Magic: The Gathering's Murders at Karlov Manor adds investigative twist to tabletop politics

Magic: The Gathering's Murders at Karlov Manor adds investigative twist to tabletop politics
PHOTO: Instagram/Wizards of the Coast

Since the Lost Caverns of Ixalan release, Wizards of the Coast have stepped up their game for pre-constructed decks - and the Murders at Karlov Manor, which was released last month, has shaped up to be no different.

After squaring up the four detective-themed pre-constructed decks (precons) against each other, we've weighed the evidence and come to a conclusion - if you're not clued in on them yet, take a look at our evidence wall.

Playing the Blame Game

The Blame Game precon is all about redirection - get your enemies to attack other players through the goad mechanic and bide your time while your foes finish each other off.

"It's like every card that can mass-goad essentially functions as a red Teferi's Protection," Astley, who piloted the Blame Game precon said. "But I wish there were more of them (mass-goad cards) to be honest."

The goad mechanic forces players to attack with creatures that are goaded, but they cannot attack the player that goaded the creature.

For that, Astley's favourite card in the deck is Take the Bait, which functions as both protection and redirection of damage.

Although the idea behind the deck is sound as it hinges on his ability to assess threats and manage tabletop politics, he felt that there wasn't enough cards in the deck that supported the goad mechanic.

Additionally, the goad mechanic generates a lot of attention from other players who then attack him, and his board state struggled to keep up with the damage coming at him.

To improve the deck, he suggested the addition of cards that create creature tokens such as Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Krenko, Mob Boss.

Make waves with Deep Clue Sea

With card draw, +1/+1 counters and Clue token creation, the Deep Clue Sea's precon commander is a noteworthy threat on the battlefield.

Card draw keeps options open, while counters make the commander a larger threat and the Clue tokens can be used for artifact synergies or more card draw.

Krish, who piloted the Deep Clue Sea deck, shared: "I feel like there are a lot of like ways to win with the deck, you can either attack with your commander because… he keeps getting stronger, or you can go wide."

His creatures did both when he played, as he created Drake creature tokens with Alandra, Sky Dreamer before swooping in for the finale with Knowledge Is Power.

While the precon is both strong and versatile, Krish expressed that he would personalise it by adding more ramp (a card which accelerates your mana) to generate more mana per turn, as well as more ways to benefit from card draw.

These could be achieved with cards like Growth Spiral or Weirding Wood, the latter of which provides ramp and creates a Clue token.

Dig up the past with Revenant Recon

Much like Deep Clue Sea, Revenant Recon also creates many options for finding a victory, mainly based around the reanimation and 'surveil' mechanisms.

Bing, who piloted this deck, explained that the precon commander, Mirko, Obsessive Theorist, creates +1/+1 counters when a player surveils, then allowing them to reanimate a creature from their graveyard.

Some creatures that can be reanimated this way include Massacre Wurm, Shriekmaw and Overseer of the Damned, he noted. 

Although Mirko presents significant threat with flying and vigilance as static abilities, Bing felt that the deck lacked both threats in the creatures that can be reanimated and the commander's ability to sustain itself as a threat.

"The very nature of having to play it as a Voltron (enhancing a single creature's power) means that you'll need protection for the commander from removal, which the deck lacks," he commented.

He also felt that the lands in the precon could do with a significant upgrade, or at least find a way to fix the mana colours in play.

To that end, he said that he'd add Sinister Sabotage and Laser Screwdriver, both of which also fit the surveil mechanic.

Sneak by with Deadly Disguise

If you're looking for something a bit more subtle, the Deadly Disguise would be right up your alley.

Playing cards face-down keeps opponents guessing - and when you attack with face-down cards, the precon commander, Kaust, Eyes of the Glade, can turn them up for free and get a card draw as well.

Because of that, opponents would usually prefer not to block face-down cards because they'll never know what the card could be.

When cards are played face-down, they also don't present much of a threat to other players, so you would likely be free to build your board state until you're ready to activate your 'trap card'.

For the purpose of doing so, the cards that really created value for me in the Deadly Disguise precon were Neheb, the Eternal and Experiment Twelve.

My main concern with the deck wasn't actually with the way it was built - rather, I had problems keeping track of all my face-down cards since I couldn't read what they were without drawing attention to myself.

Although I was able to present a threatening board state with these two cards among other face-down cards, it was difficult to close out a game - although my creatures hit for a lot of damage, they couldn't trample through creatures.

For that reason, I would consider adding an Overwhelming Stampede to finish games up or Yarus, Roar of the Old Gods to keep my board state threatening, even through removal spells.

More precons to consider

Should these precons not tickle your fancy, it might be worth looking at the upcoming precons.

If you're a fan of the Fallout series by Bethesda, four Fallout-themed precons have been available for purchase at official Wizards Play Network game stores since last Friday (March 8).

Should the nuclear wasteland-themed precons not suit your tastes, it might be worth considering the Outlaws of Thunder Junction precons which became available for pre-order on Wednesday (March 13).

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