Last updated on April 7, 2022
Eccentric Farmer | Illustration by Tyler Walpole
Even though it’s only been out for a short time, I’ve already played Midnight Hunt a ton! I have a lot of data and other Limited material that I’ll be using to shape this guide. Not only have I spent a lot of time playing the set myself (more than 40 drafts at over a 70% win rate), I’ve also been extensively synthesizing alternative opinions from some of the best players in the business.
That’s right, it’s time for the ultimate Innistrad: Midnight Hunt draft guide. This is my attempt to cover everything I can about this new, awesome format. Let’s just jump right in!
New Midnight Hunt Mechanics
First, let’s look at how the new mechanics set the context for the draft format.
Day/Night and Daybound/Nightbound
This is a mechanic that doesn’t feel new. Innistrad veterans would be forgiven for thinking this mechanic is just what you saw on the classic werewolves you played with in Innistrad and Shadows Over Innistrad. WotC instead elected to put a fresh spin on the classic transform mechanic by introducing a persistent Day/Night cycle.
The mechanic tracks Day/Night for both players over the course of the game. Cards with daybound/nightbound or that say “if it isn’t day/night, it becomes day/night” trigger this mechanic as they enter the battlefield. As with the transform mechanic of past sets, Day becomes Night if a player doesn’t cast a spell on their turn. On the flip side, Night becomes Day if a player casts two (or more) spells on their own turn.
There are a bunch of gameplay implications to this that I’ll discuss in more detail later. The most important detail to keep in mind for now is that werewolves enter the battlefield flipped at Night! Cards that care about Day/Night appear in each color, but there’s a specific “whenever day becomes night or night becomes day” theme that’s based in Jeskai () colors. Gruul () is still the main color pair that cares about werewolves, but each color has at least one rare werewolf and black even has a couple non-rare ones as well.
Disturb lets you cast creatures transformed from your graveyard. The transformed side of every single disturb card is a flying spirit. Disturb plays well with self-mill, discard, and other strategies that thrive on getting creatures in your graveyard.
Disturb is the core mechanic of Azorius () in draft and appears exclusively in this color combo with just one exception in Covert Cutpurse.
Coven rewards you for controlling three or more creatures with different powers. You’d have coven if you controlled an 0/2, a 1/1, and a 2/2 creature but would not have it if you controlled a 6/6, a 6/5, and a 7/5. Payoff for achieving coven vary by card but they range from combat bonuses (flying, double strike) to +1/+1 counters to card advantage.
This is a core mechanic of Selesnya () in draft and doesn’t appear in any other color.
Decayed is the final new mechanic of Midnight Hunt and references a keyword that appears on Zombie tokens that many cards in this set create. Decayed is purely a drawback; creatures with decayed can’t block and will be sacrificed at the end of combat when it attacks.
While this may sound terrible, cards that make decayed zombies aren’t costed as though decayed zombies were worth a card. Flip the Switch is Convolute (generally a playable but uninspiring Limited card) plus a free decayed 2/2. Falcon Abomination is Wind Drake plus a free decayed 2/2 and so on.
There are also cards like Larder Zombie and Siege Zombie that give you something to do with all the decayed zombies you’ve amassed other than just attacking. Keep in mind that these low-value zombies make for excellent sacrifice fodder as well.
Decayed is a core mechanic of Dimir () in this set with Ghoulcaller’s Harvest being the only non-Dimir card to make decayed tokens.
The Curse Cycle
Curses are an aura subtype that was introduced in the original Innistrad. These are unique in that they enchant players rather than creatures.
There are only four curses in this set and each of them is rare. Curse of Silence and Curse of Shaken Faith are essentially unplayable and Curse of Surveillance is generally too slow to be worth playing. Curse of Leeches is the only decent curse in the set and makes for a solid playable in any black deck.
A spell with flashback can be cast from the graveyard for its flashback cost. This cost is almost always more expensive than its original casting cost. Flashback provides free card advantage on the backend of otherwise fairly costed effects and plays well with discard, self-mill, and other strategies that bin cards from your hand or library.
Flashback is ubiquitous in Midnight Hunt. It appears at common in every color and in each 2-color combo at uncommon and rare! Flashback functions as one of the format’s primary mana flood outlets though it’s partially held in check by an abundance of convenient graveyard hate. Cards like Diregraf Horde and Soul-Guide Gryff could exile your flashback spells before you get a chance to use them.
When you “investigate” you create a colorless Clue token. Clues can be a great mana sink and source of card advantage, assuming you can find time to crack them.
Investigate was a major mechanic/archetype in Shadows Over Innistrad but it features sparingly in Midnight Hunt, appearing on just five cards (three of which are rare). The only common with this mechanic is Secrets of the Key.
