Ecstatic Awakener Art by Tuan Duong Chu

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft Guide – August 2022 Update

Hey everyone! Are you as excited as I am for some throwback draft action? It’s so awesome that we get to do it Premier Draft style instead of dealing with the Quick Draft bots. It allows the drafts to be self-correcting instead of just jamming the same broken thing over and over again. So, let’s get you prepped to hop back on the Team Jacob band wagon in the lands of Innistrad Midnight Hunt.

Key Ideas of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

PSA: If you never played Midnight Hunt or its memories have drifted away amongst the tides, the boogeyman of the format is Dimir. It is the best color combination because it has a large amount of insanely synergistic and powerful cards. Seriously, if you were ranking commons, the fifth or sixth best common in those colors would be in the debate for top common in other colors.

The disposable zombies were just thrown onto cards for free when they ended up being worth almost half a card each. That makes Revenge of the Drowned and Startle infinitely better than the normal versions of those cards. Don’t even get me started on Diregraf Horde which wrecks their graveyard and puts seven power on the board across three bodies for only five mana.

There is a solid debate for best common between Diregraf Horde, Ecstatic Awakener, and Organ Hoarder. They are all straight up bananas, so you can’t really go wrong with any of them.

I know I really shouldn’t have to tell anyone this, but before someone(and you know who you are) goes off the rails and is like, “Butz Organ Hoarder self-mills, I hatez that”, you get to pick the best card and the other cards going to your yard is a pretty big benefit in a set filled with Disturb and Flashback. It’s a busted card, but I’ve had to have this talk with enough people that I put it in here just in case.

Did you notice that I haven’t even mentioned the suite of great black removal floating around? It has Defenestrate, Foul Play, Eaten Alive, Infernal Grasp, and Olivia's Midnight Ambush. That’s a hugely versatile collection of ways to rain death down upon your opponents’ creatures.

Black even gets the best uncommon with Morbid Opportunist. It’s a huge threat that makes your opponents not want to trade or use removal on any of your other creatures, but it is itself a removal magnet. You can even guarantee a trigger on a stalled board by sending a decayed zombie in to take one for the team.

Even after all that, Dimir is not the end all, be all deck of the format. There are actually a good mix of decks that can be just as busted because you’re not fighting over the same two colors as everyone else.

Azorius is a really grindy deck that seeks to win the long game through disturb value. It holds up really well against Dimir by playing a lot of the same power blue cards, but replacing the black removal with more two for ones through disturb creatures. The main problem when this was originally out was that the mirror would almost always go to time, but that’s not something you have to worry about in best of one land. You do have to worry about Diregraf Horde though.

Even Selesnya is a solid archetype with coven activating some pretty powerful abilities. It’s almost impossible to block profitably against an active Dawnhart Mentor and it gets you only one away from coven on its own. It also gets Ambitious Farmhand and Gavony Dawnguard as solid contributors.

That brings us to the Dafore special. He was all about that Festival Crasher life. It’s a deck that can come together because you are in the market for a lot of cards that no one else wants. You can kill your opponent out of nowhere with a combination of Abandon the Post, Stolen Vitality, and a variety of burn. Obviously Moonrager's Slash is great in this deck, but Play with Fire is even better since it always costs only one mana.

If you are in the business of crashing festivals, there are a bunch of uncommons that you need to bump up in your pick order. Lunar Frenzy is very rawly powerful, but really shines in this archetype. Also be on the look out for Thermo-Alchemist to clock your opponent and Spellrune Painter to provide extra copies of Festival Crasher.

One of my favorite things to do is to play crazy Seize the Storm decks. I know fellow MTG Arena Zone author Sierkovitz was all about jamming this archetype too. It can vary from an almost mono red variation on the spells deck to a Temur pile taking advantage of Eccentric Farmers to stock the graveyard with goodies like Shadowbeast Sighting.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything to do with werewolves despite this being the werewolf set. Well, when they were designing the set, it was more like werewolf hunting season. There are so many cards that incidentally bone werewolves like Olivia's Midnight Ambush and Silver Bolt turning into Doom Blade doesn’t help.

Gruul is a trap, don’t fall for it. Thanks for coming to my TED talk on Gruul.

There are a lot of microdecisions in this format that can really add up. One of the common ones is deciding between tapping three creatures to use Larder Zombie to filter the top of your deck or Siege Zombie to ping for one damage. While it really depends on the math of the situation, I tend to default to card filter before damage.

Don’t underestimate one drops. Outside of the previously discussed Ecstatic Awakener and Larder Zombie, Lunarch Veteran is a house. The incidental life gain really adds up over the course of the game and even if they deal with it, it just comes back as an annoying flyer. It’s also one of those cards that goes much later than it should if people don’t understand the format.

If your blue opponent leaves three mana open, be wary of Flip the Switch. Four mana is too much to wait to play everything around it so you’re either going to have to try to bait it out or wait for them to tap out of it.

Vanquish the Horde is the big sweeper to play around. It’s kind of an odd one because you can sometimes prevent them from being able to play it by not playing an extra creature. Basically its designed to be much better against people who don’t play around sweepers.

Burn Down the House is the other sweeper, but it is much harder to play around because if you under commit to the board, they can just blitz your face off with the offensive mode.

Tricks

Blue has both Startle and Nebelgast Intruder to wreck combat with. Be especially wary of the Nebelgast Intruder getting a free kill on what looks like a clean board. One way to check for it is to play something precombat to see if they take the opportunity to Flip the Switch it. If they let it resolve, you might want to change your attacks to avoid the blowout.

One of the other wrecking balls in MID is Clear Shot. It seems like you are casually doing a trade and then WAM, two for oned in the middle of nowhere. It is harder to play around in Best of One, especially since it’s an uncommon. Just keep in mind the possibility.

Whatever you do, don’t forget about Blessed Defiance when you’re counting up lethal. An extra six life for only one mana can leave you sitting there with your pants down while they swing back for lethal.

Bombs

These are the Pack One Pick One (p1p1) no doubt, windmill slam, just take them rares of the set. These are not in rank order, just take these over any uncommon or common.

Mythic Uncommons

These might be uncommons, but they sure don’t play like they are.

Do Not Draft List

These are the ones that some people talk themselves into, but you should always pass.

Wrap Up

This is a really solid format with a lot more variety than everyone makes it out to be. Just avoid getting in too deep with the werewolves and everything will work itself out. I hope you enjoy your trip back into the lands of Innistrad Midnight Hunt and I’ll be back soon with my next article.

I’m always open to feedback, let me know what you loved, what you hated, or just send dog pics. You can contact me at:

Card Kingdom - Double Masters 2022
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j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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