It's finally time! 

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt will be released on September 24th, 2021, the same day this article goes live. Earlier this week, Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, Ikoria Lair of Behemoths, and Core Set 2021 rotated out of Standard. At long last, Bonecrusher Giant and friends are a thing of the past. All hail our new Werewolf overlords!

In terms of overall power level, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt feels pretty average to me. It's not as overpowered as many of the sets rotating out of Standard this week, nor does it feel particularly weak. There are a few powerful mythics, a couple of solid staples for Modern and Commander, and some hyped-up cards that will probably end up in the bulk bin. In other words: it's another new Magic set, complete with all the potential risks and rewards that make analyzing new Magic sets both fun and difficult.

Historically, the last few weeks of September and first few weeks of October have tended to mark Standard's yearly financial high-water mark. Set rotation is usually the most exciting moment in the Standard calendar, because it's the one time when it feels like anything is possible. All the boring and oppressive old decks are gone, making the format feel fresh and new. Not only that, but smaller, post-rotation formats tend to be more financially accessible. With only a couple of sets in Standard right now, it feels possible to buy all the staples you'll need to build a competitive deck. Most importantly, set rotation feels like the only time of year when everyone is on roughly equal ground. Nobody has any experience with any of the format's top decks, because they're all only a week or two old at most. It's like Magic's New Year's Day: whether you're jumping into Standard or setting a resolution for yourself, everything feels easier with a clean slate.

Will this sort of price surge happen in 2021? It's hard to say, but I doubt it. In-store play certainly hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels, and I'm personally still not comfortable playing tabletop Magic in crowded game stores or tournament halls. Plenty of places have begun to run small events, though, and many people (including me!) have resumed gaming with smaller, private friend groups. Of course, those gatherings tend to be more Commander-focused, which is partially why I'm still a lot more bullish on that format than Standard or Modern.

Looking at the price charts, I don't see any signs of a massive demand surge. Check out Goldspan Dragon, which will certainly be one of the top cards in the new format: 

Goldspan Dragon's price jumped in August once it became clear that the Dragon would likely be a top player in the new Standard environment, but look at those green bars down near the lower right-hand side of the graph. They don't show an increase in demand as Midnight Hunt got closer; instead, sales appear to have tapered off a bit. It's possible that folks are simply excited about other decks in the new metagame, and one datum does not a trend make, but rising tides tend to lift all boats. Demand for this card should have remained steady or even increased, despite the price spike. Instead, it did not.

In fact, there hasn't been much Standard-centric financial action at all lately. A quick look at the best Standard cards in sets like Kaldheim and Strixhaven tells me that folks are holding back and being patient, not making aggressive moves to snap up staples in the early days of the new format. This is more in line with how things went in 2020 than 2018 or 2019, and it belies the fact that tabletop Standard is not a main driver of card prices right now. Between Arena and the ongoing pandemic, that market is still quite soft. I might be singing a different tune in a week or two if things are just delayed a bit, but based on the signs I'm seeing right now, I don't expect that to change. The market might perk up a bit, but I don't think we're looking at a tsunami of incoming Standard price increases.

What does this mean for us? Well, it means that yet again, I'll be primarily focused on eternal and Commander staples when I speculate on Midnight Hunt. It also means that anyone who does want to play Standard this fall has the opportunity to buy in at a "discount," at least relative to pre-pandemic prices. If you have access to a safe way to play competitive tabletop Magic right now, I highly recommend getting into Standard. It's surprisingly affordable right now, and it's incredibly fun to get into a format on the ground floor.

If you want to time the market properly — and I always do — the best times to buy Midnight Hunt cards are probably going to be either this weekend or during the Black Friday sale that I expect TCGplayer to have. (Note: they haven't told me that this is happening, so I don't know any more than you do, but recent history bodes well!) If you're targeting any of the set's elite Commander staples or you're simply too excited to wait, buy in this weekend. If you're patient or you're after long-term specs in bulk, wait for late November. Or, if you're like me, buy a few cards this weekend and pick up a few more this winter. What can I say? Midnight Hunt is a very cool set.

