Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Set Review – White

(Sigarda’s Splendor | Art by Chris Kvartek)

Daytime!

With the promise that white will be improved for Commander, did Innistrad: Midnight Hunt deliver us the daylight after the long night?

Well… it’s gonna be a bit more of a process than that, but we did get some sweet cards that care about day and night!


Mythics


Enduring Angel

For just one more mana than Ye Olde EDH staple Ivory Mask, Enduring Angel provides the same benefit stapled to a 3/3 flying body with double strike, along with a tiny shout-out toward Phyrexian Unlife that may give a tiny little last gasp for air. The immediate thing that leaps to mind is to use this card in blink strategies, which can always keep up a Get Out of Jail Free card by temporarily exiling the Angel and bringing it back on its front face. However, you’ll have to be careful that you let the full trigger resolve and the transformation occur before you do so, otherwise Enduring Angel‘s “lose the game” clause will occur. Still, this strategy will keep you alive through alpha strikes at the very least, which is fairly powerful all on its own.

In other words, those pesky Brago decks have yet another way to make sure they don’t lose the five-hour game while still having no way to win it. We get it, Brago!

In truth I don’t think this interaction will make much of a splash. The likeliest home for this card is Angel tribal, although there’s more competition in those decks with every set that releases.


Intrepid Adversary

I’ll give Intrepid Adversary one thing: it’s aggressively costed. A 3/1 lifelink for two mana is definitely not anything to scoff at. That said, you do have to pay four mana to really get anything other than a simple body out of this little Human Scout, at which point it’s kind of a bad Glorious Anthem on a stick. Crucially, the counters on it are also ‘valor’ counters, rather than simple +1/+1 counters, so this isn’t even a great card for +1/+1 counter decks, unless perhaps you have a lot of sources of Proliferate. That really only leaves aggro decks, where this is quite good, lifegain decks, where there are probably better options, and token decks, where I still think you’d be happier with other anthem cards.

So aggro players, eat your hearts out! Otherwise this thing is probably staying in Standard.


Sigardian Savior

You can’t help but wonder if they could have pushed Sigardian Savior into recurring two permanents rather than two creatures, but there’s no disputing that this is card advantage in a color that desperately needs it. Not to mention the list of relevant creature targets that this card works with is nothing short of impressive. I concocted a list of the top 10 (well, 11) most popular creatures in mono-white decks that the Savior can resurrect:

Mono-White’s Top 11 Creatures With 2 Mana Value Or Less

  1. Grand Abolisher
  2. Walking Ballista (If you were wondering why I went to 11, this is why)
  3. Drannith Magistrate
  4. Mother of Runes
  5. Knight of the White Orchid
  6. Myr Retriever
  7. Sram, Senior Edificer
  8. Soul Warden
  9. Serra Ascendant
  10. Stoneforge Mystic
  11. Ornithopter

And that’s just the beginning of the list! There are probably better feelings in the world than casting an Angel for five mana and reviving a 2/2 Knight that puts a Plains into play, plus a 1/2 Kor that tutors up an Equipment… but I can’t immediately think of any.

Of course, this is all a bit ‘Magical Christmas Land’ for the average deck, which is why I don’t suggest throwing Sigardian Savior around willy-nilly into all of your white builds. With that said, if you are running a lot of low-to-the-ground creatures or are in the Aristocrats strategy, this thing could be an all-star for you.


Rares


Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

If there’s a theme among the white rares of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, it’s this: aggressive mana costs. On her own, Adeline, Resplendent Cathar hits the battlefield as a 1/4 for three mana, which would be underwhelming except that in the worst case scenario she instantly becomes a 2/4 in the attack step, with a 1/1 companion swinging a sword right next to her. This is, again, the worst-case scenario, where you only have one opponent at the time. In your typical four-person pod, where opponents haven’t yet bitten the dust, and we can pump those numbers up to a 4/4 with three tokens. We’re looking at one of the most aggressively-costed cards available to white that is also one of the color’s best token-makers.

Sure, half of those Soldiers are going to end up instantly chump blocked, but we’re okay with that. Cathars’ Crusade is certainly okay with that. True Conviction is okay with that. Divine Visitation and Anointed Procession are okay with that! Aristocrats decks love the death triggers too!

I’m tempted to call this as easily the most-played white card from the set… but I can’t, and I’m mad about it. More on that later.


Curse of Silence

The numbers for other white Curses, like Curse of Exhaustion, don’t give me much hope for Curses in general, but even ignoring prior Curse data, I just gotta say that my initial impression for this card wasn’t positive. The reason Pithing Needle and Meddling Mage effects haven’t caught on in EDH is because of the 100-card variance of the format. Usually, the only solid shot you can call is someone’s commander, and if you’re going to do that, you might as well just play Drannith Magistrate.