Midnight Hunt is definitely on the faster side of sets, though this doesn’t necessarily mean that its best decks are aggressive ones. The format itself just has a lower mana curve than we’re used to.
For example, there are no common 6- or 7-drops in Midnight Hunt, with Morkrut Behemoth being the sole exception if you count its “pay ” mode. Expect your decks to have lower curve than you’re used to. As I already mentioned, flashback appears in every color and provides a necessary late game mana sink to balance this.
One concept developed by the Limited MTG community to evaluate formats is to describe it as a “prince format” or a “pauper format.”
If you’re not familiar with the terminology, a prince format is dominated by higher rarity cards with a flat power level at common/uncommon and lots of unbeatable bomb rares. Cards like Glorybringer, Dream Trawler, Ethereal Absolution, etc. By contrast, a pauper format is dominated by commons because of synergy, aggression, or efficient answers to large threats.
So how does Midnight Hunt stack up by this metric? Well, it’s somewhere in between.
There are some truly broken bombs in this set (The Meathook Massacre, Consuming Blob, Wrenn and Seven, etc.) as well as some less broken but still insane ones (Liesa, Forgotten Archangel, Tovolar, Dire Overlord, Florian, Voldaren Scion, etc.). These cards are “less insane” because they actually die 1:1 to removal spells and Midnight Hunt has some very decent removal, even at common.
The common removal in Midnight Hunt is generally above average, especially in black which has three strong common removal spells. This has a notable effect in downgrading the effectiveness of cards like Morkrut Behemoth, Mounted Dreadknight, and Tireless Hauler.
They’re all still fine cards but they often find themselves trading down on mana with cheap removal. Werewolves suffer from this problem in particular since they also die to Silver Bolt even if they have 4+ toughness.
Candletrap is a somewhat inconsistent but efficient removal spell that’s best in more defensive white decks. The drawback of having the creature be a blocker until you spend to exile it is real in aggro decks but minimized in Azorius decks trying to win in the air. Said decks may struggle to achieve coven, though, which can be problematic if you’re using Candletrap to answer powerful rares like Liesa, Forgotten Archangel.
Sungold Barrage walks the line between main deck and sideboard card. It’s an instant and fairly costed but also narrow and potentially dead against decks without 4+ toughness creatures. I like to start a copy in decks with less answers to bombs and regularly board into this against werewolves.
Thraben Exorcism should never be main decked but it’s a great hate card against one of the best archetypes in the format. It just doesn’t get much more efficient than “, exile target creature,” which is essentially how this plays against the average Azorius deck. Try to pick these up late in draft if you can!
Geistwave isn’t really a removal spell but it does temporarily remove creatures if you need it to. It shines when used defensively as a value card since using it in response to a removal spell makes for a nice 2-for-1.
Locked in the Cemetery plays best in Simic () decks with a lot of self-mill from cards like Drownyard Amalgam and Eccentric Farmer. This isn’t particularly efficient without the “if there are five or more cards” rider. It shines against large creatures but is nearly worthless against creatures with powerful abilities like Skaab Wrangler and Bladestitched Skaab. Board this in/out of your deck appropriately.
Revenge of the Drowned isn’t hard removal long term but it still constitutes a 1-for-1 trade with a creature. It has seriously overperformed since the decayed token is more relevant than it looks and being an instant plays well with Day/Night cards and Izzet () “spells matter” payoffs. Highly recommended in any deck with Islands in it and it’s just generally better than Locked in the Cemetery.
Defenestrate struggles to be useful against Azorius Spirits (you might want to just board it out there) but otherwise shines as efficient, all-purpose removal. As with the other two black commons, this reads “dead target werewolf” which is unfortunate for Gruul players.
Eaten Alive shines in Orzhov ()/Dimir decks with lots of decayed zombies, Novice Occultist, and stuff like that. Having the option to pay for “exile target creature or planeswalker” is also nice and helps make the first copy of this card something just about every deck wants. Adding extra copies is a function of how well your deck supports a card like this.
Olivia’s Midnight Ambush is either a passable cheap removal spell at -2/-2 or “destroy target creature” at -13/-13. One particularly rude aspect to this card (at least for werewolf fans) is that it will always kill any werewolf at Night. This is a great draw to black even with no Day/Night cards of your own, though this may be a reason to play a Shady Traveler or two. There’s a big difference between Disfigure and Murder, after all.
Burn the Accursed is a bit expensive but it kills almost every creature in the set with a few of exceptions (Drownyard Amalgam, Morkrut Behemoth, and certain werewolves/rares). The incidental two damage is relevant for aggro red decks as is the “exile” clause. A couple copies of this would do well at the top of any red deck.
