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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Two outward-facing, overlapping, stylized herons
Design Mark Rosewater (lead),
Richard Garfield,
Jenna Helland,
Graeme Hopkins,
Tom LaPille
Development Erik Lauer (lead),
Mark Gottlieb,
David Humpherys,
Tom LaPille ,
Adam Lee,
Kenneth Nagle
Art direction Jeremy Jarvis
Release date September 30, 2011
Plane Innistrad
Themes and mechanics Double-faced cards, Curses, "Graveyard matters", "Human matters"
Keywords/​ability words Flashback, Transform, Fight, Morbid
Set size 264
(15 basic lands, 107 commons, 67 uncommons, 59 rares, 16 mythic rares)
Expansion code ISD[1]
Development codename Shake
Innistrad block
Innistrad Dark Ascension Avacyn Restored
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Duel Decks: Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas Innistrad Premium Deck Series: Graveborn
For other uses, see Innistrad (disambiguation).

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

Set details[]

Innistrad is a top-down-designed Magic set,[2][3] meaning that it was designed and developed with flavor in mind first, "molding mechanics to fit the concept".[4] The expansion symbol of the set is a depiction of two outward-facing, overlapping, stylized herons.[5]

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 [6] and tribal mechanics, with the five main tribes each being split over an allied color pair.[7][8] 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.[9] 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; to handle these when playing without sleeves, three in every four booster packs include a checklist card instead of a basic land. 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.[10]

The double-faced cards were printed on a separate sheet than the other cards in the set, and every booster pack includes a double-faced card. This means that boosters can have two rares and/or mythic rares without either being foil.[11]

Innistrad featured the last Magic Invitational card: Snapcaster Mage, created by Tiago Chan.[12]


“  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.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

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.[21] The 16-card boosters featured artwork from Liliana of the Veil, Garruk Relentless, Terror of Kruin Pass, Olivia Voldaren and Bloodgift Demon.[22] The small booster featured artwork from Grimgrin, Corpse-Born.

Innistrad was introduced by way of an alternate reality game, in which bits of story were leaked in the form of various letters, journal entries and other in-world correspondences.[23][24] The prerelease of the set was September 24–25, 2011,[25] 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 prerelease promo was the double faced Mayor of Avabruck / Howlpack Alpha[26]; the launch party promo was Ludevic's Test Subject / Ludevic's Abomination[27]; and the Game Day promo was a full-art Diregraf Ghoul, with the top 8 receiving a full-art foil Elite Inquisitor.[28] The Buy-a-Box card was Devil's Play.[26]

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:[29]

Themes and mechanics[]

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

Checklist card

Card with the subtype Curse

Innistrad is the first set to have cards with different card backs. These cards have two card faces, one on each side, and are used for the transformation mechanic, changing creatures into different creatures and back by turning the card over.[30][31] 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.[32]

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.[33][34]

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. References to the number 13 are sprinkled throughout Innistrad cards. Another minor theme in Innistrad is Equipment used by humans to fight the monsters.

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.[35]

Creature types[]

No novel creature types were introduced in this expansion.


Innistrad has five cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Rare flashback cards Divine Reckoning Cackling Counterpart Sever the Bloodline Devil's Play Creeping Renaissance
Each of these rare spells has a more expensive flashback cost.
Allied flashback cards Feeling of Dread Forbidden Alchemy Bump in the Night Ancient Grudge Travel Preparations
Each of these common spells has a flashback cost involving the next color on the color wheel.
Enemy flashback cards Rally the Peasants Memory's Journey Unburial Rites Desperate Ravings Spider Spawning
Each of these uncommon spells has a flashback cost involving the enemy color two slots earlier on the color wheel.
Cycle name {W}{U} {U}{B} {B}{R} {R}{G} {G}{W}
Allied utility lands Moorland Haunt Nephalia Drownyard Stensia Bloodhall Kessig Wolf Run Gavony Township
A cycle of rare lands that tap for one colorless mana, or require an activation involving both colors of an allied pair to have an effect.[36]
Cycle name {W}{B} {U}{R} {B}{G} {R}{W} {G}{U}
Taplands Isolated Chapel Sulfur Falls Woodland Cemetery Clifftop Retreat Hinterland Harbor
Lands that can produce either color of an Enemy-colored pair and come into play tapped unless the player controls a land with a basic land type of either color. This cycle completes a ten card cycle with the allied-colored taplands first introduced in Magic 2010 and reprinted multiple times in subsequent Core Sets.[37]

Vertical cycles[]

Innistrad has two vertical cycles:

Cycle name
Stitcher Skaabs Stitched Drake
Makeshift Mauler
Skaab Goliath Skaab Ruinator
Blue undercosted creatures that require creature cards to be exiled from the graveyard to be cast. Armored Skaab bears a similar name and is also a blue zombie, but does not share the same effect.
Bloodsuckers Bloodcrazed Neonate Rakish Heir Falkenrath Marauders
Stromkirk Noble
Red Vampires that become more powerful when they deal damage to an opponent. Curse of Stalked Prey and Stromkirk Patrol also have similar abilities.

Mega cycle[]

Reprinted cards[]

Functional reprints[]


Card comparisons[]

Notable cards[]

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.
  • 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 reminiscent 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. It is a Modern staple, especially in Jund and Grixis, and in BUG decks in Legacy.
  • Intangible Virtue became part of a very powerful Tokens deck in Standard when combined with Lingering Souls from Dark Ascension. Both cards were later banned in Innistrad block constructed, and are part of the Modern BW Tokens deck, along with Morningtide's Bitterblossom.
  • Diregraf Ghoul follows a long tradition of 2/2 Zombies for {B} which includes Sarcomancy, Carnophage and Accursed Centaur. The first two cards saw widespread tournament play in Suicide Black decks.
  • Laboratory Maniac is an alternate-win card.


In general, Innistrad is often considered one of the best sets in Magic history. The combination of a perfect limited experience, extremely powerful and varied cards for standard in all rarities and the large number of cards used for eternal formats has received universal acclaim from magic players. The only sets that come close to the popularity of this set are Ravnica: City of Guilds and Zendikar.

Over time, Innistrad has cemented its legacy as one of the best sets ever. In 2019, Mark Rosewater ranked Innistrad first out of 28 sets that he led/co-led design on, saying that he considered it to be his "tighest" design [38]. Also in 2019, Luis Scott Vargas and Marshall Sutcliffe both ranked 3x Innistrad as the best Draft format ever in a Limited Resources podcast [39].

Preconstructed decks[]

Intro decks[]

Main article: Innistrad/Intro packs

Innistrad has five bicolored theme decks.[40]

Intro pack name Colors Included Foil rare
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Spectral Legions W U Angel of Flight Alabaster
Carnival of Blood B R Falkenrath Marauders
Repel the Dark W G Elder of Laurels
Eldritch Onslaught U R Sturmgeist
Deathly Dominion B G Skirsdag High Priest

Event decks[]

Main article: Innistrad/Event decks

Innistrad has two Event decks.[41]

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Deathfed U B G
Hold the Line W


  1. Product info
  2. Mark Rosewater (September 05, 2011). "C'mon Innistrad, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (August 27, 2012). "State of Design 2012". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (June 9, 2003). "Top Down and Goal". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Matt Cavotta (December 12, 2011). "Before, During, and After". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (September 12, 2011). "C'mon Innistrad, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Jenna Helland (December 26, 2011). "Innistrad from the Top". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Tom LaPille (September 23, 2011). "The Colors of your Nightmares". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Monty Ashley (March 14, 2011). "Announcing Innistrad". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater (August 29, 2011). "Every Two Sides Has a Story". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater (October 10, 2011). "Unanswered Questions: Innistrad". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Monty Ashley (October 24, 2011). "The Saga of Snapcaster Mage". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Wizards of the Coast (September, 2011). "The World of Innistrad". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Monty Ashley (August 31, 2011). "Innistrad Art Gallery". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Magic Creative Team (August 24, 2011). "A Planeswalker's Guide to Innistrad: Introduction". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Doug Beyer (August 31, 2011). "Liliana's Mission". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Doug Beyer (September 7, 2011). "Champion of the Parish". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Doug Beyer (September 13, 2011). "The Saint, the Geist, and the Angel". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Doug Beyer (September 20, 2011). "Postcards from Innistrad: The Nonbasics". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Jeremy Jarvis (September 05, 2011). "Creating the Art of Innistrad". Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Monty Ashley (September 12, 2011). "Innistrad Fat Pack". Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Monty Ashley (August 30, 2011). "Innistrad Boosters". Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Ryan Miller (October 24, 2011). "Re: Josh Brauer". Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Ryan Miller and Team (October 24, 2011). "The Cursed Blade". Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Tim Willoughby (September 12, 2011). "Innistrad Prerelease Primer". Wizards of the Coast.
  26. a b Monty Ashley (August 29, 2011). "Innistrad Promo Cards". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Monty Ashley (November 16, 2011). "Alternate Abominations". Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Monty Ashley (October 12, 2011). "Innistrad Game Day". Wizards of the Coast.
  29. Monty Ashley (September 19, 2011). "Innistrad Tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Monty Ashley (September 21, 2011). "The Two Sides". Wizards of the Coast.
  31. Tom LaPille (September 16, 2011). "Werewolves Gone Wild". Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Wizards of the Coast (August 28, 2011). "Double-Faced Card Rules". Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Wizards of the Coast (August 28, 2011). "Innistrad Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Zac Hill (November 11, 2011). "Morbid Thoughts". Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Tom LaPille (September 02, 2011). "Garruk Flips Out". Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Monty Ashley (November 02, 2011). "A Bit of Atmosphere". Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Tom LaPille (September 9, 2011). "Out on the Township". Wizards of the Coast.
  38. Mark Rosewater (December 9, 2019). "Even More Maro on Maro". Wizards of the Coast.
  39. Marshall Sutcliffe, Luis Scott Vargas (August 1, 2019). "Limited Resources 503 – Top 5 Best Draft Formats Ever (And Why They Are Great)". Limited Resources.
  40. Monty Ashley (September 22, 2011). "Innistrad Intro Pack Decklists". Wizards of the Coast.
  41. Wizards of the Coast (October 11, 2011). "Innistrad Event Deck Decklists". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[]