How to Play and Draft the Best Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Archetypes

Skaab Wrangler Art by Billy Christian
Skaab Wrangler Art by Billy Christian

Hey everyone! At this point I’m nearly 20 drafts into Midnight Hunt, so I wanted to share what archetypes I’ve been winning with the most! Unfortunately, the best archetype of the entire format by a decent margin is Dimir Zombies. Fortunately, draft is self-correcting so once the jig is up and everyone knows that Dimir is the best, competition for it should prevent it from continuing to dominate.

I’ll start with breaking down Dimir and how to have success with it, and after that I’ll discuss Four-Color Flashback and Gruul Werewolves, both of which have been doing some serious winning for me! Four Color Flashback in particular has the added benefit of being one of the most fun archetypes to draft and play with. Let’s get into it!

  1. Dimir Zombies
  2. Four-Color Flashback
  3. Gruul Werewolves

Dimir Zombies

Key Commons and Uncommons

The list of good commons and uncommons goes on and on from there. I didn’t even bother including removal because it’s obviously good in every limited deck. The surplus of powerful commons is a key reason why Dimir is so easy to draft and dominate with. What also makes Dimir so much better than the other colors is how good all the Decay cards are with the great blue and black removal and tempo spells. Cards like No Way Out or Flip the Switch seem unassuming at first glance, but have really overperformed for me. They’re consistently Blightning and Ionize while also sometimes being even better than that!

Unlike most sets where Dimir is the control deck of the format, Dimir in Midnight Hunt is almost exclusively a tempo deck. Nearly every card with Decay is good so your game plan for Dimir revolves around making your Decayed tokens as useful as possible. There are three main ways to do that:

  1. Sacrifice them to powerful payoffs like: Ecstatic Awakener, Eaten Alive, Vivisection, Morbid Opportunist, Corpse Cobble, etc.
  2. Utilize them with Skaab Wrangler and Siege Zombie.
  3. Situate them to the point where they can deal two damage (or three if you have a Bladestitched Skaab).

Obviously there are a bunch of ways in this format to make great use of Decayed zombies, which is why it’s common for most archetypes to crumble to Dimir. It’s brutal because all their cards provide serious Decayed value while still just being a good spell on their own! Plus, the archetype can be blisteringly fast. Turn three Falcon Abomination into Organ Hoarder into Diregraf Horde is a very common curve that puts a ton of power on to the table. There’s not much your opponent can do once you follow that up with some removal or a Bladestitched Skaab.

I wanted to specifically highlight Organ Hoarder and how you need to understand why it is the best common in the entire set. Joraga Visionary is already pretty good, but with Disturb and Flashback it often feels like you’re casting an Expressive Iteration off of Organ Hoarder. A 3/2 also hits pretty hard when you’re using all the great removal in Dimir to clear the way for it plus it being a zombie is another nice little tribal boost. I try to almost never pass this card and you should do the same!

Here’s an example of a really medium Dimir deck that I was still able to snag a 3-0 with. Get in the on the archetype before everyone figures it out and it starts to dry up!

Tips

  • For obvious reasons, the value of Startle goes up dramatically based on how many Hobbling Zombies you’re playing.
  • Dimir has an abundance of great three and four drops so you need to value two drops especially highly.
  • Ecstatic Awakener is way better than it looks assuming that you have enough Decayed producers. Don’t sleep on this unassuming common!

Four-Color (UBRG) Flashback

Enablers

Payoffs

This is my favorite archetype to draft and also the one with the best late game. Usually I’ll be drafting Simic Flashback and then use the good green fixers to splash removal or busted payoffs like Seize the Storm or the just overall busted cards like Morbid Opportunist. Your objective is to use powerful mill creatures like Eccentric Farmer, Organ Hoarder, and Deathbonnet Sprout to provide you with heaps of card advantage and a decent board presence. From there you’ll eventually overwhelm the opponent with Seize the Storm, Shadowbeast Sighting, and my favorite finisher by far, Rise of the Ants.

Organ Hoarder and Eccentric Farmer are the backbone of this strategy because they help smooth your draw out early on while still providing a load of card advantage in the late game. You’ll also almost always have something to do with your mana, so ensuring that you’re making your lands drops is also incredibly important. The jig is up on Organ Hoarder and most drafters know that it’s busted, but I’m still seeing Eccentric Farmers going way later than they should be. They’re especially crucial in three and four color decks because there are so few good color fixers in this format! Dawnhart Rejuvenator just hasn’t been cutting it for me.

The nice thing about playing 3-4 colors is that you can just play powerful cards even if they don’t synergize the best with what your deck is trying to do. Hound Tamer, Morbid opportunist, Fangblade Brigand, Thermo-Alchemist, Contortionist Troupe, etc are all so good that you’ll always happily play them.

Here’s a Temur Flashback deck that I drafted a couple days ago. Full disclosure, I forgot to take a screenshot of the deck after going 3-0 but I believe that this was the exact list!

Tips

  • Evolving Wilds becomes way better with Eccentric Farmhand because then you’re guaranteed to hit a land on turn three no matter what. Regardless of that, it’s probably the best fixer for three color decks so value it highly.
  • Just because a card has Flashback does not mean that it has a home here. Secrets of the Key for example is just way too clunky. Turn the Earth is another Flashback spell that is unnecessary because you shouldn’t have an issue killing the opponent before you mill out.
  • Combat tricks are at their worst here so I’ll even pass on great ones like Lunar Frenzy and Defend the Celestus when I’m in this archetype.

