Hey there, players, collectors, and fans of Wizards of the Coast's premier trading card game, Magic: The Gathering! It's October, and it's getting quite chilly here in the Northern Hemisphere. A crisp autumnal wind is blowing, and that means that fall has begun. October also means it's drawing ever nearer to that wonderfully spooky holiday, Halloween. So, we have 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 ourselves highlight cards that evoke certain words of fright, as is only fitting for Innistrad itself. In this segment, we will be looking at a card from each known Innistradi set, from Innistrad of 2011 to the most recent set, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. Today's word is "creepy," and boy, oh boy, are these cards ever!
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definitions of "creepy" are as follows:
1: producing a nervous shivery apprehension ("a creepy horror story")2: of, relating to, or being a creep: annoyingly unpleasant ("a creepy old man")
Innistrad: Creepy Doll
During the original previews for the first Innistrad set, we were enthralled by the overall spook factor of every card therein. However, one, in particular, stood out to us all those ten years ago (and as a side note, can you believe it's been ten years already?).
Creepy Doll would not be more at home in any of the lists we have planned than this one, and it certainly proves a point that trope-based cards simply work to convey the tropes that have inspired them. Illustrated by Matt Stewart, there's no reason that any reasonably nerdy individual shouldn't have the earworm "Creepy Doll" by Jonathan Coulton playing in their head when they think of this card (besides having not heard it before, in which case… here you go!)
Dark Ascension: Skirsdag Flayer
Skirsdag Flayer is a relatively unknown card in many Magic: The Gathering communities on Twitter and thereabouts. Nobody seems to be talking about it in those circles. However, the card's art is sufficiently creepy enough to warrant mention in this article. The simple clause for activating its ability, "Sacrifice a Human," seems like one of those things to give many players pause.
Furthermore, the art, illustrated by Austin Hsu, truly makes one consider the implications of what they need to do by sacrificing whatever Human is about to drop, even if it's the Flayer himself.
Avacyn Restored: Gloom Surgeon
Simply put, we would not want to encounter this doctor in a dark alleyway, and yet the art for Gloom Surgeon shows exactly that. Between the plague and the Surgeon, we… aren't quite sure what we would take, to be honest, but either way, it isn't pretty.
Volkan Baga exquisitely illustrated this card, and the flavor text is about as creepy as they come: "He roams the streets of Havengul seeking the sick and delirious so that he may cure them of their lives." Yikes!
Shadows Over Innistrad: Tooth Collector
We will be the first to note that Shadows Over Innistrad had arguably the largest quantity of "creepy" cards out of all of the cards set in Innistrad. There were a lot of cards to sort through as a result until we stopped upon the Tooth Collector. This card exudes a creep factor higher than most any of the other cards in the set and therefore feels like the one most worthy of mention in this article.
With art by the relatively obscure Bud Cook (who has done some other sufficiently creepy artwork for other Innistrad-set cards, including Village Cannibals, a high contender from Innistrad), Tooth Collector evokes the sinister creepiness of a demented killer moonlighting as a dentist. The idea of a dentist itself is scary, but the idea that he would show you what he's probably extracted himself is even worse.
Eldritch Moon: Grim Flayer
Grim Flayer was the epitome of creepy human serial killer aesthetic among Innistrad-set cards. The consideration of a tracker using a glove to hunt down a hapless human is absolutely wild in its implications, and that makes this one sufficiently creepy. There were a few other options we saw, but none of them exuded creepiness quite like this one… Alternatively, they exuded something worth saving for another article.
Illustrated by Mathias Kollros, this card feels very much like Garruk Wildspeaker, after he was cursed by Liliana Vess to effectively become a planeswalking murderer, but in a much smaller scope. That scope makes one feel like there's less opportunity to hide or evade this guy, right?
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt: Fleshtaker
This leaves us with Fleshtaker. Remember when we said that Grim Flayer was the epitome of serial killer Human tropes in Magic: The Gathering? Well, he was until Fleshtaker came along.
Looking upon the fantastic art, illustrated by the incomparable Kev Walker, many Magic players have seen a Minotaur and asked themselves, "What is a Minotaur doing on Innistrad?"… And then they look at the type line. Like a great many cards on this list, Fleshtaker is a Human, and that makes a huge difference, especially considering how inhuman (and inhumane) the character looks.
What do you think about these cards? Are they the creepiest Magic: The Gathering cards set in Innistrad? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!