy those, then you’ve come to the right place, because this is my Midnight Hunt set review for Commander. Let’s feast.
We’ll start out by looking at the goodies in white. And we’ll kick things off by looking at two amazing removal spells.
Vanquish the Horde is easily, I’d argue, in the top 5 board wipes of all time. If you’re just looking to wipe out creatures, there’s not much better than this, aside from
Blasphemous Act. Nearly every time you cast this it will only cost you 2 mana. That’s about as efficient as it gets. Then we’ve got
Fateful Absence, sure to be another format all-star. One more mana than
Path to Exile or
Swords to Plowshares, but still going to be worth running.
For even more removal, you can run
Cathar Commando. Sure, you could just run a
Disenchant and spare yourself a mana, but this has the bonus of having a body that can block an incoming attack, then be sacrificed before damage to take out a pesky permanent. Or if you’re looking to slow down a powerful commander,
Curse of Silence is your champ. It only costs one mana, but effectively can get you two extra turns without a dangerous commander on the board. Then once they do cast the named card, you get to draw. This can be especially good for all of you
Ghen, Arcanum Weaver players.
This set also gives us a new take on
Angel of Grace, but without the surprise.
Enduring Angel resets your life to 3 if it would go below zero, then transforms into Angelic Enforcer, which doubles your life total whenever it attacks. Doesn’t do anything to save you from alternate win cons or commander damage, though.
Last, let’s talk about white’s only legend,
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar. For three mana, you get an x/4, where x is equal to the number of creatures you control. Then when you attack you get a 1/1 human tapped and attacking for each opponent. I personally would rather spend the extra three mana and run
Silverwing Squadron, but that one can’t go in the command zone.
In blue we’ve got some really sweet card advantage commons with
Otherworldly Gaze. Both are going to be a great way to start the game, especially if you’re looking to fill up your graveyard.
Otherworldly Gaze gives you some icing on the cake with its Flashback ability.
Octavia, Living Thesis is doing that creepy smiling Jack Nicholson gif right now.
Does blue need more alternate win conditions? Of course!
Thassa’s Oracle is soooo last year. In comes
Triskaidekaphile (no, autocorrect, cut it out). This is a human wizard that lets you win the game at the beginning of your upkeep if you have exactly thirteen cards in hand. You can also pay 4 to draw a card. Much easier to deal with than
Laboratory Maniac or
Thassa’s Oracle because of the upkeep trigger, but still, getting to thirteen cards in hand is a piece of cake if you put a little effort into it.
Sludge Monster gives us an upgrade on
Frost Titan. Whenever
Sludge Monster enters or attacks, you put a slime counter on another creature. As long as that creature isn’t a horror, it loses all abilities and becomes a 2/2. Blink decks are gonna have a hella good time with this one.
Malevolent Hermit does a pretty good impression of
Glen Elendra Archmage on its living side. And it shows off a new mechanic with Disturb, which is an absolute flavor win for the set. You can cast the creature from the graveyard for its Disturb cost, and it comes back flipped into a spirit. The Benevolent Geist side prevents all of your noncreature spells from being countered.
Speaking of things not being countered, let's talk about blue’s legendary creature, because it’s a doozy.
Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is a human wizard that stops all spells from being countered. Not just noncreature spells. Not just your spells. All spells. No more counterspells. And as the person who built the deck, you’ll be the only one ready to get around this ability, with spells like
Ashiok’s Erasure to get around the no counters ability. But that’s not all Lier does! They also give all instants and sorceries in your graveyard Flashback. This card is so strong, and will probably find a home in many spellslinger decks.
Last, let’s give some love to the
Poppet Stitcher that I highlighted in my last deck tech. This guy gives you a zombie token with Decayed whenever you cast an instant or sorcery. Decayed is a new ability mechanic that says the creature can’t block and you have to sacrifice it at the end of combat if it attacks. It feels like a big drawback ability, but Poppet Stitcher has a way around that. Flip him over to Poppet Factory, and your tokens will all get a little bigger and lose Decayed. Now you won’t lose ‘em after attacking! And the really nice thing about this card is that you get to choose at each of your upkeeps if you want to flip it.