Immolation is narrow but mana-efficient removal. At best it answers problematic creatures like Skaab Wrangler, Rootcoil Creeper, and Fleshtaker. At worst, however, it rots in your hand while your opponent repeatedly plays creatures with 3+ toughness. Try not to start with more than one copy of this because you can’t simply weaken large creatures with this like Dead Weight can, but I like to board into it when it looks good.
Moonrager’s Slash is the best red common and one of the better commons in the set overall. It doesn’t kill everything but the efficiency at Night, passable rate at Day, and its flexibility as both an instant and a source of face damage makes this unparalleled at common. Plus Izzet really wants this card since having good instants and sorceries is essential to making the deck tick.
Neonate’s Rush is both a small payoff for having vampires and a nice hate card for x/1 creatures. You can freely start a copy or two and cycle it even if your opponent doesn’t have any x/1s to snipe since it cantrips. This plays best in Rakdos () vampires (where it’s mostly likely to cost ) and Izzet Spells, though cantrip-ing makes this a reasonable 23rd card for any red deck.
Duel for Dominance is green’s only real removal spell, at least at common. Pounce is historically a so-so Limited card but Duel can perform well as long as you set up coven first and time it carefully. While I do like Duel for Dominance in a general sense, I want zero to two copies depending on my creature base and often don’t prioritize it over the best commons. I usually take Eccentric Farmer over it, for instance.
Plummet is a classic sideboard card that gets main decked more often than it should (basically never). You can ignore this entirely on BO1 Arena but should respect it in BO3 since flying creatures are a real threat from many decks (primarily Azorius Spirits but also any deck with Liesa, Forgotten Archangel, Sigarda, Champion of Light, etc.).
Splashing in Midnight Hunt isn’t very common but is definitely possible.
Like most sets, the best fixing is in green. Dawnhart Rejuvenator is a decent blocker and mana dork, Path to the Festival is (very slow) card advantage, and Rootcoil Creeper does everything you could want and more.
Outside of green you have Jack-o’-Lantern, Crossroads Candleguide, and trusty ol’ Evolving Wilds to provide access to more colors. Jack-o’-Lantern particularly shines in decks with self-mill from cards like Otherworldly Gaze and Eccentric Farmer since it’s actually very efficient when you don’t have to play it first.
Because of how clunky this set’s mana fixers are, expect to stick to two colors in draft. Exceptions should be based on bombs and convenience since cards like Jack-o’-Lantern may table depending on how your pod approaches splashing in this format. You’ll generally want to splash single color bombs like Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope, Light up the Night, Moonveil Regent, Liesa, Forgotten Archangel, Sigarda, Champion of Light, and Brutal Cathar.
Midnight Hunt offers experienced players a substantial amount of sideboarding depth.
You can adapt to your opponent’s deck by substituting ill-fit removal spells for better ones, trimming poorly sized creatures, or adding counterspells to take advantage of your opponent’s defensive posture. Plummet, Thraben Exorcism, Duress, and Return to Nature are obvious sideboard cards with mostly obvious uses.
Some less obvious cards that may shine after board include Immolation, Neonate’s Rush, and Devious Cover-Up. Graveyard hate cards like Rotten Reunion and Turn the Earth also shine against archetypes like Simic Flashback while doing little to nothing against Selesnya Coven and Boros () Aggro.
Going by 17 lands data plus my own personal opinion, blue is the best color in the set. Blue has the best common (coughOrgan Hoardercough) while also having a deep cast of playables to go alongside it.
On the other hand, red is the weakest color in the set. This is mostly because werewolves and combat tricks have underperformed and red has plenty of both along with a number of situational cards like Abandon the Post that do nothing when you’re behind.
No color or color pairing is unplayable, though, so pay close attention to the draft archetypes in this format if you want to succeed with decks.
As with most modern-day Limited sets, Midnight Hunt has 10 draft archetypes, one for each color combo. There are 10 signpost uncommons plus 10 flashback uncommons that show you at a glance what each color pair is trying to accomplish. Every archetype in this set is playable, though there are a few over/underperformers in this set.
Let’s take a closer look…
Currently the best deck on 17 Lands, Azorius Spirits is a grindy archetype that plays well against both aggro decks and piles of removal. Most Azorius decks excel at games of attrition, locking up the ground with sticky disturb creatures and flying over with spirits for a measured win. The classic Azorius skies formula (flyers plus high toughness ground blockers) really benefits from the extra dimension that disturb adds since your ground-based curve filler can be your flyers later.
Organ Hoarder is the best common in the set but plays particularly well in Azorius thanks to it binning two cards. You’re essentially getting a 3-for-1 when you play it and bin a disturb creature since you get a 3/2 body, a card, and another card in the yard.
