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Magic the Gathering: Murder at Karlov Manor review - It's time to investigate some new gameplay mechanics

Dan Lipscombe

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Magic the Gathering: Murder at Karlov Manor review - It's time to investigate some new gameplay mechanics

Featured Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast

It’s been a couple of weeks since the latest Magic the Gathering expansion was released and in those weeks I’ve been playing as much as I can with the latest cards in the Murders at Karlov Manor set.

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Our friends at Wizards of the Coast sent us a lovely ‘prerelease’ box to get our games started, so before we get into the nuts and bolts of the new mechanics and some favourite cards, I’ll walk you through what was in the box, along with some of the better pulls we got from the boosters included.

MtG
MtG

Murders at Karlov Manor checks off two boxes for Magic the Gathering, it ushers in a new storyline set on the plane of Ravnica, a murder mystery that brings in a bunch of new cards and new mechanics. It’s also a way of bringing in another partnership for MtG, that of the board game Clue, known outside of the US as Cluedo. Though we won’t focus on the Clue partnership here, you can find this variant of MtG under the Universe Beyond product line.

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“Agents Alquist Proft, Kaya, and Kellan are on the job! Together, they're an eccentric team navigating both the paranormal and perplexing mysteries of the Karlov mansion with an irresistible blend of curiosity, logic, and charm.” There’s a fair bit of story to gobble up if you’re inclined and this is one of the most enjoyable plots I’ve seen since I started playing again recently. There’s a lot of humour and scenery-chewing campness, which is delightful.

MtG
MtG

I’ve been enjoying the latest mechanics to be introduced to the game. There are several new changes with Karlov Manor:

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  • Disguise - This mechanic allows you to play your creature spells face down meaning it’s then a colouerless 2/2 creature with no name or type. You can take a look at the faces of these cards at any time, but keep them hidden from your opponent. They act just like a creature would - attacking and blocking - but they can be revealed whenever you choose, which is perfect for unveiling a high-damage/toughness creature for your opponent to contend with.
  • Cloak - If you’re instructed to ‘cloak’ a card, it follows the above rules and is played face down. You can un-cloak the card as you see fit and it can be used to lure in your opponent before unleashing something powerful.
MtG
MtG
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  • Investigate - This rule allows you to create a colourless artifact token with {2} that can be sacrificed at any time allowing you to draw a card. Any chance to grab more cards from your deck is a welcome addition.
  • Suspect - If you ‘suspect’ a creature it becomes ‘suspected’ which translates to giving the creature ‘menace’ and while the creature is ‘suspected’ it cannot block attacks.
  • Cases - ‘Cases’ are a new enchantment with three stages that get solved throughout your turns and can bestow abilities or buffs to your played cards.

As far as the new rules go, I like them. It took a while to get used to the new ‘disguise’ mechanic but it reminded me a lot of how trap cards work in Yu-Gi-Oh. It’s great to play a creature in disguise and mess around with them as a 2/2 before unveiling them as a 4/5 or something equally powerful. It also really helped to play a 1/1 creature and use them as a 2/2 blocker instead. And as someone who tends to play decks where I can pull extra cards, using ‘investigate’ is great fun.

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MtG
MtG

I will say, it’s not the easiest set to learn as a newbie because it manipulates the creature cards a little too much. It’s tough enough to learn all the different abilities and perks of creatures without then bringing in the face-down mechanic.

Wizards of the Coast were very kind to send us the latest prerelease which I unboxed before playing my first games of Karlov Manor. It’s a lovely little box with those helpful press-out counters on the sides offering much-needed counters for adding or removing 1/1s. Inside the box was a lovely D20 perfect for rolling for the first turn, or using it as a life counter. Then there were six ‘play booster’ packs and one prerelease pack that held two extra cards.

MtG
MtG

As with every Magic the Gathering product, the quality is brilliant. The box is made of robust cardboard, meaning the tokens and counters are too, and it’s all packaged nicely in a small, neat size.

Inside the small prerelease package I pulled two shiny creatures, one being a legendary, which is always exciting for a commander player. We pulled Melek, Reforged Researcher whose power and toughness can get into high digits if you’ve been discarding to the graveyard. The other card was Wojek Investigator who can investigate several times depending on the number of cards in hand.

Wizards of the Coast bundled in four extra booster packs with the box, so I spent some time opening the ten boosters. We pulled some really nice full-art cards from them, as well as some powerful cards you can see throughout this review.

MtG
MtG

Between several legendary creatures who I’m hopeful I can use in commander and some highly damaging cards, there were some great pulls. The artwork on some of these new cards is stunning - it seems every time MtG releases a new expansion the artists knock it out of the park with imaginative creatures and characters. With all the changes we’ve seen here, it makes me very excited to see what else 2024 has in store.

Topics: Magic the Gathering, Board Games, Wizards of the Coast

Dan Lipscombe
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