Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft Guide

Morbid Opportunist Art by Tyler Walpole
Morbid Opportunist Art by Tyler Walpole

Hey everyone! I’ve done a ton of Midnight Hunt drafts and I’m finally confident in saying that I have nearly mastered the format. To be honest, the drafting portion of this set isn’t the most complicated because of how powerful some of the commons and uncommons are. It makes it easy to commit early on because cards like Morbid Opportunist and Gavony Dawnguard are so powerful that you’re always going to try your hardest to play them.

The lack of fixing in the format will also almost always pigeon-hole you into one of the two colored archetypes. However, it can be daunting to dive into any new limited format, so I wanted to write this article in order to convey the most important information on how to be successful in Midnight Hunt draft. With Quick Draft starting October 1, and even if you have been drafting a ton like me, it can always be helpful to hear another player’s perspective! Let’s dive in!

Format Basics

  • All your decks need to play towards the board and actively be looking to close out the game. You simply can’t hope to answer every threat, Decayed token, and Disturb creature that your opponent deploys.
  • Your aggressive creatures need either a powerful ability, Disturb, big body, or some form of evasion. Disturb creatures gum up the ground and heavily disincentivize you from playing cards like Celestus Sanctifier or Bounding Wolf.
  • It is pretty much impossible to splash unless you are green. For this reason, I’ll always stay in two colors unless I’m playing Temur.
  • Nearly every card with Decay or Disturb is good.
  • Lunar Frenzy, Defend the Celestus, Might of the Old Ways, and Startle are my favorite combat tricks of the format.
  • This isn’t a format where you should be main decking Plummet, Return to Nature, Sungold Barrage, or Sunset Revelry.
  • Two drop werewolves and creatures that start the Day/Night cycle early on are fantastic when paired with other werewolves. If the opponent misses a point on the curve and brings it to night, then your follow up werewolves are going to be a huge issue for them.
  • Yuta Takahashi is a straight up master of the game, and I agree with his opinion of the top 10 uncommons of the format. Here’s the picture he posted on Twitter. The only disagreement I have is that Gavony Dawnguard should be 9th and Duelcraft Trainer should be ranked 11th:
Image

Individual Color Rankings

  1. Black
  2. Blue
  3. Green
  4. White
  5. Red

Archetypes and How I Would Rank Them

  1. Dimir Zombies
  2. Simic Flashback/Tempo
  3. Orzhov Sacrifice
  4. Gruul Werewolves
  5. Izzet Spells (aggro)
  6. Rakdos Vampire
  7. Azorious Disturb
  8. Selesnya Humans
  9. Golgari Graveyard Midrange
  10. Boros Aggro

Basic Archetype Breakdown

Dimir Zombies

Dimir has the best removal, creatures, and late game. It’s  looking to develop a massive board of zombies early on and then back them up with great removal to quickly overrun the opponent or use them to slowly take over the game with cards like Siege Zombie and Skaab Wrangler. Skaab Wrangler in particular is near unbeatable when left unchecked, so don’t sleep on that card. The only area that Dimir lacks in is early game creature management because Decayed is such an inherently aggressive mechanic. That means that if you’re Orzhov or Gruul you can often use your evasive or huge creatures to put them on the backfoot early on and then prevent them from having the time to cast all their Organ Hoarders and Revenge of the Drowned. While Diregraf Horde and Falcon Abomination are pretty busted commons, they aren’t the best blockers. Take advantage of the only weakness of the archetype with the help of the hero Innistrad deserves: good ol’ Vampire Interloper!

Simic Flashback

Simic is all about making land drops and gumming up the board until you can use a Rise of the Ants or well timed Winterhorn Blessing to turn the tide and quickly close out the game. Eccentric Farmer and Organ Hoarder are both ridiculously good payoffs for the deck because they help guarantee land drops and smooth out your draws while still being powerful sources of card advantage in the late game. That means that you should prioritize Flashback and Disturb cards especially high in this archetype since you’ll have so many ways to incidentally mill them. Baithook Angler looks unassuming at first glance but my goodness does it perform well early and late when you pair it with the proper cards.

Orzhov Sacrifice

Orzhov has fantastic uncommon payoffs and a ton of solid removal and early creatures. Ecstatic Awakener, Vampire Interloper, Candlegrove Witch, and Gavony Silversmith all lend themselves very well to beating down and not being the easiest to block. Diregraf Horde is at it’s best in this archetype because it is often able to make the best use of Decayed tokens. Flesh Taker, Eaten Alive, Rite of Oblivion, and triggering Coven all combine well with the black Decayed token producers.