Like white, black is really excelling with removal in this set. And that’s plain to see with what is probably my favorite card in this set,
The Meathook Massacre. This card does everything. It slices. It dices. It hangs severed hands in the foreground. It’s an enchantment with x in its cost and when it enters all creatures get -x/-x until end of turn. Then whenever a creature you control dies each opponent loses a life, and whenever your opponents’ creatures die, you gain a life. This card is just unbelievably versatile. It can be as big of a board wipe as you want it to be, or none at all. Cast it for two if all you want is the ongoing effect. A spectacularly well designed card. But let’s not forget black’s other great removal card!
Infernal Grasp costs only two mana and destroys any creature. At uncommon! Sure, you lose two life. But that’s not a big deal when you start with 40. Or if we wanna go even cheaper, we can go with
Eaten Alive. For the cost of one black mana and sacrificing a creature, or paying 4 extra mana, you can exile a creature or planeswalker. EXILE. It’s not for every deck, but for ones that like to sacrifice creatures, this is huge.
If you’re looking for a good creature to sacrifice, look no further than
Vengeful Strangler. When this guy dies he turns into a pair of severed hands looking for vengeance! The dead strangler comes back as an aura enchanting a creature or planeswalker that forces that permanent’s controller to sacrifice a nonland permanent and lose a life each turn. Or maybe you’d like to kill your opponents with a dog. How about a demon dog?
Dreadhound comes in huge with a 6/6 body for 6 mana. And whenever a creature dies or is put into a graveyard from anywhere, each opponent loses a life. No, it’s not as good as
Syr Konrad, the Grim. But... it’s a dog. Come on.
Let’s not forget black’s other 6/6 for 6. It’s
Lord of the Forsaken. Somehow not legendary, this demon has flying and trample, mills a player 3 cards when you pay a black and sac a creature, and gives you colorless mana to spend on spells from the graveyard. Pretty decent.
Blood Pact gives us a
Sign in Blood at instant speed for one mana more. That extra mana will turn some people off, but having instant speed card draw can’t be dismissed. Not to mention that you can target any player with this. Plenty of decks want other players to draw.
Nekusar, the Mindrazer says hello, friend.
As if black didn’t have enough goodies, it also has two commanders worth looking at.
Gisa, Glorious Resurrector is a great card with fantastic art. She exiles your opponents’ creatures when they die, and at the beginning of your upkeep you can put those exiled creatures onto the battlefield under your control with Decayed. So you’ll get one attack out of them and then they’ll go back to their owners’ graveyards. It’s more like borrowing than stealing. And then there’s
Jerren, Corrupted Bishop. Whenever one of your nontoken creatures dies, you lose a life and make a human token. You can also pay 2 mana to give a human Lifelink. And, this is the important part, at the beginning of your end step, if your life total is exactly 13, you can pay six mana and Jerren flips over to Ormendahl, the Corruptor. It’s a 6/6 demon with flying, trample, and lifelink, and it lets you sacrifice a creature to draw a card. You have to really jump through some hoops, but the payoff is pretty spectacular if you’re committed to getting there.
Sorry to say it, but mono-red really got hosed in this set. Not much to talk about here.
Moonveil Regent will see some fringe play, with commanders like
Rielle, the Everwise.
Bloodthirsty Adversary gets you some spells back, but very inefficiently.
Cathartic Pyre is a solid modular spell, taking out a smaller threat or letting you see some more cards.
Ardent Elementalist is red’s answer to
Archaeomancer and is arguably better. And we also get a serious upgrade for
Lunar Frenzy. That first strike and trample addition is huge, and potentially game-ending.
Last, let’s talk about the card that I think could be the sleeper hit of the set. It’s
Curse of Shaken Faith (I’ll lovingly refer to it as Shake N’ Bake). The player that gets this curse takes two damage for each spell they cast beyond the first each turn and for every spell they copy. Just take a moment to think about how many decks wouldn't be able to “go off” because of this curse. I’ll gladly pick up a bunch of copies of this one.
Let’s just get this out of the way.
Wrenn and Seven is extremely powerful. It’s a graveyard filler with its plus one. And it has a zero ability of putting any number of land cards from your hand into play tapped. So go fetch a ton of lands with
Nylea’s Intervention and then drop them for free with Wrenn and Seven. Amazingly, its minus abilities pale in comparison, but lands matter decks, like
Lord Windgrace, will really be needing this one yesterday.
If that wasn’t good enough for you, how about an upgraded
Courser of Kruphix?
