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Set Information
Set symbol
Symbol description Door with Portcullis
Design Mike Elliott (lead)
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Development Mike Elliott (lead)
William Jockusch
Bill Rose
Mark Rosewater
Henry Stern
Art direction Matt Wilson
Release date March 2, 1998
Plane Rath[1]
Themes and mechanics en-Kor, Flowstone, Licids, Slivers, Spikes
Keywords/​ability words Buyback, Shadow
Set size 143 cards
(55 commons, 44 uncommons, 44 rares)
Expansion code STH[2]
Development codename Rachimulot
Tempest block
Tempest Stronghold Exodus
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Tempest Stronghold Exodus
For the Magic storyline location, see Stronghold (location).

Stronghold is the thirteenth Magic expansion and was released in March 1998 as the second set and first small expansion in the Tempest block.

Set details[ | ]

Stronghold contains 143 black-bordered cards (44 rare, 44 uncommon, and 55 common). It was released in March 1998. Its expansion symbol is the closed portcullis of Volrath's stronghold.[3] Stronghold is the last set printed without different colored set symbols for cards of different rarities. It was the last set in which multicolored cards appeared until the 2000 expansion Invasion.

Marketing[ | ]

STH Advertisement 1

Advertisement for Stronghold.

The cards were sold in 15-card boosters and in four preconstructed theme decks. Each booster pack has artwork from Warrior Angel and contains 1 rare, 3 uncommons, and 11 commons. The Tempest preconstructed theme decks were very popular, so WotC continued the product line for Stronghold. Because Stronghold wasn't a standalone set, the decks contained both Tempest and Stronghold cards. The Stronghold prerelease was held on February 21, 1998. The prerelease card for Stronghold was a non-foil Revenant with "Prerelease 2/98" stamped in gold foil between the creature type and the set symbol.

Storyline[ | ]

Gerrard and the crew of the Weatherlight journey through the bowels of Volrath's Stronghold, battling the twisted creations of Volrath's evil mind in an attempt to rescue their imprisoned comrades. The stronghold yields many dark secrets about the crew's friends, enemies, and themselves.

Magic online[ | ]

Stronghold was released on Magic Online on 13 April 2009, with drafts available through 27 April 2009. It was also available after the release of Exodus on 7 December 2009 to support Tempest block drafts. A subset of the cards was also included in the 2015 MTGO-only Tempest Remastered set, but with the modern frame.

Mechanics and abilities[ | ]

The damage redirection ability associated with the en-Kor, based on the defunct ability banding, was introduced in this set.

The block mechanics buyback and shadow, and the abilities associated with Slivers, Licids, Flowstone, and especially Spikes, were expanded upon in this set.

Creature types[ | ]

No new creature types are introduced in this expansion.

The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Assassin, Basilisk, Beast, Bird, Cleric, Drake, Druid, Elephant, Elf, Fish, Giant, Goblin, Hydra, Illusion, Imp, Insect, Licid, Minion, Phoenix, Rat, Shapeshifter, Skeleton, Sliver, Soldier, Spike, Spirit, Thrull, Vampire, Wizard, Wall.

Cycles[ | ]

Stronghold has three cycles:

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Licids Calming Licid Gliding Licid Corrupting Licid Convulsing Licid Tempting Licid
Each of these uncommon 2/2 Licid creatures has a mana cost of {2}M and the ability to change itself from a creature to a creature aura and back.
Walls Wall of Essence Wall of Tears Wall of Souls Wall of Razors Wall of Blossoms
Each of these uncommon Wall creatures has a mana cost of {1}M, defender, and one other ability. Walls had traditionally been shunned by tournament players, but the Stronghold Walls were strong enough for tournament decks. Wall of Blossoms in particular became a core part of many decks, as it provided green with card draw, which was rare at the time.
Cycle name {W}{U} {U}{B} {B}{R} {R}{G} {G}{W}
Allied-color Slivers Crystalline Sliver Hibernation Sliver Acidic Sliver Spined Sliver Victual Sliver
Each of these uncommon 2/2 Sliver creatures with converted mana cost 2 requires two allied colors of mana to cast.

Mega-mega cycles[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Legendary lands Kor Haven (Nemesis) Teferi's Isle (Mirage) Volrath's Stronghold (Stronghold) Keldon Necropolis (Invasion) Yavimaya Hollow (Urza's Destiny)
Volrath's Stronghold is the second card in this mega-mega cycle of lands representing notable locations from the Weatherlight Saga storyline.

Theme decks[ | ]

The pre-constructed theme decks are:

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Migraine B
The Spikes R G
Call of the Kor W B
The Sparkler U R

Notable cards[ | ]

  • Ensnaring Bridge is a powerful lock piece for decks that don't intend to attack or stock up on cards, such as prison or STAX decks. Being reprinted in Eighth Edition, it remains in Modern and was a pivotal piece in the Lantern Combo deck.
  • Intruder Alarm is notoriously easy to make infinite combos with, as token making and copying became more prevalent. While slow enough for Legacy and Vintage, Historic was not quite so fast and was preemptively banned there from the Enchanting Tales bonus sheet.
  • Shock was introduced in this set, a strict downgrade from Lightning Bolt, but still is being reprinted and sees occasional play.
  • Sliver Queen is the first 5-color card ("WUBRG") and the first multicolor card to be more than 3-colors. It is a 7/7 Sliver with an activated ability that creates sliver tokens. Five-color "master" Slivers were hence printed effectively once each time Slivers reappeared.

Banned and restricted cards[ | ]

  • Hermit Druid can generally win the game once summoning sickness wears off, due to the prevalence of nonbasic lands meaning their entire library would be milled. It was banned in the first Legacy banlist in 2004 and has stayed since.
  • Mox Diamond is a rare zero-cost artifact requires a land card to be discarded when it comes into play and produces a mana of any color. It was banned in Vintage in 1999 but unbanned in the first Legacy format in 2004, where it sees play in Lands decks as discarding them is generally beneficial or trivial for that deck.
  • Dream Halls lets a player pay any spell with cards rather than mana. It was banned in 1999 for most formats before being unbanned in September 2009 as a five mana enchantment was much slower by then.

Reprinted cards[ | ]

The following Stronghold cards were originally printed in other sets:

Trivia[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Wizards of the Coast. "Dominian FAQ (archived)".
  2. Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Unlocking the Stronghold, by Michael G. Ryan. The Duelist # 24 (April 1998).

External links[ | ]