Hello, Commander readers!
Although we don't have the opportunity to play with Midnight Hunt Commander's precons yet, with the decklists revealed, you can get a good idea of its potential. Even because both the themes of the two decks (humans/counters and zombies/aristocrats) are something already well consolidated in the diffuse and comprehensive Commander's Metagame.
In this short series of two articles I'll discuss these preconstructed decks, their strategies and finally explore the upgrade options we have available primarily (but not exclusively) in the new set.
Yes, I'm going to focus on Innistrad: Midnight Hunt's new cards as primary upgrade options for two reasons: First, because both decks already come with a fair amount of seasoned staples from older sets for their respective themes; and second, because new cards are more accessible and easier to find due to their high starting offer thanks to their recent release.
In this first episode, we'll start with the “human deck”: Coven Counters.
Themes and Construction
While it's customary to start by talking about the Commander when analyzing a Commander deck, I don't think this is the best way for Coven Counters. That's because the 99 cards (and the synergy between them) have more prominence than the commander itself, Leinore, Autumn Sovereign, which serves more as a support piece than something the deck revolves around.
With 39 creatures in its composition, this is a typical combat-based aggressive deck. Innistrad's distinctive tribal appeal and the large amount of humans in the deck (29 in total, plus other cards that specifically support this tribe, such as Herald of War) lead us to instinctively conclude that this is about a classic aggressive tribal, but there's more tech here than just playing the creatures, pumping them and attacking.
Using +1/+1 counters generically (and not just aimed at specific tribal synergy) is also an incredibly useful strategy, and it's safe to say that this theme is as pervasive in this deck as the humans'.
The token farm is used as a facilitator for the coven mechanic present in the commander — which imposes conditions for simple effects in an unnecessary way — but not just for that, since the tokens also make creatures stronger.
The deck can also be quite adept at exploring alternative uses for counters, such as Custodi Soulbinders, Ainok Bond-Jin, Abzan Falconer, and Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant. Expanding these alternatives and finding other better uses for the counters might be a line when choosing upgrades if you want to make it more versatile.
The mana base is reasonable in terms of volume and quantity: 37 lands and 11 other mana generators and/or ramp cards. The non-basic lands package is pretty decent, with interesting duals and not so many tapped lands.
There is always room for improvement in this regard, but the fact that the deck has only two colors and has access to green (a color that facilitates the mana curve without too much effort) decreases the infallible need to add better lands, which already relieves the bar when choosing upgrades.
Among the accelerators, there is more room for change, although even the most expendable cards in this pack are still useful in some way and the number of good cards outweighs the bad ones. The number of accelerators in the deck may be too high, and some cards may make room for other less privileged roles in the precon.
The card advantage package is generally pretty deficient, with few slots dedicated to the function and virtually no expressive staples. This is perhaps the aspect of the deck that needs the most attention, given the crucial need to keep your hand supplied during a long game with a deck that is purely dependent on creatures that can be wiped off with a single board wipe.
Although the deck is equipped with some answers for situations like (Inspiring Call, Unbrakable Formation) and massive recursions (Moorland Rescuer and Angel of Glory's Rise) it is necessary to rely on less passive ways to keep your breath in a multiplayr game, and I think this deck fails in that regard.
The removals package is also very thin, with only 4 targeted removals and 3 sweepers. While this kind of interaction is less crucial than card advantage to the sustainability of an aggressive deck, the lack of them can still slow your game down in some cases.
Despite the scarcity, the quality of the cards in this package is reasonable, and I would certainly keep almost all of them except for one (see below).
Finally, I notice the deck's clumsy attempt to reinforce the human ranks with tokens, through some cards like Somberwald Beastmaster and Trostani’s Summoner.
Tokens are a great way for tribal decks to gain value and impose an aggressive pace, but the choices made here don't make any sense. Except for Sigarda, Heron's Grace, all cards in this package can be replaced with ease.
The choice of commander in this deck is something to be discussed. While Leinore, Autumn Sovereign might not be the most exciting choice considering the deck also features Sigarda, Heron's Grace and Kyler, Sigardian Emissary, keeping it isn't entirely illogical. The additional draw granted by her is quite useful, even if conditional, and is a valuable resource unavailable in the other two commanders, even more so given the precon's aforementioned draw scarcity.
However, I see much more sense in solving this issue by adding more draw effects and keeping Leinore at 99 than using her as a commander in a deficient deck. Keeping it and adding more draws with upgrades to the deck, on the other hand, will make Leinore less needed, but also less targeted. So if you'd rather have a commander who doesn't draw as much attention and isn't a priority target for removals immediately after coming into play, maybe Leinore is the best option for you. It also makes more sense if you choose to abandon the deck's tribal focus and follow a more generic line with +1/+1 counters as the central theme.
In any other scenario, I recommend swapping the deck's lead for one of the other two suitors present in the precon. Particularly for a human tribal, I prefer Sigarda, Heron's Grace because she combines value and usefulness for the board. Sigarda's support for your creatures is quite considerable, although it still doesn't help it to circumvent this deck's weakness against sweepers.
Using Sigarda, Heron’s Grace, it might be better to concern less about counters and open up the possibility of perhaps focusing more on her token generation ability. This would require opening up some space for inserting a graveyard stocking package, and mass recursion cards and one-off reanimates might be more prominent.
Kyler, Sigardian Emissary would be a commander less oriented towards utility and more towards exchanges. I, personally, find him a good card serving both as a tribal lord and a possible bomb. Although he can produce his own counters, I find it harder to rely on as he doesn't protect himself.
