Welcome to the multicolored section of our Gladiator Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Set Review! There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s jump right in!
Usually, sorcery-speed pump spells are nothing to write home about – but Angelfire Ignition isn’t a simple pump spell. Changing one of your creatures into a keyword soup with extra +1/+1 counters, Angelfire Ignition gives vigilance, trample, lifelink, and indestructible, all keywords that make combat a nightmare for your opponent. It also gives haste, useful when you need to swing with that summoning sick creature you just played.
Being a three mana sorcery has its obvious downsides, like needing to cast it in your precombat main phase, but Ignition has three things going on that makes it worthwhile. First, it can alter a race in an absurd manner; it also gives counters, making your creature permanently bigger. Last but not least, it has Flashback, not only curving into itself, but providing it some extra mileage and graveyard value (for example, discarding it to Seasoned Hallowblade is just value).
I could see this card having a home in Boros Aggro decks, especially those of the Blitz variety, focused on pump spells and creatures that like those being cast on them. Feather, the Redeemed, Tenth District Legionnaire and Kiln Fiend all love this card!
Are you on a blue red deck that really needs to find specific pieces to enact your gameplan, and usually is on the market for dig spells? Consider Arcane Infusion, because it not only looks at four cards for two mana, but also has added value with Flashback. With that being said, this card only getting instants and sorceries puts it at an awkward spot for non-Combo decks. Control and Midrange decks that would want to play a cantrip also want to find lands and other permanents. Arcane Infusion doesn’t offer much flexibility, but at the same time it looks at a reasonable number of cards and can be cast again later in the game – and for that reason, it could be a fine option for Combo decks like Storm.
Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope // Arlinn, the Moon’s Fury
Arlinn, the werewolf planeswalker, is here – and she’s quite good! Arlinn is a four mana red green planeswalker with the Daybound and Nightbound mechanics, that enters the battlefield with four loyalty on either side. During day, her -3 creates a board that protects her, and her +1 gives you the ability to play your creatures at instant speed, pressuring and making defensive plays during your opponent’s turn. During night, Arlin’s +2 generates two mana, and with her -0 she can turn into a 5/5 Werewolf with trample, indestructible and haste, an aggressive body that finishes the game quickly and is annoying to deal with.
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Minusing to make a couple of wolves when she enters play and, the turn after, plusing to turn night on will be a common play pattern, making Arlinn a good top end for red green Aggro and Midrange decks. She makes a board, gives flash and grows other threats you cast, makes mana and can close out games herself – all of this makes her a great contender for the four drop slot.
Dennick, Pious Apprentice // Dennick, Pious Apparition
Dennick, Pious Apprentice is a Human Soldier that not only has a defensive statline that goes well with lifelink, but also provides a sneaky hate effect and comes back from the dead as the Pious Apparition. The Apprentice’s line of text hoses Cling to Dust, Torrential Gearhulk, Unburial Rites and Regrowth effects.
The backside, which can be cast from the graveyard with the Disturb cost, has a reasonable body to close out games – three power in the air – and an ability that gives you Clues whenever a creature card hits the graveyard. The most obvious way that happens is whenever you kill an opponent’s creature, or another creature of yours is killed, giving you additional value to your Lightning Bolt and Fateful Absence, for example, and punishing the opposing removal spells. Other ways to get clues that will also come up is whenever you or your opponent loots, rummages, mills, or Surveils away creature cards.
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As an early game defensive play, and effectively a two-for-one that has the potential of drawing you more cards with its ghost form, Dennick can find a home in decks like Jeskai Midrange, Azorius Tempo and Azorius Taxes. Having lifelink on a cheap value card is a great combination, since it lines up well in a field where Aggro and Control are both common strategies.
This interesting ramp and fixing spell has a lot of additional flexibility, being able to destroy your opponents lands, artifacts and enchantments, for the cost of giving them basics. Mana acceleration on three mana isn’t a much needed effect in our format most of the time, but for decks that look to generate Landfall triggers, put lands in their bin, and fix colors, this card comes as a nice option. In that sense, it competes with Roiling Regrowth and Harrow, and it brings versatility and some Flashback value. I would at least consider it for a Lands deck.