Lunarch Veteran is crucial for making sure aggro decks can’t go under you and competes with Organ Hoarder for top common in this archetype. Shipwreck Sifters isn’t great in any other archetype but it’s awesome in Azorius as long as you have 5+ cards with disturb. This is a 2-mana 2/3 with upside that plays extremely well in multiples. Some of the best Azorius decks I’ve ever played had 3+ copies of the Sifters.
Outside of these three you’ll generally want to fill the rest of your deck with disturb creatures and interaction. All of the common disturb creatures are solid here with my order of preference roughly being Baithook Angler > Mourning Patrol > Galedrifter.
Dennick, Pious Apprentice looked good to me at first but I was extremely impressed with its backside. Pious Apparition is an incredibly good card. Its ability provides very easy card advantage since you only need to do one of several things to trigger it:
- Have another creature die in combat/to a removal spell;
- Cast Shipwreck Sifters and discard a creature card;
- Cast Drownyard Amalgam and mill a creature card, or;
- Have your opponent do any of these things… seriously!
Besides Dennick, Patrician Geist is the only tribal lord for spirits in this set. It’s rare so you won’t get to play with it often, but both of its abilities are pretty good for the average Azorius deck. Devoted Grafkeeper is excellent as a cheap value creature with an annoying ability that replaces itself with a much deadlier flyer later.
Tips and Tricks
- Shipwreck Sifters grows whenever you discard a spirit or a creature with disturb. This includes other sources outside of its own trigger so combine it with Faithful Mending, Overwhelmed Archivist, or other Sifters for best results!
- Most Azorius decks have a high density of cheap creatures meaning that cards like Larder Zombie and Skaab Wrangler play well here despite looking like Dimir cards.
- Good sideboarding involves trimming clunky cards (Galedrifter, Stormrider Spirit, etc.) against aggro for better blockers and removal and knowing when to board into counterspells and anti-decking cards like Devious Cover-Up.
Dimir was originally the frontrunner for best archetype in the format and was only recently edged out by Azorius Spirits. This archetype has many strengths, the most obvious of which is its usage of decayed zombie tokens to fuel all sorts of powerful effects. The deck is also not particularly dependent on higher rarity cards to perform and can do fine with just a healthy selection of commons.
I’m going to list Organ Hoarder in the front spot of every X archetype because it simply is just that good. The Hoarder aside, Dimir prioritizes building a mana curve of cards that incidentally create zombie tokens and then puts them to work with Siege Zombie, Larder Zombie, Eaten Alive, and Ecstatic Awakener. Diregraf Horde costs five mana so it is expensive but it’s definitely worth the cost in this archetype.
Dimir doesn’t rely on higher rarity cards to be good but it appreciates a number of uncommons for their strength with masses of decayed zombies.
Skaab Wrangler is a top uncommon that brutally punishes your opponents for having less creatures than you while Bladestitched Skaab is an incredibly efficient lord. Corpse Cobble is the card with the highest setup cost of the three but it can kill your opponent out of nowhere if you catch them unprepared.
Flashback is also crucial to the card’s effectiveness since you can create it at your opponent’s end step and then hold up Cobble #2 as an insurance policy against Eaten Alive, Locked in the Cemetery, and the like. Simply sacrificing the token in response acts as an identical copy of that token.
- Proper management of decayed zombie tokens is essential to success with Dimir. Wasting zombies early will deprive you of Siege Zombie activations later. It’s best to sit on zombies if you aren’t making a lethal attack, though there are some exceptions to this (like Morbid Opportunist) that are worth keeping in mind.
- Concealing Flip the Switch (and other counterspells) is very do-able in Dimir since you can hide your intentions by holding up an Ecstatic Awakener activation, a removal spell, Silver Bolt activations, etc.
- Sideboarding in Dimir generally involves trimming ill-matched removal and counterspells for better fitting cards. You won’t likely ever board out cards like Skaab Wrangler, Siege Zombie, Diregraf Horde, or Revenge of the Drowned since they’re essential for your core gameplay loop.
Simic is the only other 58+% win rate deck alongside Azorius/Dimir. This is likely because blue is the best color and green pairs well with blue when going for a grindy gameplan. Simic can range from pure durdle (win condition equals two copies of Devious Cover-Up) to efficient creature piles that have some value but turn the corner quickly with big beaters and Winterthorn Blessing.
The two best commons for Simic are definitely Organ Hoarder and Eccentric Farmer. Both creatures provide a blocker and attacker while stocking up your graveyard and replacing themselves. Most cards with disturb/flashback outside of these two play well in Simic with Shadowbeast Sighting being one of the more efficient ones.
The multicolor payoffs for Simic are top notch in this set. Rootcoil Creeper is everything you could want in this archetype and more: a mana dork, an even better mana dork for flashback costs, and then a full copy of a flashback spell late game.
