Magic: The Gathering: 6 Of Innistrad's Most Haunting Cards

Innistrad, the spooky Germanic-inspired gothic horror setting of one of the planes of existence within the Magic: The Gathering multiverse, has always been subject to the use of various horror tropes. From the original gothic horror tropes of the first Innistrad block to the cosmic horror of Eldritch Moon to the folk horror of Midnight Hunt, this setting has been flush with many different common themes seen in the genre that the evokes.

Today, like last week, we will be delving into the words that are thought of when certain cards are brought to mind. Last week, we spoke about cards that evoke "creepy"; today, we are looking at "haunting" cards.

The art for Lingering Souls, a card from Dark Ascension, an expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Bud Cook.
The art for Lingering Souls, a card from Dark Ascension, an expansion set for Magic: The Gathering. Illustrated by Bud Cook.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary website, "Haunting" (as an adjective) is defined as such:

Hauntinghaving qualities (such as sadness or beauty) that linger in the memory;not easily forgotten (haunting melody); haunting images ("…pale, branchless tree trunks with a haunting, Georgia O'Keeffe quality…" Susannah Master)

Note that when using this definition, it is still rather difficult to extrapolate the difference between "haunting" and "poignant". We will be writing a piece in a future article that details a series of cards from Innistrad sets which have a slightly brighter definition of poignant. For now, we are looking at a darker haunting than that. Without further ado, let's have a look.

1. Innistrad's Tree of Redemption

Tree of Redemption, a card that has been greatly maligned after its reprint in Masters 25 at Mythic Rare rarity, is still a very big deal as far as its place as a haunting card in Innistradi lore. It's hard to imagine a darker card in the set without getting into "horrific" or "gruesome" also crossing the mind, and we will have room for those terms in later articles.

Tree of Redemption, a card from the original Innistrad expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.
Tree of Redemption, a card from the original Innistrad expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.

A humongous tree (illustrated by Vincent Proce) with thick, winding branches upon which a great number of nooses adorn it, the Tree of Redemption is a darkly ironic card. Innistrad and its associated sets are chock-full of these kinds of cards, but this card tops many of the lists in terms of true morbidity. That this was one of the first cards we thought of is a testament to the haunting qualities of this card. There is no redemption for the plane of Innistrad, and this card is proof.

2. Dark Ascension's Lingering Souls

Lingering Souls is another haunting card in the original Innistrad set, from the second set Dark Ascension, but this piece is far more literal to this end. On the card, we see Bud Cook's art depicting a pair of geists, or spirits, floating, almost malignant, like a residue in the air.

Lingering Souls, a card from Dark Ascension, an expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.
Lingering Souls, a card from Dark Ascension, an expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.

It is interesting to see Bud Cook's name on this list more than once; when we wrote about Tooth Collector in the earlier article in this series, we almost remarked that Cook's art for Magic: The Gathering is obscure, but he has done much for Innistrad sets and many others besides. It only shows us that Bud Cook's work is overlooked in favor of many other well-praised artists (who definitely deserve that praise, don't get us wrong!).

3. Avacyn Restored's Raging Poltergeist

While many cards in Avacyn Restored do absolutely fall under the "poignant" umbrella that we mentioned we would get to in a later article, only a few are despondent and "haunting" in the way we wish to showcase in this article. However, we did not expect, in our research, to find a red card that fits this bill, much less a common red card. Readers, meet Raging Poltergeist.

Raging Poltergeist, a card from the Avacyn Restored expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.
Raging Poltergeist, a card from the Avacyn Restored expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.

The artist for Raging Poltergeist, Slawomir Maniak, truly captured a dark moment on the plane of Innistrad with this artwork. A depiction of a geist spirit ablaze and seeking vengeance, Raging Poltergeist truly captures the kind of pain and torment that the spirit is feeling.

4. Shadows Over Innistrad's Eerie Interlude

While not overtly dangerous, Eerie Interlude shows something dark and supremely ethereal at work, and this mastery of the subject matter merits its inclusion on this list. The ephemeral nature of the spirit in the art is something to shout home about.

Eerie Interlude, a card from the Shadows Over Innistrad expansion set from Magic: The Gathering.
Eerie Interlude, a card from the Shadows Over Innistrad expansion set from Magic: The Gathering.

Svetlin Velinov, the artist for Eerie Interlude, has done a great job here. The act of "flickering" a permanent is showcased with arguably greater aptitude than the art for Ghostway (a card that does similar work), although to be fair to Ghostay artist Jim Murray, Ghostway's effect as a spell hadn't really been established in connection to art before at that time.

5. Eldritch Moon's Tattered Haunter

There's a lot to be said for the art of Magic artist alum Nils Hamm. He's done a lot of spooky art in the game already and has even collaborated with some of the greats like Seb McKinnon on art pieces for various things. The art of Tattered Haunter from Eldritch Moon is a great example of getting the subject matter right, especially in a set where "haunting" is not as necessary as in other Innistrad sets.

Tattered Haunter, a card from Eldritch Moon, an expansion set from Magic: The Gathering.
Tattered Haunter, a card from Eldritch Moon, an expansion set from Magic: The Gathering.

The art, depicting another geist with chains exuding from the mouth of its torn cloak, is something we would loathe to meet outside of our cottage if we were Innistradi. But, considering our luck since we're there in this hypothetical, we'd probably meet it inside the cottage instead. Also not good!

6. Midnight Hunt's Ghoulcaller's Harvest

The last card we will be discussing in this article is the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt card Ghoulcaller's Harvest. This card is neat in that the subject matter looks like something one would find in a decrepit and demented museum of biological sciences, or the Bodies exhibit, or something far more sinister than either.

Magic: The Gathering: 6 Of Innistrad's Most Haunting Cards
Ghoulcaller's Harvest, a card from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, an expansion set for Magic: The Gathering.

With art by Anna Steinbauer, this art is a truly interesting piece for what it depicts. Zombies in a sickening procession would be the sort of haunting dream that lasts a while in the heads of those who would dream of it.

What do you think? What other Magic: The Gathering cards from the Innistrad sets do you think would fit in a "haunting" gallery? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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