Welcome to the first part of my Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Financial Set Review! As a long-time Innistrad fan, I've been looking forward to this set for the better part of a year now. WotC has plenty of blind spots, but one thing they always nail are the aesthetics and flavor of Innistrad's horror. They know exactly what makes Innistrad great, and they execute it with precision every time.
Back in January, I predicted that Innistrad: Midnight Hunt would be our triumphant return to a Magic market that behaved more or less like the one that existed prior to the pandemic. I was criticized for being as bullish on the vaccines as I was, but as things started returning to normal in May and June, it looked like I might have actually been too conservative about predicting a return to some sort of normalcy. A lot of stores opened up for in-store play early this summer, and it looked like we were actually ahead of schedule.
The Delta variant changed all that, of course. While some game stores are running FNM with masks and/or vaccination mandates, many Magic players aren't quite ready to return to in-store play. I'm still optimistic about the future, but the triumphant return of anxiety-free in-person play does not look like it's going to happen in 2021.
Because of that, I don't expect Innistrad: Midnight Hunt to be the record-shattering expansion that I was hoping for. It will likely be very popular — it's a fall rotational set and an Innistrad set, after all — but I don't think that Midnight Hunt is going to herald the shift back to competitive tabletop play that I was hoping it would. Financially, Commander play is still going to matter most, followed by Modern, followed by Standard as a distant third.
Keep this in mind as you read the previews and make your personal buying decisions. If you're looking for specs and picks for the set's top cards, stick to cards that are going to be future Commander staples. Standard is still worth thinking about, but mostly for folks who want to build those decks themselves. This rule of thumb has helped me out a lot over the past year or so, and my hope is that it also helps you make the best buying decisions for yourself as well.
Anyway, let's get to the cards!
Arlinn, the Pack's Hope has the look of a top tier Standard planeswalker. A planeswalker that can come down for less than five mana, make a couple of relevant tokens, and still survive? That's a card with legs in Standard. Her day side plus-one isn't awful, and she's a formidable attacker on the night side. Cards like this can be frustrating when they get stuck in one aspect for a few turns when you really want them to be in the other, but I don't think that's a deal-breaker. We already know that green will be very strong in the new Standard environment, and there are already several other top tier Standard playable cards that make wolves. I would be shocked if Arlinn isn't a major player in the format, with a value of at least $10 to $15.
That said, Arlinn lacks the true long-term upside I look for in my favorite spec targets. She's almost certainly too slow for Modern, and the popularity of Werewolves in Commander relies a lot on a card that we're going to talk about a little later in this article. Snag Arlinn if you want to play her in Standard, or if you believe that she'll be good enough in that format to justify high prices, but we're not talking about the next multi-format all-star here.
I was skeptical about Wrenn and Seven at first because it has incredibly big shoes to fill. Wrenn and Six is one of the two or three best planeswalkers ever printed, and I was worried that this card would have an overly optimistic price tag early on, primarily because nobody wants to miss out on the "next" one.
Not so. Wrenn and Seven has a fairly reasonable pre-order price, and it does actually seem based on the card's potential. Five-mana planeswalkers are always a tough sell, but there are a few good lines here in Standard. First, Wrenn and Seven is a must-play in any sort of Simic Ramp deck. It's possible that a deck like that won't exist at any point over the next few years, but that would be an historical anomaly or a very new choice by WotC. And whenever Simic Ramp is good, its key mythic staples tend to be quite pricey. Second, Wrenn and Seven is a solid curve-topper in a tokens brew. Esika's Chariot is already proving a very strong card in Standard 2022, which is about to just be Standard. Curve that into Wrenn and Seven, double the token, and bam — you're really cooking.
Wrenn and Seven is also a very good Commander card. Five mana ramp spells are common in that format, and they're often among the format's most sought-after cards. The Commander community seems pretty stoked on Wrenn and Seven, too, so I'm not just going with my gut here. This feels like a pretty safe pickup and a good bet to remain a $10+ card, both short and long-term.