Curse of Silence creates less feel-bads, however, simply making someone’s commander a bit more expensive and giving you the option of drawing you a card once they’ve finally bitten the bullet. That doesn’t make it a strong card, mind you, but it does make it one of only three single-mana Curses in existence. That’s not nothing, but… this card is kind of a lot of nothing.


Fateful Absence

Another Standard set, another attempt to make a playable Swords to Plowshares alternative. While the fact that this can destroy planeswalkers is more interesting than the usual restrictions we get on these efficiently-costed spells, that’s probably not enough to knock either Swords or Path to Exile out of your deck unless your meta never really recovered from War of the Spark. In EDH, where we can make lots of indestructible creatures, we want the exile effects over a simple destroy effect, every time, and there aren’t usually enough deck slots for both.


Sigarda’s Splendor

Mono-white is near and dear to my heart, so when the community perks up at a card advantage card in this color, I’m usually all ears. This time around, however, I must admit that I was very disappointed by the hype once I actually read Sigarda’s Splendor. Comparisons to Phyrexian Arena had me laughing in fully depressed fashion, because that’s just not what this card is.

For Sigarda’s Splendor to draw you a card every turn, you have to not only gain life every turn, but also keep it. Gaining two on your opponent’s end step with Angelheart Vial is all well and good, unless the counters it got are a result of the four life you lost during their turn. In other words, most lifegain decks will be happier with the existing Well of Lost Dreams and Dawn of Hope options, which let you reliably draw cards every time you gain life, rather than playing the game of chicken that Sigarda’s Splendor presents – one that will also encourage other players to target you.

The one place where I do think this card is an interesting option is in white Spellslinger decks. Granted, that’s a pretty small well, but Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Mavinda, Students’ Advocate players know what I’m talking about.


Sungold Sentinel

While Sungold Sentinel does remind me a little bit of Fleecemane Lion, I’m not sure that it will see similar play numbers without the crucial “indestructible” text (or the adorable Cat Tribal decks). It also just confuses me. Why it doesn’t just gain protection instead of a mishmash of most of the things protection gives you? Did I miss ‘protection from X’ becoming non-evergreen again? Because if I did, so did the MTG Wiki!


Vanquish the Horde

There are several out there who have been confused by me, a known mono-white enthusiast, not being enthused by the existence of Vanquish the Horde. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good card. Better than good, actually. That’s kind of my problem. Blasphemous Act came out in original Innistrad, in 2011, three months after the original Commander precons. So while it’s possible that Blasphemous Act was designed with Commander and multiplayer in mind, I really doubt it. Commander was a more exploratory format at that point, and it wouldn’t really start to be designed around as the premiere format for another five years at least. For the most part, there were no big shout-outs or even intentional “each opponent” cards among the Standard set that came out in 2011. Multiplayer was still what it had always been throughout Magic’s history: a kitchen table afterthought.

What I’m saying is this: Blasphemous Act was a mistake. Wizards either didn’t know or didn’t care how it would play in multiplayer formats like Commander. That is not the case for Vanquish the Horde. The only way anyone could look at this card and not see that it’s pretty much always a two-mana Wrath is if they’ve never played a game of Commander. Sure, this could be seen as white “keeping up” with the much-improved red, but I myself take a much more cynical view: this is a purposefully printed $20 bill. It’s not good news for white, it’s more money that has to be spent in the name of keeping up with the Joneses, because it’s the only game in town.

If you’re looking to play a tuned build in white, then this is the best board wipe. Period. No niches, no “X might be better under these circumstances”. Vanquish the Horde is the new mono-white staple Wrath effect…

…until they print the next one.


Brutal Cathar // Moonrage Brute

As a reminder, color identity counts all faces of a card, so this card can only be played in decks whose commander’s color identity contains red and white. I’m reviewing it here though since the mana cost only requires white.

It takes a second to realize that Brutal Cathar has significantly more upside than your average Banisher Priest. Transforming a card doesn’t remove it from the battlefield, so if you can repeatedly turn night into day and vice versa, you may be able to stack a cornucopia of creatures under Brutal Cathar. That may only be enough for him to see play in a deck that cares about day & night deck specifically, and more so only the versions of it that include Boros. I think non-competitive Winota, Joiner of Forces decks might like this Human that can also attack occasionally as a non-Human!


Uncommons & Commons


Ambitious Farmhand // Seasoned Cathar

Sigarda’s Splendor is not a very good white card draw effect, and in the very same set, here’s a card advantage effect I’m much more excited about, and it’s just an uncommon! Unlike other contenders in the “fetch a Plains” category like Knight of the White Orchid, Loyal Warhound, or Oreskos Explorer, there is no clause on Ambitious Farmhand. It just enters and goes and gets you a basic Plains, no questions asked. If you blink it, it will do it again in the same fashion. Many have gnashed their teeth about said Plains going to your hand rather than onto the battlefield, but to those players, I would point out the play numbers on Elvish Visionary, Wall of Omens, Wall of Blossoms, and Dusk Legion Zealot. The least popular of those still shows up in nearly 6,000 decks

Sure, drawing a card is usually better than getting a land, but at the end of the day, you’re replacing a card with a card, and it’s a card you’ll need, because in Commander, making your late-game land drops is more important than it is in any other format. Besides, if you do find yourself land flooded, you can pay three to get a 3/3 lifelinker. Now that’s value!