Augur of Autumn has that same casting cost and lets you play lands off the top of your library. But with Augur, that card isn’t revealed. Pretty significant when you’re not wanting to telegraph your plans. And if you’ve got Coven, another new mechanic, then you get to also cast creatures from the top of your deck. To achieve Coven, you have to have three or more creatures with different powers. Not a difficult requirement in Commander.
We’ve got an update on
Dryad’s Revival, a slightly more expensive Regrowth, but with a significant Flashback addition. If blinking creatures is your thing, stick with
Eternal Witness. But if you’re slinging spells, this might be better for you.
Unnatural Growth is going to find a home in so many decks. Its casting cost makes it less appealing in decks with more than two colors, but I imagine all the mono-green stompy players out there are already figuring out what to cut for this card. And please note, it does say each combat. Not just yours.
Tovolar’s Huntmaster gives you a wolf on entry, but when it becomes Night, it flips into a
Grave Titan with a repeatable fight ability. And since we’re here, let me take a moment to explain Daybound and Nightbound. It’s similar to the transform ability on the original flip creatures from Innistrad, in that it’s tied to how many spells are cast. But with this update, it becomes a global mechanic that affects all creatures that care about whether it’s Day or Night. Like the Monarchy, this mechanic sticks around until the end of the game once it’s started.
Green has one legend.
Saryth, the Viper’s Fang is a bit of a head scratcher. Your tapped creatures have Deathtouch and your untapped creatures have Hexproof. You can also tap her and one mana to untap a creature or land you control. So you go to attacks, and your creatures that tap will gain Deathtouch. Very relevant for tramplers, due to the interaction with Deathtouch and Trample abilities. Creatures with Vigilance will be protected throughout the game for as long as you control Saryth. Not really sure what you do with all of this, but I’m intrigued.
There’s a lot of great multi-colored cards in this set. So let’s start by talking about the ones that can lead your deck. First up is the only commander to showcase the Disturb mechanic,
Dennick, Pious Apprentice. On the front side, Dennick makes it so cards in graveyards can’t be the target of spells or abilities. This is frequently relevant, but not enough to run in the command zone. On the back side, Dennick, Pious Apparition lets you Investigate whenever one or more creature cards are put into graveyards. Unfortunately it has the stipulation that this only triggers once per turn. Based on seeing that rule in cards from this set and Forgotten Realms, I think we’ll be seeing it more often as a way to tamp down combos. Sadly, it also makes this commander a dud.
Florian, Voldaren Scion is a vampire noble with First Strike, and at the beginning of your postcombat main phase you can look at the top x cards of your library, where x is the amount of life your opponents have lost that turn, and exile one of the cards to play that turn. If you watched the most recent Game Knights, you saw that Florian works really well with
Dragon’s Approach. I think Florian is really strong, but fair. The card advantage he provides is awesome, allowing you to dig for the best cards. The trick is to find the best ways to make your opponents lose as much life as possible so you can see the most cards. Then maybe copy the trigger for extra benefit, with cards like
Strionic Resonator or
We have two green and white legends that care about humans, with
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime and
Sigarda, Champion of Light. Surprisingly, Katilda is the more interesting of the two because of the ability to turn all humans into mana dorks. It can be really easy to drop a ton of little humans, even tokens will do the trick, and bust out some huge spells by turn 5 or 6. The protection and
Gavony Township abilities seem unnecessary, although if you’ve got enough humans to tap, I guess the six mana won’t matter. Especially if you’re running a
Liesa, Forgotten Archangel fills two needs: creating a graveyard recursion engine, and stopping your opponents from doing the same. Kind of a “Do as I say, don’t do as I do” commander. I dig her, but not as much as her previous iteration from Commander Legends.
Ludevic, Necrogenius does something that I’m usually not a fan of: exiling creatures from your graveyard. I mean, what if I want them back? But what he can do with those exiled creatures is pretty sweet. So you pay x, two blue and two black, and exile x creature cards from your graveyard as Ludevic transforms into Olag, Ludevic’s Hubris. Then it becomes a copy of one of the exiled creatures, with a few important stipulations. It’s one of those commanders that you really need to chew on for a while. It’s a challenging commander, no doubt. But sometimes the challenging decks are the most rewarding. I plan to take a crack at this guy when I get a chance.