Sigarda, Champion of Light is a gorgeous card that I really want to love. I'm a tremendous fan of Angels, and the coven ability is really evocative. Financially, however, this one is probably a miss. Modern Humans probably doesn't want to run a four-mana lord that isn't even a Human herself, especially since her ability only works if you're already well ahead on board. The Commander Community is lukewarm on her as well; most are happy to run her as part of the 99 in their Human decks, but they're unwilling to break with previous Human lords to build around her. She might end up seeing play in Standard Humans, which could keep the price above the $2 to $3 range, but that's not a gamble I'd take without seeing way more high-end tribal support. I'm passing for now.
Underestimate double strike at your own risk. That damage adds up quick, especially in a color that has access to equipment. Enduring Angel is an awkward blend of offensive and defensive, though, and a five mana (triple white!) 3/3 that doesn't protect itself is a hard sell. It definitely has sideboard game in Standard, as some decks simply might not be able to beat an Enduring Angel, but cards like this rarely become competitive staples these days. It's okay in Commander, I suppose, but it's not really the kind of card that people get excited to build around. This has the look of a future bulk mythic to me.
If Zombies are any good in Standard, I'll be shocked if Tainted Adversary isn't a major part of the fun. A 2/3 with deathtouch for 1B is above the curve, and this is a very solid two-drop. Add the pseudo-kicker to the mix, and you've got a card that's fairly resilient in both the early and late game. It should also see some play in Commander Zombie brews, where curve matters less but deathtouch still shines.
Financially, I'm just a little too low on Standard-centric cards to recommend Tainted Adversary. It's a powerful card, and in pre-pandemic times I might have recommended pre-ordering a set, but we don't really live in that world right now. It's definitely fine to snag copies if you want to play them yourself, but if you're just trying to make money, go with cards that have higher upside in Commander.
I find it hard to believe that a tempo card this powerful won't see play somewhere. As with Tainted Adversary, a 2/1 flash with flying for 1U is quite good, and casting this for 3U at instant speed is going to mess up quite a lot of combat math. Oh — and you can repay the additional costs whenever you flicker cards from this cycle, which seems especially relevant here.
My only concern about Spectral Adversary is where it ends up finding a home. Will the new Standard have a blue-based tempo deck, and if so, how good will it be? I'm willing to be on "yes" and "pretty good," but that still isn't going to help the value here all that much. Spectral Adversary is more of a fringe player in Commander, and I don't know if it'll usurp one of the existing two-drops in Modern Spirits or not. If so, we're looking at a $10 to $20 card. If not, then this one might slip through the financial cracks a bit. Snag it if you're a believer, because the power level is there, but I'm taking a wait-and-see approach.
Fearless Adversary is an incredible card. It's best to think of it as a 4-mana anthem attached to a 4/2 with lifelink that can also come down on turn two so that you can curve out. There are already loads of powerful white three-drops in Standard, so this card plays really nicely with the other available tools in the current metagame. Of the three Adversaries we've talked about so far today, this is the one I'm most certain will be a future Standard staple.
But what about Modern? Fearless Adversary might actually be good enough for Modern Humans, since you can pay the anthem cost after using Aether Vial to cheat it onto the battlefield. It's also likely to see play in Commander, since Selesnya go-wide or ramp decks can turn this into a pretty absurd multikicker-style anthem. So yeah—there's going to be a lot of demand for Fearless Adversary, and rightly so.
There aren't any copies of Fearless Adversary for sale yet as of this writing, so I can't tell you whether you should pick it up now or wait. I don't have any pricing information to draw on at all. I can say that this is one of the best cards in this cycle, and you should jump if it starts off selling lower than the others since it looks like "just" a white aggro card. Fearless Adversary is more than that, and I'm excited about its future.
Moonveil Regent is the exact kind of card I look for when I'm targeting long-term value. It's a unique effect that enables lots of shenanigans, from reanimation to storm to simply providing velocity as an aggressive curve-topper. I have no idea if it'll see competitive play, but it will be absurdly powerful if it does.
