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The Impact or Karlov Manor: Has it Reshaped Modern? 5126 Decks Analyzed

Skura
16/02/2024 · 42 min read
meta

Quick Intro

Murders at Karlov Manor has recently been released and we’ve already got multiple Regional Championships worth of data to take a look at its impact on Modern!

While new sets don’t tend to impact Modern a lot, this set might secretly be one of the most influential in recent months.

In today’s piece, I want to delve into all the top decks in Modern right now and how they’ve changed with the new cards. Some got a single sideboard tech, some necessitated a mana base rework, and some just put a deck one tier higher. Let’s use a data-centric approach and look at what it actually looks like currently.

this set might secretly be one of the most influential in recent months

Golgari Yawgmoth

The first deck on the list is a creature combo strategy that has jumped a couple of tiers in the last years - Golgari Yawgmoth. It went through multiple iterations but with the Lotr set and even more additions from newer sets, it’s got as strong as it gets.

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Underground Mortuary

329 (73%)3803800

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Pick Your Poison

162 (36%)2452243

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Insidious Roots

34 (7%)72720

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Assassin's Trophy

32 (7%)34034

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Archdruid's Charm

5 (1%)550

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Kraul Whipcracker

5 (1%)606

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Snarling Gorehound

2 (0%)440

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The first card I want to discuss is Underground Mortuary - a surveil land. It’s a fetchable dual land that enters tapped and surveils 1 when it enters play.

In this deck, you will find yourself mana flooded sometimes between the lands you draw and the mana dorks on the field (Wall of Roots, Delighted Halfing). Mortuary is a great insurance against drawing more air. Getting some card filtration in a fetchland is great value. And even though you play just one Mortuary you effectively have access to seven if you count all the fetches.

Another banger from this set is Pick your Poison - a premiere sideboard card. As far as I’m concerned, you have to find a good argument not to include it in your green deck sideboard.

Let’s break down every mode in the Modern context

  • Opponent sacrifices Colossus Hammer, Defense Grid, The One Ring
  • Opponent sacrifices Urza’s Saga, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Blood Moon
  • Opponent sacrifices Murktide Regent, Sprite Dragon, Archon of Cruelty.

You get to choose any of those modes in a given game. The number of choices, practically speaking, is huge. If we map it over the most popular decks, there are just a handful where Poison would actually be a blank. It's a 10/10 sideboard card.

The other relevant card, looking at the data, is Insidious Roots, which has great synergy in the versions of the deck with Agatha's Cauldron.

Hammer

Hammer is such a peculiar deck with a super specific plan that there is a very high bar for a card to become playable in the deck. But one has certainly showed its power!

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Cryptic Coat

24 (13%)26251

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Meticulous Archive

15 (8%)15150

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Doorkeeper Thrull

1 (0%)202

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Cryptic Coat was a super tough card to evaluate during the spoiler season. Some called it a better Fable of the Mirror-Breaker while some went as far as to dub it the Modern True-Name Nemesis.

The idea is that when you play it, you get a free 2/2 cloaked creature that cannot be blocked and as the game progresses and you have access to more mana, you can bounce it to hand, replay it, and get another creature. As artifacts are not very easy to deal with conventional removal, you can keep casting and bouncing it to create a board that fair decks would struggle to deal with. The fact that it’s an artifact is very much relevant here in a deck with Construct tokens and Puresteel Paladin Metalcraft ability.

On top of that, it’s a tutorable equipment with Stoneforge Mystic. You can play a single copy but virtually have access to five. While your first Stoneforge is likely to find Hammer or Kaldra Compleat, any subsequent one is likely to opt for this grindy tool.

Meticulous Archive is the blue white surveil land and we see it even here in Hammer. While it might not make a lot of sense, players have recognised the power of those lands and are experimenting with it and pushing the boundaries of where they *ought* to be played.

Zoo

Zoo is a very aggressive five colour strategy that plays creatures whose effectiveness depends on your mana base setup. A lot of creatures care about the lands you have available.

