Compared to Undead Unleashed (the deck we discussed last week), the second deck, which was released for the new Innistrad edition, includes creatures that are on the side of the living, non-cursed creatures. Thus, it contains primarily humans and deals – as the name already implies – with the new Coven mechanic.
You can buy the Innistrad Midnight Hunt Commander Deck “Coven Counters” here!
The benefit of coven
Coven itself is not an active ability, but a passive one. It is based on the control of a majority of creatures and does not trigger a reaction on its own. If you control three or more creatures at the beginning of your turn, all of which have a different power value, the Coven ability triggers. Now let’s take a look at the Commander to see where the deck takes us.
The Commander Creatures – Victory lies in Battle
The Coven Counters deck is mana colored white and green, which in my understanding often speaks for tokens on creatures and a large land count.
The first commander is Leinore, Autumn Sovereign. For four mana, 2GW, she gives us everything we need for the new mechanic: a +1/+1 token on a creature and an extra card once Coven kicks in. What’s strong is that the token can be put on up to one creature, so it’s not a must if you don’t want to ruin your combo.
Likewise, their ability triggers not in the Upkeep nor Endstep, but at the beginning of the combat phase, the extra card draw and the token give us a variety of options to plan our actions in combat.
The second commander is Kyler, Sigardian Emissary. Compared to Leinore, he does not have the Coven mechanic and is slightly more expensive, 3GW. However, in a deck where many creatures are Humans, his ability triggers just as much as Leinore’s.
Each time another human enters play under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Kyler, with other humans getting +1/+1 for each token on him. The buff is obvious, with both leaders steering the deck in an aggressive direction.
These are the New Cards
The deck offers us thirteen new creatures, spells, and enchantments alongside reprints, familiar cards, and the two Commander cards. Six of them are pure white, seven are green.
- Celestial Judgment, 4WW: a good boardwipe that can exclude your own creatures from it.
- Curse of Conformity, 4W: a good curse to take the wind out of the sails of “mono-creature decks”.
- Moorland Rescuer, 5W: a soldier that gives us a solid resurrection effect. Together with Kyler, a kind of backup for boardwipes.
- Sigarda’s Vanguard, 4W: gives creatures with different power double strike in combat, absolutely useful in a Coven deck.
- Stalwart Pathlighter, 2W: when the decks’ main ability triggers, it gives indestructibility to your creatures at the start of combat.
- Wall of Mourning, 1W: with it, the top card of the library may be removed from play for each opponent, and if Coven triggers, it may be put into the hand at the beginning of the end step. Next to Leinore, another card that provides us with additional hand cards.
- Celebrate the Harvest, 3G: a quick supply of many lands if you control creatures with different strengths. In try-outs, this card gave me an advantage time and time again.
- Curse of Clinging Webs, 2G: another curse that can be of great use in Sacrifice decks, but seems a bit out of place in this deck for me if the opponents don’t intentionally consecrate their creatures to death. One advantage is that the creatures that die are removed from play, allowing you to control the graveyard on the side.
- Heronblade Elite, 2G: another card that can quickly increase our mana pool immeasurably if it doesn’t leave the battlefield fast enough.
- Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant, XGG: this treefolk creature protects our +1/+1 token-enhanced creatures and prevents damage they would take.
- Ruinous Intrusion, 3G: this artifact or enchantment destruction provides us with valuable tokens on the side, and the mana cost is reasonable.
- Sigardian Zealot, 4G: another buff card that boosts our combat power. Like the Rescuer or the Elite, it is based on your own strength.
- Somberwald Beastmaster, 6G: creates three creature tokens for us and gives death touch to your tokens, but the large cost has to be weighed.
The strongest shall rule
Including the two commander creatures, the deck contains 39 creature cards. These form a good basis on which we base our attacks. The mana costs of the creatures range from 1 to 7 and can easily be cast with the 37 lands in the deck.
Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Heronblade Elite, Gyre Sage, and Somberwald Sage buff our mana supply to get a head start, also the Knight of the White Orchid when played tactically.
The early benefit of the +1/+1 tokens is underlined by Abzan Falconer and Ainok Bond-Kin, which offer us first strike and flying ability.
One card that I find very useful for the deck, especially for the Commander format, is Bastion Protector. She protects your own Commander and pushes Coven.
Plan your attack
Odric, Master Tactician, Elite Scaleguard, and Orzhov Advokist help us plan our own attacks to hurt the opponent. For the former, the sheer number of creatures in the deck helps.
Sigarda, Heron’s Grace allows us to protect our own creatures similar to the Pathlighter, additionally, we can create a 1/1 white soldier token for two colorless mana. Protection is also provided by Riders of Gavony, which can create a massive advantage against mono creature decks.
The Coven mechanic can be pushed with Verdurous Gearhulk and Juniper Order Ranger, which allow the distribution of +1/+1 tokens. Mikaeus the Lunarch, mana cost XW, uses the tokens on him to buff the remaining creatures under your control.
A creature that can be sacrificed without qualms to “unlock” its actual ability is Dearly Departed. If the own graveyard is largely safe, without a Bojuka Bog or other removals being played by opponents, every own creature comes into play with a +1/+1 token.
Tokens, lots of tokens
In order to be able to combine the ability of Somberwald Beastmaster well, we find three creatures besides Sigarda, which create tokens for us: Kessig Cagebreakers, Trostani’s Summoner, and Custodi Soulbinders.
While the Cagebreakers are especially useful in the later game, Soulbinders should be played at a time when your own battlefield is already well filled with creatures or there are creatures in play that can buff him.
The Summoner, on the other hand, can easily be replaced by cards from the Selesnya Conclave, which offer tokens for less mana. However, it should not be forgotten that it helps us with the coven mechanics through the different strength values.
Destroy the base and crush your enemies
The 14 spells and four enchantments give us a multitude of possibilities for action.
Weapons of mass destruction
Besides classic mana buff cards, we find a total of three boardwipes in this deck: Celestial Judgement, Hour of Reckoning, and Cleansing Nova.
The latter has more added value for me here, as there is a choice between artifacts and enchantments or creatures, so I can react flexibly to decks I play against. The former, on the other hand, destroys all non-token creatures, which can be of little use against some decks if, for example, Bitterblossom or a similar card that quickly creates tokens is already in play.
Both can be combined with the also included Unbreakable Formation or Inspiring Call, which makes its own creatures indestructible and additionally puts +1/+1 tokens on them when played in its own main phase.
Smaller destruction instant spells are Return to Dust and Swords to Plowshares, the former targeting an artifact or enchantment (even two when it’s played in your own main phase), the latter targeting a creature. Bestial Menace and Beast Within generate and tokens, which we can link to the Beastmaster, or to the Coven mechanic.
The two enchantments Death’s Presence and Citadel Siege offer us the possibility to shift tokens on creatures after their death or to put new ones on creatures.
Citadel Siege gives the player two options, depending on the tactic: put two +1/+1 tokens on your own creature at the beginning of the combat phase, or tap one of your opponent’s creatures at the beginning of the combat phase.
Of the six artifacts included in the deck, three are used for direct management generation, the Moonsilver Key (which is included in the deck with the Innistrad mark rather than a Commander edition mark!) helps us find an artifact or land from the deck.
Swiftfoot Boots bring the familiar benefits of hexproof and haste.
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is of greater use with Scry 1 and an extra card for a green mana on creature spells in the deck if several creatures are played in one turn, and you already have the necessary mana available.
All in all, Coven Counters is a nice round deck that can be played without much strategy á-la-bash-your-opponent, but also tactically planned to rob them of all the creatures they need for their combos.
With a nice spread of land and creature cards in the deck, there was never a shortage of mana or a lack of ways to populate the battlefield in tryouts. Boardwhipes put a lot of pressure on the deck on some occasions, as there is no way to put creatures back into play other than Moorland Rescuer.
In some places, you can still tweak to your own taste to get the deck going faster, for example, if you want to emphasize the token-based mechanics. Spirit Bonds or Ant Queen could serve as examples. I could also imagine Rishkar, Peema Renegade in the deck to push your manabase in early turns.
Compared to the Undead Unleashed deck, which was released at the same time, Coven Counters is more suitable for new players, as the mechanics are easy to grasp and implement. Against its own decks, Coven Counters was able to hold its own well and even snatch victory from time to time with the help of the boardwipes.
You can buy the Innistrad Midnight Hunt Commander Deck “Coven Counters” here!