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Murders at Karlov Manor Sealed Quick Guide

01/02/2024 · 9 min read

The Ten Archetypes

In a couple of days, you’re going to battle in a fierce pre-release tournament and I know you want to emerge on top!

In today’s piece I will go over the mechanics of Murders at Karlov Manor and all *ten* archetypes, so you know exactly which way to go with the cards you open.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Relevant Mechanics


Disguise is a mechanic that instructs you to put a card face-down on the battlefield as a colorless mana-cost-less 2/2 with ward 2. The opponent may not look what’s hidden there - naturally as the card is disguised!

The cost of putting it down is always three generic mana, regardless of the card. However, each card will specify the cost to flip it over.

For example, Fugitive Codebreaker is always played for 3 mana face-down but flipped over for 5R with the option to discount it.

On top of that, some cards have an effect when turned face up. In this face, Codebreaker would discard your hand and draw three cards.

In order to indicate that the card face-down has been disguised, we can use an official A Mysterious Creature token.


Cloak is very similar to disguise, but you’ll be instructed to put a card from your hand or maybe off the top of your library as cloaked. The result is the same - colorless mana-cost-less 2/2 with ward 2.

So what’s the difference then?

In order to disguise a specific card that card has to have the disguise mechanic. With Cloak, in theory any card can be cloaked.

When it comes to flipping it over, a cloaked card can be turned face up if it’s a creature, when you pay its cost, and whenever you have priority.

Crucially for both cloak and disguise, the action of flipping does not go through the stack and hence cannot be responded to.

To illustrate cloak in action, let’s take Cryptic Coat as an example.

Cryptic Coat, as it enters the battlefield, cloaks the top card of your library. Regardless of whether it was a land or a creature, it’s a 2/2 creature now with ward 2. Cryptic Coat attaches itself to is as well, giving it +1/+0 and it cannot be blocked. You can bounce Coat to your hand, replay it, and get another Cloak yet again.


At this point it’s an evergreen mechanic that we see very regularly.

Investigate instructs you to put a Clue artifact token onto the battlefield. This token can be sacrificed for 2 mana to draw a card.

For instance, No Witnesses is a mass removal spell that makes the player with the most creatures investigate - in other words it kills the entire board but the player who was ahead gets a Clue token.

It’s a very simple effect that is used by play design when they want a card to put you up on resources but a simple ‘draw a card’ might just be too strong - hence a delayed draw.

Bear in mind that these tokens might have other uses - they can be sacrificed to other effects for example.


When a creature is suspected by an effect it has menace and cannot block. The combination of these two characteristics makes is to that you’re highly encouraged to get into the red zone.

You can suspect an opposing creature to make it unable to block or suspect your own to get a combat-relevant ability.

Absolving Lammasu unsuspects all the creatures on the board so they no longer have menace and can now block. However, when it dies, it suspects up to one creature that an opponent controls - granting it menace (making it better in combat) and disallowing blocks (worse if the player is on the defensive).

Collect Evidence

When a card instructs you to collect evidence, there will always be a number beside it such as Collect evidence 3.

What it means is that you need to exile cards with total mana value 3 or greater from your graveyard. You can do it in any combination you want - it can be a three-drop or three one-drops. Lands count as 0.

When Lamplight Phoenix dies, you can collect evidence 4 in order to return it to the battlefield tapped. When the opponent kills it, you can exile, say, Krenko’s Buzzcrusher and you’re all set! Phoenix is back on the battlefield.

Interestingly, you can over-collect if that’s beneficial to you so keep that in mind. That might come up more in constructed than limited though.


Cases are a type of enchantment that looks very Saga-like but works quite differently!

They’ve got three text boxes - effect at the top, To solve condition, and Solved outcome.

When a Case enters play, the top ability becomes active - it triggers if it’s a trigger, and it starts applying if it’s a passive.

Then at the beginning of your end step the game will check if the the To solve condition has been met. If it hasn’t, nothing happens. If it has, the last box’s text starts applying as you have now Solved the case.

Contrary to Sagas, you don’t sacrifice the permanent when you reach the last stage. It stays on the ability as a solved case.

With Case of the Ransacked Lab, you immediately get a discount on your spells. At the beginning of the end step, the game will check if you’ve fulfilled the condition, in this case having played four or more instants or and sorceries. If you have, from this point on you will draw a card whenever an instant or sorcery is played.

The 10 Limited Archetypes

Boros Batallion

The Boros colour combination rewards attacking. You want to assemble as many creatures as possible and you get a special bonus if it’s three or more.