But what should you buy? Which cards are looking good in Standard, Modern, and Commander so far? How good are the Set Boosters this time around? What about the Collector Boosters? If you're interested in picking up any cards in Midnight Hunt, fear not. I've got you covered. 

Midnight Hunt's Set Boosters Got a Boost

WotC continues to tweak the Set Booster recipe in set after set, and they've shaken things up quite a bit with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Their goal, I think, is to have Set Boosters feel more like Collector Boosters, albeit at a lower price point. The guaranteed foil card (versus Draft Boosters) and the shot to get a card from The List go a long way toward making that happen, but those two things have been true about Set Boosters from the start of Project Booster Fun. 

This time, the added wrinkle is that you can open a couple of brand-new Commander-centric cards that are exclusive to Set and Collector boosters. That's right: they have the Commander set logo, but you can't actually get them in either the new decks or Midnight Hunt draft boosters. I'll be covering them in more detail when I do my Midnight Hunt Commander Set Review, but for now, it's worth knowing that there are some pretty cool (and potentially valuable) exclusive cards in these booster packs. You can also open showcase equinox, borderless, or eternal night cards in Set Boosters, though that is likely to only happen once in a while.

It's worth remembering that Set Boosters have been overprinted relative to Draft Boosters in recent sets, though WotC has claimed that they're working to fix that balance. I still feel like Draft Booster boxes are the best long-term hold, mostly because folks are going to want to draft Midnight Hunt in the future, and you might want to pick these boxes up early just in case there's a shortage. If you're just looking to crack packs, though? Set Boosters are a more fun experience, and the overall per-pack EV is slightly higher than Draft Boosters as well as the last couple of Set Boosters. If you're only interested in cracking a bunch of packs, snag these boxes if you can.

Collector Boosters 

Let's be honest — the best Collector Boosters are sets like Zendikar Rising, which have reprint subsets full of juicy eternal staples. If you can't open a Misty Rainforest or a Force of Negation, you're really just paying a lot of money for fancy versions of cards from the current set. Some of these cards will hold their value, especially the Commander staples, but most will not. People simply don't want to pay hefty premiums for expensive versions of Standard staples.

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt does not have any fun reprint subsets, unfortunately. What it does have is a slightly higher-than-average number of "good" slots. Unlike some Collector Boosters, where all but 3 or 4 slots are dead weight, these packs each have the following:

That's six decent slots, which is slightly ahead of the curve for these Collector Boosters. Granted, part of the value is tied up in my faith that the foil full-art basic lands will hold their value, but I think they will. We might have a lot of options to choose from these days, but these lands are truly unique, and each one offsets the cost of these boosters by at least a couple of bucks.

As for the other slots, this is a pretty standard array of offerings for Collector Boosters without any high-value reprints. The foil extended art, borderless, or showcase rare or mythic rare slot is the real winner here, although being guaranteed a couple of additional extended art cards is nice. We've seen the Commander slot before, but this is the first time we've seen Collector Boosters gain access to extended art versions in a separate slot. I bet those will hold their value quite well.

Overall, I'd rate these Collector Boosters to be pretty average. They're not as exciting as the Zendikar Rising or Modern Horizons 2 Collector Boosters, but they're pretty solid for Collector Boosters without reprints. Collector Booster boxes tend to have an EV slightly higher than cost after being cracked, and I'd guess that will hold true here, too. Buy in if you love opening these suckers, but the more fiscally prudent play is always going to be holding off and buying the singles you need on the TCGplayer marketplace instead. It's less exciting, but it's the safer option for anyone with a limited budget.

