Magic: The Gathering players glimpsed a sneak peek at the third and most recent return to the horror-filled plane of Innistrad during an August 5th Weekly MTG livestream on the trading card game’s official Twitch channel. New cards, returning planeswalkers and mechanics, and the first threads of the story were revealed for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.
When it releases on September 24, Midnight Hunt will mark the third time Magic: The Gathering has returned to a fan-favourite world steeped in gothic horror, monsters and death. Publisher Wizards of the Coast had previously said the werewolf-focused Midnight Hunt will actually be the first of two fully designed card sets scheduled back-to-back, as November’s Crimson Vow will let Innistrad’s vampires take center stage.
Surprisingly, no lycanthropes graced the several previewed cards. Chris Peeler, social media and community manager with Wizards of the Coast, explained that while the wolfish monsters will play a large role in the composition and story of Midnight Hunt, this initial preview would instead highlight some of the other factions - devils, witches, and the living dead - and fundamental expectations for the set.
The Flashback mechanic returns from the first Innistrad block and will be printed for the first time on multicoured cards, such as the previewed Join the Dance. Flashback lets players cast spells from their graveyard for an increased cost, which fits perfectly in a world built on the dead or, er… undead. Players should also prepare to see familiar faces in new lights, beginning with Champion of the Perished. The beloved White mana Champion of the Parish hasn’t fared too well, though his strengths have persisted through death. One of Innistrad’s thematic cores is physical change, often not for the better.
Peeler and his guests also previewed the Planeswalker Wrenn and Seven, first seen as Wrenn and Six in the Modern Horizons physical set from 2019. The dryad character sybiotically meshes with other creatures, which she refers to with a collective name. Since arriving on the plane of Innistrad, she seems to have adopted someone new. The five-mana Green planeswalker synergizes well with land-focused decks and can create treefolk defenders to stymie the battlefield until all that mana can fuel something huge and mean.
Like past sets, Midnight Hunt will feature alternate art treatments for many of its cards, this time including basic lands. Ten “Eternal Night” illustrations from several artists give the land cards an eerie monochrome window into the perilous wilderness and unforgiving landscapes of Innistrad. These special lands can be found in draft, collector or standard booster packs and have been treated with a high gloss finish on the lines and mana symbols.
Mike Turian, product architect for both Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, said returning to Innistrad for a third time presented a unique challenge. Players first experienced the top-down design (meaning flavour was decided before mechanics) set in 2011, surviving a bevvy of zombies, devils, vampires and other nightmares pulled from urban legends and classic literature.
The 2016 Innistrad block - comprising Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon - saw the return, corruption and subsequent death of Avacyn, along with the Eldrazi titan Emrakul being summoned to the plane. It was imprisoned in the planet’s only moon by several notable planeswalkers, bringing an end to the spreading madness and swaths of destruction.
Peeler implied this act has perhaps led to some side effects for Innistrad’s werewolf population. Without Avacyn’s protection, the humans “have to turn to older - and perhaps darker - magics to protect themselves.” The nights are growing longer than ever before, and the classic horrors are rebuilding their strength and numbers, setting the stage for new stories and a fresh status quo.