Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Set Review: Red

Welcome back to our Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set review! There are a lot of cards to cover in red, so let’s get started!

Bloodthirsty Adversary

Vampires with crossbows? That’s new. The base case of this card is a bear with haste, which is already good enough for current iterations of Mono-Red Aggro. And if you ever get to five or eight mana, this Vampire allows you to recast your Lightning Bolt or Light Up the Stage and swing with a 3/3. This card feels very similar to Goblin Dark-Dwellers, but is better in aggressive decks that will make use of the two mana mode more often than the five or eight mana ones. This card also may slot into the aggressive Vampire tribal decks depending on whether white or red is the preferred support color to black.

Burn Down the House

I was expecting a “Blow Your House Down” reprint because this is the Werewolf set, but I will admit that the three little piggies will taste better this way. This five mana wrath joins Hour of Devastation as the most damaging red wrath available that also hits planeswalkers. However, because of its high mana value, it will likely also see less play than Sweltering Suns, Anger of the Gods, and Storm’s Wrath. While having access to a second proactive mode is nice for a wrath, the remove indestructible clause on Hour of Devastation is likely better, though neither of these things are better than a wrath with a lower mana value than five. Izzet only needs so many wraths, and would rather use more powerful finishers like Dragons.

Cathartic Pyre

This card’s name and effect are both similar to Cathartic Reunion, but I am not sure if this was intentional or not. Either way, this card seems like yet another strong removal spell for red decks. As we’ve seen in recent design, when red damage spells can’t target players, they have been given a different slight upside. Most recently this can be seen on Dragon’s Fire and Fire Prophecy, or the even more popular Abrade. So how does this upside compare with these examples and others in the format? The ability to rummage away lands and other unneeded cards is powerful, especially for decks like Izzet Control. Decks like Rakdos Reanimator are also excited to see this card, since it both acts as early removal against Aggro and can fill their graveyard with reanimation targets while digging them towards a reanimate spell.

Falkenrath Pit Fighter

Completely ignoring the textbox of the card, this is already a format staple. Any White Aggro player worth their salt will tell you just how powerful paying one mana for two power can be. The clock such a threat presents is incredibly fast, so this is a slam dunk for Red Aggro players. The rest of the text on this card will rarely be used, but I see it as a worse but similar effect to Bomat Courier in that it can smooth out your mid game draws after becoming a less relevant threat.

Festival Crasher

This card has Blitz players frothing at the mouth. While it has no built in evasion, costing only two mana means it will be attacking early and often. This problem is also easily solved by Blitz cards like Crash Through. Since the name of the game is speed for this deck, attacking one turn earlier is a critical boost to their strategy. Additionally, going +2/+0 instead of just +1/+0 like the previous iteration of this card, Fire Urchin, means it is outputting twice the damage, exactly what Blitz needed to increase their early game pressure. If you don’t have removal for it the turn it comes out, expect to be taking at least seven damage immediately.

Flame Channeler //  Embodiment of Flame

This card puts Borderland Marauder to shame. While the front side is only a vanilla 2/2, it is incredibly easy to transform this creature, and it never transforms back. A spell dealing damage happens all the time, as most Mono-Red decks run every variant of Shock and Lightning Strike in the format, including the new Static Discharge and Play with Fire. Additionally it doesn’t matter if the spell deals damage to a creature or a player, which means you don’t have to hit the face and can instead remove a blocker which is what you were planning to do already. After transforming, Embodiment of Flame is a 3/3, an incredible rate for only 2 mana. And if the large body wasn’t enough of a payoff, by casting more burn spells and accumulating flame counters you can start gaining card advantage. As the ability costs only one to activate and most of the cards in decks including this have low mana value, as long as you don’t hit Embercleave or a second land casting the spell will be easy. Expect this to see play in Mono-Red Aggro, and some two-color Aggro decks that run primarily red removal.

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Moonveil Regent

This card’s name is a callback to the previous Innistrad powerhouse Moonveil Dragon.  Another multicolored-matters dragon to fly alongside of Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Moonveil Regent will likely only see play in three or more color decks. If the second ability wasn’t a may it certainly would be less powerful, but having the option to only draw when casting spells that net you card advantage makes this a force to be reckoned with. The body is also above rate, and the death trigger is potent removal. Expect this to see play in Jeskai Dragons, Five-Color Niv-Mizzet, and potentially some other high pip density multicolored decks.

Obsessive Astronomer

Someone stayed up too late playing Gladiator a few nights in a row. This card seems amazing for any Reanimator deck or Graveyard Midrange deck dabbling in red. It fills up your graveyard incredibly quickly by sending two cards there on entering the battlefield, and then as the game progresses will do some a few more times. Against Control decks that want to represent countermagic it will become night easily, and if you design your deck to double spell (which most decks want to be doing) then you can easily trigger the effect again. With this and other discard effects accumulating en masse, Rakdos Reanimator and Izzet Spells should become significantly more powerful.

Play with Fire

Do not try this at home. Shock sees play in every red Aggro deck, so this card will certainly be run alongside it. Most times this spell will target a creature, so expect it to be a functionally identical reprint in those cases. Additionally, when it targets a player, that player will usually be losing the game that turn, so the scry still won’t be important. However, in the few cases where the opponent doesn’t die, the scry is a nice upside. Strictly better shock will increase the redundancy in Mono-Red decks and help them lower their curves even further.

Reckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charged Slasher

This creature is the result of intensive experimentation by the Izzet and the Simic. Its base case of being a three mana 3/3 with haste passes the vanilla test, and we already see cards like Arni Brokenbrow seeing play. But this card has better upside than Arni’s Boast ability in that all by itself it can grow to five power and grant two keywords. More importantly it can grant the power boost and keywords to any creature you control, not just itself. This will be a staple in any aggressive red deck.

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Smoldering Egg // Ashmouth Dragon

I don’t think cooking the egg with the shell on is how you are supposed to make breakfast. However, when you finish cooking this one it produces quite a powerful threat. Izzet Control can use this as an early game blocker against Aggro due to its four toughness, and then later in the game transform it into a win condition that picks off all of their creatures. Even against Control decks, paying two mana on an early turn to set up this transformation is much better than just casting a cantrip in many cases.

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Sunstreak Phoenix

Phoenix with set mechanic, check. This threat is both recursive, evasive, and large. You can recur it at any time by not casting spells on your turn, and most decks interested in this card are running enough instants that they’ll be happy to do this. The two toughness means this dies to most removal spells and trades down with most Aggro deck flyers, so I don’t expect it to see much play despite all of its previous advantages. Additionally, milling this into your own graveyard does not allow the card to return to the battlefield unless a player has already started the day-night cycle with a different card.

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