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5 Modern Decks Featuring Murders at Karlov Manor

Skura
08/02/2024 · 10 min read
meta

An Untapped Power

Murders at Karlov Manor (also referred to as MKM) has already been released and with it a lot of potential Modern brews and meta-deck improvements. While there aren’t that many cards that jump out of the page, upon closer inspection we see there is plenty of potential to be explored.

In today’s piece, I want to talk about how some of the best decks can be improved upon but also about a couple of new techs that might spawn entirely new strategies. If you want to know how to get a turn-two Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, read on!

Rhinos

Temur Adventures. Builder: Amy Altman.MTG
Top32
(7 - 2)
77%
in Saturday $10K RCQ - Modern @ SCG CON Hartford [355 Players] 03-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [12]
1  Murktide Regent   $17.99
4  Shardless Agent   $0.49
4  Subtlety   $25.99
3  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
Instant [18]
3  Dead/Gone   $0.39
4  Fire/Ice   $0.35
3  Flame of Anor   $7.49
4  Force of Negation   $49.99
4  Violent Outburst   $7.49
Sorcery [8]
4  Crashing Footfalls   $5.99
4  Lórien Revealed   $2.99
Land [22]
1  Boseiju, Who Endures   $49.99
1  Breeding Pool   $21.99
1  Gemstone Caverns   $59.99
1  Hedge Maze   $8.99
1  Ketria Triome   $12.99
4  Misty Rainforest   $24.99
1  Mutavault   $10.99
1  Otawara, Soaring City   $29.99
2  Scalding Tarn   $21.99
1  Snow-Covered Forest   $1.29
2  Snow-Covered Island   $1.79
1  Snow-Covered Mountain   $0.79
1  Steam Vents   $16.99
1  Stomping Ground   $15.99
1  Thundering Falls   $9.99
2  Wooded Foothills   $37.99
Sideboard [15]
2  Blood Moon   $7.99
1  Brazen Borrower   $5.99
1  Commandeer   $12.99
3  Endurance   $34.99
3  Force of Vigor   $24.99
1  Magus of the Moon   $10.99
3  Mystical Dispute   $0.59
1  Tishana's Tidebinder   $14.99
Buy this deck:

$401.64 Tix @cardhoarder   $10.04 / Week @cardhoarder   $1,017.08 @tcgplayer   $1,165.89 @cardkingdom  


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Temur Rhinos is not only a known quantity in the Modern format, but it’s also currently the best deck. It has the target on its head and everyone is packing their Chalice of the Void and Flusterstorm to combat it. However, the strategy has midrange-ified a lot in the recent months with the additions of Flame of Anor and Tishana’s Tidebinder.

Flame is a maindeckable answer to problematic permanents such as Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Void Mirror, Chalice of the Void, or Ensnaring Bridge. On top of that, it provides card advantage allowing you to play a resource-based game.

Tishana is a generically strong card that has proven its worth in the format but it also has some Rhino-specific applications that the deck takes advantage of. First, it can counter a Chalice trigger when we put our Crashing Footfalls on the stack, allowing them to resolve. She can also Stifle the activation of Engineered Explosives. As a nice cherry on top, she’s also a Wizard and hence she makes Flame of Anor, mentioned above, even stronger.

The addition from Murders at Karlov Manor seems rather inconsequential but sometimes this is where the true power comes from. As we know, there is a cycle of Surveil lands that come into play tapped and are fetchable. One of the list at SCGCON last weekend played 2 copies of those lands - Hedge Maze and Thundering Falls.

Considering the fact that Rhinos desperately need to find the third land, what you can do is have your first two fetches find surveil lands, get that free card selection, and ensure the third land is found on time. Also in topdeck situations, it acts as a filtering tool which helps draw better than the opponent.

While normally the cost of a tapland could be high early in the game, this strategy does not mind, as it really gets going on turn three onwards.

