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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
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[1]
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 commons). It was released in March 1998. Its expansion symbol is the closed portcullis of Volrath's stronghold.[2] Stronghold was the last set in which multicolored cards appeared until the 2000 expansion Invasion. The biggest impact of Stronghold was its Walls. Wall 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.


The cards were sold in 15-card boosters which had artwork from Warrior Angel. The Tempest preconstructed theme decks had turned out to be very popular, so WotC made more for Stronghold. Because Stronghold wasn't a "standalone" set, these decks contained both Tempest and Stronghold cards. Such decks continued to be very popular, and demand exceeded supply: Wizards had again underestimated their popularity. The prerelease card for Stronghold was a non-foil Revenant.


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[]

On 13 April 2009 Stronghold was released on Magic Online. It went off sale on 27 April 2009, but was available again for the release of Exodus on 7 December 2009. Part of the cards was released in the 2015 Tempest Remastered set.

Mechanics and abilities[]

The block mechanics buyback and shadow are expanded upon in this set.

The ability associated with the en-Kor, based on the defunct ability banding, is introduced in this set. The abilities associated with Slivers, Licids, Flowstone, and especially Spikes are 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.


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 turn itself into an aura enchantment attaching itself to a creature or back to its normal state.
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. The designers tried to create walls good enough to be used by tournament players. Wall of Blossoms is the most popular of these 5 as it increases green's already considerable tempo.
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 has a converted mana cost of 2 that requires two allied colors of mana to pay.

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}
Call of the Kor W B
Migraine B
The Sparkler U R
The Spikes R G

Notable cards[]

  • Mox Diamond - This rare artifact requires a land card to be discarded as an additional cost, thereafter it produces a mana of any color.
  • Sliver Queen - The Queen is a 7/7 Sliver which produces sliver tokens. It's casting cost of 1 of each colored mana is often referred to as "WUBRG" {pronounced woo-berg}. Stronghold was the first set to feature a five-colored card.

Reprinted cards[]

The following cards have been reprinted.



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

External links[]