Murders at Karlov Manor Review, Part 1 of 4: The Mechanics

2024 is here with a jam pack schedule of product. Your first opportunity is a mystery themed set and a return to Ravnica. Mysteries and murder mysteries in particular are perennially cultural favorites, though they seem slightly out of place in Magic, where characters, unique monsters, heroes, and planeswalkers seem to die at the drop of a hat (or building).

Expect a lot of references to murder tropes, a card called whodunit and various other references, which is a neat idea for a set. Murders at Karlov Manor is being released sort of side by side with Ravnica: Clue Edition, which makes sense. Clue Edition is a hybrid version of Magic and Clue, where you can win via combat damage or determining who the murderer is of a reimagined Mr Body. Iconic Clue characters have been reimagined as Magic creatures, and, each box set comes with a shock land box topper. Oh right each time you play you’re supposed to open a booster… each.

There will also be 4 companion Commander decks released alongside.

New Mechanics

Credit: Wizards of the Coast


Essentially “morph but better” disguise allows you to cast a create as a face down, 2/2 colorless, type-less creature, but now with ward 2.

FromTheShire: As a certified old, I loved Morph the first time around and I’m glad to see it return. Constant shenanigans and uncertainty are great, and don’t forget that turning a creature face up doesn’t use the stack so it can’t be responded to!


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


Rather than casting a card from your hand, you can cloak a card from another zone. This may involve playing, casting, or putting it into play as a 2/2 colorless type-less creature with ward 2.

With both of these mechanics it’s worth noting that a morphed or cloaked or disguised card that has an ability to turn itself right-side up, generally through morph or megamorph, can use that ability to right-side itself instead of relying on the ability that got it into play. So a creature can cloak into play as a 2/2 and then megamorph out, or disguise, which is especially more likely since disguise and cloak may come from static or triggered abilities of other cards allowing you to cloak or disguise, rather than being inherent to the card itself, as was the usual case with morph.

In terms of editorializing content, I don’t particularly care for these mechanics, nor, the “choose secretly” they require some practical overhead, slow down the game, increase the amount of asynchronous information, and allow for even more confusion and rules violations, even unintentional ones and I don’t think they are worth the hassle for the design space they create. This is without getting into dumb edge cases. What happens if I mutate a creature onto a cloaked creature and then megamorph it out? I also don’t really care for actions that more or less override the stack – the turn face up and ninjitsu abilities both just kind of happen right when you get priority, essentially having split second, and this interrupts the customary feel of the flow of magic.

FromTheShire: See I’m the exact opposite, I LOVE introducing hidden information, playing sub-games, and the like. There’s a reason Spy Network is one of my personal favorite pet cards. In addition to being plain old fun, they reward both clever play as well as player skill and memory. While it is good to have lower complexity sets like the old core sets that are meant to be easier to onboard new players, existing players generally find those sets boring or uninteresting for the same reason, and you want to keep your player base engaged.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Collect Evidence

This is similar to delve but better designed so that instead of being a straight cost reducer (something which often ends up broken or breakable) there is an additional cost of exiling cards with total mana value X to do something. This seems fine and is better designed than delve, allowing for more interesting and interactive abilities, not just straight fill your yard in order to abuse delve for massive cost reduction.

FromTheShire: Whenever there’s a new graveyard mechanic my spidey senses tingle, a lot of the time they lead to broken things. So far we haven’t seen anything that instantly reads as busted at least.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


Creatures that are suspect have menace but can’t block. This is simple enough, but it’s part of a pattern of proliferating things you have to know and keep track of.

FromTheShire: Simple but also powerful, I like the interplay between being able to buff your creatures but knowing you may be punished for it in some cases, or making your opponent’s creature better in the short term in order to remove it later.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


A new type of enchantment, sort of a mini-saga, with a set up, solution, and payoff, but more active than simply waiting for turns of manipulating counters via proliferate or something, I think these are pretty neat, cheapy little impactful enchantments that help fill out enchantment focused decks, as well as provide some interaction with enchantments which are mostly highly passive spells.

FromTheShire: These are cool, though we’ll see if any of them end up playable for Commander or if they suffer from not being powerful enough like Sagas. I’m sure there will be at least one that sees Standard play.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Surveil Land Cycle

A new cycle of dual lands that have both basic types, are not basic, and surveil 1 when they enter play. These are a decently solid new type of dual land, very playable in slower Commander games since they can be fetched by many spells, artifacts, and fetch lands. Highly recommend picking up a set.

FromTheShire: I’m curious to see how these end up. The fact they’re fetchable is what puts them in the playable realm, but entering tapped is a huge cost. That being said, there are definitely formats where the scry lands see play, and these should be a strict upgrade on those.


Returning Mechanics


Well, um yeah. This is a set about investigating a murder so of course this would be included, though I almost wish they hadn’t. It would be really something if there was a mystery set with no investigate mechanic and no clue cards. Nonetheless investigate as a trigger is a perfectly fine mechanic, generates lots of tokens, can be used to draw though 2 colorless mana gets pricy, but there are increasing ways to tap tokens for things, sacrifice tokens for things, affinity for artifacts.

Clue Tokens

It’s fair to separate Clue tokens themselves from investigate because WotC is directly printing clues, such as a land clue, various artifacts that are clues in addition to whatever else they are, which is neat to see. The number of known artifacts is surely proliferating, Clues, Treasures, and Food have become deciduous but Gold and Shards and Masks still exist and could easily be revisited, alongside others. The one downside to this is the increasing barriers to entry for new players. I’m sort of expecting WotC to come out with a stripped down Commander junior format at some point (okay I’m actually recommending this) given that Commander includes virtually every card ever printed, that means every mechanic ever printed, which includes Camouflage and Raging River and Smoke, from 30 years ago.

FromTheShire: I mean they’ve already done that, it’s Brawl. It’s mostly played online though, people have shown no signs of tiring of Commander nor do I expect them to.

Land cycling and basic land cycling have become deciduous with this set and show up as fixing mechanics. Other Ravnican mechanics can expect to be sprinkled throughout the set without necessarily being focused on.


Next Time: The Set’s Multicolor Cards

That wraps up our look at the mechanics of Murders ay Karlov Manor. We’ll be back later to look at the most noteworthy cards in the set, starting with the multicolor cards in the main set, then in the following articles we’ll cover monocolor and colorless cards before moving on to the set’s Commander decks. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at