Druid Murktide

Murktide Druid. Builder: Skura.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 07-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [15]
4  Dragon's Rage Channeler   $1.29
2  Subtlety   $25.99
4  Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer   $49.99
3  Questing Druid   $5.49
2  Murktide Regent   $17.99
Artifact [4]
4  Mishra's Bauble   $0.79
Instant [16]
1  Consider   $0.79
4  Unholy Heat   $0.35
3  Lightning Bolt   $1.29
4  Counterspell   $1.99
2  Spell Pierce   $0.79
2  Stern Scolding   $1.49
Sorcery [8]
4  Preordain   $1.79
4  Expressive Iteration   $1.99
Land [17]
4  Spirebluff Canal   $13.99
3  Misty Rainforest   $24.99
3  Steam Vents   $16.99
2  Island   $0.01
4  Flooded Strand   $32.99
1  Hedge Maze   $8.99
Sideboard [15]
2  Spell Pierce   $0.79
2  Stern Scolding   $1.49
3  Magus of the Moon   $10.99
2  Brotherhood's End   $6.99
2  Force of Negation   $49.99
2  Engineered Explosives   $15.99
2  Dress Down   $1.29
Buy this deck:

$310.88 Tix @cardhoarder   $7.77 / Week @cardhoarder   $684.57 @tcgplayer   $807.33 @cardkingdom  


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Speaking of decks that have to play spells every single turn, let me touch on my favourite Druid Murktide, about which there is a free comprehensive guide.

This deck is very much a tempo-reactive strategy whose low curve is to maximise the number of spells played every turn. We want to be more efficient than the opponent and hopefully win when they are stuck with a full hand, unable to unload it in time.

There has been talk about adding Thundering Falls to Murktide but I think a far more interesting case is adding Hedge Maze to Temur Druid.

So far, I’ve been playing a single Breeding Pool whose goal is to hardcast lategame Questing Druids. It wouldn’t even matter most games, as sometimes doing the normal Murktide stuff with the occasional instant speed Wrenn’s Resolve was sufficient. However, still fetching out Breeding Pool comes up regularly but it’s typically your 4-5th fetched out land.

With that in mind, it might be better to have that occasional green source be a utility land so when it does come down on turn six it does a bit more than turn on Druid.

In slower games, you have a reason to fetch it out early for that card selection and otherwise you can chill on it and fetch it out when convenient.

I do like this idea and I think it might improve my favourite take on Murktide even further!

Roots Yawgmoth

Roots Yawgmoth. Builder: Skura.MTGA - Magic Arena
Other in 07-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [26]
1  Blood Artist   $2.79
4  Delighted Halfling   $14.99
1  Gilded Goose   $2.29
1  Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons   $1.79
1  Haywire Mite   $3.99
4  Orcish Bowmasters   $59.99
1  Strangleroot Geist   $0.59
1  Walking Ballista   $21.99
4  Wall of Roots   $0.35
4  Yawgmoth, Thran Physician   $19.99
4  Young Wolf   $0.59
Artifact [3]
3  Agatha's Soul Cauldron   $57.99
Instant [4]
4  Chord of Calling   $6.49
Enchantment [2]
2  Insidious Roots   $3.99
Planeswalker [4]
4  Grist, the Hunger Tide   $8.99
Land [21]
3  Blooming Marsh   $8.99
2  Boseiju, Who Endures   $49.99
2  Forest   $0.01
1  Khalni Garden   $1.49
2  Nurturing Peatland   $8.49
2  Overgrown Tomb   $15.99
1  Pendelhaven   $4.49
1  Swamp   $0.01
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $12.99
2  Twilight Mire   $8.99
4  Verdant Catacombs   $21.99
Sideboard [15]
2  Chalice of the Void   $69.99
2  Fatal Push   $2.29
2  Force of Vigor   $24.99
1  Fulminator Mage   $0.79
1  Legion's End   $0.79
1  Pick Your Poison   $0.35
1  Reclamation Sage   $0.35
1  Scavenging Ooze   $0.49
1  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $99.99
1  Soulless Jailer   $1.29
2  Thoughtseize   $16.99
Buy this deck:

$349.43 Tix @cardhoarder   $8.74 / Week @cardhoarder   $1,012.65 @tcgplayer   $1,294.37 @cardkingdom  


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Enough about surveil lands! Let’s talk about some other not-so-obvious additions.

Golgari Yawgmoth is fundamentally a creature combo deck that can easily play a fair game but has access to an immediate finish. While you’re trying to fend off Orcish Bowmasters and its Army, backed up by Insect tokens, at some point Yawgmoth, Thran Physician will come down and get the party over with.

The combo relies on Yawgmoth’s sacrifice ability and the fact that you put -1/-1 counters on creatures. When you do so with two Undying creatures, you can keep sacrificing them and resetting the +1/+1 counter they’d get thanks to Undying, resulting in you drawing as many cards as you have the life total. If you add a card like Zulaport Cutthroat or Blood Artist into the mix, you can activate Yawgmoth essentially for free and kill the opponent with the death triggers.


