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Considering The Archetypes Of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Limited

The latest MTG Draft format is almost here. Ryan Saxe breaks down the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt two-color archetypes before diving into picks.

Devoted Grafkeeper, illustrated by Raoul Vitale

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is finally coming this week and I couldn’t be more excited. Leveraging the graveyard as a resource is one of my favorite things to do in Limited, and this set is chock-full of graveyard synergies. Thanks to DraftSim, while the set isn’t on Magic Arena or Magic Online, I can still generate some Draft scenarios to walk through how I make decisions in this format.

Before I get into that, I want to outline each color combination.

Azorius

Devoted Grafkeeper Faithful Mending

Azorius is meant to be all about disturbed Spirits, trading creatures, and bringing them back from the graveyard as evasive threats. However, I expect this to have what I’ll call “The Magic Origins Thopter Problem.” The Magic Origins Draft format had Izzet Thopters as an archetype. The Izzet color combination contained lots of cards that created 1/1 flying Thopter tokens. Unfortunately for that archetype, every card that made a flyer was generically good, therefore the other drafters at the table took them highly, making it notoriously difficult to get a density of Thopters. Disturb will likely be the same. Being able to trade a creature and then create an evasive threat is something every single Draft deck can use, hence getting a density of cards with disturb will be difficult.

This doesn’t mean Azorius won’t be good. But think of it more like a flyers deck with some graveyard synergies rather than a disturb deck.

Orzhov

Rite of Oblivion Fleshtaker

Orzhov is all about sacrificing creatures and seems relatively aggressive. It’s likely one of the best homes for decayed Zombie tokens because leveraging the extra body will be easy.

Boros

Sacred Fire Sunrise Cavalier

Ah, good old Boros. I don’t really care what themes are seeded in this archetype and you shouldn’t either. Coven, daybound/nightbound, flashback, and more touch this color combination, but don’t worry about that. Just draft good creatures and turn them sideways.

Selesnya

Dawnhart Wardens Join the Dance

Coven is a nice reward for going wide, and there are Human tokens running around to help turn that on. Even though Flare of Faith is a common, there really isn’t any payoff for the Human subtype outside of rares, so don’t prioritize anything due to that type line.

Like Boros, I expect this deck doesn’t care about synergy so much. When you naturally cast your creatures, you’ll end up with a wide battlefield, which inherently turns on Coven. Don’t go out of your way for those synergies.

Dimir

Corpse Cobble Bladestitched Skaab

Dimir Zombies looks like this really awesome synergy deck, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m extremely low on the decayed mechanic. Cards that produce the tokens are relatively below rate, which means playing cards that create those tokens will likely leave you behind on the battlefield. If you’re behind in that way, it becomes harder to leverage the decayed tokens because they can’t block. Basically, the tension doesn’t make sense to me. In order to take advantage of decayed tokens, you need to be aggressive, but Dimir doesn’t look great at being aggressive.

And yes, I know there are cards like Siege Zombie and Skaab Wrangler to help get value out of the tokens, but it still seems below par. Like Boros and Selesnya, I think I would rather look for good, above-rate effects over decayed synergy in this archetype.

Izzet

Arcane Infusion Storm Skreelix

Izzet, on the other hand, is a synergistic deck I can get behind. There are lots of payoffs for casting instants and sorceries and the deck uses the graveyard as a great resource. I genuinely believe that, if you’re drafting Izzet, Consider is the best blue common for that deck. Additionally, I expect this deck to have very few creatures, especially with uncommon spell payoffs like Seize the Storm.

Simic

Rootcoil Creeper Winterthorn Blessing

Simic is the multicolor durdle archetype, as per usual. Rootcoil Creeper is a fantastic mana creature with late-game relevance, and Winterthorn Blessing helps play a defensive game or turn a corner. Play good and big creatures, include lots of flashback spells, and profit. Additionally, don’t be afraid to splash flashback spells. With enough ways to put cards in the graveyard, the splash is less risky.

Rakdos

Vampire Socialite Hungry for More

Rakdos Vampires goes toe-to-toe with Boros for the fastest deck in the format. This deck cares about dealing damage to the opponent, which turns on some synergies post-combat. This leads to snowballing starts, so prioritize any early play, especially Vampire Interloper.

Golgari

Diregraf Rebirth Grizzly Ghoul

Golgari cares about creatures dying, which is a pretty common synergy for that color pair. While the gold uncommons are powerful, I’m not sure if they’re good enough to justify jumping through hoops. I understand that this is supposed to work well with decayed tokens, but I’ve already said how I don’t want to take a hit on card quality to synergize with that mechanic.

Gruul

Kessig Naturalist Unnatural Moonrise

Gruul Werewolves hits hard to the point where it warps the format. If your opponent casts Kessig Naturalist, and you don’t have a follow-up play, the game might just end. And even without that, the red cards look great for supporting any aggressive deck. This means it’s crucial to prioritize early plays, otherwise it could become night and then, well, it’s lights out.

Now, with all of that in mind, let’s walk through the first three picks of a Draft!

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

Champion of the Perished Beloved Beggar Play with Fire Ritual of Hope Gavony Trapper Locked in the Cemetery Defenestrate Morkrut Behemoth Might of the Old Ways Voldaren Stinger Geistwave Otherworldly Gaze Flare of Faith Harvesttide Infiltrator

The Pick:

Shock is often a solid card in any Draft deck, and Play with Fire is a strict upgrade. That being said, the rarity symbol can trick you. While this card is better than Shock, Shock isn’t often the most premium removal in a format, hence it’s not a great card to first-pick. The same goes for Play with Fire. If Play with Fire were worded like Pillar of Flame or Magma Spray in order to line up well against graveyard synergies, it would be much better and a contender in this pack. But as is, I don’t think it’s close to the other options.