I anticipate that this card will be overlooked, only appearing in Human Tribal decks, or perhaps lending its lifelink to the occasional Odric, Lunarch Marshal deck. I implore you to give it a second look. Even Pilgrim’s Eye appears in 8,000 decks.


Bereaved Survivor // Dauntless Avenger

Sun Titan this is not, but as we noted with Sigardian Savior, the back half of this card does a reasonable impression. The fact that the creature comes back already attacking can be very good as well, although there are a lot of targets where you may wish it wasn't. Still, this is a great recursion tool that will fit in low-to-the-ground decks from Teshar to Alesha, although I would be hesitant to use it in the more aggressive aggro decks that may not be able to kill their own creatures on demand.


Chaplain of Alms // Chapel Shieldgeist

As a one-mana 1/1 with first strike and Ward 1, Chaplain of Alms may not seem like much… because it isn’t. The occasional aggro deck is probably happy to see it, but even there you’ve probably got better bodies for one mana.


Sunset Revelry

Hey, look, it’s Balance!

Okay, that’s definitely taking things a little too far, but Sunset Revelry is nonetheless a tiny equalizer if you’re behind in a game. While you’ll rarely hit on all three clauses, the likelihood that you’ll get two is fairly high, especially if you’re not the lifegain deck. For me, two mana for two tokens and four life is worth it, as is four life and a card. Timely Reinforcements only shows up in 236 decks, though. It doesn’t replace itself, which matters to me, but it may not be enough to persuade other players who have better ways of creating tokens and gaining life.


Cathar Commando

Without that little word “flash”, this card wouldn’t have even warranted discussion, much less inclusion to any EDH deck. With flash, however, you now have a combat trick that occasionally moonlights as a removal spell. A 3/1 for two mana is a decent body, so all too often, you’ll be happy to just plop it down in response to a block, remove a problem creature, and call it a day. Most white creatures that destroy an artifact or enchantment usually only hit one type of permanent, like Ronom Unicorn and Felidar Cub. It’s a big deal that this can hit either type, and it can attack and block. It’s not flashy, it’s just a great option. Look for it first in Human Tribal decks, and then watch it spread out a bit more to decks that like to sacrifice creatures, like Teysa Karlov and Athreos, God of Passage.


Gavony Dawnguard //

Duskwatch Recruiter this is not. It’s not even Militia Bugler. I’m all for taking a turn off, holding up some mana, sandbagging some cards, but I don’t know if day and night are reliable enough to trigger, because players really like casting spells in EDH. Even if night and day do trigger reliably, I’m unsure about the odds of reliably finding good creatures among the top four cards. There are some very valuable low-cost creatures I really like, but there are also only so many card slots in a deck for them, even in the aggro strategies. I’d like to be wrong about this card, but based on the play patterns of EDH players, I think it reads better than it will play.


Lunarch Veteran // Luminous Phantom

Lunarch Veteran isn’t a full-fledged Soul Warden, as you only gain life for you own creatures entering the battlefield, but even Daxos, Blessed by the Sun appears in 7,400 decks! The back half of this card is cheap to Disturb and it gives a nice one-two lifegain punch. Just like Daxos, try this card out in Heliod, Sun-Crowned, Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn, Karlov of the Ghost Council, and Krav, the Unredeemed + Regna, the Redeemer.


Search Party Captain

The real question with Search Party Captain is what cost you’re willing to pay for it. At full price, there’s pretty much no question you’re unhappy. At three mana, it’s not a deal breaker, but you’re not ecstatic, either. At two mana, you’re getting a bear that replaces itself, a strictly better rate than what you’d see for other cantrip creatures. At one mana you’re absolutely ecstatic to get a body and a card back. In other words, if your deck is consistently triggering Battalion, then you’re really gonna like Search Party Captain. If you’re in mono-white and love abusing Teleportation Circle and Conjurer’s Closet, check this out too. If you’re neither of those things, you have infinitely better places to put four mana. White wants card draw, not just cantrip creatures.


White Can Haz Card Draw?

While the headliner white card in this set will always rightfully be Vanquish the Horde, the sneaky takeaway from white in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is card draw. Sigarda’s Splendor may be pretty restricted in where it’s usable, but Sunset Revelry and Ambitious Farmhand are not, and Search Party Captain fits into a few strategies too. Combine that with the card advantage we’re getting from the numerous cards that resurrect lots of tiny creatures, and there’s a lot to be hopeful about for white, which is slowly introducing more ways to establish staying power during long games of EDH.

It’s getting easier and easier with every release, so give mono-white a try. Or you can just keep it as a support color. It’s still the best at that.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.