The Archetypes to Avoid in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft

Locked in the Cemetery Art by Tran Nguyen
Locked in the Cemetery Art by Tran Nguyen

Hey everyone! I figured that it only made sense to contrast my How to Play and Draft the Best Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Archetypes with one detailing the strategies that have overall disappointed me. Midnight Hunt limited has incredibly complex game play, but I hope that by reading this you get some knowledge about what archetypes are not as well supported in the set. That way during the draft portion you can know which powerful multicolored cards and uncommons you should be avoiding because they lack a good home. You won’t be duped into drafting lackluster decks once you understand that the archetype these cards are supporting are ones that can’t really cut it with Dimir Zombies and Simic based Flashback decks. From there, your win rate and success in the format should improve considerably.

As a disclaimer I do want to point out that any color combination has the capability to be great if it’s not being drafted or if you happen to open up the powerful rares needed to cobble it together. However my purpose for writing limited articles is to increase your overall knowledge to the point that you are consistently drafting solid decks. If you often find yourself falling into these archetypes while drafting Midnight Hunt, then that could explain why you might be struggling with the format. It’s hard to achieve that goal of always having a solid deck when there is a way lower density of great playables in certain color combinations and archetypes. Time to give you a heads up on which of these archetypes you should be avoiding!

  1. Selesnya Humans
  2. Izzet Midrange
  3. Dimir Control
  4. Boros Aggro

Selesnya Humans

This one absolutely breaks my heart because I started the format relatively high on this archetype. Selesnya suffers from a few major problems with the first one being how much weaker their multicolored cards are than the other archetypes. Join the Dance is fine but nothing special, and the same can be said for Dawnhart Wardens which often isn’t able to overrun the opponent with it’s Coven ability because of the abundance of good interaction in the format. Just look at Simic and Dimir who have Rootcoil Creeper and Bladestitched Skaab, both of which are disgustingly good on their own and synergize insanely well with their respective archetype. An upgraded Dragon Fodder and Centaur Courser just simply don’t compare.

Like I mentioned earlier, there is a ton of great removal and interaction in this format. That means that even though it’s easy to achieve Coven, it’s also quite difficult to maintain. So building your deck around triggering Ritual of Hope, Candlegrove Witch, Candletrap, and Harvesttide Sentry is often going to be a losing strategy against most decks. Candletrap in particular is awkward because it’s hard to maintain aggression after casting it unless you have Coven and can activate it immediately, which I have been finding to be harder and harder to do with how much removal heavy Dimir that’s floating around. I want my removal to gain me tempo, and Candletrap simply doesn’t often do that in Selesnya.

Selesnya also struggles because of how much worse white pairs green as opposed to the other colors. Duel for Dominance and Clear Shot become worse when your deck is filled with Gavony Trapper, Lunarch Veteran, Mourning Patrol, Beloved Beggar, Search Party Captain, Chaplain of Alms, Loyal Gryff, etc. White simply has a ton of small creatures that can’t use fight spells very well, which is a huge issue since that is green’s main form of removal. Gruul has overperformed for me almost solely off how good Duel for Dominance has been there. Selesnya also can’t fully commit to a lane like werewolves or flashback based decks can, which means that you’ll rarely be able to get full value out of solid commons like Eccentric Farmer, Shadowbeast Sighting, and Bird Admirer.

Lastly and most importantly, Selesnya has little to no card advantage so assuming your opponent can manage the board until the late game, you’re just going to sputter out and get grinded into the dirt. I’ll still get a Selesnya humans deck together when I open Katilda, Dawnhart Prime, but I really try to avoid the archetype and I believe that you should too.

