Murders at Karlov Manor Commander Set Review

Murders at Karlov Manor Commander Set Review

Kristen GregoryCommander

Welcome to the Murders at Karlov Manor Commander Set Review, our first of 2024. We return to Ravnica once more, this time to solve some crimes. But do the new cards solve any issues in Commander? Let’s collect the evidence to find out. 

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Aurelia’s Vindicator comes swinging in to get retribution for our girl’s medium card (which you’ll find toward the end of this review). A callback to Angel of Serenity, the mash of keywords including Ward {2} on a 4 drop makes this a good enough play as a body on curve if you’re desperate. Flier and angels decks should enjoy this, along with, of course, the new disguise/morph decks.

One of my favorite cards in the set, Case of the Uneaten Feast is a Yawgmoth’s Will in white, finally. Getting it online shouldn’t be too difficult, and this can easily take the place of one of your less impressive Soul Sister effects. 

Don’t forget that solving a case doesn’t necessarily trigger it right away. For this one, it gains the activated ability, so you can sac it whenever you want.

Delney, Streetwise Lookout is pretty impressive. A three drop in the Command Zone that offers a double up on power 2 or less creatures triggering makes for quite the Commander, and makes up for lack of card draw in the CZ by giving access to double the amount you’d usually get in your deck. The unblockable is nice, too — especially if you can get your attack buffs from attack triggers, rather than static buffs. 

Of course, she also copies any number of busted triggers that exist in the format, so she’s eminently splashable. 

cEDH shoutout to Doorkeeper Thrull, who joins Dress Down as a flash, two-mana answer to format staples Dockside Extortionist and Thassa’s Oracle. Costing one less than Hushwing Gryff here is actually pretty big. Stax based setups will enjoy the added redundancy.

Wojek Investigator is a rather excellent three drop. It’s both a 2/4 and a flier with vigilance — two of the most important traits for early game creatures in the current, casual Commander metagame. 

This’ll give you a steady stream of clue tokens provided you’re playing your hand out and will be less good in control. 

Top 5 White Common/Uncommons

  1. Make Your Move: Disenchant +1 mana to also Smite the Monstrous as an option? I’m in. 
  2. Call a Surprise Witness: White has a lot of access to this effect now, but don’t underestimate granting flying — especially to low mana value Commanders.
  3. Essence of Antiquity: Face down creatures cause mind games. This is a handy trick, and leaving a 1/10 behind is going to be pretty good.
  4. Case of the Gateway Express: cheap removal for go-wide decks that eventually becomes an anthem. Solid.
  5. Wrench: Cheap vigilance, relevant activated ability, and able to be traded for a card in a pinch. Nice. 


Our first blue card today is Cryptic Coat. I am a huge fan of unblockable in Commander, especially in blue decks that tend to have lots of nasty on-damage triggers on fragile bodies. 

The Coat comes down and immediately gives you a cloaked body, and that’s where things get interesting. Top deck manipulation? Future Sight effects? Brainstorm? The possibilities are endless. 

Cheat that haymaker in unblockable and flip it to get triggers. If that’s not all, you can bounce it back to hand for some more card advantage. Love it.

Forensic Gadgeteer is both a clue-maker and clue-enabler. On one card. At three mana. 

Unless you’re super new to Magic, you’ll know straight off that this is a very playable creature. I don’t see why I wouldn’t add this one to any deck I build with clues, and even a bunch of non-clue artifact decks, because cost reduction is always good and never broken.

Fact or Fiction or Thopters is a truly riveting twist to the timeless tale. Few shenanigans are stranger than fiction, but amongst them, a drone stands alone. 

I like this card a lot because you’re getting a valuable flying token in addition to the card advantage you already wanted. Hell, some decks will happily make a 5-0 split, knowing that 5 cards in the yard and a 5/5 flier is just as serviceable as 5 cards in hand. 

Well, maybe not just as serviceable, but you get the drift.

It might be the corniest take, but Lost in the Maze will be excellent in Hinata, Dawn-Crowned, won’t it? Snack-themed-jokes aside, this feels like a decently flexible trick in the likes of Hylda of the Icy Crown or Rhoda and Timin. Even better if you have proliferate effects. 

Proft’s Eidetic Memory kinda slaps. It’s akin to Wizard Class and Thought Vessel, but an option for more aggressive decks, such as Minn, Wily Illusionist

Granted, Minn will gladly play multiple copies of this effect… but still. Cracking pickup. I particularly like this in fliers decks, but don’t sleep on it in go-tall decks like Veyran or even Me, the Immortal

I’ve always loved spells like Memory Plunder and Covetous Urge. And though Reenact the Crime is a little harder to enable, it has plenty of homes. 