Beloved Beggar is an awesome creature. While an 0/4 blocker is not a card I’m usually in the market for, the fact that it comes back as a Serra Angel in the late-game is, frankly, absurd. You can discard or mill the card for value, or just chump with it against decks with big enough creatures. And, against decks that don’t have big enough creatures, the 0/4 “Wall” is probably valuable. My biggest concern is that the front side can be a blank against Azorius and Izzet given their creature suite, but I still think it’s a strong uncommon I would be happy to first-pick.

Champion of the Perished and Defenestrate are solid black cards to first-pick. I think a lot of people would take Defenestrate over Champion here, but I think that’s a mistake. Three-mana instant-speed removal is awesome, but it lines up awkwardly against all the disturb creatures. Furthermore, flyers are often the most premium targets to hit with removal, so that “without flying” clause is probably more relevant than you’d think. Add in that there are a ton of Zombies in the format, and I think Champion of the Perished comes out ahead. A one-mana investment for 3/3 worth of stats is extremely strong, and I think it’ll be relatively easy to make the Champion grow to at least that size.

But is Champion of the Perished better than Beloved Beggar? I’m not sure. It’s probably close. However, since Champion is a rare, I think the correct thing to do this early in the format is to take it and get some data on how it plays out.

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

Champion of the Perished

The Pack:

Can't Stay Away Devoted Grafkeeper Fading Hope Shadowbeast Sighting Gavony Silversmith Diregraf Horde Dawnhart Rejuvenator Ardent Elementalist Locked in the Cemetery Unblinking Observer Pestilent Wolf Stormrider Spirit Ecstatic Awakener

The Pick:

Don’t trick yourself into “staying black to be open.” This is a common error I see where a player will take a good-but-not-great rare first, and then inflate the value of mono-black cards to stay open way more than necessary. Ecstatic Awakener and Diregraf Horde are reasonable playables for the type of black decks that maximize Champion of the Perished. but they’re not cards you should ever take this early.

Locked in the Cemetery and Fading Hope are solid blue interactive spells. When I’m evaluating them, I think that Locked in the Cemetery is better if you can reliably turn on the graveyard clause, but otherwise, Fading Hope is better (exception: Izzet spells probably always wants the instant). The question will be how easy it is for blue decks to turn on Cemetery. I’ll start by evaluating Cemetery highly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is a world where Fading Hope is better. That being said, both gold cards seem enough better to me that neither interactive spell is in the discussion.

Shadowbeast Sighting is arguably the best green common. It has fantastic stats and fantastic value, but that doesn’t add up to a card I’m super-happy to first-pick. It’s a good card, don’t get me wrong, but just like the blue interactive spells, I don’t think it can compete with the gold cards.

Can’t Stay Away is a pretty powerful rare, especially once you consider that Orzhov loves sacrificing creatures, therefore it probably plays lots of ways to leverage this card. While Orzhov isn’t the best home for Champion of the Perished because there are no white Zombies, I think it can still pull some weight given that I can pursue this draft with the card in mind. I wouldn’t fault anybody for taking Can’t Stay Away here. It’s a solid rare, and as I’ve said, getting data on rares is important at the beginning of any Limited format. However, I think Devoted Grafkeeper is just too good to pass.

Devoted Grafkeeper will probably never end up in the same deck as Champion of the Perished, but that’s okay. The absolute floor of Devoted Grafkeeper is a two-drop that, later in the game, becomes a three-power evasive creature. That floor is already a fantastic card, and the ceiling is utterly absurd. Cards with flashback and disturb become powerful influences on combat, and the mill text can even make this card a straight-up three-for-one. I think this uncommon is encroaching on A- territory in terms of card evaluation, and even though it’s a gold card, I think it’s reasonable to take over a lot of rares. I don’t plan on passing it much, so I firmly believe it is the correct pick.

Pack 1, Pick 3

The Picks So Far:

Champion of the Perished Devoted Grafkeeper

The Pack:

Spellrune Painter Dissipate Burn the Accursed Falkenrath Perforator Consider Return to Nature Sungold Barrage Defenestrate Bladebrand Component Collector Novice Occultist Shady Traveler

The Pick:

Between Dissipate and Consider, I think Consider is hands-down the better blue card. Cancel is just too clunky in most Limited formats, and while the exile upside of Dissipate is nice, I don’t think that converts it into a card that I’m excited to play in my blue decks.

While Cancel is overrated in a lot of Limited formats, I find Opt to be underrated, and Consider is a significant upgrade to Opt in a set focused on graveyard synergies. The floor of this card is a one-mana cantrip, which isn’t terrible. The ceiling is a one-mana instant-speed Divination, which is insane. I genuinely believe Consider is a top blue common and think it will go criminally late at the beginning of the format.

But is it better than a removal spell? If I had these options Pack 1, Pick 1, I would take Defenestrate. The only question is whether the two cards in my pool swing me towards Consider. I think they do for the following reasons:

1. Devoted Grafkeeper is better than Champion of the Perished.

2. The best deck for Champion of the Perished is Dimir Zombies, which also can happily play Consider.

Therefore I have a stronger pull to blue than any other color. While Defenestrate is a better card, I don’t think it’s better than Consider by a massive margin. I understand that take is likely controversial, but I stand by it. With all this in mind, I think this is a “close but clear” Consider.