Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Set Review — Black

(Gisa, Glorious Resurrector | Art by Yongjae Choi)

Midnight Hunt, or Midnight Hunted?

Grab your torches, silver bolts, stakes, and enough cloves of garlic to make The Stinking Rose's 40 clove chicken and bagna càuda dishes scare vampires for the next three weeks. This is the kind of hunt you may not come back from. The kind of hunt that will quickly turn hunter and prey on its head. You're going into the dark forest — got to have your wits about ye'.

Ready to see what all manner of beasts, ghoulcallers, and critters litter this Midnight Hunt? Without further ado, let's get to it.


Mythics


Jerren, Corrupted Bishop

This has to be one of my favorite flavor designs of the entire set. The art is fantastic, with the perspective shifting from looking down on eager Jerren, Corrupted Bishop to looking up at the imposing Ormendahl, the Corrupter once the rite has finished.

Jerren has a home in the 99 of just about any Human-focused aristocrat deck, like General Kudro of Drannith, Trynn, Champion of Freedom and Silvar, Devourer of the Free, or even Teysa Karlov. I think anywhere you are already running Xathrid Necromancer is a home for Jerren, Corrupted Bishop. He can keep a steady stream of anthropic bodies while also providing lifelink to offset the life loss from his first triggered ability.

As for summoning ol' Ormendahl, the Corrupter, it's a bit of a narrow ask, but I think will still come up from time to time. I think at the helm of his own deck, Jerren, Corrupted Bishop can be built around to help get that achievement unlocked of flipping him into Ormendahl. Cards like Wall of Blood, Necropotence, Blood Celebrant, etc., will all help tank your life total to appropriate levels. He'll also shine at the helm of a Shadowborn Apostle deck that sacrifices, you guessed it, Humans, and has a potential to actually flip and use the other Apostles as fodder.

If you do manage to flip him, that activated ability of "Sacrifice another creature: Draw a card" is no joke. In fact, it's the only time we've ever seen the exchange of 'sacrifice something: draw a card' ever printed so cleanly. Only Yawgmoth, Thran Physician comes close, or the mistakenly-designed Skullclamp, but the activated ability of Equipping the 'clamp can't (easily) be done at instant speed. The only issue I see with this deck is that it requires you to sit at a vulnerable 13 life while you have a creature that screams 'remove me!' Plus, Ormendahl appears to have lost his indestructibility since we last saw him on Westvale Abbey. You'll likely want a large swath of bodies ready to sacrifice as soon as you flip him so you can start to take advantage of his ability before he gets removed.

Overall, I'm excited to see where Jerren, Corrupted Bishop ends up, whether it's in the 99 of a Humans deck, or at the helm of its own deck that eagerly tries to flip into one very cool Demon.

Lord of the Forsaken

Boy, is that a seemingly random assortment of text. A 6/6 flampler for six mana is already on a similar rate with Doom Whisperer, and the two Demons also share the ability to fill one's graveyard either with Surveil or, as is the case here, with milling. The last line is particularly interesting, where you can sink your life total to add colorless mana, but can only use that mana to cast a spell from your graveyard. I think it's a bit too on the top end to see play in most Kess, Dissident Mage decks (outside of perhaps Kess reanimator lists), but I really like it in something like Karador, Ghost Chieftain, Lorcan, Warlock Collector or maybe Syr Konrad, the Grim.

It also has some incredible potential with mechanics like Flashback, Aftermath, Jumpstart, Escape, etc. If you have a higher life total than your opponents, you can pull off the infamous Channel + Fireball combo, but with Lord of the Forsaken and the Ribbons side of Cut//Ribbons. Devil's Play is also a nice option. Then, you know, there's also Yawgmoth's Will and Underworld Breach.

Finally, I think we may even see it in 'suicide black' decks that simply want to take advantage of the "Pay 1 life" activation to tank their own life total, like K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, Greven, Predator Captain, Selenia, Dark Angel, and Willowdusk, Essence Seer.

Overall, this thing is a house and I will undoubtedly enable a lot of powerful plays.

The Meathook Massacre

I tell you what, this is one butcher store I won't be frequenting! An allusion to both Massacre Wurm and Massacre Girl, The Meathook Massacre modally shrinks the battlefield depending on how much mana you want to pay into it.

