This fall has some exciting things in store for Magic: The Gathering, as the game returns to one of its most beloved settings: the spooky, shadowy Innistrad. Not only do Magic fans adore the gritty presentation of classic horror and monster movie tropes that envelope the set, but the original Innistrad sets from 2011 was one of the most noteworthy draft and standard environments from the game’s history. Many Magic fans fell in love with Magic during the original Innistrad run, so of course fans can’t wait to see what is around the corner.
AAAHH I FORGOT INNISTRAD IS COMING BACK TO MTG... HELL YEAH pic.twitter.com/RqUROXyDkB— ✨Penny✨ (@starsemblem) August 12, 2021
How many Innistrad sets are there?
The 2021 edition of Innistrad covers two back-to-back sets. The first set, Midnight Hunt, focuses on werewolf themes in Innistrad and will be released Sep 24, 2021. The second set, Crimson Vow, reflects (or doesn’t!) vampire themes in Innistrad, and comes out on Nov 19, 2021.
Both sets will be “large” sets, as is the current norm for Magic expansions. This means that both will have 250-300 cards. Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow are complete individual draft experiences on their own, but since they have similar themes and mechanics, the two sets can be combined in the same draft for a seamless experience.
This is unique for Innistrad sets. The previous Innistrad installment came out in 2016 when Wizards of the Coast were designing sets in two-set blocks, with Shadows Over Innistrad being a “large” set followed up by the complementary “small” set Eldritch Moon. Prior to that, in 2011, the original Innistrad block featured three sets, with the titular Innistrad set being a large one, followed by two small sets, Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored. This will make Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow the sixth and seventh sets released under the Innistrad rubric.
When do the New Innistrad sets come out?
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt will release with the typical standard release schedule -- on Sep 24, 2021, when Magic’s fall sets normally release. However, Innistrad: Crimson Vow breaks the norm just a little bit. Crimson Vow releases on Nov 19, 2021, one month ahead of the winter release schedule.
Will there be an additional Magic expansion in 2021 or 2022?
No. Many people think that there might be an additional set following Innistrad in 2021, because Crimson Vow is released earlier than expected. However the game’s lead designer Mark Rosewater has confirmed that there won’t be an additional expansion, just the release date is changing.
It hasn’t been established why Crimson Vow is jumping the gun a bit. The reason may be mundane, such as production or shipping concerns, or timing for marketing purposes. Our theory, though, is that Wizards of the Coast is capitalizing on the spookiness and releasing their popular horror-themed expansions as close to Halloween as possible!
Does Innistrad: Midnight Hunt trigger a standard rotation?
Yes, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt will trigger a rotation in standard. This follows the typical pattern for rotation. Midnight Hunt will change what sets of cards players can use when playing in the Standard format. When there are eight sets in the sliding window of Standard, the ninth set triggers the oldest four to be removed from the format, leaving five sets of cards players can use. Midnight Hunt will be number nine, so rotation will happen in September of 2021.
The four sets that will be removed from Standard will be
- Throne of Eldraine
- Theros: Beyond Death
- Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
- Core Set 2021
Players can still play with these cards, of course, but they won’t be allowed in Standard-format decks or Standard-format tournaments and events.
The five sets that will remain after September will be
- Zendikar Rising
- Strixhaven: School of Mages
- Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
- Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Will Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow have Commander precon decks?
Yes, as per the new norm for Magic. Every expansion set is accompanied by a number of Commander decks, even though Commander is very different from Standard. This time around, both Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow will release with two preconstructed Commander decks each rather than the typical 4-5 deck variants.
Midnight Hunt will have decks called Coven Counters and Undead Unleashed. Crimson Vow will have decks called Spirit Squadron and Vampiric Bloodline.
What kinds of cards will be in these Innistrad sets?
We’ve only seen a handful of cards so far, but they look like an exciting mix of the familiar and the new. Some cards are callbacks to previous sets, as the spoiled Champion of the Perished is a zombie version of the Modern staple Champion of the Parish. One of the most thematic cards in old Innistrad was Triskaidekaphobia, and this year, it’s complemented with the mad Triskaidekaphile wizard. The dryad planeswalker “Wrenn” visits Innistrad, having ditched their old tree companion “Six,” now becoming the new duo “Wrenn and Seven.”
In 2021, Magic began seriously exploring the idea of Modal Dual-Faced Cards in many sets. These are cards with two sides, and a player can choose which side will activate when they play the card. This is a close cousin to the classic Innistrad Dual-Faced Cards that “Transform” into their secondary side (and sometimes back into their front-side). We may see some unique flip/transform cards this time around.
We’ll also see the return of Flashback, which lets players play cards from their discard pile. This is a simple, powerful mechanic that has become an iconic feature of Innistrad.
While the 2021 Innistrad sets are still a few weeks out, a lot of the set is still a spooky mystery. What we know so far is exciting, as well. Relying on proven themes and mechanics, the new Innistrad sets look like solid designs that will produce fun cards and environments for Draft and Standard, rounded out with a sweet side dish of nostalgia. We can’t wait for Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow!