Magic: The Gathering’s next big set, Murders At Karlov Manor, is finally launching today, bringing with it an air of mystery… and murder.
Murders At Karlov Manor sees players become super sleuths, charged with investigating the paranormal and perplexing mysteries of the Karlov Manor and getting to the bottom of grisly deaths. The set not only brings back the Investigate mechanic from the Innistrad sets but introduces new ones like Disguise and Collect Evidence to really bring out the murder mystery vibe.
As an occasional and very casual dabbler in all things MtG, the thought of not only keeping track of what’s happening on the table but also donning my deerstalker and navigating mountains of evidence pinned to the crumbling cork board of my mind sounded a little daunting. Thankfully, after playing a few games with the new set I’m happy to report that being a crack detective isn’t as hard as Agatha Christie and Daniel Craig once had me believe.
While the narrative threads of Murders at Karlov Manor are very much a classical murder mystery that see Planeswalker Kaya and Detective Alquis Proft attempting to get to the bottom of a chilling murder before their city is plunged further into chaos, the in-game stakes and mechanics are a much more light-hearted affair and add some fun little quirks to the general flow of play.
While I could talk at length about all of them, a stand-out new mechanic for me is the keyword ability, Disguise. Essentially an upgraded version of another ability from a few years ago, Morph, cards with Disguise can be optionally played face-down for a universal cost of 3 mana and considered a 2/2 colourless, typeless creature with Ward for as long as they’re in that state. Once the card’s been played in this way, the controlling player can opt to pay a variable cost at just about any time to flip that card over to its printed form.
This becomes interesting in a couple of important ways. For starters, the idea of playing a card face down adds instant intrigue for your opponent, with no way for them to know what’s waiting on the other side (and with Ward keeping it somewhat protected). And then on top of that, many cards with Disguise also have a secondary effect that’s triggered when you pay the cost to flip them over, which adds to the surprise.
In practice, I found that I was almost using the Disguise ability as a “mana payment plan,” cheaping out with the 3 mana cost just to get them on the board, and then later flipping them to reveal their true nature once I was more flush with lands. I was also able to set up some sneaky, unexpected plays with buffs to my attacking creatures that my opponent didn’t know were coming until I flipped my Disguised card/s and activated their extra abilities.
I’m super keen to dig into more of what Murders at Karlov Manor has to offer mechanically, as well as narratively with its eclectic cast of victims, suspects and super sleuths. This set also brings with it the introduction of Play Boosters, which combine the play of Draft Boosters with the opening experience of Set Boosters.
If you’re ready to put on your detective cap and deduce the night away, you can slip on over to the official page for Magic: The Gathering: Murders at Karlov Manor here, take a look at our previously-revealed card spoilers for the set here, or head to any of the Amazon links below to pick it up for yourself: