Innistrad: Midnight Hunt feels familiar, and not just because it’s our third visit to the plane of Innistrad. Perhaps it’s because of my predilection for playing with the graveyard in Commander, but there are plenty of powerful cards in this set that evoke older options. Today I want to talk about some of the new toys that caught my eye from Midnight Hunt in Commander, and some existing cards that reinforce the same themes or play nice.
Sigarda’s Splendor is another take on the Well of Lost Dreams effect, tying life gain to card draw. That’s all well and good but Well of Lost Dreams has been reprinted quite a few times. Sun Droplet also works rather swimmingly with the Splendor but at this point in the format’s existence, the Droplet has been around the block. Angelheart Vial, however, is a nice middle point. While it will never gain you as much life as Sun Droplet, it can convert damage taken into a life bump and some card flow. Pair Sigarda’s Splendor with Eternity Vessel to make sure that no matter what, you’ll be at the right life total and all of a sudden you’ve solved white’s problems with card advantage… with expensive permanents.
Mono-blue tokens got a new tool in Poppet Stitcher/Poppet Factory. Docent of Perfection from Eldritch Moon can help churn out just as many tokens as the Stitcher but that’s not all. Talrand, Sky Summoner is a well established spellslinger Commander but Lullmage Mentor does not get as much love. Sure, maybe countering a ton of spells to get tokens isn’t the best for every table, but what about when your army of Merfolk get the boost from going through the factory and come out big enough to dole out damage? You can also get some extra value out of Havengul Runebinder here since it will also put counters on the Poppet tokens, leaving them potentially large should the Factory ever come into play.
Ophiomancer is a workhorse of a card but it has a relatively unique effect. While Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia doesn’t replicate Ophiomancer’s efficiency, it does generate a token almost immediately on your turn. Considering that the Snake token from Ophiomancer was almost always sacrifice fodder to begin with, having another engine in the form of Jadar might prove useful in a deck that wants to sacrifice small numbers of creatures over time – say if you have an active Smokestack or its ilk.
Lord of the Forsaken has a lot of potential stuffed into its 6/6 body. But if you really want to dump cards into the yard you can look to Extractor Demon. Now you can get even more self mill going, and give you more options to cast spells from your graveyard. And what’s this? Embalmer’s Tools can make certain costs from in your bin cheaper and can make use of any spare decayed Zombies you have bandied about. Embalmer’s Tools seems like a great card to have in your collection if you ever want to do anything involving the graveyard in Commander.
While it’s nothing special, Morbid Opportunist gives me a chance to talk about one of my favorite cards ever made in Deathreap Ritual. Yes, they are basically the same card and yes, there are better ways to draw cards. But if I didn’t talk about slow, plodding card advantage in the format known for haymaker plays, is this really a Commander article I penned?
You don’t need me to tell you that Augur of Autumn is the lovechild of Courser of Kruphix and Vizier of the Menagerie, but what about Contortionist Troupe‘s resemblance to Salt Road Quartermasters? The Troupe looks right at home in more social Hardened Scales decks and the Patrol’s ability to move counters around the battlefield seem like a great fit. Not that you have to be all-in on coven, but these cards with Power Conduit can make it relatively simple to get a ton of power onto the battlefield for not much of an investment.
I’m very excited to see investigate make a comeback, and have enjoyed Wizards recent experiment with leaning into Clues, Food and Treasure. Dennick, Pious Apprentice // Dennick, Pious Apparition bears more than a passing resemblance to Bygone Bishop. Put these in a deck with Academy Manufactor to really go ham with game objects.
And now we come to the impetus for this article – Ghoulcaller’s Harvest. The comparisons to Spider Spawning are apt, to be sure, but the card that the new Zombie generator reminded me of is Tombstone Stairwell. This enchant world – a weird card type in its own right – can generate a ton of power every turn, for a price. The Stairwell will make sure you get a ton of death triggers every turn but then again, so will your opponent’s with creatures in their graveyard. So what can you do with all of these Zombies hopping in and out of the graveyard? You can attack with them in a Kardur, Doomscourge deck or let them die in a Grismold, the Dreadsower build. Or shuffle them together into a Thantis, the Warweaver combat-based Aristocrat build. Just be sure you have some blockers.
The last card from Midnight Hunt that pulled memories from the recesses of my skull is Wake to Slaughter. I’m a huge fan of the way Cauldron Dance can impact a game, completely ruining a well-planned combat step. Wake to Slaughter removes some agency from your hands but in return you get flashback and can play politics. One player taking over the game? There’s nothing to say you can’t make an alliance to save both your backs. Again, this seems right at home in a deck that cares about attacking, which is a thing that sometimes needs to be incentivized in certain games of Commander.
Midnight Hunt is jam packed. Despite having plenty of new takes, it treads in familiar space without feeling rote. The ability to build on past power or explore niche spaces for something novel is one thing that keeps Magic and Commander feeling fresh. What are some of your favorite Commander cards from the latest set and what cards from years gone by are you going to sleeve up next to them?