The way Undying works, when the creature dies it technically touches the graveyard, leaves it, and comes back onto the battlefield. You can imagine it as an A-to-B journey where the checkpoints are the battlefield and the graveyard. Why does it matter?

With Murders at Karlov Manor, we’re getting Insidious Roots - an innocuous uncommon in Golgari colours. The first line of text gives all the tokens the ability to produce mana. So now all the Insects and Army tokens act as Birds of Paradise.

Crucially to the example illustrated above, the second ability produces 0/1 Plant tokens whenever a creature *leaves* the graveyard and puts a +1/+1 counter on each Plant. In other words, whenever our Undying creature dies and comes back, it triggers Roots.

There is one more key use to it as well. Agatha’s Soul Cauldron exiles cards from a graveyard, so when you target your own creature there it technically leaves the grave as well, hence triggering Roots.

In the provided text, "Agatha’s Soul Cauldron" appears to be the name of a Magic the Gathering card. To create the shortcode for this card, we slugify the name by converting it to lowercase and replacing spaces with hyphens. The shortcode would look like this:

As far as I'm concerned, Roots could be included as a one or two-of in the strategy to further bolster its fair plan and compete very favorably against decks such as Murktide, about which you can also read my guide, or Rakdos Grief. This inclusion could allow the deck to skew the sideboard towards combating unfair and combo strategies.

Breakout Leyline Zoo

Domain Aggro. Builder: Magic_Rainbows.MTGO - Magic Online
Top16
(3 - 1)
75%
in MTGO Modern Preliminary #12611426 [39 Players] 06-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [20]
4  Scion of Draco   $2.99
4  Nishoba Brawler   $0.35
4  Territorial Kavu   $0.49
4  Wild Nacatl   $0.69
4  Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer   $49.99
Instant [4]
4  Stubborn Denial   $1.79
Sorcery [7]
4  Break Out   $0.35
3  Tribal Flames   $0.39
Enchantment [8]
4  Leyline Binding   $15.99
4  Leyline of the Guildpact   $19.99
Land [21]
1  Plains   $0.01
1  Scalding Tarn   $21.99
1  Zagoth Triome   $20.99
1  Steam Vents   $16.99
1  Forest   $0.01
1  Sacred Foundry   $21.99
4  Wooded Foothills   $37.99
1  Temple Garden   $14.99
1  Breeding Pool   $21.99
1  Overgrown Tomb   $15.99
4  Windswept Heath   $29.99
4  Flooded Strand   $32.99
Sideboard [15]
1  Jegantha, the Wellspring   $1.29
4  Outland Liberator   $0.49
2  Soulless Jailer   $1.29
4  Leyline of the Void   $3.49
1  Pick Your Poison   $0.35
2  Unmoored Ego   $0.49
1  Doorkeeper Thrull   $2.99
Buy this deck:

$287.13 Tix @cardhoarder   $7.18 / Week @cardhoarder   $712.28 @tcgplayer   $838.63 @cardkingdom  


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Zoo is slowly becoming the premiere aggro strategy of the format, overtaking Burn, Merfolk, and possibly Prowess. At face value, this deck has the best threats *and* the best answers. The main drawback is the manabase that sometimes does not cooperate by either being too slow or the colours not coming together in the right mix. Triome into shocklands is perfect, Plains and Temple Garden much less so.

Leyline of the Guildpact has already seen some play in the archetype, trying to fix the only glaring issue the deck has. When you begin the game with it, you don’t need to worry about any land sequences any more. Additionally, it brings more upsides to the deck thanks to the wording of specific cards.

As every creature has all the colours, Scion of Drako will grant every single creature you play vigilance, hexproof, lifelink, first strike, and trample - all at the same time.

On top of that:

  • Wild Nacatl is immediately a 3/3
  • Tribal Flames always hits for 5 damage
  • Nishoba Brawler is always a 5/3
  • Territorial Kavu is always a 5/5
  • Leyline Binding always cost {W}

It is a ton of upside clearly. It becomes much less appealing when you do *not* have it in the opener but thankfully Kavu has an ability that allows you to filter through the cards so the redundant later-drawn Leylines can just hit the bin for a fresh card.

There is one more MKM card tested in Zoo shells actually! It’s Break Out.

