The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale


Magic Untapped takes a look at one of Magic: The Gathering's most unique lands: The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.

Back in the summer of 1994, Magic: The Gathering was still working away from its original Limited sets. But, as it was still early, a lot of cards coming out were still pretty powerful. And by that, they might become automatically banned if released in a premier set today.

Legends, originally called "The Legend Continues" until the gamemakers decided they liked the shortened version better, was the new expansion, with influences largely coming from things like Dungeons & Dragons. However, the expansion was also a little experimental, with things like special lands too. All of that created the perfect storm for one of the rarest and most unique land cards of all time: The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.

A legendary land, the Tabernacle reads "All creatures now require an upkeep cost of 1 in addition to any other upkeep costs they may have. If the upkeep cost for a creature is not paid, the creature is destroyed."  Or, in modern terms, "All creatures have "At the beginning of your upkeep, destroy this creature unless you pay 1."

Naturally, the card was pretty powerful, as it could wipe out an unprepared or overextended player's creatures pretty fast. In such a creature heavy expansion, this card was seen as one of the best and can still pack a punch today. However, as the years went by, Tabernacle became something as a liability for players as the game (at the time) didn't have too many good ways of playing around it for its controller.  Plus, the card simply became a bit obscure due to its inclusion on Magic's Reserved List when it was created in 1996.

There, Tabernacle languished for years, joining other various Reserved List cards (Remember this was in the early days of the Internet, so rare Magic cards weren't exactly just a click away). Eventually, it began to make a serious climb in value - today originals go for several thousands of dollars, with some going for as much as $5,000.

But, unlike many cards put on the Reserved List, it has found a second life in Legacy play. A lot of control decks use the card as a main crux, as if it is paired with some certain cards, it can have quite the impact on a game rather quickly. Today, if this is played in the right Legacy match, you are sure to hear a groan from the other player.  Just ask anyone who's had to face the various Legacy Lands builds.

A lot of cards -- especially those on the Reserved List -- don't really see much of a second life outside of resale or even being investments (we're looking at you, Sorrow's Path), but The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale bucked those odds and today holds a rare distinction of being very rare as well as still very useful.

Evan Symon

Evan Symon is a graduate of The University of Akron and has been a working journalist ever since with works published by Cracked, GeekNifty, the Pasadena Independent, California Globe, and, of course, Magic Untapped.