The Best Commanders in Midnight Hunt 

A quick glance at EDHREC tells me that Midnight Hunt's best commanders break down as follows:

S-Tier: Tovolar, Dire Overlord
A-Tier: Old Stickfingers
B-Tier: Vadrik, Astral Archmage, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, Liesa, Forgotten Archangel, Slogurk, the Overslime, Gisa, Glorious Resurrector

S-tier commanders are among the format's most-popular generals, and their staples should remain high for years to come. A-tier commander should lead to some excitement and a couple of price spikes, but may fall out of the spotlight in the coming months. B-tier commanders are quite good, and they might show up in your playgroup, but they're unlikely to lead to more than one or two price spikes, if that. 

Not every set has an S-tier commander, but Midnight Hunt gives us Tovolar, Dire Overlord, the first elite Werewolf commander ever printed. As a result, pretty much every playable Werewolf card from the last few Innistrad sets has seen a price spike in recent days. Cards like Mayor of Avabruck and Immerwolf have seen a massive surge in demand as folks look to build around Tovolar. Check out these price charts:

While prices should come down some as Tovolar leaves the spotlight, I don't think they'll drop all that much. Werewolves are extremely popular, and Tovolar gives us a way to make them work in Magic's most popular format. That's absolutely huge. 

Much like Elves, Slivers, Zombies, and the other popular Commander tribes, we can now expect Tovolar and the other Werewolves to spike every time WotC prints a hot new Werewolf or three. There will be another Innistrad set or two at some point in the future, and all of these cards will spike again when that one starts getting previewed. While it may not be prudent to buy up every Werewolf at the height of their popularity right now, most of them are still pretty cheap, and they have a lot more long-term upside now that this is a viable tribe in Commander. If you want to build around Tovolar, feel free to just bite the bullet. I'll probably wait a couple of months for the major spikes to subside a bit, but long-term it probably won't matter that much.

As for Tovolar himself, the card should be a solid long-term hold. I don't love picking up the standard pack version for $10 right now, though, because that price has Tovolar's Standard playability factored in. If you're buying for Commander and you don't want to wait, I'd snag the showcase version for $15. That feels solid to me, and this is easily going to be a $30 to $40 foil when WotC returns to Werewolves in a couple of years.

Moving down to our A-Tier gives us Old Stickfingers. I was high on the Legendary Horror in my set review, and I'm still high on it now. If you want to build around reanimation spells in Commander, Old Stickfingers is a fantastic enabler that gets to do the better part of its job even if an opponent counters your spell.

 

I haven't seen a ton of secondary spikes due to Old Stickfingers yet, but there are a couple of older cards that might suddenly be in higher demand. Obscure reanimation spells like Life // Death and Dance of the Dead are worth running in an Old Stickfingers brew, and this is yet another deck that really wants Necrotic Ooze in play. Other than that, your deck composition is going to depend on if you're going for the quick kill with fast mana, rituals, and tutors, or building something a little more sustainable in the long game. Either way, the showcase version of this card is available for less than $3 right now. That's a really good deal, and this is a solid opening weekend pickup for anyone who likes long-term Commander speculation.

Vadrik, Astral Archmagen

As for the B-Tier commanders, I wouldn't expect too many secondary spikes based on demand. One or two of them might end up gaining more popularity over the coming weeks or months, but expect them to be more niche plays right now. If you want to buy any of these cards, spring for the showcase versions. They'll hold their value better since they're the face of their respective decks. I'm not going to speculate on any of them, but if you want to build around Vadrik or Lier? Go nuts.

The Best Commander Staples in Midnight Hunt 

Now that we've examined the best Commanders in Midnight Hunt, let's move on to the cards that are going to be future staples among the 99 other cards that make up all of our Commander decks. Here's how they break down:

Cards in 400+ EDHREC decks:

Raise your hand if you had these two cards as the most popular Commander staples in Midnight Hunt so far.

Unnatural Growthl

Anyone? Yeah, I didn't think so. I was higher than most on Unnatural Growth during my set review, but it has already become a bigger Commander darling than I'd expected. Take a look at this price chart, complete with an increase in demand as we approach set release:

So yeah, Unnatural Growth is very good and very popular in Commander. Even if it's not the kind of card that you like to play, you have to respect it. I don't expect this price to drop all that much, as there seems to be plenty of buyers in the $10 range. There are even signs of a rebound already occurring. If you want a copy, I'd consider snagging it this weekend.