Izzet Midrange

It’s crazy to me how I assumed that Izzet would be one of the best archetypes of the set, only for it to be completely outclassed by Dimir, Simic, and Azorius. I want to differentiate Izzet aggro and midrange, because I’m actually a big fan of the version that uses Delver of Secrets, Thermo-Alchemist, Festival Crasher, and Spellrune Painte in conjunction with Revenge of the Drowned, Geistwave, Moonrager’s Slash, Cathartic Pyre, and other removal spells in order to out tempo and quickly kill the opponent. Relying on Ardent Elementalist, a bunch of removal, and a late game Seize the Storm is more often than not going to fail and here’s why:

Izzet midrange isn’t able to utilize cards like Festival Crasher, Delver of Secrets, and Spellrune Painter well, which is a huge issue because those cards often go late since very few archetypes are interested in them. Secondly, tempo based creature interaction like Revenge of the Drowned and Geistwave become way worse when you don’t back them up with some form of pressure. Otherwise you’re just going to drag the game on and eventually get to the point where you get out competed on the board by a hoard of zombies, werewolves, or even ants! Trust me when I say that modern limited is way too powerful for nonsense like bouncing your own Ardent Elementalist with Geistwave to be a good enough in the late game. Use your bounce spells the way they were designed to be used and get that tempo!

Another key point that will also come up in the following archetype is the effect Decayed zombie tokens play on the format. Slow Izzet decks like this are unable to adequately use the 2/2 well, which is an enormous issue because that means that every card with Decayed on it is going to underperform significantly. Not actively seeking Falcon Abomination when you’re a blue drafter should alone be enough of a red flag on why this archetype is destined to fail. Slow midrange decks like this also lack good blockers and any efficient way to keep up with an opponent who deals two damage whenever they cast a spell. You’ll fully get what I’m saying when you pass on a near empty board while holding up a Burn the Accursed and your opponent slams a Diregraf Horde and easily runs away with the game. It just feels impossible to win in this format unless you are always playing to the board and trying to close out the game. 

Izzet gets completely outclassed by Simic and Dimir when it’s built like this, so play into the archetypes niche and just kill your opponent with a bunch of Festival Crashers!

Devious Cover-Up Control

I drafted this spicy one with my friend, Finch so that we could relive the glory days of Guilds of Ravnica limited and loop a couple Devious Cover-Up until our opponents simply couldn’t take anymore. My god was this deck bad though. It’s bad for a lot of the same reasons why Izzet midrange was bad, but I still wanted to quickly go over this archetype because it’s very weird for an archetype to be the best thing to do in one limited format and then be totally unplayable in another.

Trying to answer threats with one-for-one removal is unbelievably bad in a format that is dominated by Disturb and Decay. I remember I lost the first game of this draft to a lone Mourning Patrol from a mediocre Orzhov deck. I couldn’t block it or afford to blow two removal spells on it, so I literally took 12 damage from it. Losing to a medium common three drop is a pretty big red flag now that’s for sure. I also want to reiterate how poor Revenge of the Drowned performs when you can’t use the 2/2 and you can’t pressure the opponent. Dimir needs to be aggressively slanted because unlike past formats,  you can’t hope to answer every creature your opponent throws at you. You’ll find significantly more success from curving Falcon Abominations into Diregraf Hordes and backing them up with removal for your opponents key threats. As much as it pains me to say this, leave your Devious Cover-Ups in the board where they belong.

Boros Aggro 

I have yet to ever draft this strategy in over 25 drafts, which alone sort of showcases the lack of support for this archetype. I’ve also faced it a ton and pretty rarely been impressed by it. It is possible to get a decent Boros aggro deck, but it almost solely revolves around you picking up the key uncommons for the deck, namely Sacred Fire and Sunrise Cavalier. Here are the biggest issues with this archetype:

Right off the bat, Boros is already in a rough place because white and red are the worst colors in the format. That means that there are less standalone busted cards like Organ Hoarder, Hound Tamer, and Morbid Opportunist around, which fit well in and drastically improve any deck that they’re part of. Secondly, none of the white or red cards synergize well enough to do anything but be aggressive. That means that you’ll be pigeon-holed into a two color aggressive deck every single time you draft Boros, which is a tough place to be in a format that has poor fixing and a ton of great interaction and creatures. 