Gruul Werewolves

Gruul is pretty simple; play a bunch of werewolves and situate the game to the point where you can flip them and massacre your opponent. Personally I love building my Gruul decks around Unnatural Moonrise, but that only works if you get a critical mass of werewolves. What’s nice about playing as many werewolves as you can is how much better it makes Lambholt Harrier, Dawnhart Witch, Hound Tamer, and Fangblade Brigand. All these cards incentivize you to spend your mana without casting spells, which means that you can easily flip your werewolves without letting up on the pressure. Lunar frenzy is also at it’s best in Gruul and isn’t something that you should be passing often. Even a flipped Tavern Ruffian should be enough to kill the opponent if you back it up with a Lunar Frenzy!

Izzet Spells

I’m not a huge Izzet fan, but the deck performs very well when it is full of Delver of Secrets, Thermo-Alchemist, and Festival Crashers and then rounded out with a ton of spells and a Seize the Storm or two at the top of the curve. Seize the Storm is one of the best uncommons in the entire set because when built around, you can easily get two 8/8 Trample out of it, which is absolutely bananas. Keep in mind that Izzet needs to be an aggro deck otherwise you’ll eventually get outcompeted on the board by Simic, Dimir, and Gruul. You just can’t hope to answer a Burly Breaker or Diregraf Horde with burn spells/bounce spells. Burn spells are also way better when you can utilize both options; killing creatures or just trying to kill the opponent. That’s why the early aggressive creatures are so important in Izzet and you don’t want to be spending all your time durdling around with nonsense like Electric Revelation.

Rakdos Vampires

For the most part the Vampire payoffs in the set are middling and really don’t pan out well when you are on the backfoot. Vampire Socialite, Stromkirk Bloodtheif, and Voldaren Ambusher are all solid but are also all uncommons that underperform when you aren’t the aggressor. Vampire Interloper is the key to getting this archetype to work, so take it extremely highly. I think you’re starting to sense a pattern of how highly I value Interloper in the aggressive decks!

Azorious Disturb

Azorious is fine almost solely because of how resilient their threats are to trading and removal. Azorious also has the benefit of being loaded to the brim with fliers, which makes it the archetype that can best utilize Candletrap and that’s a major plus considering how criminally late I see them going. My main issue with Azorious though is how mediocre the removal is and how you have so few answers to cards like Morbid Opportunist and Skaab Wrangler, which will take over the game if left unchecked. This means that I take Borrowed Time over almost anything in this archetype and that I value Silver Bolt the highest of any archetype because it can answer all the creatures with busted abilities. However, I feel like no matter how much removal I draft I still find myself losing to Morbid Opportunist, Augur of Autumn, Hound Tamer, Skaab Wrangler, Siege Zombie, Tolovar, Dire Overload, Florian, Voladren Scion… I mean the list just doesn’t end and it’s the primary reason why I’m low on Azorious.

Selesnya Humans

Selesnya Humans probably has the worst multicolored payoffs in addition to having practically no card advantage, removal, and also a way worse late game than most of the other archetypes. I pretty much only draft this archetype if it’s wide open or if I get passed Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, Sigarda, Champion of Light, or Adeline, Splendid Cathar. It’s just so hard to be aggressive with small, non-evasive creatures when there is so much Disturb around. Candlegrove Witch and Harvesttide Sentry are both good two drops in the archetype though, which is somewhat of a saving grace. That, and Might of the Old Ways is actually very impressive in Selesnya since you’re beating down and consistently hitting Coven.

Golgari Graveyard Midrange

Golgari seems to suck in every format nowadays. Good removal and creatures is fine, but the graveyard synergies just pan out way better in Simic than in Golgari. Golgari is pretty much just a midrange pile of good cards with almost no synergy and everything it does it does worse than Simic and Dimir. I’ll only draft this if both colors are wide open.

Boros Aggro

Boros is somehow atrocious despite having such great multicolored cards. Sacred Fire and Sunrise Cavalry are without a doubt top notch cards, but the archetype’s card quality crumbles quickly from there. Having a bunch of small, crappy creatures with no evasion is awful, like I said above. There’s too much Disturb and you’re going to get out carded quickly if you’re trading Falkenwrath Perforators and Cathar Commandos with Baithook Anglers and Mourning Patrols. I’ve had fantastic Boros decks that still performed poorly and I’ve just decided to avoid the archetype altogether. I’ll stick with my Organ Hoarders, Eccentric Farmers, and crazy good black removal and leave the Flare of Faith and Cathar Commando to the rest of the table.