From a Commander perspective, Moonveil Regent is going to show up in loads of Rakdos-based graveyard decks as well as five-color value brews. Red is still the weakest Commander color, but it's definitely getting better over time. Moonveil Regent isn't quite a wheel effect, but it's close enough that it should play well with a lot of the format's prevailing red-based strategies. It might not become a true format staple, but it should end up being an effective role-player.
Unfortunately, Moonveil Regent's pre-order price is a tad too high for me to recommend buying in right now. I'm not as sold on this card in competitive formats, but the price tag tells me that a lot of others definitely are. Snag copies ASAP if you catch wind of absurd Moonveil Regent decks showing up, because this card does have a pretty high ceiling, but I'd prefer to hold off. If this ends up being a Commander-only card, then it'll be a super solid long-term buy once it bottoms out.
Token generation is always more popular than you think, and Poppet Stitcher doesn't require too much commitment. If you've got instants and sorceries to cast — and you do — then this becomes a robust way to generate value. Add in the Zombie tribal aspect, and you get a card that really excites me.
I don't know if Poppet Stitcher will be good enough for constructed play, but I can imagine it finding a home in some sort of high velocity deck that can use this card as a win condition. I also expect that it'll see play in Commander, both in Zombie decks and in go-wide Simic brews where Poppet Factory can turn a whole bunch of 1/1 or 0/1 Plants and Saprolings into formidable attackers. My worry is that I haven't seen too many other people talking about this card at all, but my gut reaction is that it's quite solid. I'll be looking to snag a couple of copies at release.
What a cool land cycle. These "slow lands" are the opposite of the Scars of Mirrodin "fast lands," acting as true duals as long as you have at least two other lands in play. That makes these among the best dual lands ever printed in casual formats, and I think this cycle is being massively underrated for Commander. This is also a great way to slow down Standard a bit, since control decks will be all over these while aggro decks will have to find other options. Eternal formats are fast enough to want other options, but strong Standard and Commander playability aren't bad consolation prizes from a finance perspective.
It has been a while since we've seen a truly expensive rare land cycle in a premiere set, and I don't think these cards will flip that script, but I do think they're being underrated right now. Folks seem to be treating these as yet another $1 or $2 Standard-only "well I guess" land cycle, but Commander is the most popular Magic format and these lands are terrific there. I'm definitely grabbing a full set of these early on, and I don't expect I'll ever regret it.
Augur of Autumn just kind of looks valuable, right? It's got that Oracle of Mul Daya, Courser of Kruphix, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove energy. Don't underestimate this sort of anchoring effect. To some degree, card value is simply just a shared agreement between members of the community that certain cards are worth more than others. If everybody decides that Augur of Autumn is going to be one of Midnight Hunt's chase rares, then it will be — as long as it sees some play somewhere, of course.
I'm not sure about Augur of Autumn in any of the competitive formats. Four toughness seems to be the magic number for cards like this, and Augur is just a 2/3. It doesn't let you play multiple plans per turn, and coven is going to be really hard to activate in formats other than Limited and Commander.
Commander demand is what's most important here, of course, and Augur of Autumn should end up as yet another staple in Magic's most popular format. I don't think we're looking at $20+ upside since there are several better existing cards that fill this slot, but I'd be happy putting this critter in many of my base green decks. Cards like this rarely drop below $3, and they end up being worth at least $6 or $7 over the long haul. That's my prediction here as well.
Gisa, Glorious Resurrector looks a tick too slow for competitive constructed, but it's a solid Commander card for sure. Gisa plays well with several Commanders that are already popular, and its passive ability is quite powerful without being the sort of thing that will draw the ire of the entire table. This is the sort of card I might highlight as a potential long-term sleeper if it were a mythic, but the supply should be high enough to match demand at rare — at least for a while. I'm hoping to grab my copies in the $1 to $2 range a few weeks after release.