Karlov Watchdog gives your whole team a buff if you go into combat with three of more creatures - including the dog. Seasoned Consultant gets a +2/+0 buff with the same condition.

In such a deck you need a critical mass of creatures on the field

Key Commons:

Signpost uncommon

Golgari Grave

Golgari takes full advantage of the graveyard. You can bring creatures back or get additional effects when they leave the graveyard. In order to make them leave, you’ll utilise the Collect evidence mechanic.

Extract a Confession is a classic edict effect but has an additional bonus if evidence has been collected. It would, for example, work well with Fot Farm Mortipede that gets a bonus for cards leaving the grave.

Key Commons:

Signpost uncommon:

Azorius Detectives

Azorius is focused on solving the case with its army of highly trained detectives!

As any detective, you’ll be looking out for Clues and Cases.

You will need to Deduce what has happened and try to find the Exit Specialist. And don’t forget that you always have to be On the Job.

Psst - I’ve got an Inside Source to inform you on the case.

Key Commons

Signpost UIncommon

Dimir Clues Control

The Dimir colours are way more controlly than aggressive. You want to interact with the opponent, trade resources, and gas up with Clue tokens providing a steady stream of cards.

Persuasive Interrogators would be an excellent inclusion in the archetype as well as Homicide Investigator, or Hotshot Investigators.

If you’re a chemist by trade, Toxin Analysis will help you win in-combat encounters!

Key Commons:

Signpost Uncommon:

Rakdos Suspect Aggro

Suspected creatures have menace which allows you to attack the opposing defences pretty cleanly. And since they cannot block, you might attack anyways. Finish the game before the opponent finds out why they were suspected in the first place!

Key Commons:

Gather your Person(s) of Interest and Rubblebelt Braggart to finish the game as soon as possible.

Signpost uncommon

Orzhov Disguise

You want to play creatures with power 2 or less which conveniently matches the statistics of face-down creatures.

Key Commons:

Snarling Gorehound gives you long-term card selection, Marketwatch Phantom gets evasive, and Inside Source creates a token wherein both Source and the token meet the desired condition.

Signpost uncommon

Izzet Artifacts

As mentioned earlier in the article, Clues aren’t just a delayed card draw. They will synergise with the Izzet guild by providing you with additional bonuses.

Red Herring is a nice hasty threat that can self-sacrifice in a pinch and Krenko, Baron of Tin Street is a massive payoff for the strategy.

You don’t have to worry about stuff to sacrifice - between Clues, Thopters, and cards like Knife or Candlestick you’ll be covered.

Key Commons

Signpost Uncommon

Simic Evidence

In this colour combination, you are heavily rewarded for collecting evidence to hopefully crack the case at hand!

Vitu-Ghazi Inspector and Crimestopper Sprite will happily delve into the evidence while Rubblebelt Maverick and Aftermath Analyst will fill up the graveyard to enable it.

Key Commons:

Signpost Uncommon

Gruul Disguise

Smashing face is what you want to do but done in a disguiseful fashion!

Flourishing Bloom-Kin and Bolrac-Clan Basher are your best friends. Especially if you add Culvert Ambusher into the mix!

Key Commons:

Signpost Uncommon

Selesnya Aggro

Another aggressive archetype that wants the game to be over as soon as possible. However, you will also take advantage of face-down effects to add a bit of trickery into your plan.

Nervous Gardener and Museum Nightwatch will happily engage in combat while Crowd-Control Warden buffs up your battlefield.

Key Commons:

Signpost Uncommon 


The Murder at Karlov Manor draft environment looks very fun but also pretty complex! Between cards being played face down, granting and taking away combat-relevant abilities, and constantly using the graveyard as a resource - I can say with certainty that this format will reward skill, experience, and preparation.

Personally, I cannot wait to build a Detectives tribal and gather all the clues to solve the mystery!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Brother's War Sealed Guide and best tips & tricks by color, Winning the Brother's War Limited Challenge: Tips, tricks & analysis, Exploring the Wilds of Eldraine Limited: Best Tips & Top Commons by Color, Breaking Lost Caverns of Ixalan Draft

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Skura - IslandsInFront
Skura, also known as IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, started his career a decade ago and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches, creates written and video content, and is a mainstay caster on the European scene, casting the LMS series (GP equivalent), Eternal Weekend, and many other. He's passionate about game theory, decision making, and a methodological approach to Magic


Published: 2024-02-01 00:00:00

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