The 600 - Predicting the Popularity of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Commanders

(Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset | Art by Heonhwa Choe)

Awooo, Werewolves of Innistrad!

If you're a human and you're reading this article, watch your back—Innistrad is full of predators. If you're a werewolf, just try not to shed too much.

This is The 600by the way, the article series where we guess how popular new commanders will become one year after release. The line is 600, and each commander gets a grade: "Over" for over 600 decks, and "Under" for under 600. There's also one "Can't-Miss Pick," which is my Skip Bayless-style guaranteed Over. We'll check back in one year to see how all these picks fared.

So, without further ado, let's meet the monsters (and occasional humans).

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

I'm getting definite Gandalf-at-Helm's-Deep vibes from this art, and I'm getting pushed vibes from the text. Cards like this usually trigger when they attack, but Adeline triggers "whenever you attack", meaning any creature you control, not just herself. Granted, her tokens swing upon entry, meaning they'll almost never survive combat, but at least they provide her a temporary power bump. Pretty good with Cathars' Crusade, too.

That's good, but is it good enough to surpass 600? Since I started this series in 2018, only one mono-white commander has ever done so: Heliod, Sun-Crowned in Theros Beyond Death. I'm going to side with history on this one.

My prediction: Under

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned

I swear I met this guy at a Kingsmoot on Old Wyk once.

Casting High Tide, Time Warp, and Mind's Desire twice sounds great to me. Casting them with Metallurgic Summonings, Talrand, Sky Summoner, or Shark Typhoon sounds even better. The "spells can’t be countered" clause isn't even a hindrance with cards like Dive Down. We all know where this is going.

My prediction: Over

Gisa, Glorious Resurrector

The latest incarnation of Gisa hoses Aristocrats decks, which are plentiful in EDH (currently over 11,000, according to EDHREC). Gisa's main attraction is the ability to bring those creatures back on your side. Though they may be more pungent than they were while alive, they're still useful, especially with good enters-the-battlefield or death abilities. Gisa is also an undeniable fan favorite, so I think this pick is pretty easy.

My prediction: Over

Gorex, the Tombshell

This card's name is almost "Gore-Tex," a.k.a. the material of George Costanza's puffy coat in that one episode of Seinfeld. Will Gorex fare better than George's coat?

I think not. Retrieving a random card from among three or more exiled creatures seems medium at best. Also, unlike Delve, you must exile creature cards, which further narrows the card's applications. Love the design, hate the popularity prospects.

My prediction: Under

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Based on Jadar's flavor text, he's a ghoulcaller and a wordsmith, which is an unlikely combination. Speaking of unlikely, that about sums up his chances at 600.

This is almost Ophiomancer in the command zone, but it only triggers on your turn, not each turn. It's a nice value engine that can fuel mono-black staples such as Dictate of Erebos, Blood Artist, and Viscera Seer, but that's small-ball for a commander, especially when compared to mono-black powerhouses like K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, or even our next commander.

My prediction: Under

Jerren, Corrupted Bishop // Ormendahl, the Corrupter

Jerren may be corrupt, but at least he's having a good time. Just look at that wholesome smile.

Many cards pair up with his first ability: Bloodsoaked Champion, Priest of Forgotten Gods, and Species Specialist, just to name a few. Sac enablers and outlets are a must, but self-sacrificing Humans, like Plaguecrafter, also work. If your life total plummets, you can activate lifelink to recover. But if you get near 13....

Let's be honest, we're all hoping to flip Jerren into Ormendahl. Cards like Blood Celebrant, Wall of Blood, and Toxic Deluge make that trivially easy (if a bit risky). Once flipped, that zero-mana sac-to-draw effect is nasty, especially on a 6/6 lifelinking flampler.

A flavorful flip card with a high floor and towering ceiling? I am totally joining this cult.

My prediction: Over

Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant

It's cute that commander tax adds counters to Kurbis, but its damage prevention clause is too narrow to make much impact. I suppose you could cast fight spells, like Prey Upon, then prevent the damage from the opposing combatant. However, that assumes your creature has a +1/+1 counter, which isn't always the case. Besides, if you're in the market for mono-green fighting, most players will opt for Gargos, Vicious Watcher.

