Midnight Hunt marks Magic's third return to the plane of Innistrad. Last seen in the 2016 release Shadows over Innistrad. Itself the first of two complete, thematically linked sets released in the latter part of 2021. The second is the Vampire centric Crimson Vow (November).
Midnight Hunt (and Crimson Vow) serve as a reset, of sorts. The companion story is reminiscent of the original Innistrad block. The Innistrad we return to is once more a dark-gothic inspired plane in which Humanity is beset by Werewolves, Vampires, and Demons. With humanity's guardian angel no more, who will protect them?
Fear lingers in the mind of Innistrad's populace. A fear of a night without end, wherein Werewolves and other monsters menace humanity to collapse. With the days shortening, worried denizens turn to the Harvesttide festival and its ritual to hold back the darkness.
Magic The Gathering
New to magic? Here's a quick rundown:
Magic the Gathering (MtG) is a collectable card game for two or more players. The game takes place in its own multiverse of diverse worlds (planes). Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards, known as Planeswalkers. Beings with the ability to traverse and shape the multiverse.
Players cast spells, summon creatures, and deploy artifacts to overcome their opponents. Typically, a player will win by reducing their opponent’s starting life points to zero, but there are other paths to victory.
Wizards of the Coast release expansion sets regularly. Expansions add hundreds of cards to the available pool. Players now have thousands of cards from which to collect and play within customised decks.
Innistrad Midnight Hunt is the 89th set released for MtG, released on 24 September 2021. 277 cards make up the set: 100 commons, 83 uncommons, 64 rares, 20 mythic rares, and 10 basic lands. This set includes a combination of reprinted and new cards. Collectors can chase a further 114 alternate and promo cards, available from in store events and various products.
Innistrad is an established setting within game lore. We've already seen it in five sets released over 2011-2012 and 2016. Thematically, this set retains the look and feel of those (known collectively as Innistrad and Shadows over Innistrad). The artwork is dark and moody - with a distinctly gothic feel. Inspiration for the creatures and settings draws heavily by Germanic and eastern European folklore.
Set design revolves around five allied-coloured tribes. Another carry forward from previous Innistrad Sets. The tribes are Humans (Green/White), Spirits (White/Blue), Zombies (Blue/Black), Vampires (Black/Red), and Werewolves (Red/Green). The latter takes centre stage in this set, featuring heavily in a story told via various cards and marketing material.
Mechanics And Gameplay
The return of Werewolves brings back transforming double-face cards. Midnight Hunt introduces a new mechanic for double-faced Werewolves: Daybound and Nightbound.
Daybound and Nightbound are new keywords that affect all players when triggered. This is the central thematic mechanic for the set that effects all players when triggered. When the game starts, it is neither day nor night. Playing a permanent with Daybound triggers the effect (some spells and effects can cause it to become Day or Night).
When it is the day, it may become night at the beginning of the next player's turn (and vice versa). The number of spells cast by the previous active player (on their turn) dictates the change. Cards with Daybound and Nightbound will come in with their Day/Nightbound side face up, depending on it being day or night.
Other new mechanics introduced in Midnight Hunt include keywords Coven, Disturb, and Decayed.
Humans benefit from the Coven ability, which provides an effect if the player controls 3 or more creatures with different powers.
With Disturb, Spirits can return from the graveyard transformed. Like Werewolves, Spirits with Disturb are transforming double-faced cards, and return to play transformed (usually as an Enchantment).
Zombies gain the keyword ability Decayed. Decayed is common on Zombie Tokens, and creatures returned to play as Zombies (via spells or abilities). Decayed creatures cannot block. If they attack, they are sacrificed at the end of combat.
Vampires have a range of abilities that trigger if an opponent loses life during the turn. In addition, keywords Flashback and Investigate make a return in Midnight Hunt.
Innistrad is one of my favourite settings with the magic multiverse. The theme really appeals to me, as do much of the gameplay mechanics introduced in Innistrad based sets. Midnight Hunt is a great addition to expand upon the game lore already established. It's an enjoyable set to draft and features some lovely looking variant/showcase cards.
I'm a fan of double-faced cards (particularly double-faced lands) which are becoming more commonplace since Zendikar Rising (Sep 2020). The addition of double-faced Spirits that transform into enchantment auras is great in my opinion. I also like the additions of Day/Nightbound and keywords Decayed and Coven. Aside from adding more options to factor into deck strategies, they add further flavour to tribal decks.
New players can jump right in with one of the new commander decks, which showcase the new mechanic's Coven and Decay . Alternatively, pick up the Bundle and a few Set Boosters and have a go at creating a new deck from scratch!