Welcome back to Innistrad: Midnight Hunt First Impressions week!
All week long, various members of the SCG Staff will share their thoughts on the Top 5 Innistrad: Midnight Hunt cards in each format. On Monday we showed our love for Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope in Standard, on Tuesday we gushed about Consider’s impact on Historic, and yesterday we scratched and clawed our way to impactful cards in Pioneer. Today, we’ll close things out with Modern.
To add a little fun to the mix, a scoring system has been put in place so that we can get an idea of what card ranked in what place in the aggregate to close out each article. The scoring system is as follows:
- 1st — 5 points
- 2nd — 4 points
- 3rd — 3 points
- 4th — 2 points
- 5th — 1 point
Today we kick things off with the host of Dominaria’s Judgment, Dom Harvey!
Look, Consider probably deserves to be at the top here as well, but it’s not the game-changer it is in Historic or Pioneer and I’m glad to give some other cards a chance to breathe. Your Opts become Considers but still have to compete with Thought Scour, Serum Visions, and Sleight of Hand — the most popular deck with blue cantrips is Izzet Midrange, which wants Thought Scour to power Murktide Regent but also has an incentive to split card types with Serum Visions for Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Unholy Heat.
Champion of the Perished is the card I’m most excited about for Modern. The average tribal aggro deck is unlikely to succeed in Modern but Champion gives Zombies the ability to compete there if it wants to. More intriguingly, Champion shores up the aggro half of the aggro-combo approach that I think has a lot of potential for the reasons I explained in my article this week.
Faithful Mending is no Faithless Looting but that’s probably for the best. What it does do is allow blue decks to lean harder on graveyard synergies without committing mana on their own turn — the Esper Goryo’s Vengeance deck (or aspiringspike’s recent update with the Persist / Unmarked Grave package instead) comes to mind here. The slower blue decks in Modern these days tend to have cards like Chalice of the Void that are very important in some matchups while mostly dead in others (and that dynamic is always somewhat present with interactive cards anyway) so the card disadvantage of a Looting effect is easier to stomach.
The obvious competition for Memory Deluge is Fact or Fiction, a proven and iconic card that maybe earns one or two slots in the occasional control deck. That doesn’t bode well for Memory Deluge but I see a place for it with Wilderness Reclamation, a card I already have my eye on as a way to go over the top of the fair decks of the format without having to fight over the battlefield.
“There’s a lot going on here” is the fallback description for cards like Slogurk, the Overslime. In a format with fetchlands, cycling lands, free sacrifice outlets like Zuran Orb or Greater Gargadon, and free discard outlets, you can move resources around easily and maximize every aspect of Slogurk. With the right support, it quickly becomes a gigantic threat that draws you several cards on the way out and can often protect itself. This is a highly speculative pick but one I’m keen to try to build around.
Wow, we sure are seeing those top two cards a lot. Guess what, cheap spells are good, and subsidizing Timely Reinforcements on cost and failure mode buyout is good stuff. I actually am a bit lower on Consider in Modern than you would think, since Serum Visions having “good types” is important. All your Lightning Bolts and Unholy Heats are instants, so you need some sorceries for Dragon’s Rage Channeler.
There has been some rustling over Faithful Mending, but that card is trash for Dredge compared to Cathartic Pyre. Discard followed by draw is much better than the reverse, red mana is much better than stretching to Azorius, and Ox of Agonas for two mana as your flashback Dredge continuation spell is a big deal for efficiency. I’m unsure how much Pyre moves the needle for Dredge, but it’s at least in the ballpark.
Wrenn and Seven has me much more excited when it can pair with Life from the Loam. There are actual enablers and payoffs for building a Lands deck, even if it isn’t quite Legacy-level. It’s almost surely an Urza’s Saga deck, and Wrenn and Seven may just be stepping on the toes of Primeval Titan, but it’s something new in an area worth exploring.
Al right, I get it. This this looks like an Azorius-slanted rendition of “cards I would like to be good in Modern” rather than what will impact the format from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. The truth is, this set has a bunch of great cards that will transcend Standard, into the older formats, right from the start. Many of these heavy hitters are going directly into my Azorius Control lists, but some have the color attributes and fit better in other shells.
At the bottom of my list is Fateful Absence, a card that has sparked a ton of controversy. Cards that provide advantage to the opponent usually see limited play, but this option is unique. For the low cost of two mana, it slays a creature or planeswalker at instant speed. This is exactly what white decks are looking to do for that level of mana investment. We have been stuck with mediocre white removal in every set for years and relied heavily on Path to Exile, which also provides card disadvantage to the user. Fateful Absence will see some play in Modern, complementing Path to Exile.
Next up on my list is a gamble before we get to the good stuff. Rite of Harmony has the workings of being a broken enabler but may fall short if the pieces do not interact well. There are plenty of cheap threats, ways to produce mana, and engines to take full advantage of the card production. All that considered, this card will either be a boom or bust in Modern. The rest of the list has safe bets that will immediately impact the format.
Consider and Sunset Revelry are two direct upgrades to Azorius Control. This is not the limit of their scope; however, this is where they will have the largest upside. I have already decommissioned all copies of Opt and Timely Reinforcements without shedding a tear. The graveyard enhancement of the former, and the mana value reduction of the latter, make for clear upgrades in this archetype. I plan on seeing them played in other venues but know it will be a game changer for the decks I enjoy.
At the top of the list is a slam-dunk rendition of Faithless Looting. For one extra mana on the first cast, the user gets the same effect and a two-life boon. This spell is great news for folks who were broken apart from the ban of Faithless Looting and a curious card for Studio X to bring our way. Maybe one more mana, and a redo on the mana wheel spin, are enough to make it terrible. Only time will tell!
- Faithful Mending
- Memory Deluge
- Champion of the Perished
- Infernal Grasp
It’s slim pickings for Modern players with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, though after the major upheaval brought on by Modern Masters 2 I’m sure some stability in the metagame is welcome. Faithful Mending is a clear winner here, and it should cause Dredge players to continue to stretch their manabases to the limits in order to fit in the powerful enabler.
It’s not a huge upgrade on Thrilling Discovery or Cathartic Reunion on face value, but the flashback is a big deal for a deck that can stall out should its first couple dredges not pan out. Being able to continue the engine from the graveyard makes you much more consistent, especially when mulliganing low. There might be some other niche applications for Faithful Mending, notably in Esper Goryo’s Vengeance decks, but I doubt this one breaks into fair decks.
Memory Deluge is a powerful card draw spell for Wilderness Reclamation decks that could also supplant Fact or Fiction in control decks. You won’t want to play too many of them in control but the first copy or two is quite valuable, ensuring that you will have plenty of gas in the late-game.
Consider is a clear upgrade on Opt, but I also see it as an upgrade to Serum Visions in Izzet Midrange lists that play more cantrips. Filling your graveyard for Murktide Regent and Dragon’s Rage Channeler is obviously valuable, but the more important upgrade is being an instant, making it easier to leave up mana for Counterspell and Archmage’s Charm.
The last two cards on my list are more speculative. Champion of the Perished makes the prospect of a Zombie tribal deck intriguing. Such decks have some strong card advantage but don’t apply the same pressure as Humans with Champion of the Parish and Thalia’s Lieutenant. The new Champion could go a long way toward narrowing that gap.
Two-mana removal should be used sparingly in Modern, but Infernal Grasp could be an upgrade on Terminate, which sees some play as an answer to Murktide Regent. In nonred decks or decks with stretched manabases, the generic mana is welcome, and the life loss could play well with Death’s Shadow. I wouldn’t play more than one or two in my 75, but it’s a consideration, which is more than I can say for most of this set when it comes to Modern.
Modern is a format that takes a seriously powerful card to be able to make a huge impact in the metagame, with Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer being the most recent card to completely flip the format upside-down. Thankfully, I do not see any card from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt that is going to do that kind of damage to any format, let alone Modern. With that being said, my number one card will line up quite well against the powerful Monkey from Modern Horizons 2.
Sunset Revelry is a control player’s dream come true. When this card got previewed, you know that Shaheen Soorani and Gabriel Nassif were jumping up and down with excitement for days on end.
Picture this sequence of events with me. We were lucky enough to go first and we lead on a fetchland which is going to search a tapped Jeskai Triome. Our opponent starts with the very common play in Modern of fetchland, take three in total for a Steam Vents, and cast Ragavan. Now we get to fetch up a dual to take three and cast Sunset Revelry.
Not only would we have fewer cards since we went first, but we would also have less life since we took four from our lands. Also, we would have two blockers to make sure this Ragavan doesn’t go looting away on our library. I’m not saying this is going to make Ragavan unplayable or anything but it is going to be a bit of a roadblock to get through for those pesky decks. That very common and very likely scenario is going to come up in Modern a ton and that’s why this card gets my number one spot even though it will likely be a sideboard card!
Next up is Memory Deluge. This card is closely resembling Fact or Fiction to me but it gives the player a bit more control over the cards and gives decks the chance to cast the spell again in the late-game. The main deck that I can see this going into is Wilderness Reclamation lists and maybe a one- or two-of in some blue control decks. The problem with the Wilderness Reclamation plan is those decks have completely fallen off with the combination of losing Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and the fact that Modern Horizons 2 brought a ton of overpowered cards. I’m not sure if this deck can still compete with some of the busted Ragavan decks out there, but if it can this card will be a slam dunk in the list!