Gruul Werewolves

There’s definitely a gap in power level between Gruul Werewolves and Dimir/four color, but you can only go so wrong in limited when you’re beating down with great creatures and backing them up with solid removal and combat tricks. Gruul Werewolves can also be especially intimidating to face because of how backbreaking it is for the opponent if they miss a point on the curve and make it Night. Red is almost certainly the worst color in Midnight Hunt, however there are a ton of commons and uncommons that improve dramatically when you’re trying to maintain night for most of the game.

Key Commons and Uncommons

Werewolves get better in multiples because it’s becomes more profitable to spend tempo/resources to flip them when you’re going to get multiple triggers from it. It also makes the game plan of the deck more fluid. First you deploy all your threats and then once you run out of spells, flip and then crush the opponent with them.

The most important part of a good werewolves deck is having a critical mass of werewolves in conjunction with a load of instant speed spells. You’ll often spend the early turns deploying creatures like Bird Admirer, Tavern Ruffian, Kessig Naturalist and then throw down a heavy hitter like Burly Breaker or Tireless Hauler. From that point, your objective is to get the game to night and then overrun your opponent with your overpowered creatures. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Hold whatever spell you planned on playing and then pass to the opponent and hope they can’t double spell on their turn. This is a risky play and one that should only be done in the late game/when your opponent has little to no cards in hand.
  2. Pass to the opponent, but with the intention of casting a powerful instant like Burn the Accursed or Duel for Dominance on their end step.
  3. Pass with after using your mana for an activated ability like that of Hound Tamer. Fangblade Brigand, Dawnhart Mentor, and Lambholt Harrier are all similarly great here because they can let you get a great attack in and still flip your werewolves so that you can keep the pressure on.

Hound Tamer is by far the best non-rare werewolf for this reason. Of course the card is insanely good on it’s own, but having a great activated ability that incentivizes you to cast no spells and flip your werewolves makes it invaluable. Unnatural Moonrise is a really interesting card because of how big the disparity in its power level can be. When you have a high werewolf count the card does often feel like a slightly more tame Overrun, so definitely value it accordingly. Tavern Ruffian in particular is a card that often goes very late that is especially potent when you flip it into a 7/5 with Trample. 

Obsessive Astronomer is way better in this archetype than it looks at first glance. Looting is fine in aggressive decks of course, but playing a creature on turn two that starts the Day/Night cycle early on makes it so that if the opponent doesn’t have a two drop, it will become Night which should make your follow up werewolves an even bigger issue. Since it’s the early game your opponent also probably won’t be able to double spell until they’re already dead. This also applies to Kessig Naturalist and Outland Liberator, so value them highly.

Obviously Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope and Tovolar, Dire Overlord did major heavy lifting here, but this is still a good example of an solid Gruul deck. In my experience though you ideally want as many werewolves as you can get your hands on. They’re just so brutal in multiples!

Tips

  • Solid five drops are plentiful in Gruul, so value them lowly. Purifying Dragon, Burly Breaker, Village Watch, Tireless Hauler, Mounted Dreadknight, and Candlelit Cavalry are all fine so prioritize your early plays over them. The only exception is Burn the Accursed because it’s a great instant-speed removal spell. Keep taking that one highly.
  • This is the best Duel for Dominance deck so I’ll often take and play as many as I can get my hands on. Instant speed removal is just way too important in this deck!
  • Red is probably the worst color in Midnight Hunt, however there are a ton of commons and uncommons that improve dramatically when you’re trying to maintain night for most of the game. Harvesttide Infiltrator for example is normally anemic but becomes solid when combined with a horde of werewolves.

Hopefully this gives you a hand up on the limited competition! Good luck drafting and hopefully you’re enjoying Midnight Hunt as much as I am!

As always, thanks for reading!

Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.

3 Responses

  1. Brownstudy says:

    Hi Chris

    Great article! Please can you explain on e small thing to me?

    What is it that makes Dimir Zombies a tempo rather than control deck in your view? I ask this because I’m really trying to clarify my definitions of aggro/midrange/tempo/control, as I think this will help organise my thinking during drafts.

    These are the definitions of control and tempo as I understand them; perhaps they’re not quite right?

    Control tries to neutralise threats while building board advantage and/or card advantage, opening the door to a variety of win conditions, depending on the deck.

    Tempo tries to achieve more per turn, focusing less on neutralising threats and more on ‘blanking’ them by rushing the board state beyond the point of their relevance, or slowing the opponent down in playing those threats with bounce etc.

    Are these definitions working for you?

    If so, what makes Dimir Zombies a tempo deck? In the key commons and uncommon you highlight, I’m seeing a lot of card draw and virtual card advantage through the use of a graveyard full of Disturb and Flashback cards; these seem to be classic control tactics. Revenge of The Drowned slows the opponent down but seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Please could you clarify?

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      Hey! So when I’m referring to Dimir being a tempo deck in limited I’m saying that Dimir’s sole purpose is to situate the game to a point where Decayed tokens can effectively deal damage and end the game. Unlike common limited control decks like Dimir in Guilds of ravnica for example, Dimir in MID has a crazy high creature count and doesn’t rely on answering every threat to win. Instead you get your opponent off balance and cut off their options by pressuring them with your zombie horde early on, and when they’re reeling back and trying to stabilize, you finish them off with 1-2 well timed removal spells. Control is rare in limited because it implies the existence of very few creatures and a ton of removal and card draw, but I just wanted to clarify that MID Dimir is closer to a standard delver deck than it is to a traditional standard/limited control deck. That means you’d much prefer to play a card like Geistwave over Secrets of the Key in Dimir, which wouldn’t be true if the deck was a control deck. Hopefully that cleared it up a little!

  2. Brownstudy says:

    Yes, that’s a great explanation; thank you, Chris!