Slogurk, the Overslime is incredible with the many self-mill effects Simic already wants and is just one Eccentric Farmer away from being a 3-mana 4/4 trample with upside. Winterthorn Blessing looked a tad aggressive to me but plays better than it looks. Simic has so much card advantage from other sources that it can afford to play a card like this.
- Be aware of what kind of graveyard hate your opponent may have access to. You might need to pull the trigger on flashback cards early if you anticipate a Diregraf Horde is coming. The drawback of doing so is that flashbacked cards are always less mana efficient than ones cast from your hand, so choose wisely!
- One thing to keep in mind about Simic is that it’s arguably the most splash-friendly color pair in the format. It’s a great home for Path to the Festival (flashback friendly card that works with Simic’s mana hungry nature), Dawnhart Rejuvenator (strong defensive card that’s poor at applying pressure), and Jack-o’-Lantern (plays well with self-mill).
- Common board cards are Plummet, counterspells, and additional blockers. Common substitutions are poorly-matched removal spells or filler creatures with poor sizing like Galedrifter against aggro decks.
7 Wins Arena Draft League by Luis Costa
Most Selesnya decks in Midnight Hunt are going to be aggressive, creature-heavy decks built to maximize cards with the new coven mechanic. Selesnya also has a small humans theme but there aren’t many payoffs in the set for amassing humans that aren’t rare or mythic.
Gavony Silversmith is a common without parallel for aggressive white decks. Not only is this just a great rate for a beatdown card but it’s even better than it looks given its synergies with the coven mechanic. Distributing counters is an easy way to balance out your squad’s power.
Gavony Trapper is a fine tapper on its own but really excels as a 0-power creature for coven that you already want to put in your deck. Duel for Dominance is at its best in Selesnya since you have a high creature density, some large enough creatures like 3/4 Gavony Silversmith, and an easier time setting up coven.
Some other great cards in Selesnya are Timberland Guide, Candlegrove Witch, and Might of the Old Ways. Basically prioritize building a curve of solid creatures, try to diversify your powers a bit, and pick up some cheap pump spells.
Sigarda, Champion of Light is the single most broken card for Selesnya in the set. Katilda, Dawnhart Prime is the next best thing to the pipe dream of opening a mythic angel, particularly alongside human token makers like Join the Dance and Clarion Cathars. Dawnhart Wardens isn’t at the level of either of the aforementioned rares but is still a great sign you’re in the right colors if you get passed one late.
- Coven is a very important mechanic for this archetype since you have access to a large number of playable cards that get better if you achieve coven. You may occasionally need to do unintuitive things like only putting one counter from Gavony Silversmith on your creatures to maintain it.
- Ritual of Hope is at its best in Selesnya and provides a solid way to get through some of the disadvantageous board stalls decks like Azorius Spirits are looking to set up against you.
- Selesnya falls somewhere between aggro and midrange in this set, so try not to sacrifice too much card quality with hyper-aggressive cards like Homestead Courage. It’s put to better use in Boros.
Orzhov excels at amassing small creatures and zombie tokens and then sacrificing them for value. The average Orzhov deck is probably best described as “midrange” since the sacrifice synergies mean that your clock is a bit slower than Boros/Selesnya. It’s still occasionally capable of curving out and pressuring with Gavony Silversmith like other white decks, though.
Orzhov’s basic gameplay pattern is sacrificing something (usually a zombie token or Novice Occultist) to some kind of payoff (Ecstatic Awakener, Eaten Alive, or various uncommons). Its most interesting commons are cards that perform half of this equation efficiently, but it also wants strong white commons like Gavony Silversmith and Search Party Captain.
Liesa, Forgotten Archangel has already been mentioned several times as a broken rare but it’s even more broken when you’re freely recurring creatures you sacrifice. Sadly you won’t get passed Liesa very often as any base white deck can and will splash it.
Fleshtaker is an exceptional signpost uncommon that obviously works well in this archetype. Keep in mind that the first ability triggers whenever you sacrifice a creature, not just when you sacrifice creatures to its second ability. This also means you’ll gain life/scry after your attacking zombie tokens die. Rite of Oblivion is an exceptional removal spell when paired with fodder and even comes with a second use for free.
- As with Dimir Zombies, properly managing zombie tokens is important. If you have Siege Zombie-style cards, sitting on tokens is good. If you’re just using them as sacrifice fodder, consider cashing in a couple of zombies for damage if you have a window.
- Orzhov can struggle with fliers since its core gameplay loop and commons mostly involve ground-based creatures. Try to point your removal spells towards evasive threats.
- Sideboarding in Orzhov involves trimming filler creatures for extra card advantage against control (Crawl from the Cellar, No Way Out, Blood Pact), upgrading removal spells (Defenestrate into Thraben Exorcism against Azorius Spirits), or swapping out poorly matched creatures for better ones.