As for Infernal Grasp, this is a multi-format all-star uncommon. It's never going to be worth a ton, but $1 to $2 seems like a solid floor. If you aren't planning to draft Midnight Hunt enough to end up with a set or two, feel free to grab them whenever. You'll probably need them eventually, no matter what format you play.  

Cards in 300+ EDHREC decks:

The popularity of Kessig Naturalist, Arlinn, the Pack's Hope, and The Celestus really speaks to how many people are building Werewolf decks right now. This is all Tovolar's doing, and we can't help but stan. Snag these cards if you're also brewing up some Werewolf goodness, but feel free to ignore them otherwise.

The Meathook Massacre is a lot more interesting. I've heard rumblings that the card has disappointed in competitive play, but the price hasn't come down much because there's still so much Commander demand. This card is amazing in a format where you can hit 10 to 20 tokens without much effort, which makes it way better in Commander than in Standard or Modern. 

Right now, there's still quite a bit of competitive upside baked into its price tag. If you don't think that's likely to pan out, I'd hold off for a couple of weeks. The Meathook Massacre is a fantastic long-term Commander buy, but I'll probably be looking to snag it on Black Friday, not this weekend.

Cards in 200+ EDHREC decks:

There are quite a few more Werewolf cards on this list, which shouldn't surprise anyone who has read the article up to this point. Moving past those, we get a couple of other interesting staples in Vanquish the Horde, Augur of Autumn, Wrenn and Seven. These are the cards showing up in non-Werewolf Commander decks, and all three are good bets for long-term value.

Augur of Autumn and Wrenn and Seven are both obviously good Commander cards that I covered in-depth during my set review, and I don't think I need to say much more. Quality ramp cards hold their value well, and are worth picking up when you're comfortable with their price point.

Vanquish the Horde is a bit more of a surprise. Much like The Meathook Massacre, this is a card that plays far better in a multiplayer format like Commander than a competitive one like Standard or Modern. Both of these two cards have a lot of competition in Commander — mass removal spells abound in Magic's vast archive — but these appear to be a couple of elite new standouts. If you're a Commander player, don't leave 2021 without a few copies of each.

Midnight Hunt in Modern

While I haven't seen many Modern deck lists featuring Midnight Hunt cards yet, there are a couple of cards I'm keeping an eye on. Innovation in Modern happens slower than Standard, since the format isn't available on Arena, so we might start to see some of these cards breaking out over the coming weeks.

First up, we've got Curse of Shaken Faith. This card is selling for bulk rare prices right now, but I can see it as a future sideboard staple similar to Eidolon of Rhetoric. Considering the fact that you can pick up a playset for less than $1 total right now, everyone who plays Modern should probably grab a few copies just in case. This is also a really interesting under-the-radar spec buy for anyone who likes penny stocks.

Next, Memory Deluge. I also adore this card in Standard, so the fact that I'm high on it in multiple competitive formats should tell you something. The card is still selling for less than $10 per playset, and I've heard rumblings that it's solid in Modern Temur Rec as well as some Azorius Control lists. That's more than enough for me.

Third, I expect Consider to be the most-played Modern card from Midnight Hunt no matter what happens with the other two spells we've discussed here. Consider is the latest in a long line of excellent one-mana blue cantrips, and loads of decks are going to run it. Make sure you pick it out of your bulk, and grab a foil set while Midnight Hunt is still in print. You'll thank me later.

Midnight Hunt's New Standard

It's not surprising for a post-rotational environment, but boy oh boy, are there a lot of Midnight Hunt cards popping up in Standard so far. Take these picks with a grain of salt, because these things are evolving fast, but here's what I've got for you so far.