Old Stickfingers is going to be huge for decks that want to combo off by throwing specific creatures in the graveyard and reanimating them. So if x equals three, and you only have three very specific and important creatures in your deck, then this commander is basically just an incredibly powerful tutor. This is going to see a ton of play in the more competitive circles.
Blasphemous Act and
Starstorm without hurting your own creatures sounds like a nifty idea, then
Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer is the commander for you. Fill up your board with aggro creatures and keep wiping out your opponents’ creatures with damage spells so they can’t block. Sounds like a good time. Unless you’re one of those silly people who frown upon combat (hippies!)
Slogurk, the Overslime takes a Simic commander and gives it some of Golgari’s tools. Here we have a commander that, like
The Gitrog Monster, wants you cycling lands back and forth from your graveyard for profit. So what do we do with that? Well, Landfall is the obvious, and kinda boring, answer. Fill the deck with fetch lands and ways to sacrifice lands. I mean, this thing actually makes
Arcane Spyglass playable, so you gotta respect that. Also,
Titania, Protector of Argoth is pretty cheap now. This is another one I plan to brew.
Then we have one of my favorite commanders in the set,
Vadrik, Astral Archmage. With Vadrik, your instants and sorceries cost less generic mana equal to his power. So just to start you’ve got a
Goblin Electromancer. But he only gets better. Despite not being a werewolf, Vadrik pays attention to Day and Night, and as it flips back and forth, he gets a +1/+1 counter. But don’t rely on that to make your spells cheaper. Rely on cheap spells like
Brute Force. Or equip him with a
Runechanter’s Pike. I’m thrilled with this commander, and I think spellslinger decks are gonna love him, both as the commander and in the 99.
Lastly, let’s talk about the commander that people have been clamoring for for years. Yes, we finally have a good werewolf commander! It’s
Tovolar, Dire Overlord. On both sides, Tovolar draws you a card whenever one of your wolves or werewolves deal combat damage to an opponent. And the best part is that on each of your upkeeps you can choose to flip your werewolves over to their more powerful sides. And that’s not all. He’s also got a repeatable
Kessig Wolf Run ability on his Night side. So now that the people have gotten the good legendary werewolf they’ve always wanted, can I finally get my 5-color legendary Myr? Please?
Other Multi-Colored Cards
We’re not done! Still plenty of cards to talk about. Let’s look at some more multi-colored cards, starting with the other two planeswalkers in the set.
First we’ll look at
Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope. This planewalker is two-sided, and bound to the Day/Night mechanic. On her front, she gives you the ability to cast creatures at instant speed with additional +1/+1 counters, or make two wolves. Then on her Night side, she can give you a red and a green mana or turn into an indestructible 5/5. To be honest, I’m not terribly impressed with this card for Commander. She does a lot, sure, but her most relevant ability is on her Night side, and you can’t really control when she’ll be at Night unless you’re running Tovolar. And to be honest, I’m not sure I’d run this outside of a Tovolar deck.
But let’s slow things down a bit. Here we have
Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset. So, I don’t know about you, but I feel like overpowered Teferi cards are starting to feel like a broken record at this point. This one can ultimate the turn you play it if you have
Doubling Season, as many people were quick to point out. And the emblem gives you a permanent
Seedborn Muse effect, as well as drawing you a card on each opponent’s turn. If you’re not running Doubling Season with this, it seems almost fair. Almost. There’s a lot you can do with this plus 1. Including untapping your mana rocks. He strong.
Onto the rest of the multi-colored cards. We’ll start with the only card that has ever made me consider trying cosplay, and that’s
Fleshtaker. No, that’s not a minotaur. It’s a human wearing a bull head. Standing in a corn field with a cleaver. It’s the kind of card flavor you can actually taste. And it’s also a good card! Whenever you sacrifice another creature, you get to gain a life and Scry 1. You can also pay 1 and sac a creature to make Fleshtaker bigger. This dude rocks, and Kev Walker is a hero.
Diregraf Rebirth is one of the best recursion spells ever. And it’s an uncommon! It costs 1 less for each creature that died this turn, and you return a creature from your yard to the battlefield. Oh, and it also has Flashback. Keep in mind, that Flashback cost will also be reduced. So if you just wiped the board, you can pay just 4 measly mana to get back two creatures. It’s absolutely stellar.
