|Innistrad symbol turned inward|
|Mark Rosewater (lead),|
|Tom LaPille (lead),|
Mark L. Gottlieb,
|February 3, 2012|
Themes and mechanics
Keywords and/or ability words
(64 commons, 44 uncommons, 38 rares, 12 mythic rares)
Development code name
|Innistrad block sets|
|Innistrad||Dark Ascension||Avacyn Restored|
|Magic: The Gathering chronology|
|Premium Deck Series: Graveborn||Dark Ascension||Duel Decks: Venser vs. Koth|
Dark Ascension, like its predecessor is top-down designed with a horror theme.  The set contains 158 cards (64 Common, 44 Uncommon, 38 Rare, 12 Mythic) and includes randomly inserted premium versions of all cards in the set. The set puts a stronger emphasis on tribal creature types, such as providing a lord for each of the main types (vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies and humans).   All the major mechanics of the previous set, including Double-faced cards, return. New mechanics are Fateful Hour and Undying. The expansion symbol of the set is the Innistrad symbol "turned inward", which represents humanity hunkering down. 
Flavor and storyline
|“||Command the Night||”|
Innistrad has been overrun by creatures of the night. While the forces of good struggle to hold back the threat, villagers cower behind walls and pray for the morning light. The humans are on the verge of extinction and have to take desperate measures to stem the tide.  It is revealed that Avacyn, the guardian angel created by Sorin is locked in the Helvault.   
Dark Ascension was sold in 16-card boosters, 6-card boosters, four intro packs, two event decks and a fat pack . The 16-card boosters featured artwork from Havengul Lich, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Werewolf Ransacker.  The small booster featured artwork from Beguiler of Wills.
The prerelease cards was the double faced Ravenous Demon / Archdemon of Greed.  The Release card was Mondronen Shaman / Tovolar's Magehunter.  The promotional card at the Game Day event was a full-art Strangleroot Geist, while a full-art foil Zombie Apocalypse was given to the top-8 participants. The Buy-a-Box was Gravecrawler.
Tokens and emblem
The new Dark Ascension tokens and emblem are: 
- 1/1 Human produced by Gather the Townsfolk, Increasing Devotion, and Thraben Doomsayer
- 1/1 Vampire with lifelink produced by Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
- Sorin, Lord of Innistrad emblem with "Creatures you control get +1/+0."
Themes and mechanics
No novel creature types were introduced in this expansion.
Dark Ascension breaks the mold for cycles to a certain extent, as some of the cycles only contain four cards. In cycles which emphasize an allied color-pair, the green-white part of the cycle is missing. This is likely due to the higher emphasis on monster tribes, as the white/green pair is tied to humans.
Dark Ascension has six cycles:
- Increasing Flashback Spells: Five rare spells with Flashback, which double their effect if they are flashed back — Increasing Devotion, Increasing Confusion, Increasing Ambition, Increasing Vengeance, and Increasing Savagery.
- Mythic Rare Tribal Creatures: Four mythic rare creatures that are of an allied pair associated with one of four monster tribes associated with Innistrad — Drogskol Reaver, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Havengul Lich, and Huntmaster of the Fells.
- Ally Flashback cards: Each of these common spells has a flashback cost involving its counter-clockwise ally on the color wheel. This cycle mirrors the ally cycle from Innistrad, which had flashback costs in the color's clockwise ally on the color wheel. — Ray of Revelation, Saving Grasp, Reap the Seagraf, Fires of Undeath, and Wild Hunger.
- Enemy Flashback cards: Each of these uncommon spells has a flashback cost involving the enemy color two slots later on the color wheel. They are the reverse of a cycle from Innistrad, as the colors of the flashback cost and the regular casting cost are flipped. — Lingering Souls, Mystic Retrieval, Deadly Allure, Burning Oil, and Tracker's Instincts.
- Tribal Lords: A cycle of uncommon cards that are allied-colored lords tied to one of the monster tribes on Innistrad. They all provide some form of benefit in addition to the standard lord effect. Immerwolf is the only one which is not named Captain. — Drogskol Captain, Diregraf Captain, Stromkirk Captain, and Immerwolf.
- Enemy Utility lands: Like Innistrad, Dark Ascension and Avacyn Restored contain (between them) a cycle of colorless lands that can be tapped for and have an additional tap ability requiring two specific colors of mana to activate. In this cycle, the colors are of enemy pairs. — Vault of the Archangel and Grim Backwoods
- Divination, first printed in Magic 2010, last seen in Magic 2012
- Evolving Wilds, first printed in Rise of the Eldrazi
- Fling, first printed in Stronghold, last seen in Magic 2012
- Ray of Revelation, first printed in Judgment
- Gravepurge, functional reprint of Footbottom Feast (Lorwyn)
- Griptide, functional reprint of Repel (Odyssey)
- Hollowhenge Beast, functional reprint of Silverback Ape (Starter 1999), save for creature type
- Nephalia Seakite, functional reprint of Sentinels of Glen Elendra (Lorwyn), save for creature type
- Russet Wolves, functional reprint of Lagac Lizard (Rise of the Eldrazi), Canyon Minotaur (Conflux), Hill Giant (Limited Edition), Wild Jhovall (Mercadian Masques), Tor Giant (Ice Age), Ogre Warrior (Portal Second Age), and Barbarian Horde (Portal Three Kingdoms) save for creature type
- Sanctuary Cat, functional reprint of Devoted Hero (Portal) and Volunteer Militia (Portal Three Kingdoms) save for creature type
- Dawntreader Elk, upgrade from Balduvian Bears (Ice Age), Barbary Apes (Legends), Bear Cub (Portal Second Age), Forest Bear (Portal Three Kingdoms), and Grizzly Bears (Alpha)
- Hunger of the Howlpack, upgrade from Battlegrowth (Mirrodin)
- Midnight Guard, upgrade from Shu Foot Soldiers (Portal Three Kingdoms) and Alaborn Trooper (Portal Second Age)
- Somberwald Dryad, upgrade from Rushwood Dryad (Mercadian Masques)
- Thought Scour, upgrade from Ray of Erasure (Ice Age) and Mental Note (Judgment)
- Gravecrawler and Geralf's Messenger formed the backbone for of Zombie decks in Standard, as both are hard to kill and can push a lot of damage through in early turns. Geralf's Messenger in particular is a conceptual mirrored version of Kitchen Finks which was a popular aggro card during Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block; providing life loss against life gain, getting stronger upon death as opposed to weaker and being extremely inflexible in casting as opposed to being fairly easy to cast.
- Grafdigger's Cage — A powerful hoser card against strategies that attempt to cheat cards into play. This card incited widespread skepticism and anger, but turned out to not be as threatening as expected.
- Lingering Souls saw widespread application in a nearly all formats and was banned in Block Constructed due to providing a large number of creatures with the cost spread over multiple turns.
- Huntmaster of the Fells — Providing two bodies in one card, as well as lifegain and potential damage output, this card saw much tournament attention.
- Elbrus, the Binding Blade is a very flavorful artifact, depicting an expensive but weak dagger, which transforms into the gigantic and nigh-unstoppable Demon Withengar who feasts on the souls of defeated opponents.
- Tragic Slip is considered by many to be one of the best spot creature removal cards in the game, due to it's ability to destroy almost any creature for one mana, provided that another creature already died that turn.
- Faithless Looting showed the shift toward "looting" (a la Merfolk Looter) abilities in Red, but with the distinction that would be demonstrated in later sets that discarding would occur as a cost to differentiate it to the Blue version of looting. Its position as a Red mechanic would later be solidified in Magic 2013.
|Intro pack name||Foil rare|
|Swift Justice||□||■||Requiem Angel|
|Relentless Dead||■||■||Havengul Runebinder|
|Monstrous Surprise||■||■||Flayer of the Hatebound|
|Dark Sacrifice||□||■||Fiend of the Shadows|
|Event deck name|
|Dark Ascension preconstructed theme decks|
|Intro packs: Swift Justice () | Relentless Dead () | Monstrous Surprise () | Grave Power () | Dark Sacrifice ()|
|Event decks: Gleeful Flames () | Spiraling Doom ()|
|Related pages: Innistrad block/Preconstructed theme decks • Innistrad block preconstructed decks|
- ↑ Wizards of the Coast. (July 25, 2011.) "Announcing Dark Ascension", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Zac Hill. (January 20, 2012.) "Hooked on a Feeling", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (January 09, 2012.) "Dancing in the Dark Ascension, Part 1", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Mark Rosewater. (January 16, 2012.) "Dancing in the Dark Ascension, Part 2", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Ask Brady
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (January 04, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Art Gallery", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Doug Beyer. (January 4, 2012.) "A Backstory Update for Dark Ascension", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Doug Beyer. (January 11, 2012.) "Sorin's Homecoming", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Doug Beyer. (January 18, 2012.) "The Prison of Silver", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Doug Beyer. (January 25, 2012.) "The State of the Faith", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (January 16, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Fat Pack", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (January 10, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Booster Packs", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Wizards of the Coast. (February 7, 2012.) "Magic Online Dark Ascension Release Events", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (January 9, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Promo Cards", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (February 2, 2012.) "Alternate Launch Party Art", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (January 18, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Tokens", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Tom LaPille. (January 13, 2012.) "Transformation Transformed", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (February 16, 2012.) "Same Place, Different Side", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (January 12, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Intro Packs", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- ↑ Monty Ashley. (February 01, 2012.) "Dark Ascension Event Decks", Daily MTG, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.