Its high cost gets in the way of creating a game around it a bit, as most likely there aren't many mana left to put more humans on board after casting it, leaving it vulnerable to any removal before it has a chance to have some impact.
Using him as a commander requires more attention to your protection, and perhaps the use of other effects that are capable of putting +1/+1 counters without extra mana costs, such as Juniper Order Ranger and Mikaeus, the Lunarch that come on the deck. In some ways, you can even approach a Voltron deck.
Next, I'll show you options for possible upgrades for the deck, considering not only cards that would play in any human tribal deck but also every possible commander option with the precon.
As stated earlier, the deck's base mana isn't something that needs too many upgrades, but there's always room for improvement. I don't see any reason to use better dual lands here unless you already have these lands to spare or really want to invest heavily in the deck. The upgrades here are then due to utility lands that can help the deck in something more than just generating mana. Here are some examples:
Among the accelerators, there are some loose parts in the precon that are not necessarily good and that can give way to easily accessible staples that were left out.
Combat and Sinergy
This package represents all cards that deserve space because of their support for a human tribal. Given that this is largely an aggressive deck, most of this support comes in the form of more power, tokens or combat capability, but not always.
There is a fair number of cards in the precon that can drop out to make way for better cards in this role, like the aforementioned clumsy token generators and other outdated utilities. I would consider making the following changes:
Note that the number of cards that came out (8) is greater than the number that came in (6). These 2 spare slots will be filled in the next most needed package:
Card Draw and Card Advantage
The draw package is by far the most affected in this precon and that is why it must be reformed almost completely. Of those already in the precon, Shamanic Revelation, Lifecrafter's Bestiary, and Leinore, Autumn Sovereign itself (if you're not using it as a commander) are the ones that would have a chance to stay.
Inspiring Call would perhaps deserve its place in the deck for the secondary function of protecting the board, but I have used this card on other occasions and I confess that I was disappointed by its inconsistency even in decks heavily lined with counters. I think it would need some tests to deserve the slot, and even then I would only keep it if the commander was Leinore or Kyler.
Finally, Wall of Mourning seems too conditional to remain in the deck, and I see no reason to keep it. The wall looks like a good option for draw-less mono white decks, but I don't see why using it on a deck with green.
Considering the 2 spare spaces we have, plus the wall, plus a possible slot in case Inspiring Call ain't as promising as it seems, we have a total of 4 spaces to add better cards. I suggest for these:
The counters theme is essential in this deck... perhaps more so than the humans theme. The precon comes with good cards that allow us to explore it, but not all of them are necessarily in tune with the proposal we want. Some are even decent, but at a very high cost, making the deck's curve too high. I would consider making the following exchanges:
If you intend to use Sigarda, Heron's Grace as a commander, consider abandoning the counters strategy entirely and focusing on tribal synergy.
In addition to the cards suggested above also remove: Orzhov Advokist, Verdurous Gearhulk and Citadel Siege; and in place of the above suggested upgrades add: Thalia's Lieutenant, Hanweir Militia Captain, Frontline Medic, Thraben Doomsayer, Call the Coppercoats, Sanctuary Lockdown , Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis, Visions of Glory, Repel the Abominable, and Make a Stand.
If you intend to use Kyler, Sigardian Emissary as a commander, consider Sword of Hours or Fractal Harness in place of Luminarch Aspirant.
If you plan not to follow the humans tribal line and focus even more on counters, consider making the following changes as well:
Remove Heron's Grace Champion, Herald of War, Kyler, Sigardian Emissary, and Dearly Departed. Add: Hamza, Guardian of Arashin, Armorcraft Judge, Constable of the Realm, Basri Ket.
Do not remove Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant and do not add Thalia's Lieutenant. Add Pridemalkin in place of Tuskguard Captain.
Every deck that intends to be self-sufficient on a multiplayer table needs a handy removals package. In the case of a purely creature-based deck, the sweepers don't match as much as you want to keep your board. As the whole pack doesn't have many cards (only 7), the only change I would make would be to remove Hour of Reckoning and put a Generous Gift instead.
However, the reduced number of removals on this deck makes me a little uncomfortable. It might be wise to devote more space to adding more removals, especially targeted at instant speed, like Path to Exile and Krosan Grip, but honestly, I think with all the aforementioned the precon has already been changed enough.
I find it difficult for a deck, regardless of archetype, to survive well in a game with less than 10 removals, but not impossible. Anyway, the tests will tell.
Although the human tribe is not the best for the green and white combination, I believe the combo with the +1/+1 counters is promising and fill the precon's needs well with the appropriate upgrades. It is worth remembering that the cards mentioned as upgrades are limited to my view of what would be within a reasonable budget to invest in additional cards beyond the value of the preconstructed deck.
As a result, some cards proven to support the deck's purpose (such as Doubling Season, Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, Hardened Scales, Cavern of Souls, etc.) do not appear here, as I assume that a person who buys a precon probably did so with the intention of making the most of it without having to spend much more than the cash value.
Even so, I understand that this conception can be totally arbitrary, besides probably having forgotten one card or another that could easily have made it to the final list. If you think of something I forgot, I'd love to know what it is.
Hope you found some interesting ideas to improve your Coven Counters precon. If so, or if you have even better ideas, let me know in the comments below.
See you in the next episode with the next Midnight Hunt Commander deck: Undead Unleashed!
Be the first to comment