Boros Aggro is proving itself one of the strongest decks in the new meta, and it's full of Midnight Hunt goodness. The main deck runs a full playset of both Intrepid Adversary and Moonveil Regent, alongside other new stalwarts like Brutal Cathar and Reckless Stormseeker. None of these cards should come as much of a shock, though it is interesting seeing Moonveil Regent as the curve-topper in a two-card aggro deck. That's very clever, and gives the card a lot more range than I gave it credit for in my set review. I'm a lot higher on the Dragon now, and it was already a card that I liked quite a bit.

Next up, we've got Gruul Werewolves. There are quite a few uncommons from Midnight Hunt here, but in terms of rares and mythics we have Primal Adversary, Reckless Stormseeker, Tovolar, Dire Overlord, Arlinn, the Pack's Hope, and Rockfall Vale. There are also a few copies of Wrenn and Seven in the sideboard. This is the deck that most people who buy several boxes of Midnight Hunt are going to try to build, so I expect it to remain popular even if it isn't all that great. It has proven to be a solid call so far, though, so these cards should maintain strong demand from both casual and competitive Standard players.

This is a pretty straightforward version of Gruul Werewolves, but it's worth noting that Primal Adversary does make an appearance. This was the adversary I was lowest on, but it's still quite good contextually. All of these adversaries should see competitive play eventually, and as always, metagame composition matters more than raw power level.

Not interested in Aggro? There are a few control decks popping up, though they tend to lag behind the aggro and tempo brews early in the life of a format. After all, control mages need to know what they're up against before they can formulate a response.

So far, Dimir Control seems to have the most promise. This deck runs the recently reprinted Delver of Secrets alongside new rares and mythics like Poppet Stitcher and Memory Deluge. I've talked about Memory Deluge already, but it's nice to see Poppet Stitcher making an impact early on. The card has a lot of promise, and as a mythic rare there's $10+ upside if it ends up being a cornerstone mythic in a new top tier control deck.  

Last up, we've got the Esika's Chariot decks. This card might not be from Midnight Hunt, but it is one of the most powerful things you can be doing in the format right now. The Selesnya Midrange brew is my favorite, and it runs a full playset of Wrenn and Seven alongside other beefy friends like Yasharn, Implacable Earth and Kazandu Mammoth. Storm the Festival is a surprising inclusion from Midnight Hunt, and it's possible that I underrated that unusual card in my set review.

Gruul Aggro is another Esika's Chariot build, and it uses a couple of Werewolves — Tovolar and Arlinn, mostly — alongside other good creatures like Vorinclex, Monstrous Rider and Magda, Brazen Outlaw instead of going all-in on the Wolf plan. It's unclear whether or not this is better than the version of the deck that runs Primal Adversary and friends, but I do think that it's hard to argue against running Esika's Chariot in your aggressive green brews no matter what. I've seen Naya versions, Temur versions, and even the Mono-Green build from Standard 2022. I'm not sure which of them will end up on the top of the heap, but don't sleep on these kitties:

All Standard players should own a playset of Esika's Chariot at this point — it's just that good. The price has gone up a bit since July, but it's still less than $10 for a set. That's an absurd deal for what might be about to be the most-played card in the entire format.

That said, this is yet another chart that backs up my findings from the top of the article. If Standard were about to see a major surge in demand, Esika's Chariot would be seeing a huge demand spike, if not a price correction. Demand hasn't meaningfully increased since mid-summer, even though the price is still quite reasonable. If the format is about to see its normal late September surge, the evidence just isn't there yet. Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is a sweet set, but the halcyon days of Standard price surges are still behind us.

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Last week's newsletter was another look in at the Worldfire unban in Commander. Has the card continued to climb over the past week, or did the price come back to Earth? We also take a look at Sway of the Stars, which is surging in price as folks speculate on it being the next unban in Commander. After that, we examine a couple of other Commander cards that are spiking right now due to Tovolar's dominance in Magic's most popular format. You don't want to miss it!