Hi, players, collectors and fans of Wizards of the Coast’s premier collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering! It is October and it is quite cold here in the northern hemisphere. A cool autumn wind is blowing, which means that fall has begun. October also means that it is getting closer and closer to that wonderful spooky holiday, Halloween. So we decided to write a few articles about one of the settings highlighted in Magic At this time, the plane of existence known as Innistrad, and we ourselves are highlighting maps that conjure up certain words of dread, as befits only Innistrad itself. In this segment we will look at a map of every known Innistradi set, from Innistrad from 2011 to the most recent set, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Today’s word is scary, and man, oh man, are these cards already!
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definitions of “sinister” are the following:
1: producing a nervous and shuddering apprehension (“a sinister horror story”)2: of, relating to, or being a crawl: disagreeably unpleasant (“a sinister old man”)
These definitions will help us understand why these cards are as they are, in no particular ranking order. Let’s dig!
Innistrad: Creepy doll
During the original premieres of the first Innistrad together we were captivated by the overall spooky factor of every card it contains. However, one in particular marked us ten years ago (and by the way, can you to believe it’s been ten years already?).
Creepy doll wouldn’t be any more comfortable in any of the lists we’ve planned than this one, and it certainly proves that tropes-based maps just work to convey the tropes that inspired them. Illustrated by Matt stewart, there is no reason why a reasonably nerdy individual should not have the “Creepy Doll” earworm by Jonathan coulton play in their heads when they think of this card (besides not having heard it before, in which case … let’s go!)
Dark Ascension: Skirsdag Flayer
Skirsdag Flayer is a relatively unknown card in many Magic: The Gathering communities on Twitter and others. No one seems to be talking about it in these circles. However, the art of the card is scary enough to be worth mentioning in this article. The simple clause to activate his ability, “Sacrifice a Human,” seems to be one of those things that many players think about.
In addition, art, illustrated by Austin hsu, really makes you think about the implications of what they have to do by sacrificing whatever the Human is about to drop, even if it’s the Flayer itself.
Avacyn restored: Surgeon of Darkness
Simply put, we wouldn’t want to meet this doctor in a dark alley, and yet the art of Dark Surgeon shows exactly that. Between the plague and the Surgeon, we… don’t quite know what we would take, to be honest, but anyway, it’s not pretty.
Volkan Baga superbly illustrated this card, and the flavor text is about as scary as it gets: “He wanders the streets of Havengul in search of the sick and delusional in order to heal them with their lives.“Ouch!
Shadows over Innistrad: Tooth collector
We will be the first to see that Shadows over Innistrad had arguably the greatest amount of “scary” cards of any card put in Innistrad. There were a lot of cards to sort through accordingly until we stopped at the Tooth Collector. This map has a higher creep factor than most of the other maps in the set and therefore seems to be the most worthy of mention in this article.
With art by the relatively obscure Chef (which made other illustrations spooky enough for other Innistrad maps, including Cannibal Village, a big competitor of Innistrad), Tooth Collector evokes the sinister goosebumps of a demented killer who moonlights as a dentist. The idea of a dentist in itself is scary, but the idea that he is showing you what he has probably extracted himself is even worse.
Supernatural moon: sinister flayer
sinister flayer was the epitome of the spooky aesthetic of human serial killers among Innistrad’s cards. Examining a stalker using a glove to hunt down an unfortunate human is absolutely wild in its implications, and that makes this one scary enough. There were a few other options that we saw, but none of them breathed goosebumps like this… Alternatively, they breathed something worth saving for another article.
Illustrated by Mathias Kollros, this map looks a lot like Garruk Wildspeaker, after being cursed by Liliana vess to effectively become a Apparatus Murderer, but in a much smaller scope. This reach makes it seem like there are fewer opportunities to hide or escape from this guy, right?
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt: Fleshtaker
That leaves us with Meat taker. Remember when we said the Grim Flayer was the epitome of serial killer human tropes in Magic: The Gathering? Well he was until Fleshtaker arrives.
Looking at fantastic art, illustrated by the incomparable Kev Walker, numerous Magic players saw a Minotaur and wondered, “What is a Minotaur doing in Innistrad?” … And then they look at the guy line. Like many cards on this list, Fleshtaker is human, and that makes a huge difference, especially given the character’s inhuman (and inhuman) appearance.
What do you think of these cards? Are they the scariest Magic: The Gathering maps set in Innistrad? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!