Werewolves are cool. You know it, I know it. Everybody loves werewolves. That is, until you’re facing down a pack of them in MTG Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and getting totally smashed into pieces. That’s a bit less cool. If you’re playing with werewolves, great, good for you — go forth and wreak havoc. But if you’re not, well… prepare to be eaten.
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is Magic: The Gathering‘s newest set and it’s an absolute blast, even for relatively new players. Alongside fresh heroes, weapons and locations, there are a few key changes in Midnight Hunt that really elevate the new set and help keep gameplay spicy.
One of these is the introduction of a new day and night cycle which determines what creatures players can use on the battlefield.
Werewolves are the core focus of the new set, and there’s plenty of mayhem to be had with all the new hero cards, but these creatures are nightbound, meaning they can only be flipped and played during the new ‘night’ phase of the game. Werewolves are cool in MTG, but they also have a few intriguing weaknesses.
During the day, these creatures are just ordinary folks:
Here, we’ve got a local ‘tavern ruffian’, someone who likes birds, a man in a funky coat and a stowaway with a mean look.
But once the ‘night’ cycle of the game begins, they’re flipped to reveal some absolute monsters:
Now the ruffian is literally smashing the tavern, and the bird admirer is admiring birds a bit too closely.
The change brings a layer of excitement to MTG that really helps shake up the power dynamic of matches. Werewolves are phenomenally strong, and they’ve got a range of powerful attacks that can help turn the tide of battle almost instantly. If you’re on the receiving end, it means werewolves basically spell certain doom.
But. There is a great, big but here.
Werewolves are firmly tied to the ‘night’ cycle, so players can actually prevent them from flipping by being clever with what cards they play. MTG’s night mechanic only triggers if a player doesn’t cast any spells during their turn — and if they play two spells, night transforms into day.
So players with werewolves will want to reduce the spells they cast to turn gameplay over to ‘night’, while players without werewolves will be struggling to keep day going by constantly playing spells.
The mechanic here means playing werewolves isn’t as simple as just obliterating your opponents. While the werewolves are unflipped they’re not superbly powerful, so you’ll want to bide your time and play your hand when the circumstances are right.
In theory, players without werewolves will be able to curb the tide with clever card work, but in practice, here’s how it went for me.
At a recent online MTG event celebrating the launch of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, I was chosen for the ‘villagers’ team. This meant no werewolves and the Sisyphean task of preventing night from occurring.
On two occasions, I was matched with newbie players who didn’t know how to trigger the nightbound cycle. Both times, I managed to smash the opposition by constantly playing spells and creature cards, and mounting a defence with numbers.
And twice, I was paired with players who did know how to trigger the night cycle and activate their hand of werewolves.
I was made to eat dirt the minute these werewolves appeared.
The first player managed to trigger the cycle after they’d already played five werewolf villagers, and all at once I had a team of thirsty, hungry wolves jacked with power at my door. In a single turn, my health was reduced to smithereens and all my heroes were gone.
The second player, who was actually part of the lovely MTG PR team, managed to deploy five werewolves and trigger night even before I was able to finish laying out my land cards. Honestly, I don’t know how it was possible — but I didn’t manage to get a single lick in before those werewolves appeared.
I’m not an awful player. I understand the basics of MTG well enough. But even still, I was totally floored by just how powerful the nightbound cycle could be. While the event was tailored to show off what werewolves could do (and real life decks will be far better balanced), it really was a brilliant showcase on how quickly the power dynamic can shift on a whim.
The day/night cycle of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt will take some getting use to as players work out the best ways to trigger their werewolves — but it’s an awesome new mechanic, and one that has the potential to really spice up your next gameplay session.
We know werewolves are cool. Arguably, the new MTG set makes them even cooler. With MTG Innistrad: Midnight Hunt launching just in time for Halloween, there’s never been a better time to be on Team Werewolf.