Magic the Gathering has gone through a few interesting phases over the last year. Even though they haven't all been perfect, its willingness to play into the weird has kept its new sets consistently interesting. This is a hard task given the frequent release schedule and little downtime. Even though this setup is ripe for burnout, I haven't lost interest just yet. We've had the chance to have a couple of weeks playing the latest set, Innistrad Midnight Hunt, and don't feel nearly done with it yet. Here are all our thoughts.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt New Mechanic - Day/Night
Double sided cards aren't exactly a new thing in Magic but it has managed to adopt a creative new way of doing so this time around. Now, to fit that werewolf theming, there's a dedicated day/night mechanic. Some cards have the ability to flip if the conditions are right. Generally, their weaker form is pretty poor for the mana cost but the flip makes it worth it. Essentially, cards come in at day and, if no spells were cast last turn, the game flips to night and all night creatures come out to play. You then turn it back to daytime by playing two spells on your turn. This essentially means you can bait a player into playing all their spells to flip your creatures back over. It adds some extra tactics to each turn, keeping you constantly in fear of what the night can do to your opponents forces.
Although this mechanic won't be staying past this set, it's a perfect choice for a theme like this one. It makes sense in-universe and gives a degree of roleplay to each encounter. Tovolar's Huntmaster is a high mana green card worth checking out for this mechanic. At 6 CMC, you cast a 6/6 human werewolf that creates two 2/2 green wolf creatures tokens when he enters the battlefield. When he transforms, he creates two 2/2s again but also when he attacks. You can pay four green to have a wolf fight a creature you don't control. Both forms are excellent and there's so much versatility to what you can do.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt New Mechanic - Disturb
Disturb is a fascinating new mechanic that lets other colours play around with their graveyard a little more. Once something is sent to the graveyard, you can pay its disturb cost to play it transformed again. More of a blue and white ability, this plays into the spirit creature type. Once their transformed card has been killed, it becomes exiled. This allows you to get a little more value out of your plays and gives you some backup power to bring out when your opponent isn't expecting it. Playing a blue and white deck, you can often trick your opponent into forgetting about all that power in your graveyard, only to bring it out at a crucial moment. It's also a great way of dealing with that pesky night mechanic.
Midnight Hunt is all about that clash between humans and werewolves and the hail mary of spirits is a great way of levelling the playing field. The Chaplain of Alms is a great 1 mana card with disturb. It's a 1/1 with first strike and ward one. When you play him for his disturb cost, he comes back to the battlefield with flying and first strike and gives all your creatures ward. Given you can potentially play him at any time, he's a nice way of rounding out your battlefield.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt New Mechanic - Coven
Good Magic the Gathering mechanics can entirely change the way you think about your hand. They can flip it on its head and change how you act at any moment. Coven is interesting because it's all about spreading power. Essentially, it grants you special abilities (like card draw or trample) if the power of creatures on your side of the table are varied. The Precon green white commander is a great use of this ability. At the start of combat, you get to add a 1/1 counter on any creature you control. Then, if three or more creatures have different powers, you can draw a card. With the right planning, you can guarantee a free card draw every turn, alongside a nice little buff.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt: White
I'm pleasantly surprised by a lot of what white has to offer this time around. The central theming places humans on one side and werewolves on the other so it has to build out a little of what's available. There's some solid removal in the likes of Fateful Absence and a surprisingly cheap board wipe in Vanquish the Horde. Where it shines most is in its multicolored cards. Katilda, Dawnhart Prime gives protection from werewolves, the option to put a 1/1 counter on every creature you control and gives humans the ability to tap for mana. In a human token deck, this could be a great combo. With Midnight Hunt's theming, it's important that white feels viable and it definitely does here.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt: Blue
Blue doesn't feel groundbreaking but it has one of the best creatures in this set. Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is a 5 mana blue legendary creature that has two important abilities. Spells can't be countered and instant and sorcery spells in your graveyard have flashback. Their flashback cost is equal to the card's mana cost. If you're a bit of a spellslinger, this is an excellent choice. If your opponent lacks removal, this can win you the game quickly.