Galvanic Iteration doesn’t feel like anything new, copying an instant or sorcery. But I want to talk about how incredibly efficient it is. Just... wow. Having Flashback for just 3 mana makes the card so strong. And if you’re overflowing with mana, you can cast Galvanic Iteration, cast it again for Flashback, which will copy the first Iteration, so your next spell will be copied twice, then cast your game winning spell. I can’t believe this card is under $.50. What a steal.
The last multi-colored card I want to talk about from this set is
Siphon Insight. For two mana, you can look at the top two cards of an opponent’s library, exile one of them, then cast it whenever you want. And it has Flashback, so you can do it again! Why I like this card so much is because of what it wrecks: top of deck tutors.
Worldly Tutor, and
Vampiric Tutor all get hosed by this card. Or play it after a
Grasp of Phantoms to get access to the best creature on the board. So much value in this card. But I wouldn’t play it without knowing that they have something good on top.
Now it’s time to play with the toys and trinkets in the set. First up is
The Celestus. It’s a 3-mana rock, and it lets you flip Day and Night for three mana. Could be relevant with werewolves or Vadrik.
Moonsilver Key the “Instant Classic” status, as I think this is going to see a ton of play. For just three mana, 2 to cast and 1 to sac, you can search up a basic or any artifact that provides mana. So go grab that
Basalt Monolith for your infinite combo, or snatch that
Strixhaven Stadium if you’re moving in with an army.
Crowded Crypt taps for a black, and whenever a creature you control dies you put a corpse counter on it. Then later you can sacrifice it and pay six mana to get 2/2 Decayed zombies for each corpse counter. Could be fantastic in the late game after a board wipe.
Finally, we have our lands. We’ve got the start of a new cycle of dual lands here. There are five, including
Deserted Beach and
Haunted Ridge, and they enter tapped unless you control two or more other lands. These are extremely good. Maybe they’re not as good on turns one and two, but just save them for turn three. And if you didn’t keep a three-land hand to start, well you’ve got other problems, buddy. These are going to see a lot of play, and I’ll be picking several up for myself.
And the last card we’ll look at is
Hostile Hostel. This card is cute and all. But it's really not good. Getting it to flip is a huge chore, and probably not worth it. Hard pass.
That’s it for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. But don’t despair, we’ve got a whole ‘nother Innistrad set coming again in just two months. The new cards never stop!
So what do I think of the set as a whole? Truthfully, this set is just not for me. This is the least excited I’ve been for preview season since Zendikar Rising. I think the biggest problem with the set is that the mechanics, while being home runs flavor-wise, are undercooked from a play standpoint. Disturb only has 16 cards, with only a couple of them really being playable. Decayed makes creatures weaker, without a bonus to offset that weakness, and there are only 15 of those in the main set. And Coven is easy to pull off in Commander, but the payoff for each card is so meh, with, again, only 16 cards. Compare this to Mutate in Ikoria, which had 34 cards in the main set, including 5 solid commanders, plus a whole Commander deck devoted to it. With so few good cards to support each of these mechanics, they’re likely to be forgotten.
The set has several powerful cards that are sure to become staples in Commander, like
Augur of Autumn,
The Meathook Massacre, and the new dual lands. But the set doesn’t feel cohesive from a play perspective. At least not in Commander. And... what happened to red? Where are the good red cards? Red has been killing it lately with cards like
Underworld Breach and
Jeska’s Will. It feels like it got left behind in this set, unless you care about werewolves. Which most Commander players won’t.
While we did get a bunch of new commanders to sink our teeth into, I feel like Midnight Hunt just isn’t for me. And you know what? That’s okay. Because it is for other people. I know some people will love this set, and I’m very happy for them. And my wallet is happy to not have to buy a ton of cards. I really can’t complain either. I got three sets in a row, Commander Legends, Kaldheim, and Strixhaven, that were all just amazing and spoke to me. So I’m cool with sitting back for a few sets and letting other people find their new favorite cards. I got a new Kamigawa set and another Commander Legends coming next year. So I’m good with not being in love with this.
That’s it! My review of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. What did you think? Hit me up on Twitter at @AndyZupke and let me know. You can also catch me streaming budget EDH every Sunday at 7:30PM Central with Scrap Trawlers at twitch.tv/scraptrawlers. Check back in two weeks to talk more Midnight Hunt. And until then, take care. And play lots of games!