Rakdos Vampires is one of the more aggressive decks in Midnight Hunt. A key facet to playing vampires is constantly poking your opponent to set up a variety of “if an opponent lost life this turn” payoffs like Famished Foragers and Voldaren Ambusher.
Vampires has some unique priorities in draft since it’s one of the only archetypes where cards like Vampire Interloper and Voldaren Stinger are actively desirable. These two offer some of the most efficient ways to open your opponent up for your “life loss matters” vampires.
Interloper is a well-costed flyer if you don’t need to block with it and Stinger is almost impossible to block early on. Neonate’s Rush can enable your “life loss matters” cards late game, finish off larger creatures, and embarrass powerful X/1s like Skaab Wrangler.
Florian, Voldaren Scion is an unbelievably good rare that’ll quickly snowball most games when it doesn’t die. Getting free cards for doing something you were already interested in is just unreal on a 3/3 first strike for three.
Vampire Socialite is the best vampire-tribe payoff in the set. It has a decent base rate (2/2 menace for two) with lots of free sizing for any future/current vamps. Hungry for More is a strong burn spell that’s great for winning races and setting up “life loss matters” vamps. Keep in mind that cards like Eaten Alive play well with the temporary tokens.
- Vampires may want to mulligan a tad more than other archetypes since cards like Bat Whisperer and Famished Foragers don’t function properly if you miss your mana curve leading up to them.
- Even though you’re in the best colors for removal you can’t realistically answer everything against recursive decks like Azorius/Simic. Focus less on “killing everything” and more on strategically using removal spells to push damage through in these matchups.
- Some Rakdos builds will be more midrange-y and have only a minor tribal component while other builds will be very aggressive and sport several copies of Vampire Socialite. It’s important to know what your 40 is capable of.
7 Wins Arena Draft League by Sander Kerstens
This is the most aggressive deck in the format but the usual caveats of Boros (lack of card advantage/late game) apply. Midnight Hunt’s twist on Boros aggro mostly comes in the form of the Day/Night mechanic which features on several of the cards this archetype desires.
Moonrager’s Slash is just a good red card in general but particularly shines in Boros since all aspects of the card are in play here. You want the removal for blockers and the potential reach for closing games, plus you can take better advantage of the Night cost reduction than something like Rakdos Vampires.
Gavony Silversmith and Search Party Captain are the best curve toppers for this archetype and play well with most of the interchangeable 2- and 3-mana creatures available to you. Some of my favorites for this archetype include Lambholt Harrier, Candlegrove Witch, and Brimstone Vandal.
Boros has some of the best multicolor cards in the format this time around. Angelfire Ignition is an absurd rare that looks good but plays much better than it looks. It’s impossible to race this card and the counters are permanent, which means you get one free enhanced attack and are left with a Swashbuckling of sorts. Then you get to turn around and do this again later.
Sacred Fire is one of the more likely Boros cards to be splashed by other decks since it’s efficient removal with a free recast attached to it. As a 3/3 trample/haste, Sunrise Cavalier doesn’t even need the “when day becomes night or night becomes day” line to be good but it’s still appreciated when it comes up.
- Leaning into the Day/Night mechanic can be effective in this archetype but it’s not always necessary. If you want to do so, prioritize cards like Sunrise Cavalier and Brimstone Vandal alongside cards you can cast on your opponent’s turn like Cathar Commando and Burn the Accursed.
- As the most aggressive deck in Midnight Hunt, Boros is the best deck for generally unloved cards like Abandon the Post and Raze the Effigy. You don’t want a ton of them but they can be great for finishing games after you curve out.
- The best way to end up in Boros is to start with a white aggro base (usually with Gavony Silversmith and the like) and get passed any of Boros’ excellent multicolor cards.
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Golgari () is generally a clunky midrange strategy in this format. It’s two main angles are self-mill to empower cards like Deathbonnet Sprout and get card advantage from flashback as well as an unnamed “morbid” mechanic for cost reduction on Diregraf Rebirth and sizing on Grizzly Ghoul.
Eccentric Farmer may just be the best green common in the set since 2-for-1s this easy are something every midrange deck loves. High priorities for Golgari at common are removal spells (any of the three black commons are good, Duel for Dominance is worse but playable) and efficient creatures like Diregraf Horde and Shadowbeast Sighting. Hobbling Zombie gets a well-deserved shoutout since Golgari loves trading off creatures and can use the decayed zombie tokens to empower “if a creature died this turn” cards later.
As with most color pairs in the set, Golgari has a strong rare for its core gameplay loop in Old Stickfingers. Stickfingers is a substantial reward for aggressive self-milling and trading off creatures since it’s potentially massive for its mana cost and offers you the option to pay extra for more sizing.
Diregraf Rebirth reads amazing on paper but suffers a bit from the format’s architecture. There simply aren’t a ton of expensive cards to target with this, so prioritize the few good ones like Diregraf Horde and Dreadhound.
Grizzly Ghoul is unimpressive as a 4/3 trample but greatly rewards you for setting up trades or suiciding some zombie tokens the turn you play it. It has obvious (but great) synergy with Diregraf Rebirth as a bonus.
- This archetype has a major weakness to fliers since it isn’t great at racing and most of its default creatures don’t block them. Bird Admirer is very good in Golgari for that reason and prioritizing Plummet (or even Thraben Exorcism to splash after board) in BO3 is a good idea.
- As with all graveyard-centric decks in this format there’s tension between playing flashback cards later (as they’re over-costed) and playing them now (to play around Diregraf Horde and similar effects). Carefully plan out your turns to get the most out of your cards.
- Getting into Golgari is honestly a bit tricky since Simic largely outclasses it at its own gameplan. Most of my “Golgari” decks are just Simic decks splashing Diregraf Rebirth.
7 Wins Ranked Arena Draft by DavidRoyale14
Izzet Spells is a fun but clunky archetype that can be built as either tempo, control, or something in between. As with many past Limited formats, Izzet leans heavily on instants and sorceries as well as cards that care about having a large number of both.
Good instants and sorceries can make or break an Izzet deck. Many of your strongest payoff cards want you to have as many as possible. It makes sense that Moonrager’s Slash is a must-have in this archetype since removal this efficient is hard to come by. Festival Crasher is arguably the best Izzet creature in the format, at least at common. It’s both an efficient blocker and a potentially deadly threat with the right setup. Consider looks unremarkable on its own but is one of the best ways to pad your instant/sorcery count without playing anything weak.
Outside of these three, generally good blue cards like Organ Hoarder and Revenge of the Drowned are highly desirable. Decayed zombie tokens don’t have a lot of value in the average Izzet deck but cards like Startle, Flip the Switch, and Revenge are still more than fine on rate.
Geistflame Reservoir is an awesome card for any Izzet deck but particularly shines in control builds alongside a pile of removal spells. Storm Skreelix is powerful but clunky enough that I’d prioritize cards like Festival Crasher and Moonrager’s Slash over it since Izzet has a lot of good expensive options but only so many good cheap ones.
Seize the Storm is the ultimate payoff for running 12+ instants/sorceries since you get two giant tramplers out of one card. Keep in mind that the elementals it creates constantly scale as you put new instants/sorceries in your graveyard. They’re not a set size like you might expect.
- I mentioned this earlier but I can’t emphasize it enough: prioritize cheap and efficient cards in Izzet. You have lots of playable expensive options (Burn the Accursed, Storm Skreelix, Drownyard Amalgam, etc.) but not a lot of excellent cheap ones. Pass Festival Crasher only for the best removal spells/rares.
- Aggressive filler creatures like Lambholt Harrier and Famished Foragers are mediocre at best in Izzet and often best sidelined for additional instants/sorceries.
- Knowing the pace your deck is trying to play is important, though the best Izzet cards like Festival Crasher are good in every pace anyways.
Gruul Werewolves is sadly the ugly duckling of this set. It has some powerful beaters but they match up poorly against cheap chump blockers, cards like Skaab Wrangler, and an abundance of efficient removal. There’s even Silver Bolt, decent colorless removal that just happens to kill every werewolf in the set. Gruul isn’t unplayable, though, so don’t pass that Tovolar, Dire Overlord just yet!
Prioritizing good instants and removal over creatures makes sense in Gruul since there’s a lot of playable filler for your curve but not a lot of good cards you can pass the turn with. I like to take Moonrager’s Slash and Burn the Accursed fairly highly but the best uncommon/rare werewolves should take priority over both.
Howl of the Hunt is a solid combat trick that’s at its best in Gruul and is definitely powerful if you can catch someone off guard with it. As for creatures, none of the common werewolves are unplayable but they’re also not excellent either. A rough ordering of best to worst:
Gruul has some incredibly good cards in this set at higher rarities. Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope is strong enough to splash in any red or green deck but plays even better with a bit of wolf and Day/Night synergy. It’s an army-in-a-can that later beats down as a 5/5 itself and its daybound +1 is incredibly good for setting up night without sacrificing tempo.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord is the best reason to draft werewolves in the set since it’s great on its own, incredible with other werewolves, and automatically brings night with three wolves/werewolves!
Unnatural Moonrise isn’t at the level of the other two cards but is still a great support card for a deck with six or more werewolves. It shines when cast during the Day with multiple werewolves out where it acts like a cantrip-ing Overrun that can come back for seconds next turn. Try to table this one if you can, though, since it’s quite narrow and only good in wolf heavy Gruul decks.