This sure isn’t another Unburial Rites, but it certainly deserves some considerations regarding its differences and applications. At face value, Diregraf Rebirth is an expensive reanimation spell with an even more costly Flashback cost. That by itself could mean that a heavily recursive and grindy Green Black Graveyard deck would be happy to try it. The discount on mana by creatures dying interacts well with wraths and sacrifice effects – that isn’t busted, but gives some wiggle room with its cost while double spelling and cashing in expendable creatures for other effects. I could see Diregraf Rebirth in a deck that wants as much value from their graveyard as they can get – a deck that, for example, would be happy to sacrifice a Stitcher’s Supplier to Phyrexian Tower to cast a reanimation spell.
A great addition to spell slinging and graveyard decks with blue and white, Faithful Mending is an instant speed Careful Study that gains two life, with added Flashback – like the card that this one’s a callback to, Faithless Looting! The effect this card provides is excellent in a few ways. It enables filtering and triggers Pyromancer effects at instant speed, from cards such as Young Pyromancer and Sedgemoor Witch. It also puts specific cards into the graveyard, setting up, for example, an Unburial Rites or Mizzix’s Mastery play.
The usual downside of casting spells like Faithful Mending is that you are spending mana and not interacting with the board, but here the lifegain helps to offset it, gaining you time while sculpting your hand. Being able to keep it up during your opponent’s turn, threatening interaction, is great, as well as having value in the graveyard, with its Flashback cost. Even with its specific casting cost, I expect to see Faithful Mending in a wide assortment of decks, like Jeskai Midrange, Esper Reanimator and Azorius Control.
This creepy masked Assassin is ready to offer its services to Aristocrats. There are already some two drops in our format that can sacrifice creatures by paying one mana – to name a few, Pitiless Pontiff, Legion Vanguard and Dark-Dweller Oracle -, and often these effects aren’t the best for Sacrifice decks, since the value they provide often isn’t enough to offset the mana intensive cost. Fleshtaker, on the other hand, gains life and scrys whenever you are using other sacrifice effects. This helps the card a lot in the sense that it’ll bring something worthwhile before you can comfortably afford mana for its own sacrifice ability. Paying one mana and cashing in creatures to make it a 4/4 or bigger can be relevant in a variety of situations. Keeping up the threat of activation, saving it from removal and allowing good blocks and attacks can be extremely valuable.
Florian, Voldaren Scion
Florian, a Vampire Noble, has an on rate body with a combat ability that makes him attack and block well, and in addition, he has a card advantage ability that, although tricky to use, has plenty of potential to generate a lot of value. If you want to draw at least one card with Florian, playing him turn four pre-combat, swinging with other creatures, and seeing a land or a one mana spell should do it. In the subsequent turns, if Florian survives and you can attack, its ability of impulsive drawing with selection can really shine.
The downsides of Florian are that he lacks protective abilities and evasion. That said, hand attack helps protect him, and removal spells clear the way for his post-combat triggered ability. For that reason, Florian can likely find a home on black red Aggro and Midrange lists – decks that can disrupt and apply enough early pressure to take advantage of this card.
Another copy spell for Ral, Storm Conduit Combo, Galvanic Iteration is easier to cast than Doublecast, and is an instant with added Flashback value. As far as a “value” copy spell (in the lens of a non-Combo deck), it’s probably outclassed by Expansion // Explosion, which can copy your opponent’s spells and has better modality.
This black green sorcery can create an army of Decayed Zombies, whose numbers depend on the number of creatures you have in the bin. Tokens with Decayed are purely aggressive or sacrifice fodder, which makes this card’s application quite interesting. It rewards you for filling up your graveyard with multiple creatures, and has a second use with Flashback. The number of Zombies created for this card to be worth it should be relatively high, to threaten a big attack on your opponent. Killing them is ideal, but the second wave of Zombies could also do the job.
With that being said, the average case of this card can be somewhat middling, given that filling the graveyard quickly with a huge number of creatures will require some effort. Decayed Zombies also aren’t board presence in a traditional way, given that they can’t block and can only attack once. With its downsides covered, Ghoulcaller’s Harvest certainly is able to create huge boards out of nowhere to finish the game. If it finds a home, it’ll be on a heavily graveyard focused creature deck, which could be looking for a cheaper Spider Spawning-like effect.