Best Common and Why

Organ Hoarder is far and away the best common in the set and is a key enabler for every blue strategy. It’s also often a three for one in the right deck, which is just absurd for a common. Take this over removal, most of the uncommons, and most of the rares because it’s way more similar to Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths than you think it is.

Best Uncommon and Why

Morbid Opportunist is miserable to play against and is near unbeatable if left in play, which both combine to explain why the card is so disgustingly good. Untapping with it turns all your removal spells into two for ones and when it’s left in play your opponent basically can’t attack or block profitably. If they try to, they’ll just get quickly buried in card advantage. The worst part of this card is that it’s near impossible to play around because of the existence of Decayed tokens. Slam this, send in those useless zombies for some damage and a card and before you know it your opponent will be packing up their cards. This is probably my least favorite card in the entire set because it’s so unbelievably game warping for an uncommon. It is what it is though so just take this over pretty much everything in the set and crush your opponent with it.

Best Multicolored Payoff

There’s a ton of zombies and Decayed tokens in Midnight Hunt and it’s backbreaking to give them what seems like an unassuming power buff. Diregraf Horde and Falcon Abomination are both commons that quickly produce an army of zombies, and the game will often end if you follow them up with Bladestitch Skaab. Keep that in mind and be willing to take Baldestitched Skaab very early because it really is that good. Huh, I wonder if Dimir having the best common, uncommon, and multicolored cards explains why it’s the best archetype by a mile. Nah, it just couldn’t be!

Well, that’s about as much Midnight Hunt limited knowledge that I can concisely squeeze into one article! I have a bunch of other articles that go more in depth into the particular archetypes and nuances of the format, as well as also having limited ratings of each card and a tier list of every card in the set that I’m frequently updating. With all the Midnight Hunt resources out there, I’m confident that you’ll be able to dive into the format at any point and still have great success. If you’re a more heavily invested limited player and decided to read this article in the hopes of picking up a little more info about the format, then I hope that I delivered in that regard for you too!

Thanks for reading and have a great time drafting this sweet format!

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. Draugdur says:

    The format is really sweet indeed! The most fun I had since Zendikar. So, thanks for providing some more sweet, sweet guidance 🙂

    Interesting take on the uncommons. I would’ve bet number one would be the Dreadhound, that card is absolutely miserable to play against and I got wrecked every time I played against it. Morbid opportunist is really good (I’d have rated it No 3), but dies to a lot more stuff than Dreadhound. And I’m really surprised that Firmament Sage isn’t on the list – especially in UR spells, which can manipulate the day/night cycle easily (by either double-spelling when it’s night or playing everything instant when it’s day), that card’s insane.

    I yet have to play Simic/UGx flashback, is your experience with and against it really that good? After all, graveyard hate is not only ubiquitous, it’s also very incidentally strapped on cards which are good even without it (Diregraf Horde being black’s best non-removal common, and Soul Guide Gryff being a very solid finisher in white, also at common) – I both keep getting my flashback cards effortlessly eaten by my opponents, and doing the same to them.

    R/G I tried once, and it became a garbage fire very early during the drafting (and ended predictably in a 0-3). Granted, that is not a very representative example, but I think what was the problem behind that deck is – there are just way too few werewolves at common in this colour pair (just four, compared to 7 uncommon) and none of them are really good; Bird admirer is probably the best and even that mostly because of it countering the traditional greatest weakness of green (flyers). Seems to me the stars really have align for that one to be good – as in, both red and green have to be pretty open.

  2. 20pesos says:

    Great article! I was rare-drafting so I focused on drafting only blue and black commons/uncommons. I even had to splash some white to get to 40 cards. Won 5 straight games before losing 3 straight due to combat math mistakes.

    Flying + Siege Zombie + Skaab Wrangler killed all of my unlucky opponents.

  3. Waylander81 says:

    Thanks for the articles Chris, I love your insightful analysis. I’m wondering how you reconcile such stark differences between your ratings and those of 17Lands? For example, 17Lands has RG as the worst performing colour pair at 51.8% versus your rating of 4th and 17Lands has WU as the best performing colour pair versus your rating of 7th. It also has the win rate of each colour as:
    – Blue: 57.2%
    – White: 57.1%
    – Black: 56.3%
    – Green: 55.6%
    – Red: 53.5%
    (based on the average win rate of each colour pair, so this doesn’t take into account splashes etc)