- Controlling the Day/Night cycle is crucial to success with Gruul. Your best way to accomplish this is to prioritize decent instants and try to set up all your werewolves before passing the turn with something like Burn the Accursed up. Keep in mind that longer games tend to stall out and lead to longer nights.
- Gruul’s creatures are so large that combat tricks like Stolen Vitality and Might of the Old Ways are only good for blowing out double blocks. I prefer to draft mostly creatures and removal here with a Howl of the Hunt or two for tricks.
- You’ll generally play the control role against decks like Boros and Rakdos and the aggro role against Azorius and Simic. Dimir matchups depend on each player’s deck configuration and draw since roles can shift rather quickly.
The 10 archetypes above don’t exhaustively cover every kind of deck you can play in this format. Below are some fringe archetypes I’ve played with and against. Feel free to experiment and come up with your own deck ideas, too!
This is a niche, controlling archetype that excels against aggressive decks in theory. The gist of Rakdos Control is to “kill everything.” You’re in the two colors with the best removal so you should be able to end up with quite a few kill spells if black or red are open in your seat.
Prioritize value creatures like Ardent Elementalist (which loops with Crawl from the Cellar for the classic Raise Dead plus Scrivener combo) and slowly grind your opponent to dust. If you’re lucky enough to have a copy or two, Seize the Storm would be fantastic as a win condition.
This kind of deck struggles against decks like Azorius Spirits and Simic Flashback since relying on removal too much isn’t the best plan against recursive threats. Still, it’s an alternate take on Rakdos that excels against most of the aggro decks in this format.
Pack’s Betrayal is a generally unsuccessful and unpopular card in this set which is good news for this niche archetype. The idea here is to use Treason plus sac effects for value and large removal as has been done many times with Rakdos in past Limited formats.
You’re leaning on tabling copies of Pack’s Betrayal that no one else wants while prioritizing black staples like Eaten Alive and Ecstatic Awakener. Keep in mind that you could always splash Pack’s Betrayal here if you wanted.
Do your werewolves keep dying and making you sad? Are you also tired of drafting yet another blue deck? Then maybe you should give Gruul Spells a try.
This archetype is basically Simic Flashback but with blue cards replaced by red cards. This means a grindy Gruul deck with 2-for-1s like Eccentric Farmer and Electric Revelation and lots of red removal. Seize the Storm and Shadowbeast Sighting are ideal win cons for a shell like this. You can play werewolves here if you want but I’d try to avoid the weaker ones like Tavern Ruffian and Harvesttide Infiltrator since they’d be better off as more instants/sorceries.
Not all Boros decks are going to be good Festival Crasher decks since it plays poorly with a high creature density. You can lean on it to set up explosive draws if you’re lucky enough to draft three or four copies. This is the best home for otherwise underwhelming cards like Abandon the Post and Homestead Courage that can deal a ton of damage out of nowhere with multiple Festival Crashers.
Ominous Roost is a card that looks like it might slide into Simic and Azorius decks at first glance. While it’s true that it’s definitely playable in those archetypes, the card truly shines when built around as hard as possible.
The venerable Sam Black trophied with an awesome Roost deck with a full playset of the generally weak Otherworldly Gaze carrying its weight. The deck plays just 15 lands but also has an exceptionally low curve, letting Sam load up on flashback/disturb cards (13 total) plus excellent support like Larder Zombie.
This is arguably more of a subtheme than a bona fide archetype but don’t forget that all of the “whenever day becomes night or night becomes day” creatures appear in Jeskai colors. These triggers stack well in multiples since having Obsessive Astronomer, Firmament Sage, and Component Collector in play means each Day/Night cycle generates:
- A tap/untap of any nonland permanent (your opponent’s best creature, your Mysterious Tome, etc.);
- A card from your Sage, and;
- Discard two/draw two from your Astronomer.
The key to controlling Day/Night is having access to good instants so you don’t fall behind when you want to switch to Night. Having cheap spells is important to freely return to Day which is more relevant here than in Gruul Werewolves.
One card that works exceptionally well on both fronts is Secrets of the Key which is an instant, a mana dump, and a cheap 2-use spell for returning to Day. Cheap disturb creatures like Baithook Angler are also nice here since they play the right kind of defensive and value game and can be the second spell later for returning to Day.
Sigarda, Champion of Light | Illustration by Howard Lyon
That should be about cover it for this format! There’s honestly more I could say about everything, but this should be more than enough to get you started on your Midnight Hunt.
What’s your take on this draft format? Have you had any luck with the main archetypes? What about the other subthemes? Let me know if the comments down below! And please be sure to grab Arena Tutor to give you draft recommendations (based on my ratings!) and to get a free tracker for your MTGA matches.
Best of luck in draft, and may your blue decks always have 3+ Organ Hoarders!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: