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Innistrad, similar to cards from Time Spiral block or older cards, have a lot of cards with specific functions or meanings. In Innistrad, most cards are references to gothic horror stories and make use of horror tropes in some way.

Horror Tropes[]

Transformation cards[]


  • The number 13, often seen in western culture as a bad omen and subject of several horror stories, shows up in several places in the set, including Ludevic's Abomination, Army of the Damned and Into the Maw of Hell.
  • Nevermore references Edgar Allen Poe's classic horror poem The Raven.
  • Alchemy, as mentioned by Forbidden Alchemy and Undead Alchemist, is a protoscience which attempted to transmute substances in other substances, i.e. tin into gold. On Innistrad it seems to be research to create life from dead corpses.
  • Claustrophobia is named for a real psychological disorder which manifests unease and panic when the person afflicted with it is in small spaces. The art depicts the classic horror scenario of being buried alive in a coffin. The six feet in the flavor text describe the common depth of a grave, with "put six feet under" becoming an English phrase synonymous with dying and subsequently being buried.
  • Rooftop Storm: A common occurrence in horror stories about mad scientists. The primary source for this is the 1931 film adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in which Dr. Frankenstein uses the power of lightning, harvested through a lightning rod mounted on the roof of his laboratory, to animate his monster. Frankenstein's Monster is a Zombie in Magic.
  • Stitched Drake, Skaab Goliath and Skaab Ruinator require creatures from the graveyard to be exiled. This is another allusion to Frankenstein lore as Frankenstein's monster required a corpse as a base or the brain of a corpse. Grave robbery for body parts or a brain is often depicted in the retellings of Frankenstein.
  • Grimgrin, Corpse-Born is the closest representation to Frankenstein's Monster itself, being composed of multiple corpses stitched together.
  • Use of corpses for scientific experimentation is again revisited in the flavor text of Deranged Assistant.
  • Invisible Stalker: Modeled after The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells about a scientist who turns himself invisible and goes mad in the attempt to become visible again. The invisible man is a common horror trope due to his being hard to anticipate or defend against, thus presenting a highly potent threat and inducing paranoia.
  • Bump in the Night references the common fright of noises heard in the night, lying in bed, not knowing the source of them. Children often have them and the noise is usually attributed to things that need no worry, such as natural phenomena (i.e. the wind) or pure imagination. On Innistrad however, one should probably be more worried about what stalks through the night. Also compare with Feeling of Dread
  • The art of Bump in the Night also portrays a common visual trope in horror stories, where a shadowy figure whose presence was previously entirely hidden is briefly illuminated through a bolt of lightning. Incidentally, the card also has a player lose 3 life, which can also be accomplished with a Lightning Bolt.
  • The art of Endless Ranks of the Dead shows a common horror scenario, in which the shadows of a horde of zombies appear on another side of the barrier, such as a window. The number of zombies steadily increases, threatening to break down the barrier. The people behind the barrier are left in the horror of their impending demise.
  • Village Cannibals portrays the common use of Cannibalism in Horror.
  • Several Vampires such as Bloodcrazed Neonate, Rakish Heir, and Stromkirk Noble have a mechanic of gaining counters when dealing damage to a player, mirroring the ability of vampires to gain strength from sucking blood.
  • Full Moon's Rise and Moonmist both reference the Full Moon that causes Humans to turn into Werewolves. The later also references the card Fog.
  • Evil Twin references the trope of the Evil twin, where an amoral doppelgänger takes the place of a person. The twin may or may not murder the original in those stories.
  • A Wooden Stake is a common weapon in mythology to destroy Vampires by driving it through their heart.
  • Blazing Torches are often used by mobs of people on the hunt of the monsters.
  • Pitchforks, e.g. Sharpened Pitchfork is another weapon employed by angry mobs.
  • Grimoire of the Dead shows a book that has the power to reanimate the dead. It is a reference to the widely known Necronomicon invented by H.P. Lovecraft in the Cthulhu mythos. According to Lovecraft, "Necronomicon" means the Book of the dead.
  • Army of the Damned is also a reference to a Lovecraft story. In "Herbert West, Reanimator", the protagonist of that story finds a way to bring back the dead alive but with a terrible cost. In the end, everyone that he has brought back to life comes tearing down his basement wall to tear Herbert apart. The box seen on the ground refers to a package that he received right before this happened. It contains the head of his former superior who was decapitated by a hovercraft before he was made a zombie by Herbert.
  • Sturmgeist is a possible reference to Dream Vestiges from Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Gutter Grime is a reference to The Blob.


Maro's Innistrad teaser[]

On his 2011 State of Design article, Mark Rosewater gave his traditional teaser with the following hints:[3]

Here are some things you'll find in Innistrad:[]

  • A card based on a silver-bordered white card — Nevermore (based on Look at Me, I'm the DCI)
  • A token-making sorcery which makes more creature tokens than any previous token-making spell (not counting X spells or spells that make a variable number) — Army of the Damned
  • An enchantment that could let you play all your creatures for free — Rooftop Storm
  • A spell that can deal 13 damage to multiple creatures for one mana (and yes, I mean 13 damage multiple times) — Blasphemous Act
  • Many—and I'm talking more than a few—cards inspired by famous horror stories
  • A card that turns a loss into a win — Laboratory Maniac
  • A two-mana creature that lets you make a 2/2 creature each turn for two mana — Stitcher's Apprentice
  • A card that lets you exchange your life total with something you've never been able to exchange it with before — Tree of Redemption
  • A planeswalker with five loyalty abilities — Garruk Relentless


  1. Mark Rosewater (August 27, 2017). "Why do you consider Innistrad to be a fixed Homelands?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. a b Mark Rosewater (April 16, 2017). "What's your favorite hidden Easter Egg in a Magic card?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  3. Mark Rosewater (August 22, 2011). "State of Design 2011". Wizards of the Coast.