|Symbol description||Crescent Moon|
Beverly Marshall Saling
|Art direction||Sandra Everingham|
|Release date||August 8, 1994|
|Themes and mechanics||Tribal, first mood-based theme, graveyard as resource, exile, poison counters|
(40 commons, 1 uncommons, 78 rares)
|Early non-block expansions|
|Magic: The Gathering Chronology|
The Dark is the fourth Magic expansion and was released on August 8, 1994. It is not considered to be part of any block.
The Dark was printed on sheets of 121 cards and contains 119 unique cards total. The set's rarity breakdown is: 40 commons (40@C3), 1 Uncommon (1@C1), 78 Rares (35@U1, 43@U2). The Dark includes a goblin tribal theme, powerful abilities with intense colored mana and upkeep costs, and the return of Poison counters. The expansion symbol of the set is a thin crescent moon to evoke The Dark’s tone. The Dark introduced the first multicolored noncreature card, the first common multicolored card, and the first enemy-pair multicolored card.
The Dark lands have a unique dark grey-purple colored text box, which was reprinted on the Chronicles version of Safe Haven.
The Dark was sold in eight-card booster packs which included six commons and two uncommons. Cards were available from mid-August 1994 through mid-November 1994. The print run was announced by Wizards to be 62 million cards. The Dark was the first Magic expansion that was released in the Italian language (the Italian Legends was released later).
In the flavor text of the set's cards, another story was told: The climax of the Brothers' War was the Sylex Blast, which lofted debris into the air blotting out the sun and creating The Dark. Without the sun the climate begins to cool, and an anti-magic religion comes to power, blaming the Sylex blast and its effects on all magic and its users. Persecution of these magic-using wizards led to the creation of the fabled City of Shadows in the east and the Conclave of Mages in the west, where they hid themselves during this time.
The Dark greatly expanded the concept of a "tribe," or a specific creature type (briefly touched upon in Legends with the kobold creature type). It contains six goblins, a card named "Goblin Rock Sled," two creatures with abilities that reference goblins, two Auras that can give a bonus to goblins, and a sorcery to destroy all goblins — Tivadar's Crusade. Despite this creature-type theme, most of the rest of the set used unusual, creature-specific creature types like other early expansions.
The following creature types are introduced in this expansion:
|Original summon type||Later creature type|
|Miracle Worker||Human Cleric|
|People of the Woods||Human|
|Scavenger Folk||Scavenger, then Human|
|Nameless-Race||(No creature type)|
|Shark||Fish, then back to Shark|
The following creature types are used in this expansion but also appear in previous sets: Drake, Elf, Goblin, Hag, Imp, Knight, Leviathan, Merfolk, Monster, Rat, Ship (later changed to Spirit), Slug, Treefolk, Wall, Wizard, Wurm and Zombie.
The Dark has no cycles.
The recurring cycle of color hosers is broken. Some green and blue cards support black and red, instead of hosing them. Metaphorically, in the Dark, White was abandoned by its allies Green and Blue.
|Angry Mob (P/T depend on opponent's black)||Nameless Race (P/T depend on opponent's white)|
|Exorcist (destroy black creatures)||Inquisition (damage depending on opponent's white)|
|Tivadar's Crusade (destroy Goblins)
Knights of Thorn (protection from red)
|Goblin Wizard (put Goblins onto the battlefield, give protection from white)|
|Green for Black||Blue for Red|
|Elves of Deep Shadow (black mana source)
Wormwood Treefolk (ability activated by black mana)
Dark Heart of the Wood (polychrome black/green card)
|Electric Eel (ability activated by red mana) |
Coal Golem (artifact; red mana source)
In later expansions, there will be cycles of allied colors cards. In the Dark, this cycle is broken. As stated above, White is betrayed by its Green and Blue allies.
|Green & Red||Red & Black||Black & Blue|
|Scarwood Goblins (polychrome green/red card)||Marsh Goblins (polychrome red/black card)||Drowned (blue card, ability activated by black mana)|
The Dark has one mirrored pair
|Ashes to Ashes
|Dust to Dust
|Both have names related to the Book of Common Prayer, and are both uncommon sorceries with a mana cost of 1MM that exile two permanents of a certain type.|
- Ball Lightning is a favorite red creature. It inspired many hasty disposable creatures, including Skizzik, Blistering Firecat, Spark Elemental and Lightning Serpent. Before receiving errata, Ball Lightning only had to be sacrificed at the beginning of the end step of the turn it enters the battlefield instead of at the end step of any turn, allowing some loopholes around its intended impermanence before errata was issued to fix it.
- Maze of Ith is a powerful land with a reusable single-creature Fog effect that slowed many games down significantly.
- Tormod's Crypt is one of the best sideboard cards against decks that use the graveyard as a resource.
- Blood Moon is a Modern staple first printed in The Dark.
The Dark has one functional reprint:
- Goblin Hero is a functional reprint of Gray Ogre from Revised and Raging Bull from Legends, save for creature type.
- Many cards in this set blatantly conflict today's ideas of a color pie. Erosion is blue land destruction. Fire and Brimstone is white direct damage. Fissure is red targeted creature destruction. Holy Light is white toughness reduction. Mana Vortex is blue mass land destruction. Merfolk Assassin offers blue repeatable creature destruction. Mind Bomb is blue direct damage or discard. Preacher offers white repeatable creature control. Witch Hunter is both white direct damage and repeatable bounce. Word of Binding is black creature tapping.
- Although the multicolored cards in the Legends expansion did not, the three multicolored cards in The Dark have reminder text to remind the player that the card counts as two colors.
- Only one of the four lands printed in The Dark produces mana.
The artist Dennis Detwiller is incorrectly credited as Denise Detwiler on the following cards:
- Wizards of the Coast (August 02, 2004). "Ask Wizards - August, 2004". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Brady Dommermuth (October 31, 2006). "Ask Wizards". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Ice, Kathy, Beverly Marshall Saling, & Rick Saling Marshall. (1994). "The Dark". The Duelist. Issue 2, Summer 1994.
- Magic Arcana (October 11, 2002). "Dark Goblins". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.