Being the aggressor and relying on trading creatures is also tough to do in this format because of Disturb. Imagine playing Boros and playing a turn two Lambholt Harrier only for your opponent to untap and play a Baithook Angler or Mourning Patrol. The existence of these great blockers can make early aggression a nightmare to pull off in this format, which is why I have had the most success with playing aggro decks like Gruul, which beat down early but also have large enough creatures to get through Disturb creatures without having to trade with them like smaller white creatures would. Werwolves also outsize and outclass all these smaller aggressive creatures, which means that Boros can’t really catch a break in any matchup!

Rakdos has similar issues but is a bit better than Boros in my experience because you have some decent synergies and can make use of cards like Vampire Socialite and Voldaren Ambusher, which are both very powerful and often go late because so few decks can profitably play them. Boros has none of that going for it, so I’d only draft it if the stars align and I get a pile of busted rares and uncommons. Otherwise, I’d look towards Orzhov, Izzet, or Gruul if you want to be the aggressor.

Well, that about sums up my current thoughts of the archetypes of Midnight Hunt. The best three in my experience have been Dimir, Simic/multicolored green, and Gruul whereas the worst have been Midrange Izzet decks, Boros, and Selesnya. The other archetypes are all fine in my experience, with Rakdos being on the weaker end but still being strong enough due to being hoisted up by some key uncommons and great removal. I hope that I could clear up some questions you were having about the format and fingers crossed that you can translate this information into a higher limited win percentage and an overall better experience with the format!

Thanks for reading and happy drafting!

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.

11 Responses

  1. Albel says:

    I really like how you makw the contrast to the best decks to draft. It’s just fair to make this to get the full picture.

    However, I am quite surprised by your evaluation. My personal record may be just a small sample but my theee 7 win streaks among my 10 drafts I had 2x with izzet spells and 1x with selesnya humans, so obviously I tend to disagree.

    This article may also be a bit too polarizing. Yes, there are better and worse archetypes, but in the end it still comes down to colors being open im the draft or not. One of my izzet runs I was following open colors and ended up with 3x seize the storm and a bunch of flashback and disturb cards. On the other hand I once tried to end up in dimir a bit too much and ended up with a very unsatisying deck.

    • Draugdur says:

      Agreed. As of late, I tend to avoid archetypes recommended by the pros as “best” like a plague, because most of the recent draft environments were fairly balanced, and people tend to overdraft the “best” deck waaaaay too much. In D&D, after Rakdos was proclaimed the “best” deck, I don’t think I saw it open once in 20-25 drafts I did. At the same time, I beat it consistently with decks like WG lifelink and WB venture. Same in Strixhaven, where all my 7 runs came from heavily underdrafted Lorehold which was supposedly the “worst” deck.

      Interestingly, my only seven-run so far in MID (out of three completed drafts) was also Selesnya, a 7-0 even. To be fair, the deck relied a lot on the Blob (which is disgustingly good), but still, I still won half of my matches without the Blob. I think a difference must be made between Selesnya *humans*, which may be middling (although it did crush me in prerelease), and generic Selesnya or Selesnya counters, which can be very good. As for his sample deck above, it needs more Flare of Faith and Odric’s Outrider, those hold the deck together.

      Going forward, I think Dimir will be solid, but not as good, since people will start figuring out that Eaten Alive is a good spell and that blue pairs by far best with black. GR werewolves are already overdrafted, so thanks, but no thanks on that one. So far, Orzhov seems a solid choice, as it combines what probably is the best colour (black) with what probably is the most undervalued colour (white), has very good signpost uncommons, tons of good removal, and token generation which matches (if not outright exceeds) Dimir. Selesnya would be my second choice, as so far white (again) seems underdrafted.

      • Chris Kvartek says:

        Interesting points here. Personally I’m not a big flare of faith fan, but I guess I should be taking it more highly! It makes sense to not draft dimir because it is overdrafted, but to say it is not the most powerful archetype seems impossible to defend. Just from looking at the set spoiler you’ll have a hard time finding more than three bad blue and black commons, and having the best commons that also synergize very well together is what makes it the best archetype. It feels like every card with decayed except rotten reunion ranges from good to great, which makes dimir especially scary! Orzhov is also solid, but significantly more shallow. Thanks for your feedback!