Intrepid Adversary and Aether Vial are going to be absolute besties moving forward in Modern! If your opponent has a Vial on two and four mana available, all of a sudden you have to worry about the whole team getting +2/+2 at any moment. That seems like a nightmare for blocking. This card is going to slot nicely into both Death and Taxes and Humans immediately — the only problem with that is these decks just aren’t very good right now (sorry Cedric). Ragavan isn’t really the problem for these decks; it’s the company that powerful Monkey keeps. Unholy Heat and Lightning Bolt being in basically every Ragavan deck leads these styles of creature decks to just be outclassed. That is the one problem I see for Intrepid Adversary heading into Modern.
The last two are a bit of a stretch, to be honest, but I see potential in each of them. Smoldering Egg is really interesting to me even though we already have Thing in the Ice in the format and it’s completely unplayable. A few things are different now. The 0/4 body is actually decent against all of these small creatures at the moment and the flip side is actually better than Thing in the Ice at the moment. Being able to pair this card with Manamorphose is step one to making this card good. Now, if that shell is Storm or an Arclight Phoenix deck is still to be determined, but I’m praying that this will finally allow me to dust off my beautiful firebirds.
Willow Geist is the last card on my list to make an impact. This card seems very good with the delve mechanic. We also see a ton of delve in the Modern metagame at the moment with Murktide Regent. The biggest problem with Willow Geist is the fact that it’s a green card and a one-drop. It has a ton of competition against Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler, but I do think there is a world where you could just change the very popular Izzet deck into an even more popular Temur list.
Consider is S-Tier deck manipulation. Opt has been a mainstay in Modern since it was reprinted a few years ago, and I would argue that Consider is better. Can you imagine putting Arclight Phoenix into your graveyard on purpose? It’s like a modal Thought Scour! I love this card and I doubt it will have trouble finding a home.
Infernal Grasp is a sweet removal spell that dodges the usual stipulation involved in killing a creature for two mana. You get a broad answer at the cost of two life, which just so happens to fit into one of Modern’s most popular strategies.
While dealing yourself damage is pretty easy to do in Modern, newer versions playing Lurrus of the Dream-Den can’t register Street Wraith. On occasion, it can be difficult to get your life total under thirteen. A few copies of Infernal Grasp could help with that, as well as answer some of the more problematic threats being thrown at you from match to match. Fatal Push and company are notoriously horrible at killing Primeval Titan or other large monsters. Infernal Grasp deals with that handily.
Diregraf Rebirth is an interesting one, but I think it should find a home quickly. It seems like it could be good alongside things like Blasphemous Act or Vanquish the Horde, sweepers that want you to play a ton of creatures yourself. If you have one creature your sacrifice deck centers around, something like Diregraf Rebirth could be an absurdly cheap way to keep it coming back for more. I love this card, and it does a lot of extremely niche things right. I’m looking forward to bringing back Hornet Queen and the like.
Faithful Mending is a pretty sweet card, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it showing up everywhere it’s legal. Modern is a bit more explosive at times, but something like Faithful Mending could open up all sorts of graveyard decks. Refurbish is one of my all-time favorite cards, so having white-based looting effects is pretty cool. While I doubt it will be a breakout star of the format, I expect a few decks will want this and be specifically built because this card exists.
Last up, we have more of a tribe instead of any specific card. With Werewolves being a focal point of the set, Humans are bound to come in large numbers. Luckily for the Human tribe in Modern, a deck already exists that could put these creatures to work.
Some of these Humans trigger daybound and nightbound, which is notoriously powerful alongside Aether Vial. Some of these work well with others, meaning you just want a high raw number of threats on the battlefield. My pick for the lot of ’em mimics a Spirit that was printed a few sets ago that I thought might alter the archetype completely:
While it isn’t flashy, Skaab Wrangler does exactly what you want it to: dominate combat by flooding creatures onto the battlefield. It’s cheaper than Whirler Rogue and plays a similar role. It won’t be turning heads anytime soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Human decks incorporating this tool in the two-drop slot to overpower all the other creature decks that it faces.
And now, without further ado, the SCG Staff’s Top 5 Innistrad: Midnight Hunt cards for Modern are…
5. Champion of the Perished — 7 points
4. Memory Deluge — 11 points
3. Sunset Revelry — 13 points
2. Faithful Mending — 16 points
1. Consider — 19 points
We hope you enjoyed our first impressions on Innistrad: Midnight Hunt’s impact on Standard, Historic, Pioneer, and Modern. Be sure to keep your eyes our for our Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Exit Interviews right before Innistrad: Crimson Vow preview season so you can see how well (or not well!) the SCG Staff did with their initial thoughts on Magic’s newest set.
Until then, have fun all day and all night playing with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt!