Innistrad

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All just sunshine and rainbows in Innistrad. Notice the mistulons haunting the fountain.

Innistrad is one of several Planes in Magic: The Gathering. Its theme is gothic horror, and it draws from classic horror movies and novels. It was featured in the Innistrad release block, which was in turn composed of the Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored sets. More recently, it served as the setting for the Shadows Over Innistrad block.

Innistrad used to be a very dark and scary place, where the humans of the realm were beset by demons, vampires, werewolves, spirits, and a few other monsters. Sorin Markov realized that this was not a sustainable ecosystem, as humans would be hunted to extinction, leaving the vampires of the plane without a food source, and so he used his power as a Planeswalker to create an edge for humanity: the archangel Avacyn. She would be humanity's champion, and lend her power to mortal warriors through a church founded in her name. Her aid would bring balance to the world, and prevent humanity from going extinct (and thus leaving the remaining supernaturals with a suitable prey population).

With Avacyn's power, humanity drove back the darkness, but more powerful demons invaded the realm to fill the resulting power vacuum. Before long, the demons were so powerful that even Avacyn could not destroy them, so she declared that "that which cannot destroyed must be bound," and so she enchanted a shard of Innistrad's moon to be a demon prison, the Helvault. Unfortunately, she bit off more than she could chew with the archdemon Griselbrand, and although she could not be destroyed either, she could still be (and was) bound into the Helvault herself by Griselbrand's trick.

Fortunately, only the Mikaeus, the Lunarch (read: Pope) saw her defeat, and so the Church of Avacyn was able to carry on business as usual, but without her being out and about, humanity's weapons became gradually less effective against the creatures of the night, and before long, they were in danger again, perhaps more than ever.

However, all was not lost! Other Planeswalkers, namely Garruk Wildspeaker and Liliana Vess, arrived on the plane and started making trouble -- Liliana because she had pledged her soul to Griselbrand and wanted out of (honoring) the deal, and Garruk because Liliana had cursed him when they met on Shandalar, and he wanted her to cure him. Sorin Markov also returned to Innistrad, as its designated guardian, in search of Avacyn, who was meant to be its guardian in his stead. In order to get Griselbrand, Liliana had to trick Thalia, Guardian of Thraben into opening the Helvault, and while all the demons were released, so was Avacyn (one might say she was Restored). Seeing that the plane was in a sorry state, Avacyn got right to work fixing it, starting with the Cursemute Decree.

Tribes[edit]

There are 5 main tribes on Innistrad, each is aligned with an allied color pair. Humans are white and green, Werewolves are green and red, vampires are red and black, zombies are blue and black, and spirits are blue and white. The black zombies are the zombies we're used to seeing while the blue zombies are the SCIENCE zombies that are stitched together like frankenstein's monster. Blue spirits tend to be malicious, where as white spirits are benevolent ghosts. Because the temperament of spirits isn't reflected in the creature type, cards like Elite Inquisitor and Victim of the Night make no mention of spirits.
It's worth noting that each of the 4 main non-human tribes originate from humans.

  1. Spirits are the souls of dead humans that for whatever reason haven't embraced the blessed sleep.
  2. Zombies are made by wizards out of human corpses.
  3. Vampires (sometimes, usually on purpose when they do) spawn vampires from humans, with the progenitors of their respective lines being humans that used a ritual to become vampires.
  4. Werewolves are sometimes human and are werewolves because they are (or at least were) humans that have been inflicted with a contagious curse.

Shadows Over Innistrad[edit]

Sorin Markov comes home to Innistrad to discover that his precious little Angel-Wangel Avacyn has gone completely berserk and is slaughtering everyone with wild abandon. Meanwhile another Planeswalker, Nahiri, is throwing a hissy fit because she found out Zendikar's pretty much destroyed after Sorin tossed her into the Helvault once they sealed the Eldrazi on Zendikar because Nahiri bitched to him about how her home plane is now the prison of eldtrich monsters and Sorin was too tired from birthing Avacyn to put up with her bullshit. This prolonged stay in literal Hell also made Nahiri a little unhinged, and she decided the best way to avenge Zendikar was to bring the Eldrazi over to Innistrad.

Apparently Yog-Sothoth Emrakul has something to do with it. Hell, the next set's card symbol is Emrakul.

Nahiri fights Sorin and traps him so he is facing Emrakul while he is on top of his house, and leaves Innistrad with him stuck watching his world come to an end, satisfied at last.

Jace gets his friends. Jace, Tamyio, and Nissa work together to seal Emrakul in the moon while Chandra, Gideon, and Liliana protect them. Oh yeah, Emrakul helped seal up Emrakul too.

Also, it's got a D&D setting splatbook.

Notable Cards[edit]

Innistrad[edit]

Delver of Secret[edit]

A 1 mana 1/1 isn't the best. However, if the top card in your library at the start of your upkeep is a sorcery or instant it becomes a 3/2 with flying. To give you an idea of how good this card is, it is the namesake of a deck (or more than one deck if you consider having different non-blue colors making them different decks) in basically every constructed format it's legal in (at least non singleton formats).

Fun fact: If you play delver, your delver never flips early when you play it, but your opponent will always have delver on turn 1 and transform it on turn 2.

Geist of Saint Traft[edit]

Very strong effective power/toughness for its mana cost while resisting removal.

Liliana of the Veil[edit]

Really fucking powerful.

Snapcaster Mage[edit]

Casting spells in your graveyard a second time? For only 2 mana and it has Flash? Of course this was broken.

Dark Ascension[edit]

Faithless looting[edit]

Technically card disadvantage when you cast it from your hand, but grants good card selection at a premier rate.

Lingering souls[edit]

A lot of evasive bodies.

Avacyn Restored[edit]

Grislebrand[edit]

Good card. If you want to cheat something into play, grislebrand is often the card that get's used after the playset of original Emrakul. Also he doesn't have an anti-reanimation clause, so he is easier to cheat into play. Infamously his rules text seems to have a 7 motif, yet his CMC is 8 which lead to complains about aesthetics.

Tibalt[edit]

Arguably shouldn't be here. After all he has virtually never seen play. What makes the card arguably noteworthy is that his card is so bad that people consider his character a bit of a joke.

External links[edit]

Settings of Magic: The Gathering
Pre-revisionist: First Magic Sets - First Urza Block - Arabian Nights
Legends - Homelands - Ice Age - Mirage
Weatherlight Saga: Portal Starter Sets - Second Urza Block
Tempest Block - Masques Block - Invasion Block
Post-Weatherlight: Otaria Block - Mirrodin - Kamigawa - Ravnica - Time Spiral
After the Mending: Lorwyn - Alara - Zendikar - New Phyrexia
Innistrad - Return to Ravnica - Theros - Tarkir
Two-Block Paradigm: Kaladesh - Amonkhet - Ixalan
Never in a standard set: Fiora (Where the Conspiracy sets take place)