Yesterday evening, I finally sat down and read through the entire Innistrad: Midnight Hunt spoiler. Overall, the set appears to be a fun expansion of the Magic Innistrad franchise with a lot of fun and exciting new cards with great flavor. Today, I’ll be providing my selections of any worthy Midnight Hunt Battle Box additions as well as adding updates to my personal Battle Box stack, the Danger Room.
As far as potential selections for Battle Box go, Midnight Hunt is deep on options. In fact, there are far too many solid Battle Box picks to make room for them all in Danger Room this time around. So, as Battle Box builders, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt provides us with a ton of interesting choices for cards to potentially add.
Overall, it’s difficult not to fall in love with an Innistrad set. Innistrad’s classic horror themes add so much great flavor to the Magic experience. Who doesn’t love Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, Spirits and Demons?
The keyword mechanics of an expansion generally play a big role in determining how good a set will be for Battle Box. Keywords that require very specific synergies to function properly, search libraries, and/or ramp mana tend to work poorly (or not at all!) in Battle Box. Other keywords, especially ones that do not require specific synergies to work well, tend to be much better.
Daybound/nightbound is a reworded, clarified version of the transform mechanic for Werewolves first introduced in the original Innistrad. It works “fine” in Battle Box, with the caveat that since players draw a spell each turn, it’s very hard to actually flip them (since players always have a spell on their turn). Since it’s difficult for a scenario to occur where a player doesn’t want to play a spell, with a daybound creature in play, I tend to think the value of this keyword is highly diminished in Battle Box play. Certainly not “unplayable,” but not ideal.
Disturb is the keyword I’m by far most excited for in Midnight Hunt. It’s essentially a version of flashback that’s been added to creatures. Creatures with disturb can be cast from the graveyard by paying their disturb cost and enter play as the flipped version of the creature. If the creature would leave play after being “disturbed,” it’s exiled (similar to casting a spell for its flashback cost).
In addition to disturb entering the mix, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt also heralds the return of fan-favorite mechanic, flashback. I’ve been very interested in adding more draw and discard to my stack and so having more and new flashback (and also disturb) cards to play from the graveyard is going to be excellent for my Danger Room Battle Box.
Decay is another new keyword from the expansion. Creatures with decay can’t block and are destroyed at the end of combat when they attack. So, they are tokens with a downside and loosely translate to potential extra damage on the board.
While decay and daybound will tend to fall on the weaker end of the spectrum in terms of Battle Box keywords, they are certainly “in play.” On the other hand (and this may be personal bias speaking), flashback and now disturb are among the best possible mechanics for Battle Box play. As such, the cards that can be played from graveyards are high on my radar of the the type of effect I’m looking to add to my stack from Midnight Hunt.
I like seeing four toughness on a three-drop creature. It’s also relevant that this creature is good on both offense and defense and adds material to the board when it attacks. A totally respectable three-drop.
The first disturb card that caught my attention. The front side is a cheap blocker and the disturb side is a six-mana Serra Angel. It’s pretty neat that a card like this can be looted away and later played from the graveyard as a large flyer.
Bereaved Survivor is a little bit below the current power level of my stack, but for Battle Boxers looking to create a gaming experience closer to games of Sealed or Draft, I think this is solid card with fun flavor.
Brutal Cathar is a power creep variant of Innistrad’s Fiend Hunter. I generally don’t like creatures that exile something so long as it remains in play, since there are so many ETB trigger creatures in my stack and it’s often a disaster to have to exile an opposing creature with an ETB ability only to have the Cathar shocked and the opponent getting their creature (and ETB) back again.
An excellent Battle Box card – cheap, useful and grindy.
Sunset Revelry is a fairly powerful spell. It’s a Timely Reinforcements variant that costs one less, gives a little less, but also checks cards in hand for a free draw.
Baithook Angler is a terrific Battle Box card. A solid two-drop body with the ability to be disturbed back for 1U as a 2/1 flyer. A great card to pitch to a looting effect or cast the fair way.
I would Consider this card for a Battle Box, but I generally try to avoid cantrips (and especially library manipulation like Brainstorm and Ponder). However, I think there’s an argument to be made for cheap self-mill cards like Consider in a stack that’s trying to push the graveyard synergies a little bit harder. Thought Scour and Mental Note are other older variants that are even better.
An even more powerful version of Baithook Angler. The U ability to counter a noncreature spell unless its controller pays three will allow the cheap frontside to play similar to a Siren Stormtamer with the disturb backside adding some grindy value.
2U for a 3/2 body that loots when it enters play is pretty decent in Battle Box. The disturb flipside creates an evasive looter. It’s maybe a little clunky but worth considering.
Such excellent flavor on this card, front and back! It’s actually a better Looter il-Kor (which is a very solid Battle Box looter) with the ability to nightbound into a straight-up unblockable creature that draws a card when it deals combat damage. Even if it never flips (which is often a challenge in Battle Box) it’s great. If it flips… You’ll be sailing on a sea of free draws.
A very solid modal spell: -5/-5 to a single creature or Infest all tokens. A nice option card.