Blue seems to have much better creatures than instants or sorceries this time around, an interesting change. Malevolent Hermit is an excellent choice in any deck, playing into the disturb ability well. For one blue mana and one colourless, you can cast this 2/1 creature. You can then sacrifice him for one mana at any point to counter a noncreature spell unless its controller pays 3. Giving you an incentive to sacrifice him, Malevolent Hermit is at his best when flipped. He becomes a flying creature with the ability "Noncreature spells you control can't be countered". There's a nice synergy to creatures in blue that are surprisingly effective.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt: Black
Black has some incredibly strong cards in this set. Although not every part of it is excellent, its highs are some of the best cards you can find. The Meathook Massacre is a particularly excellent enchantment. Costing 2 black and X of anything else, on ETB, it gives every creature -X/-X until end of turn. From ETB onwards, every time a friendly creature dies, your opponent loses 1 life. Everytime an enemy creature dies, you gain 1. This is an excellent board wipe and a fantastic ability for black. Pair this with some aristocrats and it is especially deadly. Combine this with a sacrifice mill or a nice deadly card to take control of the game.
Luckily, Lord of the Forsaken is both. Costing 4 colourless and two black, he's a flying 6/6 trample creature that can pay one mana to sacrifice a creature. Doing so mills a target for three. As well as all of this, you can pay life for mana that can only be used on creatures from your graveyard. Essentially, you can sacrifice a creature to drain your opponent's life, then get him back from the graveyard again. This is a deadly colour with some impressive synergy.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt: Red
Red works best when tied to werewolves in this set but its best cards add just enough value to justify that day night cycle. Moonrager's Slash is a good representation of this. For 1 red mana and 2 colorless, this instant deals 3 damage to any target. At night, it costs 2 less, essentially operating like bolt - Magic royalty. There is tonnes of burn in red this time, all with a laser focus on that theming. There's also a green/red legendary creature that is necessary for a werewolf deck. Costing 1 red, 1 green and 1 colorless, Tovolar, Dire Overlord allows you to draw cards and only gets better when more werewolves are out. Red is fast and deadly - just as it should be.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt: Green
We've finally got there. We've reached the werewolves. A long term joke in the Magic community, they traditionally haven't been all that viable. Green changes this to deliver some great additions. Primal Adversary is a particularly noteworthy card. For 1 green and 2 colorless, it creates a 4/3 with trample. It also has the ability to pay 1 green / 1 colorless as many times as you like to put 1/1 counters on him. After all of this, you can then target as many lands as 1/1 counters and turn them into 3/3 wolves with haste. In a single turn, you could get 9 power on the board and be swinging easily.
That being said, not all Green's best cards are werewolves. The Consuming Blob is an excellent card for 2 green and 3 colorless. Its power is equal to the amount of card types in your graveyard and its toughness is that number plus one. At your end step, you create an ooze token with the same stats. This is a great card that only gets more threatening with time. As green is known to do, this set is great for pumping out as many creatures as you can.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt Commanders
This piece took a little longer than I wanted to and that's because I was very drawn to the precon commanders this time around. I just wouldn't feel right leaving them out after purchasing them and playing them as much as I can. These commanders are fantastic and well balanced. They are also surprisingly powerful. The blue/black works with Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver as its central commander and plays with zombies. It's all about overwhelming your opponent with key sacrifices and bringing them all back decayed to swing out for the win.
Leinore, Autumn Sovereign leads the charge on the white/green deck and focuses on getting tokens out and buffing them as much as possible. She uses her Coven ability to constantly add new counters and get an extra draw each turn. These decks have solid mana bases and great board wipes to contrast and combat each other. In practice, they almost feel a little closer to duel decks, with weaknesses and strengths that complement each other well. If you're looking for some precons to bust out with your friends, they're an excellent choice. If not, I can think of a few needed upgrades.
Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt - Verdict
I love this set. I've managed to test out tonnes of magic this year, yet this is one of my absolute favourites. It nails that spooky tone with the werewolves, zombies and all that's needed to combat them. All three new mechanics add to the experience in their own way and make different builds just as viable. As well as all of this, there are some standout new additions worth looking into. As a set that will soon start to fade out, this does exactly what it should. It injects a great new atmosphere, alongside a healthy dash of roleplay, to make one of the funnest sets this year.
The Magic: the Gathering Innistrad Midnight Hunt cards used to produce this article were provided by YRS Truly.