Commander players rejoice — we finally have a true Werewolf Commander! As I discussed a bit earlier, this tribe is generally pretty weak in Commander, despite being beloved by a large swath of the player base. Tovolar does a great job making all the Werewolves feel threatening, even in multiplayer formats, and it does a great job building synergy between the old Werewolves and the new ones. It's a terrific card, and one that was sorely needed.
Financially, expect the cool foil variants of Tovolar, Dire Overlord to hold their value well long-term. This will be especially true a few years down the line, when WotC inevitably makes its fourth return to Innistrad. If you want a copy for your collection, feel free to pick it up right away. Over a long enough timeframe, it will end up being a solid deal. In the meantime, expect older Werewolves and "Werewolves Matter" cards to spike as folks build 100-card decks around Tovolar. This is one of the best and most financially relevant cards in the set, so you should sleep on it at your own risk.
Unnatural Growth is a very sweet card for all the mono-green Commander junkies out there. If all you want to do is make the biggest creatures possible, this is a fantastic way to make it happen. A lot of the red enchantments that double or triple your damage might be more powerful in a vacuum, but it doesn't really matter. This card is really not going to see much play outside mono-green brews, so it doesn't matter how well it stacks up to similar cards in other colors.
As a niche Commander playable, Unnatural Growth should be readily available at or under the $1 range. It's also the sort of card that will either be reprinted half a dozen times over the next few years, or it'll be worth $6 or $7 by 2025. If you like penny stocks, this is a solid spec play once it hits bottom.
Curse of Silence will steal you a game here and there, but its failure state is truly abysmal. If you draw this card late in the game, or in a matchup where your opponent doesn't much care about the temporary speedbump, it is essentially just a blank. Quite honestly, I think it was balanced for best-of-one Standard and Historic on Arena. Everywhere else, it's a fringe player at best. Future $1 rare.
Pithing Needle is no longer the chase card it was when it was printed for the first time back in Saviors of Kamigawa, but it saw enough play to end up in the $6 to $7 range before this reprint was announced. While I expect it will see some play in the new Standard environment, the available supply is about to explode. This card is usually worth between $1 and $3 when it is available in a current set, and I expect that trend to hold. If you want a copy or four, give it a couple weeks.
We already know that Champion of the Parish and Pelt Collector were Standard staples, so why should Champion of the Perished be any different? A lack of good one-drops has held Zombie decks back in the past, but that doesn't seem to be a problem at all these days. You can build a full Zombie Aggro deck with all one and two-drops right now, and this card is right there in the mix. It'll be a future format staple if Zombies end up being a meta-relevant deck, and it won't be if things trend in another direction. I also expect it'll show up in Historic, but that's an Arena-only format, so I don't think it'll matter much for the paper price.
As always, I rarely recommend pre-ordering non-mythic rares that aren't going to see play in either Commander or Modern, and that trend isn't going to change here. Champion of the Perished could see some spikes if/when it shows up in Standard, and it's fine to buy in if you're brewing Zombies yourself, but save your spec money for Commander darlings.
Brutal Cathar // Midnight Brute
Skyclave Apparition is one of the best cards printed in recent days, so Brutal Cathar has some competition. I don't know how many Fiend Hunters can coexist together in Standard, but these cards are always a little bit underrated and always play a little better than you'd think. Brutal Cathar is definitely an aggro card, and you rarely get solid aggro versions of Fiend Hunters. The tempo advantage here seems pretty sweet, and I expect it has competitive legs. As with Champion of the Perished, I expect Brutal Cathar to see play in Standard without making much of a splash in Modern or Commander. Snag a few copies if you want to play with it, and don't worry otherwise.
While I'm normally not so high on fiddly five mana mid-range creatures, Liesa, Forgotten Archangel probably has some game in the new Standard environment. Orzhov Angels is already a deck in Standard 2022, and any card that can block a Goldspan Dragon and live to tell the tale is worth considering right now. Liesa, Forgotten Archangel should see a little bit of play in Commander, too, where it might actually live long enough for its abilities to matter. I don't think this card is a secret all-star or anything, but it's a solid playable that should hold its value well.