10 Most Impactful Constructed Cards from Murders at Karlov Manor
01/02/2024 · 9 min read
A Fresh Set on the Horizon
A new year brings a fresh set on the horizon! Murders at Karlov Manor is packed with intriguing cards, and today I'm going to discuss the top five that really caught my eye and have the potential to shake up both Standard and Pioneer formats.
In my last piece where I delved into Lost Caverns of Ixalan, some of my predictions hit the mark regarding format staples, such as Get Lost and Molten Collapse, while others, like Treasure Map, barely saw any play. Let's hope my predictions are more on point this time around!
Top 5 Pioneer Cards
It's been a while since I've seen a creature with abilities that truly caught my attention. I think the last one was Obsidian Charmaw, which is now only legal in Modern. However, we now have a new creature with potential in Pioneer. It boasts evasion, solid power, and toughness for its mana cost. But the real game-changer is its ability text. Since it doesn't target the land directly but rather the player who controls it, we're looking at the ability to take out lands like Lotus Field that have hexproof. That's a significant development and opens up strategic plays that could shift the meta.
On the other hand, it might be a bit slow, as the deck typically combos earlier, and I also don't see a proper home for it yet. Decks like Rakdos Midrange will probably prefer Damping Sphere in that slot. However, it has a lot of potential, and I would definitely keep an eye on it in the near future.
Leyline of the Guildpact
Monogreen Devotion really felt the sting from the banning of Karn, the Great Creator, and nowadays it's practically vanished from the format, with just a handful of daring players attempting to construct decks using Sunken Citadel and Nykthos to generate a ton of mana and bring massive creatures into play.
Picture a hand with Leyline, Nykthos, and Llanowar Elves. That's an incredible 5 devotion, enough to drop a Cavalier of Thorns on turn 2, a feat that was unheard of for the deck even before Karn's banishment.
But Karn's presence meant that the deck had a very good Plan B, which was to combo with the help of Pestilent Cauldron. Although this plan is no longer available, I believe that this card can breathe new life into the deck, as devotion enables plays that some decks simply cannot respond to efficiently.
A card that used to be a staple in Modern and, despite the power level of the format having made it completely unplayable, I believe bringing it to Pioneer is a great move by Wizards. Decks like Niv to Light will probably want to use a few copies, taking advantage of Niv Mizzet’s own ability to put multicolored cards in hand, and also the presence of this card may be able to revive some somewhat forgotten archetypes, like Boros Burn, which practically disappeared after the banning of Lurrus.
The presence of Helix in the format also opens up space to resurrect some somewhat forgotten archetypes, such as Boros Burn, which practically disappeared after the banning of Lurrus. Another deck that could benefit from it is Boros Convoke, which might be able to use it on the side in race matches. There is another factor that maybe makes Helix not play: Lightning Strike also sees no play in the format. But gaining 3 life can make a difference in some matches, so I would bet that we will hardly see this card not being used in some deck of the format.
No More Lies
Mana Leak was a counter that used to see a lot of play when it was Standard, and in Modern before its power level increased so much, and I believe it's another card that could do really well in Pioneer. UW Control is already a tier 1 archetype in the format, but it has always had to settle for average counters like Make Disappear and Censor. Now, No More Lies comes as a leak that also exiles, being relevant against some cards, such as Memory Deluge, Kroxa, and creatures from the Amalia Combo, which can come back to the field thanks to Return to the Ranks and Extraction Specialist.
But the latest builds of UW have been abusing the use of Field of Ruin to punish greedy mana bases, as well as manlands, which are great cards against this type of deck. With a double-cost counter, maybe it's time to review this plan.
Case of Uneaten Feast
Cases are new saga-style cards, but to move to the next chapter (or solve the case), you must meet the conditions of the card. By solving the case, you can fully enjoy the card. In the case of the Amalia combo, it is very easy to conclude the case, since the deck can gain a huge amount of life, as the case's static ability already assists in this, along with the help of other cards like Prosperous Innkeeper and Lunarch Veteran.
With the case resolved, the enchantment gains a very interesting and useful ability for the deck, practically a Yawgmoth's Will, in which you can play the creatures again from the graveyard, generating a lot of value and being a very effective response against removals. Perhaps it is the missing piece to definitively place the deck among the tiers.
Top 5 Standard Cards
Delney, Streetwise Lookout
Standard lacks good aggro options, but MKM brought some interesting cards for Monowhite/Boros Humans. Delney has a very interesting effect, which, depending on how your deck is built, can generate a lot of value in some plays. Let's look at some cards that can take advantage of its ability:
In addition to duplicating triggers, Delney also has an interesting ability for aggro decks, causing their smaller creatures to not be blocked by creatures larger than them, which is relevant in matches like Domain Ramp, which really stall the game with Atraxa and Herd Migration tokens.
Monored has been lacking another good drop for a while, and perhaps Frantic Scapegoat is the case. It isn't the best creature on its own, but having haste and being difficult to block, it is an interesting card for the deck's purpose. Additionally, when it is no longer so useful, it can grant menace to another creature, and having a Squee or even a Feldon with that ability makes it more interesting.
However, today, I don't see room on the list and I don't think it would be better than Monastery Swiftspear or even Phoenix Chick. Maybe in a much more aggressive build, taking advantage of the fact that we will have two one-mana burns with the return of Shock to the format.
Thraben Inspector saw a lot of play during its Standard era, and I believe it won't be any different with its duplicate. The fact that it's not a soldier is a pity, as I believe it would fit very well in a UW Soldiers build, but we have a deck ready to welcome it: Boros Convoke, making Gleeful Demolition and Regal Bunnicorn much better.
The deck was seriously lacking good turn 1 artifact generators, having to use mediocre options such as Yotian Frontliner. Now, along with Voldaren Epicure, we have some really interesting generators which, even though we don't have Ornithopter in the format, might be the missing piece to make the deck truly competitive.
It's been a while, but finally, we have a promising combo again in T2. I don't know if it will be very competitive, since we need 3 pieces to make it happen, but with the presence of Agatha's Soul Cauldron, it could be a big help. We even have one today that also involves the cauldron, but I must confess that I never got interested in pursuing it and also never saw anyone achieve any results with it.
This new combo consists of having 2 Forensic Researchers and one Deeproot Pilgrimage. With that, we have infinite tokens of Merfolk with hexproof, since we can use the ability of one on the other infinitely. It might also be the missing piece for the Merfolk deck to be competitive, since we have various cards of this type that can make the deck a real deck.
Buried in the Garden
Buried in the Garden could be a very good card for Domain Ramp. The fact that it can remove anything and also acts as ramp fits very well into the deck's game plan, which lacks a bit at times when it needs to respond to something while also needing to develop its game plan better. In conjunction with Leyline Binding, it could be a good addition to the list.
The fact that it costs 4 mana weighs a bit heavily, a bit steep compared to the current threats in the format, and also, unlike Leyline Binding, we cannot reduce its mana cost. It's also good to remember that it's better to enchant basic lands in case we want to use it, because a Field of Ruin can literally ruin our plans.
Murders at Karlov Manor has many promising cards for both formats. Also remembering that in October we'll have a new rotation, so even if the format seems a bit stagnant, it's quite fun to play, and with a new edition coming, we might even see some changes, with new decks having the possibility to appear and others gaining new pieces to change their level.
Until next time!