Hungry for More
Similar to a Hellspark Elemental with lifelink, Hungry for More is a decent piece of reach on an Aggro list that cares about casting instants and sorceries. Its obvious downside is that it doesn’t create board presence by itself. But the Flashback, the six life point swing, coupled with Young Pyromancer effects that it triggers and maybe sacrifice outlets, could mean that a black red list could want this effect. In the Graveyard and Pyromancer styles of lists it’s always nice to have more Flashback spells, since there are multiple effects that discard cards or like spells being cast again from the graveyard.
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
Although she has a fragile body, Katilda has some powerful lines of text. This two drop gives all your Humans the ability to add mana (including herself), and a Shalai, Voice of Plenty-like activated ability, that pumps your whole board with counters. The Protection from Werewolves is basically flavor text, but will come up once in a full moon. A two mana 1/1 isn’t an ideal creature, but given that she gives you mana and has a late game mana sink, Katilda could be a nice option for creature decks that look for acceleration, as well as Human tribal lists that play green.
Liesa, Forgotten Archangel
Liesa is a big five drop Angel finisher with lifelink, with added utility and grind potential. She doesn’t protect herself, or have five power and first strike like Baneslayer Angel or Lyra Dawnbringer, trading those for an exile effect that prevents death triggers and your opponents creatures going to the graveyard. Bringing your other creatures that die to your hand can be nightmarish. Imagine, for example, a situation where you can hold blocks on the ground constantly, while attacking in the air with a lifelinker. The Forgotten Archangel has plenty of competition in the five drop slot, but she’s a good haymaker at the top end of a Midrange deck like Orzhov Angels.
Ludevic, Necrogenius // Ludevic’s Hubris
A sweet reanimation-like effect, Ludevic, Necrogenius costs two mana for a 2/3 that mills you on ETB and attack. The body is nicely defensive for a color combination that can sometimes struggle with preventing early aggression. Milling can always generate some value, fueling Escape, finding Flashback spells and activating Delirium. Its activated ability, requiring at least five mana and a creature card in your graveyard to exile, transforms it into Ludevic’s Hubris. This Zombie is a copy of an exiled creature, gaining its abilities and keywords, and getting bigger if you exile multiple creatures.
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Although not that impactful at first glance, and requiring using mana at sorcery speed, Ludevic is an early roadblock that can become a scary threat later in the game. Not only Reanimator strategies could use this card, but also some Midrange builds that look for early plays that also have value in the late game.
This green black Horror has a pretty unique effect, letting you sink mana into its casting cost to flip creatures from your deck into the bin. Old Stickfingers’ ability is templated in a way that can act as an uncounterable Buried Alive-like effect. Unfortunately, as a creature, Old Stickfingers can be somewhat middling, lacking keywords and a body that isn’t dependent on your graveyard. However, it scales with the game, and there’s always a chance to hit your Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath with it. Old Stickfingers has a cool design and an ability that can have a powerful effect, but I struggle to see it being widely played. With that being said, some niche archetypes like Golgari or Sultai Graveyard can certainly take advantage of its lines of text.
Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer
As a 2/3 with flying and haste, this Human Knight improves your damage dealing spells, and protects you and other permanents from your opponents burn spells. Unlike Tajic, Legion’s Edge, Rem Karolus doesn’t prevent the damage from fight spells or damage dealing planeswalkers, but it can in the same way save the rest of your board from red wrath spells. Blanking Sweltering Suns, Anger of the Gods and Storm’s Wrath is excellent utility for a red white Aggro deck. The added bonus of making your burn better is gravy, and likely to be very good. Turning your Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix into four damage spells is extremely powerful. Rem Karolus dodges Shock, has evasion, haste and great lines of text against both red Aggro and red Control. For those reasons, I expect to see it in red white Aggro lists.
Rite of Harmony
This Glimpse of Nature-like card is powerful and can see play in certain creature and enchantment decks, as a card draw engine, either to generate value or during a Combo turn. Cheap permanents like mana dorks, Chulane, Teller of Tales and Paradox Engine are the types of cards that interact very well with this effect. Rite of Harmony draws off tokens as well, which can be good, since tokens tend to be created in multiples. The Flashback cost helps the card, giving it a second use later in the game if needed. The questions to ask about this card are the following: is there a deck (Combo and/or density-based) in our format that is looking for a sorcery with this effect? And how does it compare with already existing options in creature and enchantment forms, like Beast Whisperer and Enchantress’s Presence?
