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ISD logo.jpg
Set symbol
ISD symbol.jpg
Symbol description
Two outward-facing, overlapping, stylized herons
Design team
Mark Rosewater (lead),
Richard Garfield,
Jenna Helland,
Graeme Hopkins,
Tom LaPille
Development team
Erik Lauer (lead),
Mark Gottlieb,
David Humpherys,
Tom LaPille ,
Adam Lee,
Kenneth Nagle
Art Director
Jeremy Jarvis
Release date
September 30, 2011
Themes and mechanics
Double-faced cards,
"Graveyard matters",
"Human matters"
Keywords and/or ability words
Set size
(15 basic lands, 107 commons, 67 uncommons, 59 rares, 16 mythic rares)
Expansion code
Development codename
Innistrad block sets
Innistrad Dark Ascension Avacyn Restored
Magic: The Gathering chronology
Duel Decks: Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas Innistrad Premium Deck Series: Graveborn

Innistrad is the first set in the Innistrad block. It is the 56th Magic expansion and was released on September 30, 2011.

Set details[edit]

Innistrad is a top-down-designed Magic set, [1] [2] meaning that it was designed and developed with flavor in mind first, "molding mechanics to fit the concept". [3] The expansion symbol of the set is a depiction of two outward-facing, overlapping, stylized herons. [4]

Innistrad has a gothic horror theme and makes use of horror tropes. It is the first set to thematically take place on the plane of Innistrad. The set features graveyard [5] and tribal mechanics, with the five main tribes each being split over an allied color pair. [6] [7] Spirits primarily in white and blue, Zombies in blue and black, Vampires in black and red, Werewolves in red and green, and Humans primarily in green and white. In each of these pairs, the second color is considered the primary. There are also slight thematic differences between the tribes depending on the color, such as blue zombies being abominations of science in the vein of Frankenstein's Monster, while black Zombies are shambling corpses reanimated by magical spells.

Innistrad contains 264 cards (15 basic lands, 107 commons, 67 uncommons, 59 rares, 16 mythic rares), including randomly inserted premium versions of all cards in the set. [8] This is 15 more cards than any large expansion in recent history had. Innistrad also features a number of double-faced cards which have a card frame printed on each side, and a checklist card used to prevent decks from becoming marked by containing them. The checklist card replaces the basic land in three of every four boosters. Due to basic lands becoming more rare, Innistrad only contains three basic land artworks rather than the usual four, further enlarging the number of functionally different cards.[9]

Additionally, double-faced cards are on a different print run than regular cards, and every booster pack has a double-faced card. This means that boosters can have two (mythic) rares without either being foil. [10]

Innistrad featured the last Magic Invitational: Snapcaster Mage, created by Tiago Chan. [11]


Horror Lurks Within

Innistrad is a plane of menace and dread where every creature hides a darker aspect. Here, hedonistic vampires stalk the shadows to quench their thirst, and the full moon can transform a simple villager into a savage werewolf. [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

Main article: Innistrad (plane)


Innistrad 6-card booster

Innistrad was sold in 16-card boosters, 6-card boosters, five intro packs, two event decks and a fat pack [20]. The 16-card boosters featured artwork from Liliana of the Veil, Garruk Relentless, Terror of Kruin Pass, Olivia Voldaren and Bloodgift Demon. [21] The small booster featured artwork from Grimgrin, Corpse-Born.

Innistrad was introduced by way of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG), in which bits of story were leaked in the form of various letters, journal entries and other in-world correspondences.[22] The prerelease of the set was September 24–25, 2011 [23], the launch party on September 30–October 3, 2011, the magic online release was October 17, 2011 and the Game Day was October 29-30, 2011. The promotional card given to participants at the Prerelease tournaments was the double faced Mayor of Avabruck / Howlpack Alpha. [24] The launch party promotional card was Ludevic's Test Subject / Ludevic's Abomination [25], and the Magic Game Day promotional card was a full-art Diregraf Ghoul (top-8 participants received a full-art foil Elite Inquisitor). [26] The Buy-a-Box card was Devil's Play. [27]

Regular boosters of Innistrad come with a bonus sixteenth card that is either a checklist card, a creature token or rules card with an advertisement on the reverse side.


The Innistrad tokens in numerical order are: [28]

Themes and mechanics[edit]

Day (front)-side Delver of Secrets and its night (back)-side, Insectile Aberration

Innistrad is the first set to have cards with different card backs. These cards have two card faces on each side, and are used for the transformation mechanic, changing creatures into different creatures and back by turning the card over. [29] [30] When playing with double-faced cards, players may use a checklist which has a regular card back and the player marks on the card which double-faced card the checklist card is supposed to represent. Whenever the card is in a public zone, the checklist card is replaced with the double-faced card. Playing with only the double-faced card is also allowed if the player is playing with opaque sleeves. [31]

Checklist card
Curse of Death's Hold, a card with the subtype Curse.
The transformation mechanic simply consists of the word "transform" written on the card in a sentence, similar to sacrifice, counter, or flip. The mechanic also introduces new symbols representing a sun and a moon which appear to the left of a card name similar to the tombstone icon marking graveyard-based mechanics in Odyssey block. The symbols specifically indicate the creature before transformation (day) or after transformation (night). Transforming creatures always enter the battlefield as they are before transformation, and once transformed not all creatures can transform back. During transformations, Auras, Equipment, and Counters stay on the creature.

Innistrad also introduces a new subtype for Enchantments named "Curse", which are simply Auras which enchant players and have a detrimental effect. The set is partially graveyard-based and features the return of flashback which originated in Odyssey and was reprinted during Time Spiral block. It also introduces the keyword action Fight, which represents the ability of Arena or Tahngarth, Talruum Hero. Two creatures that fight deal damage equal to their power to each other. Innistrad also features the new ability word Morbid in which creatures get benefits if another creature died the turn they entered the battlefield. [32] [33]

The set makes use of tribal mechanics, with Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, Spirits and Humans giving bonuses to each other and have abilities that work against other tribes. A small theme of using +1/+1 counters is also used in the set, particularly with Vampires growing stronger by dealing damage.

Liliana Vess returned as a new card named Liliana of the Veil. Garruk Wildspeaker also returned on a new card, named Garruk Relentless. Garruk Relentless is a double-faced card and the first Planeswalker card with five loyalty abilities. It is also the first Planeswalker card with a continuous triggered ability and the first green-black Planeswalker. [34]

Creature types[edit]

No novel creature types were introduced in this expansion.


Innistrad has five cycles:

Vertical cycles[edit]

Innistrad has two vertical cycles:

Reprinted cards[edit]

Functional reprints[edit]


Strictly better[edit]

Notable cards[edit]

See also: Innistrad/Trivia.
  • Delver of Secrets (along with its back face, Insectile Aberration), sometimes called a "blue Nacatl", is arguably the most effective cheap threat in its color (although it was not seen that way either in design or upon its release), widely played in aggro-control tempo decks across all constructed formats.
  • Snapcaster Mage is the Magic Invitational prize card Tiago Chan made and finally collected after four years of development. It would be the last Invitational card released. Snapcaster Mage was a defining card in Standard, and has had a significant impact in Modern and Legacy as well for its ability to grant flashback to some of the most powerful cards in Magic's history.
  • Geist of Saint Traft is a powerful early-game rush card, given that it's hexproof and can effectively deal 6 damage on turn 4. It is often used alongside Delver of Secrets for tempo.
  • Olivia Voldaren is very reminicent of Memnarch, being able to turn enemy creatures into vampires then gaining control of them just as Memnarch could turn creatures into artifacts and control them. Olivia, however, can only target creatures, but can power herself up this way in exchange for not being as permanent or flexible as Memnarch.
  • Liliana of the Veil became one of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed, second only to the infamous Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Preconstructed decks[edit]

Intro decks[edit]

Main article: Innistrad/Intro packs

Innistrad has four bicolored theme decks. [37]

Intro pack name
Colors included
Foil rare
White Blue Black Red Green
Spectral Legions Angel of Flight Alabaster
Eldritch Onslaught Sturmgeist
Deathly Dominion Skirsdag High Priest
Carnival of Blood Falkenrath Marauders
Repel the Dark Elder of Laurels

Event decks[edit]

Innistrad has two Event decks. [38]

Main article: Innistrad/Event decks
Event deck name
Colors included
White Blue Black Red Green
Hold the Line


  1. Mark Rosewater. (September 05, 2011.) "C'mon Innistrad, Part 1", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater. (August 27, 2012.) "State of Design 2012", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater. (June 9, 2003.) "Top Down and Goal", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Matt Cavotta. (December 12, 2011.) "Before, During, and After", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Mark Rosewater. (September 12, 2011.) "C'mon Innistrad, Part 2", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Jenna Helland. (December 26, 2011.) "Innistrad from the Top", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Tom LaPille. (September 23, 2011.) "The Colors of your Nightmares", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Monty Ashley. (March 14, 2011.) "Announcing Innistrad", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater. (August 29, 2011.) "Every Two Sides Has a Story", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater. (October 10, 2011.) "Unanswered Questions: Innistrad", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Monty Ashley. (October 24, 2011.) "The Saga of Snapcaster Mage", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Wizards of the Coast. (September, 2011.) "The World of Innistrad", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Monty Ashley. (August 31, 2011.) "Innistrad Art Gallery", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Magic Creative Team. (August 24, 2011.) "A Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad: Introduction", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Doug Beyer. (August 31, 2011.) "Liliana's Mission", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Doug Beyer. (September 7, 2011.) "Champion of the Parish", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Doug Beyer. (September 13, 2011.) "The Saint, the Geist, and the Angel", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Doug Beyer. (September 20, 2011.) "Postcards from Innistrad: The Nonbasics", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Jeremy Jarvis. (September 05, 2011.) "Creating the Art of Innistrad", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Monty Ashley. (September 12, 2011.) "Innistrad Fat Pack", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Monty Ashley. (August 30, 2011.) "Innistrad Boosters", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Ryan Miller. (October 24, 2011.) "Re: Josh Brauer", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Tim Willoughby. (September 12, 2011.) "Innistrad Prerelease Primer", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Monty Ashley. (August 29, 2011.) "Innistrad Promo Cards", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Monty Ashley. (November 16, 2011.) "Alternate Abominations", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Monty Ashley. (October 12, 2011.) "Innistrad Game Day", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Wizards of the Coast. (September 29, 2011.) "Innistrad Buy a Box Promotion", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Monty Ashley. (September 19, 2011.) "Innistrad Tokens", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  29. Monty Ashley. (September 21, 2011.) "The Two Sides", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Tom LaPille. (September 16, 2011.) "Werewolves Gone Wild", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Wizards of the Coast. (August 28, 2011.) "Double-Faced Card Rules", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Wizards of the Coast. (August 28, 2011.) "Innistrad Mechanics", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Zac Hill. (November 11, 2011.) "Morbid Thoughts", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Tom LaPille. (September 02, 2011.) "Garruk Flips Out", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Tom LaPille. (September 9, 2011.) "Out on the Township", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Monty Ashley. (November 02, 2011.) "A Bit of Atmosphere", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Monty Ashley. (September 15, 2011.) "Innistrad Intro Packs", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  38. Wizards of the Coast. (September, 2011.) "Innistrad Event Decks", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.

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