I really like the death triggers here, helping to do the Blood Artist thing, but partitioned between you and opponents. At X = 4 (total mana value of 6), you'll likely get rid of most utility creatures and a large percentage of low-drop commanders. Even casting this for X = 0, it seems pretty good to cast this thing for two mana right before you sacrifice your token army and triggering Dina, Soul Steeper or Karlov of the Ghost Council every time an enemy creature dies.

End of the day, this is most likely another card for aristocrats decks. Where Bastion of Remembrance goes, this probably goes too. Maybe some tricky Enchantress decks, like Ghen, Arcanum Weaver[/el] and Daxos, the Returned, would enjoy an enchantment board wipe, too, and lifegain commanders

Tainted Adversary

Talk about an army in a can. Black's ability to create swells of mana with its resident Crypt Ghast, Cabal Coffers & Co. means this thing isn't hard to sink multiple activations into. On initial cast, paying the 'kicker' once will get you one +1/+1 counter and two Zombies, for a total of 7 power. That's a pretty good rate! The Zombies only get one attack, but still!

In fact, let's just break it down in a table. I'll put a column for the mana paid when cast (e.g., from hand) and another for mana paid when not cast and just for the enter the battlefield trigger (e.g., if flickered).

While I don't envision too many decks paying over 14 mana, it's certainly possible. As someone with a Josu Vess, Lich Knight deck, 10 mana often seems a pipe dream, until your black mana-doublers are online and opponents are staring down a board of 20 power with menace. Tainted Adversary has a lot going for it in Zombie shells, and just like the other Adversaries, the cycle provides neat flexibility throughout different points in the game. I don't think this unseats Grave Titan anytime soon, but the Titan isn't itself a Zombie, which can matter for tribal decks.


Rares


Gisa, Glorious Resurrector

Looks like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet has a bit of competition here with this maniacal reboot of everyone's favorite corpse-digging debutante. Grave Betrayal is a classic Commander card, and having a pseudo-adjacent version in the command zone for less mana is just awesome.

In a way, Gisa's a less punishing Tergrid, God of Fright who can't capitalize as well on multiple forms of resource denial, only cares about creatures, and whose trigger is delayed until your next upkeep. To top it off, the Decayed stipulation keeps things reined in, as you only get one shot to attack with them before they hit they hay.

All that said, she's still pretty powerful and I think will be one of the more popular picks of the entire set, both for people's adoration of the character and the mechanic. Incidentally providing graveyard hate while also converting said creatures to do your own bidding is fantastic, especially with how prevalent creatures with enter-the-battlefield triggers are in our format.

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

This reminds me of Aphemia, the Cacophony who also has a narrow end step trigger accompanied by a low mana value and body. Considering Aphemia only helms 87 decks, I can't see Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia helming all that many lists, and considering the Decayed Zombie he creates can't block, you're better off using the body as sacrifice fodder, similar to decks running Dreadhorde Invasion, Bitterblossom, or Breeding Pit. Unlike Ophiomancer, this only triggers on your turn, and that's a very big difference.

Bloodline Culling

This reminds me of Dismember, but I also don't remember the last time I've seen someone cast Dismember for more than one mana. I think you have to consider whether you're in a token meta or want your own tokens to die (say, if you're missing a sacrifice outlet) to truly want this card over Dismember. Even Dismember is abused for its ability to pay life, such as with Vilis, Broker of Blood, so that comparison is still stretched. I think the happiest commander for Bloodline Curdling will end up being Toshiro Umezawa, who likes killing creatures and recurring instants, and Grismold, the Dreadsower, who loves to kill tokens.

Champion of the Perished

Such a cute allusion to Champion of the Parish! That said, while it's likely to rack up some counters in a Zombie tribal shell, it's not that impactful as anything more than a vanilla beatstick.

Curse of Leeches

While interesting in design, I just see this as a minor nuisance and hard to trigger. You'll likely get to pass this around to players a few times, but getting drained for one life ain't exactly impactful outside of a specific shell (e.g., Dina, Soul Steeper). A 4/4 with lifelink for three mana isn't bad, but I think there are better options. We'll likely see it in Curses decks, but nowhere else.