Since 16 out of 20 creatures in the deck cost 2 mana or less, when you manage to hit one from Break Out, you get to immediately get into the red zone. Territorial Kavu with Haste is really scary! It can get you some kills out of nowhere since normally Ragavan is the only haste threat. It will surely throw off the opponent’s math.

On top of that, you get some card selection. Depending on the situation, you can choose to get Kavu for its big body, Brawler for trample, or Ragavan knowing you’ll connect and get the trigger.

All in all, Zoo is in an exciting position of getting a lot of new toys to play around with.

Crime Goryo

Cookbook Reanimator. Builder: susurrus_mtg.MTGO - Magic Online
1st
(5 - 0)
100%
in MTGO Modern League #7920 06-Feb-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [17]
1  Atraxa, Grand Unifier   $27.99
1  Emrakul, the Aeons Torn   $15.99
4  Rona, Herald of Invasion   $1.79
4  Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar   $0.49
2  Ovalchase Daredevil   $0.39
2  Atraxa, Grand Unifier   $27.99
1  Emrakul, the Aeons Torn   $15.99
2  Emrakul, the Aeons Torn   $15.99
Artifact [5]
4  The Underworld Cookbook   $0.35
1  Mox Amber   $32.99
Instant [9]
1  Retraction Helix   $0.35
4  Goryo's Vengeance   $5.99
3  Reenact the Crime   $3.49
1  Reenact the Crime   $3.49
Sorcery [8]
4  Thoughtseize   $16.99
4  Profane Tutor   $2.99
Enchantment [4]
4  Urza's Saga   $44.99
Land [17]
1  Watery Grave   $15.99
1  Overgrown Tomb   $15.99
2  Swamp   $0.01
1  Darkslick Shores   $5.99
4  Verdant Catacombs   $21.99
1  Bloodstained Mire   $32.99
3  Darkslick Shores   $5.99
2  Watery Grave   $15.99
2  Sunken Ruins   $29.99
Sideboard [15]
1  Pithing Needle   $0.79
4  Leyline of the Void   $3.49
1  Nihil Spellbomb   $0.99
2  Fatal Push   $2.29
3  Defense Grid   $2.79
1  Haywire Mite   $3.99
3  Perilous Voyage   $0.35
Buy this deck:

$153.70 Tix @cardhoarder   $3.84 / Week @cardhoarder   $636.48 @tcgplayer   $783.97 @cardkingdom  


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This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. That foreshadowed turn two Emrakul. I won’t keep you waiting any longer!

Goryo’s Vengeance allows you to bring back a Legendary creature in the graveyard for one combat only - with haste. Coincidentally, Emrakul is a legendary creature! A single attack would deal 15 damage and trigger annihilator. Unfortunately though, Emrakul shuffles itself into the deck when it’s put into the graveyard so the trick does not work…or does it?

The way you want to execute it is put The Underworld Cookbook into play on turn one. On turn two, you activate the Book and discard Emrakul. Now, Emrakul is in the graveyard and its shuffle-back-into-the-deck trigger goes on the stack. At this point, you should *hold priority* and play Goryo in response to that trigger.

The trick has worked and you’ve got a turn two hasty Emmy smashing in - probably locking up the game already. If you do it in paper, you just need to say that you’re holding priority, if online - hold the key responsible for holding priority.

Reenact the Crime was one of the most exciting and also weirdest cards in MKM, as its templating is like none other. In essence, you can get a nonland permanent for four mana if you’ve put it into the grave on the same turn. Conveniently, we’ve got the previously mentioned Cookbook angle so that all works out fine.

On turn four, you discard Emrakul or Atraxa, hold priority if need be, cast Reenact the Crime, get a copy of your big creature and hopefully ride it to victory. When you combine both angles, you get a ton of consistency. I think we might have a proper Reanimator strategy in Modern now!

Conclusion

As we can see, with Murders at Karlov Manor we’ve got a new super useful and intriguing cycle of surveil lands, seemingly innocuous uncommons, and completely new strategies emerging.

I am excited to see what the brewing hive mind has to offer when the set is in full swing in paper and online. But until that time - hold my hand and let’s pass the turn together.

Cheers!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones The 10 Most Impactful Phyrexia: All will be one MTG Cards in Standard, Top Standard decks after the first week since Dominaria release, March of the Machine: Most Promising cards for Standard and Pioneer

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Skura
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

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Published: 2024-02-08 00:00:00