An intricate storyline underlies the cards released in each expansion and is shown in the art and flavor text of the cards, as well as in novels and anthologies published by Wizards of the Coast (and formerly by Harper Prism). Important storyline characters or objects often appear as cards in Magic sets, usually as "Legendary" creatures.
The expansion sets from Antiquities through Scourge (with the exception of Homelands) revolve around the plane of Dominaria and are a roughly chronological timeline of that plane's history (with the exception of the Urza's Saga block). Major recurring characters include Urza and his brother Mishra. The sets from Weatherlight through Apocalypse particularly follow the story about the crew of the Weatherlight who fight against Yawgmoth and his army of Phyrexians. Odyssey through Scourge are an unconnected storyline set 100 years later on the continent of Otaria, where multiple factions battle for control of the Mirari, a powerful magical artifact.
After Scourge, Magic ventured out of Dominaria into the new planes of Mirrodin, a metallic artificial plane watched over and ruled by an animated Mirari; Kamigawa, a Japanese-themed plane set in the time of a great war between spirits and mortals; and Ravnica, a completely urbanised plane headed by ten guilds, at a time when their pact is at a turning point. It then returned to Dominaria, in a devastated apocalyptic state, for the Time Spiral block, but left it again upon the block's conclusion. The following blocks took place on a series of new planes: Lorwyn, inspired by Celtic mythology, which shifts from a utopic and bucolic paradise to a shadowy and creepy land of darkness; Alara, a world split into five magically and culturally distinct "shards" but later reunited; and Zendikar, a world used as a prison to entrap a race of interplanar parasitic monsters called the Eldrazi.
Scars of Mirrodin revisited the plane of Mirrodin, where the Mirran natives battled against the invading Phyrexian aberrations (again connecting various storylines with one another). To further integrate the storyline into the gameplay, certain events for the second set, Mirrodin Besieged, encouraged players to affiliate themselves with either the Mirran or Phyrexian faction.
The most recent storyline focuses on Innistrad, a horror themed plane where humanity struggles to survive against werewolves, vampires, zombies, and spirits. On February 4, 2012, the second set of the Innistrad block, Dark Ascension, was released, and Avacyn Restored completed the block on May 5, 2012. (Avacyn Restored also provided a storyline connection to Kamigawa, in the form of Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.)
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