As apart of Fright-A-Thon, we have a month and a half of content to fill. So on some days, especially the eve of October, the most horror filled month, you’ve got to find outside sources. I’ve played Magic: the Gathering for nearly 10 years now, so I’ve seen some of the scariest cards wreak havoc on the various formats.
This list, however, will not be about those cards. It’ll be celebrating the most scary looking or horror inspired Magic cards in the game’s history. Some disclaimers, I’m not including Invoke Prejudice because fuck the guy that made that art. If you’re part of the crowd that has a problem with Wizards of the Coast “retiring” certain cards because of their art, the door is over there.
Magic: the Gathering has been around for over twenty years now, so that means there’s a lot of art to go on to cards. There have been some truly terrifying art on cards. There’s likely to be a lot of black cards on this list because of the color pie and the identity of that color in Magic, but there’ll be some surprises for sure. Let’s start with an honorable mention.
Honorable Mention: The Entire Innistrad Block
You could take all the sets from the original Innistrad block and make a list of just them. Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored was a block that brought many Magic players back to the game. The entire world was built on the horror principles of gothic style, Universal monsters, and other tropes. It was expertly crafted in many ways. The cards were powerful, the flavor was there, and it was a success that Magic hasn’t really seen since. So if you haven’t checked out the art from this set in a while, go for it.
#10 Scariest Magic Art: Banewasp Affliction (Shards Of Alara)
This art is simply brutal. The worst kind of art that makes your skin crawl in Magic is the kind where you can see the pain and anguish on the character. This time around, this one is this poor creature getting assaulted and eaten alive by the banewasps. Imagine the pain. Ugh.
#9 Scariest Magic Art: Season Of The Witch (The Dark)
Some of the earliest cards from Magic’s history are the most terrifying. We didn’t have the block system yet, where stories were told with the sets. So you saw art like this on “Season of the Witch”. It’s classic horror at it’s best. From the almost nightmarish look of the trees to the eyes and nose in the clouds. This is one that’ll be expensive for you to get on a card, but it might be worth it, just to gaze at it.
#8 Scariest Magic Art: Nightmare’s Thirst (Core Set 2019)
This is truly the stuff nightmares are made of. If anyone has had sleep paralysis, this is sometimes what it looks like. You’re imagining a feeling on your chest and in the olden days, that feeling could only be explained by the occult or demons. The worst fears of some people involve acts while they sleep. So “Nightmare’s Thirst” adds to those fears.
#7 Scariest Magic Art: Victim Of Night (Innistrad)
The scariest scenarios are when the people who are supposed to defend you, are utterly powerless. That’s the case in “Victim of Night”. This cathar is supposed to defend the parishes of Innistrad from the unspeakable terrors of the night, and instead, Olivia Voldaren and her vampires have reduced him to a fountain of blood and guts. It’s a particularly grisly scene and reminds me of the classic Hammer Dracula films.
#6 Scariest Magic Art: Brisela, Voice Of Nightmares (Eldritch Moon)
Speaking about your heroes being utterly powerless, what about when your beacon of hope and prayer has been turned evil? That’s the exact situation depicted on Brisela, Voice of Nightmares. The heroic angels Bruna and Gisela were corrupted and changed beyond belief by the Eldrazi menace. The two most powerful angels on Innistrad, reduced to a pawn for Emrakul. Truly horrifying. You can read the fantastic story of how Brisela was defeated here.
#5 Scariest Magic Art: Phyrexian Unlife (New Phyrexia)
The Phrexians have always been a horrible menace in the Magic: the Gathering story. They’ve corrupted planes beyond repair and destroyed the plane known as Mirrodin. The remaining few who lived through that invasion might have been left like the art on “Phyrexian Unlife”. It’s like an H.R. Geiger painting on a magic card, but with more descriptive eyes.
#4 Scariest Magic Art: Bedevil (Ravnica Allegiance)
Some of the best art in the business can be hauntingly beautiful. Usually the Rakdos art in Magic aren’t too horrifying, they’re just violent. This time around with all the little devils wearing masks to get this beautiful girl, it’s a horrifying scene. It’s a shame, but also a great nightmare.
#3 Scariest Magic Art: Macabre Waltz (Dissension)
“Macabre Waltz” has the perfect name to go with the art. It’s a horrifying display for a beautiful dance. The problem is, which figure do we think is in more pain in this art? The one on the left? Or the one on the right? Both aren’t looking too great.
#2 Scariest Magic Art: Plagiarize (Tenth Edition)
Usually in Magic, the worst and most terrifying art involves bodily mutilation. “Plagiarize” from Tenth Edition takes this to a whole new level. Not only is this poor scribe’s mouth being decimated by a homunculus, but his eyes have turned into screaming mouths. His entire head is being disfigured and deformed so that this little bastard can get the information that he needs. It’s truly a grisly spectacle for a blue card.
#1 Scariest Magic Art: All Hallows Eve (Legends)
So, “All Hallows Eve” might be cheating a bit. While the art isn’t particularly frightening, it does have all the hallmarks of a good horror/spooky card. You’ve got the Jack O’ Lantern, the demonic figure in the middle, and a dog statue similar to the ones from Ghostbusters. For all those reasons, it makes it to the number one spot. It also is the most Halloween inspired card on the list. It hearkens back to the original roots of Halloween, like the film Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
The Best Of The Rest
These are the cards that didn’t quite make the cut, but I’ll list them here for other people to enjoy.
So, what’s your scariest MTG card art? Did it make the list? Make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show for more Magic, Horror, or general pop culture content.