The upcoming Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set represents the third visit we’ve made to Innistrad, spread across six sets. The plane is a fan favorite, right up there with the likes of Ravnica and Zendikar, and so it’s no surprise we’re heading back there again. Happily, Wizards has sprinkled a few Innistrad callbacks and references to old Innistrad cards throughout Midnight Hunt, and as someone who began playing in Avacyn Restored, it’s very cool to see some new twists on old, familiar faces
Shadows over Innistrad brought us Triskaidekaphobia, an enormously sweet alternate win condition that allowed you to turn clever life total management into a surprise win condition. You won’t be surprised to learn that Triskaidekaphobia never quite got there, but the card was pretty much universally acclaimed – particularly when you realize how many thirteens there are in the art (logs in the fireplace, tools hanging on the wall, the number of words in each “choose one” option).
Now we get Triskaidekaphile, a card that offers another sweet alternate win condition that revolves around the number 13 – except this one can not only attack and block, but also draw you extra cards as you power towards getting 13 cards in hand. Of course, being a creature does open it up to the “dies to removal” problem, but honestly with all-purpose answers like Binding the Old Gods floating about these days, being an enchantment isn’t all that much safer.
Will this card be good? It’ll probably be just as good as Triskaidekaphobia, which is to say, not very – but I’m sure that won’t stop people from trying. Play this 1/3, race to 13 cards, and just hope they don’t have… basically any removal ever to kill it before your upkeep. Easy!
Cackling Counterpart was never a constructed all-star back in the day and even now its applications are largely restricted to weird EDH decks. All the same, our counterparts are croaking rather than cackling now, as instead of just cloning creatures we control, we can now clone anything – as long as we’re happy with it being a 1/1 Frog.
This card is very silly and probably not very good, but it’s a funny twist on an old Innistrad card that I know a lot of people tried to break. I don’t think that Croaking Counterpart is going to fare much better – I really can’t see the ways in which this card might do disgusting, broken things – but the art is so excellent and the flavor so succulent that it really doesn’t matter.
Blasphemous Act was a sweeper that typically saw play in Blood Artist decks, back in the day – decks that used Lingering Souls tokens and the like to ensure Act was going to be castable for a reasonable amount of mana. From there, it made the jump to Commander, where the choked battlefields of EDH often guarantee Blasphemous Act can be cast for just a single red mana.
I expect Vanquish the Horde to be very much the same. If there’s a Standard deck that’s interested in killing its own creatures as the Mardu Aristocrats decks of old once did, then Vanquish the Horde may see some play there. Otherwise, you really need this card to cost four to be good and five to be even playable, which means that in a creatureless control deck, your opponent needs a minimum of three creatures and preferably four or more. And if that’s the case, you’re probably already a long way behind, so it may not be that good anyway.
In EDH, on the other hand, this is going to be a two-mana sweeper almost all the time, and will instantly become a staple of the format. There is no shortage of EDH-playable sweepers, but Vanquish the Horde will immediately become one of the very best for white decks everywhere – you can sweep the board for two mana, and then be the first to redeploy your forces. If you’re a Commander player, pick up these cards without delay!
Faithless Looting ended up being one of the most popular and powerful cards to emerge from the original Innistrad block. It was ultimately banned in Modern due to the absurdly powerful things it enabled as a cheap and efficient way to fill the graveyard, and still sees a lot of play in Historic since it was added there through the Strixhaven Mystical Archives.
Faithful Mending is the obvious sequel to Faithless Looting, and while it’s extremely well-executed and a great twist on the original, you don’t need me to tell you it’s nowhere near as good. The extra two life is absolutely not worth the extra mana, although being played at instant speed is certainly a nice upgrade with this sort of effect. I don’t think it’s enough to launch it towards playability outside of formats like Standard, but the card is still pretty good.
Faithful Mending will probably live in the shadow of Faithless Looting – the comparison would be very obvious were it not for the fact that this card is an obvious reference to the first – but just because it’s not as good as a card that was banned in Modern, don’t dismiss Faithful Mending. There is probably enough graveyard nonsense coming to interest you in playing this card, so I wouldn’t sleep on it.
Champion of the Parish has been a constructed staple in various decks for a long time. It was great in Standard, back in the day, as one of Naya Blitz’s most powerful opening plays alongside Experiment One (we lived in fear of Burning-Tree Emissary into Lightning Mauler in those days), and since then Champion of the Parish has made the move to Modern, as a key threat in Five-Color Humans decks like the one with which Eli Loveman won a Mythic Championship.
Champion of the Perished has been played pretty straight, here – it’s a one-mana 1/1 that grows when certain creatures enter the battlefield, just like the original Champion. This one costs black mana, however, and grows with Zombies rather than Humans. Zombies is a powerful and well-explored tribe, and I can imagine this card will be a big shot in the arm for Zombie decks of all kinds, as an early threat that can grow massive.
But I want to know – what came first? The card, or the name? Did Wizards decide they wanted to make a Zombie-themed spin on Champion of the Parish, or did someone realize how funny it would be to have a card called Champion of the Perished, and then build this card from there? Inquiring minds want to know!