Rite of Oblivion
Got some cheap expendable permanents and want to exile any nonland permanent for two mana? Rite of Oblivion is a good sorcery for that. Pyromancer and Aristocrat decks now get access to this removal spell, and are lists that can easily circumvent the steep cost of sacrificing a nonland permanent. Worth emphasising that it’s not only creatures that can be sacrificed to the Rite, but any nonland permanent. Artifacts and enchantments, such as Food tokens from a Gilded Goose, are likely to serve as fodder to cast Rite of Oblivion. With that covered, I’d also be somewhat careful running this card, since it requires something on the board to sacrifice. Bone Shards, in that sense, is easier to use, since you can discard a card instead. Rite of Oblivion is versatile on what it gets rid of and relatively cheap, but it requires a bit of work.
A mana dork that makes a mana of any color, Rootcoil Creeper also helps you cast spells from the graveyard, interacting well with Flashback and Escape spells. Being a mana dork for two mana that dies easily, Rootcoil Creeper will probably see play in more creature-dense decks. There, being a 2/2 has a lot of upside, as it can attack and block way better than other mana dorks that add mana of any color, like Ilysian Caryatid. Its last ability, that recurs a Flashback spell from exile to your hand, is not likely to occur. That being said, I can see Rootcoil Creeper being exiled to bring back a Momentary Blink, Faithless Looting or Unburial Rites – these are situations that can happen at some point in a Gladiator game.
Who doesn’t love a Lightning Helix? Well, we just got a Shock version of it! The reduced damage is compensated by the six mana Flashback, giving it a bit of graveyard value. Two damage still kills a lot of creatures running around on the format, and the lifegain helps stem the bleeding and racing. Last but not least, burn to any target is the ultimate flexibility, since it is also planeswalker and opponent removal. If you run red and white in your deck, Sacred Fire is a good burn spell.
Sigarda, Champion of Light
Sigarda, Champion of Life is essentially a big beater with flying and trample that goes well as a curve topper for green white creature decks. Being a Human lord is very relevant even in non-Tribal decks – she anthems your Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Seasoned Hallowblade and Elite Spellbinder, to name just a few of the multiple good Humans. Getting Coven to enable her attack ability while curving out with a creature deck is doable – and Sigarda having evasion is great for attacking with impunity while maybe drawing more threats.
As a four mana 4/4 flyer, some comparison could be made to Starnheim Unleashed and Serra the Benevolent – and each one of them has its particular downsides and upsides. As far as Sigarda’s upside is concerned, she’s a creature, so easier to find and draw off cards like Ranger Class and Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate, and has the potential to immediately bring a lot of stats to the board through her anthem. Champion of Light certainly goes in green white Humans decks, but she’s also a great top end for Aggro and Midrange lists.
This card is a Gonti, Lord of Luxury effect, but on a cheap instant speed cantrip with Flashback. It doesn’t actually have a failstate, since it lets you play lands and use any mana to cast spells you get from your opponent’s library. It is similar to You Find Some Prisoners’ draw mode, but it doesn’t have the “next turn” clause, making it better in that aspect.
It is notably a two mana cantrip that doesn’t help Combo decks to enact their gameplan, so it better slots into Control and Midrange decks. For these archetypes, Siphon Insight is effectively a look at four cards from your opponent’s library and “draw” two of them. The cards you draw are obviously dependant on your opponent’s deck, but anything from an Elder Gargaroth, a Lightning Bolt, Thoughtseize or Counterspell could be found with Siphon Insight. If you don’t find a relevant spell, you always have the chance of taking a land (that may or may not be on-color).
This cantrip doesn’t help when you are looking for specific effects that are in your deck. It will not help finding a wrath against an aggro deck, for example. But the ceiling of its effect, lack of failstate, instant speed and Flashback value makes it something worthwhile to consider for your blue black Control and Midrange decks.
Slogurk, the Overslime
This blue green three drop has a reasonable body, and the potential to grow with your Fabled Passage, cycling lands, looting, rummage, Surveil and mill effects. It is worth noting that, in our format, it is hard to control when to put lands into your graveyard, with the lack of a density of fetchlands. But there are enough effects that grow Slogurk, that I could see it gaining a good number of counters. Faithless Looting, Elvish Reclaimer and Knight of the Reliquary are examples of cards that put lands into your graveyard and could share a list with the Overslime. It can bounce itself to your hand at the cost of three +1/+1 counters – not the most easy thing to do, but useful nonetheless. Slogurk’s death trigger can get those lands back to your hand, especially helpful later in the game with bicycles and triomes. If you are running a deck with blue and green that wants to play to the board and has enough effects to get one or two counters on this card, consider it an interesting option at least.