Graveyard Trespasser // Graveyard Glutton

While more aligned for Limited, this thing is still going to do incidental work in our format. The ward makes it annoying to remove, and it will slowly eat away at graveyards on both ETB and attack. Think of it like a furry Scavenging Ooze. Well, only kinda. Graveyard hate is a lot more effective either en masse, or at will, not just on your own turn. This isn't a dud, but it's got stiff competition. Honestly, I mostly just feel for all the Gruul Werewolf players out there who won't be able to use this.

Mask of Griselbrand

When a card that's banned in our format graces the name of another card, it ought to at least pique your interest. Sure enough, ol' Grizzy-B seems to have been enjoying his retirement from our format, frequenting masquerade parties, Carnaval, and Mardi Gras alike. Only, it seems he left behind his mask for us!

I really like this card. I understand that, to some, the mana value of three to play and three to Equip may be too much, but for me, I think the cost is fair, and has some fantastic rewards. I can see it in Willowdusk, Essence Seer, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, and especially Greven, Predator Captain decks. You can toss it on Greven, Predator Captain himself to get a big swing of life, and sacrifice him to some Fling effect, or just put it on another high-power creature like Phyrexian Soulgorger since you're going to sacrifice it to Greven anyways, and get even more cards and pump Greven in the process!

Overall, I really enjoy that this rewards you for going tall, by either pressuring people with big damage while increasing your life total, or rewarding you with cards in the event the creature gets removed.

Slaughter Specialist

Grismold, the Dreadsower got a new pal! Another delightful addition to the 'gift-stocrats' archetype, this does have the potential to get big, fast. Being a Vampire also helps with Blade of the Bloodchief style effects. Let's just say I'm excited to see this thing getting a home in resident writer DougY's Lazav, the Multifarious +1/+1 counters deck.


Uncommons and Commons


The black commons and uncommons are hit-or-miss in this set, so let's do a lightning round!

  • Baneblade Scoundrel: "Hey! Toss me a Lure real quick!"
  • Dreadhound: A doggo in the mold of Syr Konrad, the Grim? Sure, it doesn't do as much, but dare I say we shouldn't take Syr Konrad's plethora of triggers as a litmus test for card design. I think this is a great pupper who will find a home in many a mill and recursion deck.
  • Foul Play: More of a bomb in Limited, but there are a number of pesky meek creatures out there (looking at you Drannith Magistrate).
  • Ghoulish Procession: Efficient, albeit slow. I can see it cropping up the occasional Zombie aristocrat sort of shell.
  • Blood Pact: There's a bit of competition with things like Sign in Blood and Night's Whisper, but at instant speed, I suppose this does just replace Painful Lesson.
  • DefenestrateMultiple times in Prague's history, aristocratic members were thrown out of windows to their death. The Latin origins of the word — de (down/out) and fenestra (window) — are thought to have originated from such events. From the medieval architecture to the flavor, this card is bang on, even if it's a bit worse than Infernal Grasp above.
  • Diregraf Horde: Man is this pushed for a common. It's like a Grave Titan that traded deathtouch and an attack trigger for one less mana and incidental grave hate. Obviously, it's not necessarily as good as Grave Titan, but the fact this common can even be tangentially compared to it is worth noting.

The Sun Rises

Phew, we made it to daytime! The sun's rising and all manner of evils we encountered have begun to scuttle back into their shadows. Except for that shovel-bearing maniac, and that other minute-men looking guy, who both seem perfectly fine digging up bodies in broad daylight. Pay them no mind, I suppose.

What do you think? Which critters spooked you the most on our midnight hunt? Notice anything I may have missed while I was perpetually fixated on that giant Illidan cosplay?

Sound away! Just not too loudly, lest the terrors of the night are stirred once again....

Trent has been playing Magic since the early 2000s, when instead of exercising in a summer sports camp, he was trying to resolve a Krosan Skyscraper on the sidewalk (it always ate a removal). He saved up his allowance to buy an Akroma Angel of Wrath on eBay, only to find out it was a fraudulent post, forever dashing his hopes of ever getting a big creature to stick. He’s since “grown up” and, when he’s not working on his dissertation in Archaeology, spends too much time thinking how to put Cipher in every one of his decks and digging for obscure cards (see photo).