Not content with simply adding some new mechanics, a thematic lick of paint, and a smorgasbord of new cards, Magic: The Gathering is transforming during February into a whodunit that sees the behemoth collectible card game moonlight as a fantastical detective caper. After its initial pre-release and subsequent launch on MTG Arena on February 6, Murders At Karlov Manor officially releases with bundles, boosters, and Commander pre-cons at your local games store today.
Returning to the popular setting of Ravnica, a city-plane of early-modern technical innovation and magic, players are embroiled in a mystery that will see them fingers suspects, donning disguises, and collecting evidence and clues. All the while, there is a narrative for players to piece together as they explore the set, supported by a steady drip feed of mixed-media storytelling courtesy of the official Magic YouTube channel.
There have been some murders occurring. How players begin to explore this will be facilitated through the standard formats of competitive play. Major players on the Ravnica stage are being eliminated, which has caused the city’s Agency of Magicological Investigations to rise to the task of searching crime scenes for clues. Along the way, the powerful wizard detectives that players can recruit into their decks will be expected to rustle up a few suspects, which will likely involve spellcasting and fisticuffs. If there is but one sole suspect at the heart of this conspiracy disrupting the Guilds of Ravnica and causing instability, it will be down to the handsome detective Alquis Proft and his mystical cohort of inquisitive peers to leverage this set’s new and returning investigative mechanics.
The investigation agency appointed to solve this mystery is granted a degree of extra-judicial powers, which will have players able to manipulate the play state of all those gathered at the table. Disguise is a mechanic that will allow players to play their powerful (or pathetic) creatures face down and hidden from opponents, appearing instead as a deceptively unimpressive 2/2 colourless creature with Ward. Likewise, other cards may have the property of assigning a creature as a Suspect, which will prevent them from being able to block incoming attacks. Collected Evidence will give players a strategic upper hand in this fierce investigation, being able to exile cards from your graveyard. This has the two-fold benefit of placing cards in a new mini-deck of sorts that may be interestingly exploited, while also activating an evidence-related special ability. Finally, and similarly richly thematic, is the addition of a new enchantment type – Cases. Mana can be spent on working to solve these mini-investigations, which may or may not contribute to the overall mystery but will have the benefit of affecting cards and players in potentially major and interesting ways.
My favourite visual innovation of this set has to be the new Showcase Dossiers, which lends cards a flair that resembles detective-noir case files and their mucky, stamped and coffee-stained aesthetic. Further, some of these cards come in an invisible ink flair, meaning that there is hidden flavour text behind the standard card text that may lead players to further their conclusions about what is going on in this set.
If all this talk of detectives, deception, and disguises has you fawning for your tweed overcoat that you probably can’t justify owning, why not… Consider some new Magic cards instead? Head on over to your local games store, EB Games, or JB Hi-Fi. Here you can expect to find the streamlined new Play Boosters, which aim to satisfy both the casual collector and the draft player. Our favourite format, Commander, also has four exciting new sets on offer that will have players immediately delving into these thematic mechanics. And as always, there are bundles for folks who want a stack of cards with a complimentary storage solution, as the Collectors Boosters will have opportunities to draw exclusive serialised cards and sexier, reimagined treatments.
Do you have what it takes to investigate the tragedies occurring in one of Magic’s most celebrated settings? Let us know in the comments or on social media.