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Best Commander Cards: Innistrad Midnight Hunt – Black and Red

Best Commander Cards: White & Blue / Black & Red / Green, Gold and Etc / Commander Set

It’s time for the second installment of the Best Commander Cards in Innistrad Midnight Hunt. Last time, I covered white and blue, and today I’ll be diving into black and red. As far as ratings go, I don’t use numbers or grades – instead, I use this more subjective set of categories (though what really matters is what I write about the card, as I suspect most reviewers will tell you).

 

 

Header - Ratings Scale

  • Commander: You want this card in the command zone at the start the game. Its best use is to lead the charge as the cornerstone of your deck, but it can probably fit into your 99 as well.
  • Build-Around: This card can be a huge player in the theme of your deck. It either enables the theme by itself or is something you’re looking to take advantage of over the course of your ideal game. It’s probably worth dedicating other slots in your deck to cards that work with a build-around.
  • Powerhouse: This card’s not really about synergy, but it’s good all by itself.
  • Role Player: This card might not be the cornerstone of a deck list, but it’s an important part of the engine or strong enough on its own to merit potential inclusion. This category also covers cards that look good enough to try out but don’t seem like obvious winners.
  • Tech Card: Counterplay is important, and if a card doesn’t fit into one of the above categories but is good enough at countering other strategies, it’ll be included here.
  • Niche Inclusion: This card might make your deck if you have a deckbuilding restriction, whether it’s self-imposed based on theme or flavor, a power level consideration, or a card availability concern. 

As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. These days, I’ve been leaning more toward a desire to play three 40-minute games in lieu of one two-hour slog, but I’ll be talking about cards from the wider social perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game, so if that’s your mindset as well, these ratings will probably resonate with you. I won’t be reviewing reprints, so you can just assume I feel the same way about Thermo-Alchemist as I did before we found out it was in this set. I also don’t review every card – if I feel they’re not worth mentioning, I don’t give them a write-up, but we all know there’s a deck out there for every card. When you inevitably disagree with a rating or omitted card, please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!

Oh, and one more thing – if I don’t mention a card that has one of the set’s core mechanics, then consider my rating of that card “Niche Inclusion” for a deck that is focused on that particular mechanic.

 

Header - Black

Arrogant Outlaw

Rating: Niche Inclusion
I’m only mentioning this creature because it kicked off that great “creatures just chilling” Twitter thread. It’s not good. 

Champion of the Perished

Rating: Role Player
It’s always nice to add some height to your wider strategies, especially when it’s so cheap and easy to accomplish. 

Dreadhound

Rating: Build-Around
Syr Konrad’s best friend here is worthy of spots in the wider world, including many Dimir Mill decks as well as some decks that want to do some Aristocrats-style action without giving up size in combat. I think this Demon Dog is going to show up quite frequently with Syr Konrad and a bit less otherwise, but that’s okay.

Ghoulish Procession

Rating: Niche Inclusion
If you’re playing card like The Abyss that destroy creatures during each upkeep, this keeps you ahead of them at a low cost, but I don’t think it’s worth the sleeve you’d be placing it in.

Gisa, Glorious Resurrector

Rating: Powerhouse
I’ve talked about this a bit as a Commander in my newsletter, but realistically I think it’s much better as a member of the 99 in multicolor decks. Add white and you get cards like Divine Reckoning that, while they don’t get you an opponent’s best creature with Gisa’s ability, do allow you to cast Gisa without being immediately ready to double-spell.

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Rating: Role Player
This card has Ophiomancer vibes, but a 2/2 decayed isn’t going to stack up against a 1/1 deathtoucher in my mind, and it only triggers on your own end step. That said, it’s another cheap, reliable source of tokens, and those often play well in long-haul sacrifice-focused black decks.

Jerren, Corrupted Bishop

Rating: Role Player
 It’s going to take some serious work to get Jerren to transform, so I’d consider mostly the front side of this card. With that in mind, it’s a little bit tough to see how this could be an effective commander – I think it’s going to largely show up in Humans decks that want that extra stickiness.

Lord of the Forsaken

Rating: Build-Around
Turning creatures into self-mill seems like the best plan given the second ability, and I can imagine playing this in a Muldrotha deck or any deck that wants to mill itself with Extractor Demon. All you need is a way to play cards out of your graveyard, and it’s not too hard to fill your deck with flashback, disturb and even some Yawgmoth’s Will effects. 

The Meathook Massacre

Rating: Powerhouse
A modular wrath that also does everything you could want regarding the deaths of other creatures? Sign me up. The level of flexibility here is what impresses me, and I expect it’ll become a bit of a frustration point if this becomes as ubiquitous as I’m personally expecting. Maybe that’s spillover Blood Artist frustration – who knows?

Morbid Opportunist

Rating: Niche Inclusion
Something like Grim Haruspex or even Harvester of Souls gives you much better burst potential, but if you can reliably have a creature die each turn, this looks less like Phyrexian Arena and more like a build-around. That said, I don’t think most sacrifice decks are built for that kind of action.

Tainted Adversary

Rating: Role Player
This will likely show up in Zombie decks looking for a mana sink, but that’s about it. That said, it’s tough to scoff at an army in a can, and I expect deathtouch on a creature expected to be somewhat large is going to make this card appear worse than it is – as we know, that’s an odd side effect of adding abilities to cards like this sometimes.

 

 

Header - Red

Bloodthirsty Adversary

Rating: Powerhouse
In any deck with a moderate amount of low-cost spells, Bloodthirsty Adversary can act like a miniature Yawgmoth’s Will – if you’re packing lots of removal, think of a mega-FTK, but if it’s draw spells you love, meet red’s answer to Mulldrifter. The cards do get exiled, so you lose future equity in returning them to your hand with some other effect, but the more Commander ages, the better “now” gets relative to “later.”

Cathartic Pyre

Rating: Niche Inclusion
I think I’m okay with Abrade living in this slot for most of my decks, but I can’t say I’m unhappy to see a modal spell like this. Commanders that want to discard, like Anje Falkenrath or the newer Chainer, might love to have this as a backup Faithless Looting (at instant speed, no less) that has some external utility.

Curse of Shaken Faith

Rating: Tech Card
Want to shake someone’s faith in their spellslinger deck’s viability? Well, stopping them from going off altogether is a much better plan, but if you can’t do that, make sure they have to work really hard to win without dying. At least force them to bounce this before going off!

Electric Revelation

Rating: Niche Inclusion
We already have Thrill of Possibility at instant speed, but if you really want more of this effect outside of the world of sorceries, the flashback does effectively make this a four-for-three over two casts and seven mana.

Falkenrath Pit Fighter

Rating: Role Player

Remember when a 2/1 for R had to come with a drawback? Yeah, me too. That’s not what’s important about this card in Commander, though – it lets you turn a spare card and a token that almost certainly already attacked into something much more useful: more draws. I’m sure we’ll see this in Edgar Markov decks as well as any other aggressive Vampire builds.


Flame Channeler

Rating: Role Player
In burn-heavy decks like Syr Carah or five-mana Neheb, I can see this showing up to generate some fairly wild turns. I think it’s usually going to be correct to build up a bunch of counters and then blast them off all in one turn to burn everything down, but don’t be afraid to cast a couple of spells, use the counters and cast a couple more – hopefully your curve is low enough to multi-spell this hard. And be careful about your land drops, as it’s easy to carelessly drop one from your hand before activating this and miss out on value.

Geistflame Reservoir

Rating: Role Player
In a world where I’m regularly trash-talking Phyrexian Arena and its lookalikes, what makes me excited about Geistflame Reservoir? Well, cards like Prosper that want you to play from exile aside, it’s the release valve of this reservoir that makes me excited. The “draw a card” mode is the backup mode for when you don’t want to empty this Castle Nathria raid mechanic on a target, pouring out tons of damage if you’ve been doing your spellslinger thing. Cards like this are often worse than they look, so be ready for me to revise my rating after casting this zero to one times.

Light Up the Night

Rating: Niche Inclusion
It takes a pretty crazy effect for me to want to spend loyalty from planeswalkers outside of, you know, the abilities printed on them, and I’m not convinced this is it. That said, it’s a fun card, and I can imagine stealing a planeswalker with something like Word of Seizing and then using the flashback on this for a “steal and sac” type of maneuver.

Moonveil Regent

Rating: Powerhouse
The draw effect on this is just fantastic. If you’re a heavy multicolor deck, you can accrue serious card advantage, fill your graveyard or rip through your deck for the exact thing you need with some regularity. If you’re not, you can still play this like an Experimental Frenzy while you’re hellbent, though I’d say you would want a decent density of two or more color cards before considering this. The dies effect is not going to be enough of a deterrent for people to not kill this on sight, but it does mean you are likely to get some extra value for your card as long as this isn’t just counterspelled.

Obsessive Astronomer

Rating: Niche Inclusion
If you absolutely need another way to rummage, well, we’ve talked about a lot of solid cards in this set already with that effect. This is a real reach from my point of view.

Reckless Stormseeker

Rating: Role Player
In any Werewolf deck, this is a solid utility creature that speeds up your ability to smash. Even in non-tribal decks that just want to attack, this is a real terror at night because it’s handing out trample. That said, since we’re not out here playing Battle-Rattle Shaman most of the time, keep a cap on your expectations.

Seize the Storm

Rating: Niche Inclusion
This is an interesting take on Crackling Drake, but I think it’s significantly worse. You’re not getting a card draw, you’re paying more and while we have a larger creature overall most of the time with trample instead of “just” flying, it’s hard to justify spending so much mana on this effect outside of Limited.

Smoldering Egg

Rating: Build-Around
I’ve heard this called “Thing in the Egg”, and while I think the name is apropos from a flavor standpoint, the mechanical comparison ends once we transform this Egg into a full-grown Dragon. Even the transformation mechanic is different – a single spell can hatch this egg if it costs enough – but once you’re in dragon mode, you want to cast lots of little spells to get lots of triggers. Sometimes this dragon is just worse than Guttersnipe when all you want to do is blast opponents, but if you need to shock the system by clearing the board, you know it’s all about this egg.

Sunstreak Phoenix

Rating: Niche Inclusion
It’s tough to get on board with a Phoenix that has such a wild requirement for a return trip, so I expect this to only show up in wild builds that depend on flipping the switch or, alternatively, Phoenix tribal.

Voldaren Ambusher

Rating: Role Player
Flametongue Vampire here gets to blast planeswalkers from orbit, which I’m a fan of – ignore the walker during combat, attack for a lot and then blow it up after you deal its controller lots of damage. It’s not hard to get your Vampire count up in Vampire-focused decks, so I imagine this will outperform FTK on the damage side of things most of the time.

 

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