Since black is so naturally well-suited toward midrange strategies, it tends to be one of the deepest colors for Battle Box staples (since midrange cards tend to play well in Battle Boxes). A 3/3 with a solid ability is a nice addition to any Battle Box. The ability happening to be incidental graveyard hate is an excellent coincidence. While transforming is difficult, I think the card is “good enough” for a stack even if it never transforms – the transformation is just icing on the cake.
Heirloom Mirror is the most interesting Battle Box card to me in the entire set. It has insane flavor and is completely unique. A looting artifact that eventually transforms into a 4/4 flyer with incidental graveyard hate/growing ability. I think this is a card that will be quite useful in all stages of the game.
A pretty solid piece of graveyard hate that feels useful enough to consider including. Obviously, the more slighted toward graveyard synergies a Battle Box is the batter this spell becomes. Also the artwork parodying “American Gothic” is so on point!
It’s a red Archaeomancer. Very good and very playable in a Battle Box.
Cathartic Pyre is an actively fantastic Battle Box card. Modal spells are so good, especially one that allows one slot in the stack to represent cheap early removal and card filtering (draw and discard). In my opinion, this is the most EV+ card from Midnight Hunt to add to a Battle Box. It’s not particularly exciting but it has tremendous flexibility of gameplay.
A bit underpowered for a five-drop in my personal stack, but I think this is a really fun Dragon design with regard to stats. Again, for a stack that’s looking to recreate a power level similar to actual pack Limited, Purifying Dragon will be a nice addition.
I really wanted Byway Courier to be a solid three-drop in my stack but it was just a little bit too weak stat-wise. I think the power creep on Briarbridge Tracker bumps it up right where it needs to be in order to compete for a slot in my Danger Room.
As far as green one-drop creatures that don’t produce mana go, Deathbonnet Sprout is pretty strong. The self-mill is wonderful upside, as is the power and toughness boost that comes from hitting the transform condition.
Dennick (both sides) seems like a pretty amazing card in terms of raw power. Two mana for a 2/3 lifelink is quite strong for Battle Box. The flip side (which can be disturbed) is even better. I would consider Dennick at the strongest tier of power level I’d typically consider adding to my Danger Room.
For those who think Dennrick may be a little too much Denrick, Devoted Grafkeeper is a similar but considerably tamer UW disturb variant. I love the self-mill ETB and ability to disturb back a 3/1 flyer. I will also say that in my stack, one-toughness flyers tend to match up quite poorly against Spirit tokens. Nonetheless, I still think this is a very solid Battle Box card.
I’m going to slam dunk this right into my Danger Room. Excellent UW card.
A four-drop creature with the potential to ETB with incredible size depending upon how many creatures have died that turn. It’s maybe a little bit too inflexible for my stack but I could see it being a fun addition to a lot of stacks. It’s a Bear Zombie… that alone makes it worth considering!
A perfectly fine Battle Box playable. Incredible Selesnya spells are a dime a dozen and competition for GW slots is always intense. In terms of what it costs and what it does, I think this card is perfectly suited for Battle Box. On the other hand, I don’t like the art, name or flavor and so I’m taking a pass on this card. It’s just too lame looking for my incredible stack.
Another example of a card that is clearly a power creeped version of a previous design. In this case, it’s Skyknight Legionnaire getting an upgrade, which is fine news considering SKL has been too underpowered for my Battle Box for a few years now.
Sacred Fire is a hot one for Battle Box. I think it’s likely just a better card in Battle Box than Lightning Helix because of the flashback.
When I was reading Jack-o’-Lantern I was thinking “please, please let this card be Battle Box playable!” I think this card is quite good for Battle Box and has a really fun flavor, aka, a little pumpkin spice. It’ll be a staple of every “best Halloween Magic cards” list from here on out.
Clearly, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is absolutely stacked with excellent designs worthy of inclusion in a Battle Box. I try to keep my Battle Box (The Danger Room) at a relatively consistent size and so there is no way I can possibly accommodate all these new cards. You can find the latest Battle Box list here:
With that said, here are the cards I will be trying out:
- Luminarch Veteran
- Beloved Beggar
- Baithook Angler
- Malevolent Hermit
- Inherited Mirror
- Cathartic Fire
- Briarbridge Tracker
- Deathbonnet Sprout
- Faithful Mending
- Sacred Fire
- Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is crazy deep on draw/discard effects and/or cards with graveyard synergy. I’ve always wanted my stack to be able to consistently afford players the ability to create and utilize graveyard synergies and I’ve taken full advantage of the strengths of this expansion. For instance, you’ll notice nearly ever card I’ve added facilitates graveyard play and every card I’ve selected to retire doesn’t.
That’s a pretty clear distillation of what I like about Midnight Hunt from a gameplay standpoint and how I plan to use the cards in my latest version of my Battle Box.
Overall, Midnight Hunt looks to be an excellent set. Flashback for creatures (aka disturb) has been a long time coming and the designs with that ability seem really fun and well balanced for Battle Box. I’m seriously looking forward to acquiring the cards to update my stack and seeing how much stronger my graveyard synergies become.