        • Draugdur says:

          First of all, much appreciated for you taking the time to respond! And just to be clear, sharing your thoughts on the format is extremely valuable and insightful, my comment was pretty much “complaining” at a very high level 🙂

          Re. Flare of Faith, I completely dismissed it going in the format, but then I died horribly every time I played against Wx humans deck xD Now, that may be because I’m a mediocre player at best and should’ve played around it more, but still, it has such a high blowout potential. It’s no lunar frenzy, but in combat it actually has a fairly similar effect of saving their creature while most likely killing yours.

          As for Dimir vs Orzhov (or any other colour combination for that matter), I’m not going to argue against the statement that Dimir is the best archetype – frankly, I don’t think we have enough data yet, but that’s just my personal opinion. It certainly is one of the contenders and feels one of the strongest. Just looking at the single colours and numbers (that is , your ratings) though, blue in particular seems very lackluster, being the only colour with no single-colour C or U rated 4, the only colour with no commons rated 3,5 (or above) AND the colour with most filler cards (1,5 or below). Now, I get that this doesn’t take synergies into account (ie bad blue and black cards mostly not being the decayed cards which go into Dimir), and that a good Dimir decayed deck may even constantly be the best deck on the tables it comes together, but I do think its pool is less deep than advertised and the deck could easily get overdrafted. After all, the good decayed cards fit into most black or blue decks (I’d say, anything except BR aggro). I am looking forward to my personal win and vs. loss rate statistics though, let’s see if I do get slaughtered by Dimir more than I think I will 🙂

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      You’re for sure right, drafting always comes down to finding the open colors and open archetypes. That’s why there can never be a truly awful or unplayable color in most sets. It sounds like you’re just finding the open colors and crushing with them (a 3 seize the storm izzet deck means that you were for sure in the right colors because that cards busted). Dimir is for sure being overdrafted now too, so it makes sense that you’re struggling to cobble a good version of the deck together. That sample size is also a bit small, but you already brought that up. I appreciate the feedback!

  2. Bladeofsteel says:

    So far I’ve done 4 drafts which isn’t a lot but I went 3-3 twice rare drafting g/w humans splash for tovolar and w/b something, and 7 wins both times with rakdos vampires. Vampires has really good stuff at the 3 drop 2/2 that kills things and socialite. I see nobody talking about rocking vampires, but for me at least playing rakdos aggro has been very strong. Currently drafted up a rakdos deck with 3 vampire interloper and 4 of the lifesteal for 2. Sorry bad with names.

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      hellllll yeah interloper based rakdos sacrifice is almost certainly the way to be drafting vampires. It sounds like you’ve nicely weaseled yourself into an archetype that has not been getting the attention that it deserves. Being spot on with your understanding of what an archetypes role is is a very good skill so good luck with continuing to crush with Vampires!

  3. calebvdl says:

    Just wanted to say I’ve been reading your articles like mad, and they seem to have improved my Limited game a lot as a new MTG player! I had a 7 win run with Orzhov, a 4 win run with Izzet (though I see now why the midrange plan is a bit lacklustre), and am currently 3-0 with Azorious. Cheers!

  4. madcat says:

    Great article! I did stumble into a Boros aggro draft, and it was… fine. It started out mono-red burn (first two picks were Burn Down the House and Geistflame Reservoir) so had hopes for Izzet, but blue never opened. So I started scrambling for a second color (the story of most of my drafts), and Rem Karolus, Sacred Fire, and Angelfire Ignition fell into my lap, so Boros it was. It was bumpy, but I burned and beat down my way to 5-3. A common win was to paper-cut my opponent to a Geistflame or Angelfire Ignition kill. Not classic, but worked well enough.

    • Chris Kvartek says:

      Angelfire Ignition has been great for me and is definitely one of the only reasons to go boros in my opinion, so I like how you saw that and went for it. It’s crazy though how hard it is to win with though the archetype even when you have a ton of busted cards like that!