Mill decks can make even more use out of this than a Memory Plunder in some cases, while control decks or wheel decks can take their pick of whatever ends up discarded or dead to removal. 

Oh hey, it’s the blue guy from Watchmen. I can’t say I ever got that into Watchmen, but I’ll be watching for this flying man to make a splash in Commander’s equivalent of UW Fliers. 

2/2, flying, vigilance is a great starting point, and stapling the latest iteration of Thirst onto it seals the deal. Though I’m not sure if there’s some kind of Thirst joke going on here. I’ll probably just settle on agreeing with whoever wrote that flavor text. 

Top 5 Blue Common/Uncommons]

  1. Fae Flight: Cheap protection trick that sticks around to offer a perma-jump and power boost? I’m into it.
  2. Mistway Spy: A cheap flier and/or Merfolk that has a reasonable card advantage ability. 
  3. Deduce: Not the most exciting cantrip, but some decks interested in ripping through Instants to trigger effects will want this.
  4. Curious Inquiry: Is this card ever better than Curious Obsession or Curiosity? I doubt it, but we’re scraping the barrel now. 
  5. Dramatic Accusation: I like that you can incrementally slow then shuffle away a problem. 


Case of the Stashed Skeleton is pretty easy to get online. Sure, you could have just played a Diabolic Tutor… but you can do cool stuff with this, and use it more like the Suspend DT, Profane Tutor

What’s also nice about it is that in Enchantress or other B/W/x decks, you can easily recur the ability to tutor for anything.

I’ve had a few people mention to me that they’re concerned this card enables a miscreant to rip all the basics out of another player’s library. Am I concerned? Not really. 

There are better board wipes I’d take before this, and the player that would do this at a casual table is unlikely to be invited back. Still, a neat effect.

Morbid Opportunist found a new opportunity as a Detective. Who can blame them in this gig economy?

Homicide Investigator goes in clue decks or detective decks, and in aristocrats. I think I like the aforementioned MID card better, but sometimes a mid card is what fills the slot best.

I actually kinda like Illicit Masquerade, and I feel it’ll increase in viability when imposter counters are next used. 

The best use case I can see with this is using it like a beefed-up No Rest for the Wicked, and instead of getting your stuff back to hand immediately, you make a bunch of tokens and then run out Illicit Masquerade. Ideally you can sacrifice them immediately and create something of a one-sided Living Death

This is the kind of card that’ll either do everything or nothing. I kinda like it.

Massacre Girl, Known Killer. Casual acquaintance of multiple detectives investigating a murder case, and able to wander freely. I guess she’s got a high profile keeping her in check. 

A sweet card design here, and one that’ll have brewers racing to get their Necroskitters and Tragic Slips out of their bulk boxes. I love a good mechanical build around, and the thought of building around Archfiend of Ifnir with plenty of looting tickles those neurons.

Sometimes you just want a nice, simple, draw-X spell. But what if instead of from your own deck, you drew from an opponent’s? 

Outrageous Robbery is a build-your-own Hedonist’s Trove from the top of the library, instead of the yard. This’ll mostly take 2-3 cards and be played in decks that care about exiling cards or playing cards from exile.

Top 5 Black Common/Uncommons

  1. Persuasive Interrogators: New win con for Clue/Artifact decks
  2. Undercity Eliminator: Dedicated reanimator decks will Gorg(e)on an upgraded Chupacabra.
  3. Long Goodbye: Uncounterable removal for a good proportion of threats in high powered play
  4. Extract a Confession: early game edict that works as a Soul Shatter with time.
  5. Clandestine Meddler: relevant type lines on a suspect engine piece.


A pre-combat Vandalblast isn’t usually the most strategic option, unless you have way more than five mana to play with (or some choice artifacts cramping your style). However, getting to dig for a hasty attacker as part of doing so, increasing the potency of your attack? Yeah that’s kinda interesting. 

Bonus points for it counting any treasures/clues/foods etc that opponents crack in response to this going off. 

Bomat Courier is great card draw in red… so long as it doesn’t die before you can retrieve the payload. Flamewar is also a sweet Commander, and proof that this type of draw effect can be immensely powerful. 

So, how does this effect play out on an enchantment? Well, Connect the Dots is a sweet piece of draw for aggressive decks. I like it most in decks like Isshin (for double triggers) or decks that go wide. It pairs best with a good amount of treasure generation, which can make it that much easier to hold this up. 

Still more survivable than delivery bot!

Do I think this card is super powerful? Not so much. But it is very, very interesting. 

What can you do with it? Well, you can play a burn deck that can potentially have self mill as an alternate win condition. 

It also encourages creatures to block, which might keep the board less gummed up. And of course, it slots into Enrage decks. 

Who am I kidding — this enables Dino Enrage? Of course it’s good. What an emotional journey.

Balefire Dragon for six mana is still a bit too good, so how did Wizards temper it? Well, they made it contingent on exiling cards from your graveyard. 

That was a little too restrained though, so they made sure to add Trample, because creatures just have to work nowadays. They have to.

I like Incinerator of the Guilty, and I think it makes Henzie and Chainer decks that much more terrifying.

Krenko’s Buzzcrusher was apparently worded like this to enable it to remove Lotus Field in Pioneer. How does it fare in Commander? 

Well, it passes the combat test, having great keywords and a 4/4 body for four. You also don’t have to blow up one of your own lands (though you can if like). 

I’m, generally speaking, a big fan of cards that answer more than one player’s problems in an asymmetrical way, but I am wary of how this ends up, in practice, as power creep. 

Solid card if your meta is high on Maze of Ith, Cradle etc. 

If you’re playing morph, manifest disguise or cloak, you’ll want to add…

Terror of the Peeks

Before we cover the top 5 common/uncommons, let me just point out how pushed this Goblin Bard is. Crime Novelist is the set’s chase uncommon for sure. It enables Dockside Extortionist, treasures, and all manner of artifact token decks in a way that is frankly absurd. 

Do we have any foils left in stock? Good question. 

Did this thing have to get bigger with counters while it gives you the extra mana? Better question.

Top 5 Red Common/Uncommons that Aren’t Crime Novelist

  1. Expose the Culprit: big role player in face-down decks that you’re sure to be playing.
  2. Vengeful Tracker: it’s treasure hate that doesn’t punish you for doing the same broken things.
  3. Galvanize: five damage at instant speed, except you have to draw some cards first or it’s just a Lightning Strike. I’d consider it in mono red.
  4. Convenient Target: recurable way to suspect a creature.
  5. Demand Answers: Red’s “Deadly Dispute” isn’t quite as good as blacks, but it’s still very solid.


Archdruid’s Charm is one of the better Commander cards in the set, and I expect it to be in reasonably high demand. Sure, triple green is somewhat of a restrictive mana cost, but mana bases have never been better and neither has access to fixing. 

All that to say that this is at least a G/x card, and can probably still be played in the right 3 color list if you’re feeling brave.

There’s not much more to say — the modes speak for themselves. 

I’m generally not super-high on Future Sight effects, but given this one is an Exploration that helps you solve it, costs just four mana to get down and lets you cast the most common spells green decks want to cast… it passes the checks for me. 

Case of the Locked Hothouse is a good Magic card.

I don’t normally cover generic “upgrade” cards in my set reviews, as if you’re an Arcades, the Strategist player, you already know if you’re going to play this. 

That said, The Pride of Hull Clade deserves a mention, not just because it’s a Crocodile Elk Turtle. This little pal will draw you so many cards in the right deck, and it doesn’t actually limit you to playing a walls decks. Plus, you know, it can draw 15 cards by itself.

Evolve is back, but not keyworded. Getting to evolve and make a clue on a two-drop with vigilance is just solid. No notes.

Does every green deck want Undergrowth Recon? That’s a no. I’m not taking it before the likes of Ramunap Excavator et al, generally speaking. 

Where do I like it? Well, first off in landfall decks, because this doesn’t count as a land drop, which means you can increase triggers substantially with enough fetch lands and mill/sacrifice.

It’s also secretly great in Golgari decks that otherwise don’t want to play creatures like Ramunap Excavator or a Crucible of Worlds. Those cards can be a bit slow in more self-mill/reanimator focused GB decks, so Undergrowth Recon provides some free value for otherwise engaging with your gameplan. You can just leave it to hum along. 

Top 5 Green Common/Uncommons

  1. Pick Your Poison: I don’t want to hear about how instants are better than sorceries. Pick Your Poison slaps
  2. Aftermath Analyst: Splendid Reclamation on a guy, at instant speed, with a little self mill for good measure.
  3. Airtight Alibi: a very fun trick for enchantress, and a nice meta pick if all your friends are on the Boros precon.
  4. Hard-Hitting Question: A punch for one mana all but puts Prey Upon out of commission, unless you want  to trigger “fights.” 
  5. Rope: Reach, a buff, and a way to make your menace creatures unblockable? Real Elvish Rope for sure, Master Samwise. 


The ten new surveil lands in Murders at Karlov Manor.

How is the new land cycle? Well, for a lot of color pairs it offers a crucial, extra typed dual land that also has a little bit of card advantage stapled to it, as a treat. 

There are a lot of decks I’d run these instead of Temples, now. Definitely worth a look if you’re playing Fetches, cos chances are you have some neat recursion for that surveil. 