My prediction: Under

Saryth, the Viper's Fang

Indiana Jones would avoid this commander, but other players might not. Deathtouch and hexproof are a fine combination, especially when you can flip between them at instant speed. Also, the land-untapping ability enhances cards like Gaea's Cradle.

However, 'hexproof tribal' seems unlikely to inspire many deckbuilders, and 'deathtouch tribal' in mono-green is already taken by Fynn, the Fangbearer (already a certified Over). Saryth is awesome in the 99, though! Pairs nicely with Goblin Sharpshooter.

My prediction: Under

Dennick, Pious Apprentice // Dennick, Pious Apparition

Dennick starts out super promising. He's cheap, he's got lifelink, and he protects your graveyard from hate. Well, some hate. Scavenging Ooze gets stopped, but Bojuka Bog and Relic of Progenitus don't. Chris Rallis added dramatic lighting to his artwork, and just look at that popped collar. This guy is living the dream.

Things go downhill when he dies. A 3/2 flyer doesn't impress, especially when it takes a total of six mana to get there. Then there's that Investigate ability, which could've been outstanding if it wasn't capped to trigger only once per turn. No Cycling, looting, or Windfalling my way to oodles of Clues.

I'm disappointed by Dennick. It seems many players feel the same.

My prediction: Under

Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

This card is outstanding.

Picture this curve. Turns one and two: whatever. Turn three: Bastion of Remembrance. Turn four: March of the Machines. Turn five: Eloise. The next time a creature dies, you get a Clue. March makes your Clue a 0/0 creature, meaning it dies immediately, meaning Eloise makes another Clue, and the whole cycle repeats infinitely, meaning infinite pings from Bastion (or a similar substitute).

That's the degenerate build, but you can still play fair with Eloise. Investigate has always been a fan favorite, Surveil has its proponents, and they're combined here in a flavorful way. What's not to love?

My prediction: Over

Ludevic, Necrogenius // Olag, Ludevic's Hubris

It's not every day you transform yourself into a tentacled, blade-footed horse-zombie, but Ludevic's living that life. The procedure requires tons of mana, but it's worth it. Just imagine creating a beefy Invisible Stalker, for example.

Still, I'm skeptical. Ludevic plays similarly to The Mimeoplasm, a classic commander that offers an additional color, interacts with opposing graveyards, and does it all far more efficiently. Though Ludevic will find his fans, I don't think he'll find quite enough.

My prediction: Under

Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver

"Rotcleaver" isn't the most auspicious nickname, but I'll take it on my Zombie tribal commander. Replacing Zombies with more Zombies is nice (even if they're Decayed), and turning those tokens into extra cards on the end step is even better. I'm not over the Eldritch Moon about this guy, but Zombie tribal commanders always seem to be popular.

My prediction: Over

Florian, Voldaren Scion

Though he's clearly a successful Vampire Influencer, I'm concerned that Florian slots into three already-popular Commander shells: Prosper, Tome-Bound, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, and Edgar Markov (1,165, 1,413, and 3,989 decks, respectively). Some may run him as an alternative, yes, but I believe most will add him to the decks they already have.

P.S. You can find Florian's affiliate code with the link in his bio.

My prediction: Under

Tovolar, Dire Overlord // Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge

Ulrich who? We've got a new Werewolf overlord, and his name rhymes with pogo-bar.

This dude is incredible. Not only does he draw cards, he makes Werewolf transformations about as easy as putting on your pants (which I may or may not have done this morning). At night he provides us with a Kessig Wolf Run on a stick, which synergizes with his card-draw trigger and the general bulk of transformed Werewolves. Can't-Miss Picks don't get any easier than this.

My prediction: Over (Can't-Miss Pick)

Katilda, Dawnhart Prime

Katilda is Cryptolith Rite for Humans with a built-in anthem. Great with tokens, Proliferate, Human tribal, and more. My only gripe: Katilda sounds like Matilda, and Matilda reminds me of that chocolate cake (you know the one I mean), and that makes me feel queasy. Nonetheless, I gotta give it to Matilda—I mean, Katilda.

My prediction: Over

Kyler, Sigardian Emissary

I was going to make a Kyler Murray joke here, but everyone's calling this guy "Kyle" (which just so happens to be my name). I don't quite understand the reference, and Google isn't helping, but I'm going to assume it's not something rude.

Anyhoo, this card is like my New York Knicks: good, but not great. Five mana is steep for a commander that does next-to-nothing on its own, and there are three other Selesnya Human tribal commanders to contend with in this set. I'm sorry, my fellow Kyle.

My prediction: Under

Leinore, Autumn Sovereign

Leinore (not to be confused with Lier, Ludevic, or the upcoming Liesa) hasn't received the warmest welcome. In truth, most online discourse I've read can be summed up in one word: "Meh."

Coven is already a bland mechanic, and adding a counter and a card doesn't spice things up. You could do Human tribal, but the aforementioned Katilda is far more appealing for such a strategy.

But here's the zag: Leinore appears on the box of this set's Commander product. This hallowed position almost always goes Over (with the notable exception of Sevinne, the Chronoclasm, to my undying shame). I'll play the odds on this one.

My prediction: Over

Sigarda, Champion of Light

Sigarda's back, and this time, she's controversial.

Seriously, players can't decide if this card is great, garbage, or somewhere in the middle. (Greatbage? Garbgreat?). Many have compared her to Winota, Joiner of Forces, a card that went way Over. If that comp is accurate, Sigarda should be an Over too, right?

Not necessarily. Amidst Sigarda's mixed reception, and the knowledge that her previous incarnation, Sigarda, Heron's Grace, leads only 198 decks, an Over seems unlikely at best.

My prediction: Under

Liesa, Forgotten Archangel

Same mana cost, different Liesa.

Though both versions have flying and lifelink, this Liesa is more attrition-based than her Commander Legends counterpart. In that regard, she's similar to the aforementioned Gisa (which is odd, considering they're both black legends in the same set). Liesa is especially powerful with Fleshbag Marauder and the like, along with Shadowborn Apostles. She can also function nicely as an Angel tribal commander, and if there's one thing EDH players love, it's tribes.

My prediction: Over

Vadrik, Astral Archmage

Clearly a fan of the Star Chart app on his iPad, Vadrik is a day/night version of Mizzix of the Izmagnus. Running copious cheap instants is one way to flip frequently from day to night, or you might augment Vadrik's power with Runechanter's Pike.

Cute, but we get so many Izzet spellslinger commanders every year. If day/night is the only wrinkle, I'm just not seeing popularity in the stars.

My prediction: Under

Old Stickfingers

I'll admit, I misread this card the first time around (and no, I didn't mistake "Stickfingers" for "Saladfingers"). It's not a mill for X—it's mill until you hit X creatures. That's a big difference.

Imagine, for example, this in tandem with Undergrowth cards from Guilds of Ravnica. Or, to get truly degenerate, you might only include a handful of combo creatures in your deck, essentially guaranteeing you always hit them with your mills. I like this card—just don't pull his finger.

My prediction: Over

Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer

Stalwart he may be, but Rem here has the same problem that Tajic, Legion's Edge has: he doesn't protect himself. Tajic went Under by 486 decks, and I see no reason for Rem to fare any better.

My prediction: Under

Slogurk, the Overslime

First, great name. Second, this is Life from the Loam in the command zone. Slogurk gets bulky fast with fetch lands, self-mill, and Cycling lands. It even has combo potential with Walk the Aeons. Plus, though I personally don't quite get the allure of Oozes, many players love this tribe.

Slogurk seems like a fun commander and an interesting new take on Simic. I'm overjoyed to play the Overslime.

My prediction: Over

Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor

This Anna Steinbauer art is outstanding for so many reasons: the expression, the lighting, the doll, the visual storytelling, the mood, the—holy crap, there's a creepy child in the mirror!


Anyhoo, now that I've taken a moment to change my pants, let's evaluate.

This card is guaranteed to be popular. Why? Because EDH players love Curses. I'm not sure what that says about EDH players, but it's true. There are currently 827 Curse decks on EDHREC, even though support has been relatively sparse. Lynde fixes one of biggest weaknesses of Curses, and even offers card advantage, to boot. I love this card, and I'm certain well over 600 players will feel the same.

My prediction: Over




Can't-Miss Pick

Human mortality rates are high on Innistrad, but we managed to survive this article. We'll just have to see about the next one....

Kyle A. Massa is a writer and avid Magic player living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His current favorite card is Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.

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