This Knight is a good hasty beater that can end up giving one or more +1/+1 counters to creatures you control. Its body is on rate, trample ignores chump blockers, is easy to cast in a red white deck and has additional upside that give stats on board. Red white decks have ways to use their mana on instant speed, be it with protection spells or flash threats, so turning Night isn’t hard. This is a nice aggressive uncommon that can slot right in on red white decks looking to beat down their opponent.
Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset
Teferi is back, slowing things down as usual! This time, he’s a four mana blue white planeswalker with a +1 ability of tapping your opponents permanents and untapping yours, while gaining you two life. His -2 is an Anticipate, providing selection and card draw. His ultimate costs a lot of loyalty and isn’t exactly game winning, so it’s better to evaluate this planeswalker in the general case by his +1 and -2. Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset can’t protect himself, and therefore he is more likely to be played in proactive decks that play to the board, where his tapping ability becomes relevant, creating good attacks and help racing with the lifegain. Untapping mana dorks and rocks, as well as tapping an opponent’s land, are situations that can happen and can bring a lot of advantage – for example, preventing a Settle the Wreckage or Counterspell.
Teferi isn’t exactly a traditional Control finisher like his five mana counterpart, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, but a planeswalker for more proactive decks, lists that may want to draw cards or interact with the board on a number of different ways on their own turn. I’m curious to see whether this card can find a home, and if it can shine there – at a first glance, some sort of Bant or Azorius creature deck could see some value at sleeving up this planeswalker.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord
Costing three mana, the leader of the Dire Pack is a great threat that draws cards whenever a Wolf or Werewolf (including himself) hits your opponent in combat. With the Daybound and Nightbound mechanics, Tovolar retains his tribal draw ability, whether it’s day or night. During day, he is a 3/3, which is already on rate, and during he becomes a 4/4. In its Nightbound form, Tovolar has a Kessig Wolf Run activated ability, that enables you to sink mana at instant speed, increasing any creature’s power and giving it trample. Aggro and Midrange decks that look for a card like Tovolar can easily transform him while using mana for activated abilities, protection and pump spells during the opponent’s turn. These lists can also run cards like Ranger Class and other new Werewolves like Outland Liberator, that synergize with his draw ability.
A Tribal Addendum – Vampire Socialite, Bladestitched Skaab and Kessig Naturalist
With Midnight Hunt, three underrepresented tribes on Arena’s cardpool are receiving good two drops: Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves (and incidentally Wolves). Although the density for Werewolves is not there for a Tribal deck in our format, Vampires and Zombies now get interesting options that in a way deviate from their traditional colors (usually Orzhov). Vampires now have more incentive to go into red, a great color for a creature beatdown deck. Zombies gained a lord in blue, a more grindy color, with cards like God-Eternal Kefnet and The Scarab God. Let’s examine each one of those cards individually.
Vampire Socialite puts +1/+1 counters on your other Vampires as long as your opponent loses life, really rewarding you for being aggressive. Its stats are on rate and evasion makes it a lot better. This card is able to generate huge amounts of pressure, and buffing its tribe with counters, rather than a static bonus, is extremely relevant to keep that pressure when facing spot removal. This card is great, and a good incentive for Vampires to play red.
Bladestitched Skaab is a bit tamer, increasing only your Zombies’ power, trading it off with a third point of toughness. This makes the Skaab not vulnerable to Shock effects, which is nice for a lord. Not increasing toughness makes sense when you factor in the Decayed tokens from this set, but won’t help your other Zombies survive combat or removal.
Finally, Kessig Naturalist is the one Tribal lord that doesn’t need to be in a dedicated tribal deck to perform. As a two mana 2/2 that accelerates mana on attack, it could already see play, similar to Magda, Brazen Outlaw. The fact that it can flip into a 3/3 in its Nightbound form, makes it really generically good. As the Lord of Uvenwald, it gives other Wolves and Werewolves +1/+1, buffing a Ranger Class Wolf token once in a while.
It’s cool to see tribes getting more payoffs, and with this set, these payoffs bring interesting deckbuilding decisions in terms of secondary color choices for Vampires and Zombies.