Boros in this set is on the goad/suspect train, and Agrus and Aurelia will be your conductors. Both lean into the set/Commander deck mechanics. 

I like Agrus’s stats and keywords quite a bit, as do I enjoy his ability to remove creatures. In a flicker or extra combat deck he seems awesome. 

Aurelia is pretty medium, honesty, and her five or more line is trinket text most of the time. She’s fine.

Warleader’s Call is interesting, because most decks that like Impact Tremors also like Skullclamp. I can’t deny the card is pushed, power level wise, but I do think it has fewer homes than you’d imagine. 

The Azorius legends aren’t the spiciest, and indeed I rate Ezrim a bit higher than Proft. I don’t realistically see myself wanting to put so much mana into a Sphinx’s revelation multiple times a game. Ezrim’s ability to drink keyword soup is much more exciting. 

Officious Interrogation is, well. I hate to say it but:

So yeah, card’s good, buy one.

All of Gruul’s cards in this set are absolutely cracked. Anzrag, the Quake-Mole is a train that keeps on chugging. It’s not hard to force blocks in green, or to make either Anzrag or an opponent’s blockers indestructible in order to keep. on. attacking. Wow. 

Lands decks get a big pickup in Worldsoul’s Rage, a kill spell that can single-handedly put the Omnath train in service while also removing an opposing creature. Oba-san, please.

If that wasn’t enough, Yarus not only slots into all manner of face-down decks as a card draw engine, but also does his best impression of recent green recursive tech like Yedora, Grave Gardener. Except… more? 

Wow. Talk about an auto-include. 

Etrata is another Dimir Assassin, which isn’t enough for Assassins to really get off the ground proper — but we do have the AC Universes Beyond set soon, so we can be patient. 

Really, she offers good card and mana advantage in Dimir, while doing sneaky Dimir things. I like her quite a bit, as do I like Lazav, Wearer of Faces. This time around, he gives you the puzzle of just how much to mill each player, and how to capitalize on sacrificing multiple Clues per turn. 

Rakdos has some sweet cards. Rakdos himself is a sizeable “flampler” who can draw you two cards each turn. It’s fine, I guess, but Judith steals the show. 

She brings back the old RB burn, messing with deathtouch and lifelink to confound and confuzzle. Mostly I’m happy that there’s a deck for Pestilent Spirit, a deck that looks like a lot of fun. 

Kaya, Spirits’ Justice is surprisingly decent for four mana. Like her predecessors, she comes with token synergies and strong removal. This is the kind of walker that can change the tempo of a game in Commander. 

Treacherous Greed is a fantastic card draw spell. Rather than you losing life for drawing cards, you drain opponents of life instead — you just need to sacrifice a creature (usually one that attacked). 

Again, in tokens decks, this is easy, as it is in decks that do plenty of reanimator things. 

Is it me, or did the Simic inject young Kellan with some Trygon Predator juice? Most cards with adventure are good, and Kellan is no exception. 

Getting most of an Explore before dropping a 3/4 flier with vigilance that strips either opposing artifacts or cracks your clues for you for “free” is worth it. 

“Casualties of Math” is a nice update on the classic Golgari sorcery. Four mana at instant speed is a lot more enticing, and though it doesn’t hit lands, it’s still a solid removal spell. 

Did we need another five color Niv? Eh. Is there much design space left for him now? Probably not, which means he’s totally getting bodied by Azor or something next time we visit Ravnica. 

As a card, it slots well into Niv Mizzet, Reborn, and I think it’s better in the 99 than the Command Zone.

I apologize to all of you who keep asking for a Coalition Victory unban, because Leyline of the Guildpact kinda puts the final nail in that coffin.

Is it a good card? Yes and no. There are no doubt decks like Jared Cathalion that enjoy the fact everything is a rainbow, but the mana fixing part probably isn’t enough to run this thing on its own. 

Top 5 Multicolor Common/Uncommons:

  1. Insidious Roots: it’s Cryptolith Rite for tokens that makes tokens and grows them. That’s a lot for a two mana uncommon.
  2. Buried in the Garden: Enchantress gets a new O-ring, except it’s also a Wild Growth. Put it on an opponent’s awesome land to have someone else Strip Mine it. 
  3. Cease // Desist: A useful cantrip, or late game, a way to reset the board. Flexible and strong.
  4. Push // Pull: I love this for Mardu decks like Dihada that want to fill the yard and protect their Commander/walkers. 
  5. Evidence Examiner: Finally, this Simic beauty is both an enabler and payoff for collecting evidence. On a two drop, no less.


And that’s all, folks! Murders at Karlov Manor has a lot of flashy new tech for Commander, and a lot of very interesting new options to lead your decks. What are you going to build? Let us know on X.