Wizards of the Coast recently announced the fall 2011 set, which will be called Innistrad. Why have they announced it already when they haven’t even told us the name of the third Scars of Mirrodin set, which will be coming out in May? And why am I so excited about Innistrad?
My overall reaction to Mirrodinagain block so far can best be described as, “Meh.” Not terrible, but choked with boring artifacts and mediocre mechanics (the third set remains untitled because Wizards is being secretive about who wins the war, even though obviously Phyrexia is going to win). But I knew this was temporary. I knew the next set would be something to spark my interest again. Based entirely on the vague impressions garnered from a few logos and titles, Innistrad is going to be ten kinds of awesome.
What have we got to go on? First, the name: Innistrad.
It has a certain Eastern European sound to it, and D&D players will immediately make the Strahd connection. I’m not saying there will necessarily be a vampire lord in this set, but then again, there very well could be. Note that the font is not some kind of cheesy “dripping blood” horror font, but also, check out that T. Is is a crucifix? A sword? A stake for piercing undead hearts? All three?
Next up, the expansion symbol.
There’s not much to go no there. It could be some kind of three-headed beast, it could be a crown. Maybe a chandelier? A carnivorous plant? A nice friendly fern? Triffids? The Fourth of July? Now we’re just playing Rorschach games.
Then we come to best bit of evidence, the teaser image they released with the official announcement. You can click that to see the full size. If that doesn’t confirm that Innistrad is going to be a gothic horror themed block, then I don’t know what it would take. Dark-haired woman in tattered velvet and thigh-high boots on a burgundy chair (throne) adorned with gargoyles? Maybe it would be more gothy if she was actually listening to Bauhaus and cutting her arms. You’ve also got a full moon viewed through the window of a creepy gothic window at the end of a gothic hall (I’m talking literally, as in the gothic architectural style). Oh, and the corpse lying steaming on the floor behind her. I guess that’s his soul slipping away in the pink mist?
Wait, I almost forgot about the clincher, the set’s tag line: “Horror lurks within.” Well, I guess that clears that up.
I’ve always loved the original “spooky” Magic set, The Dark, even though card and set design were both terrible back then. There are some really fun, evocative cards that came out of that set, though. My personal favorite is probably Banshee. Of course, I truly love horror films, books, games, and comics, so the idea of a horror Magic set with modern design lights up all those areas of my brain that go, “Oh Yeah,” Kool-Aid Man style. I’ll be buying this by the box, even without knowing what cards are in it.
If you need a more concrete reason to be excited about this set, here’s one: Richard Garfield is on the design team. Magic’s creator was last involved in design for Ravnica block, which plenty of Magic players cite as an all-time favorite. I suppose we’re overdue for a reprint of Cemetery Gate.
Oh, and the woman in the chair? I wonder who she is. She’s not Liliana Vess (no demonic runes etched into her skin). It would be interesting to have another female Planeswalker in black. She looks powerful, in control and very decadent, lounging in her gargoyle chair like that. I’m a big fan of the boots, too.
[It's been pointed out to me that it is, in fact, Liliana. Well, I'm a huge Liliana fan, so no complaints here. Nice to see her looking so badass.]