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Leyline of the Guildpact

188 (72%)7417401

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Pick Your Poison

172 (66%)3042302

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Doorkeeper Thrull

9 (3%)11011

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Break Out

8 (3%)20200

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Hedge Maze

2 (0%)220

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Assassin's Trophy

2 (0%)404

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Repulsive Mutation

1 (0%)330

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Raucous Theater

1 (0%)110

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Leyline of the Guildpact flips everything on its head. It makes all of your lands into every type of basics and making all of your creatures of each colour. It has plenty of consequences:

  • 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}
  • Scion of Draco enters play for 2 mana
  • Every creature has all the keywords that Scion grants
  • You can tap fetch lands for mana of any colour

This could come back to bite you though! If you Kavu off double fetchland…

…the moment Leyline is destroyed, you have 0 land types and Kavu immediately dies!

All in all it’s a powerful addition that accelerates the speed and power of your draws.

Izzet Murktide

Izzet Murktide is as close to a Legacy deck in Modern as it gets. With its Delver-esque playstyle, it reaches unreal levels of efficiency. What could a new Standard legal set bring to such a strategy?

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Thundering Falls

132 (45%)1321320

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Cryptic Coat

30 (10%)37037

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Pick Your Poison

13 (4%)39039

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You guess it. The surveil land!

As you can see, those lands are all the rage and warrant a separate piece. In this particular deck though, you frequently have to assume a bit slower controlly role where you pass the turn and aim to react to whatever the opponent does. Sometimes the opp will pass back trying to waste your held-up mana. At this point, you search out this deck and get some free card selection.

This shell arguably utilises this land much better than any shell, as it actively cares about the cards in the graveyard.

  • Murtkide Regent needs cards for delve
  • Dragon’s Rage Channeler wants to achieve delirium
  • Unholy Heat wants to achieve delirium

Therefore, in addition to card selection itself there is a lot of upside that’s central to the deck.

Rhinos

Rhinos was the de facto deck to beat when the European Regional Championship took place in Ghent at the end of January. However, despite being the best it got *even better* thanks to MKM.

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Thundering Falls

708 (84%)7157150

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Hedge Maze

667 (80%)6726720

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Leyline of the Guildpact

82 (9%)3283280

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Commercial District

48 (5%)48480

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Lush Portico

21 (2%)21210

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Meticulous Archive

7 (0%)770

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Kellan, Inquisitive Prodigy

4 (0%)505

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Underground Mortuary

2 (0%)220

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Archdruid's Charm

1 (0%)330

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Cease/Desist

2 (0%)211

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Rhinos adopted Leyline of the Guildpact, similarly to Zoo. While here you won’t find Kavu or Nishoba Brawler, you will find Leyline Binding. There have been two main schools of Rhinos - Temur and 5c. Temur is leaner and can play effects like Blood Moon. 5c has Leyline Binding that’s an excellent catch-all card but the mana base has to be reworked to accommodate it.

Leyline Binding makes it much easier, as you get to play Binding but sometimes you don’t have to worry about your mana in the slightest. Every basic, shock land, fetch land - they make any mana you want and discount Leyline Binding fully. You can finally answer a turn one Ragavan with none other than Leyline Binding.

With the adoption of Leyline of the Guildpact, players started adding Scion of Draco - because why not. It has definitely caught on and now even seems to be the norm. You get an additional threat that doesn’t walk into traditional anti-Rhino hate like Flusterstorm or Engineered Explosives. It also grants your Rhinos all the Scion’s keyword bonuses which makes them much more formidable.

Naturally, you also see surveil lands here. They provide unique value to this deck like no other. Rhinos centres around deploying its three-drop Cascade and rarely spends mana on earlier turns. It allows you to very naturally search out a surveil land on your first and/or second turn and dig for a third land or cascade, whichever you might be missing, all for 0 mana.

Those surveil lands fit the natural curve and playstyle of the deck very cleanly.

Creativity

Creativity is another already-tap-land-heavy deck that can accommodate a bit slower mana base. They welcome free card selection, especially on a land which is also a Mountain, fitting the overall plan. When you have Wrenn and Six going and you have a full grip of lands, it’s nice to know that one of them can filter through the draw a little bit.

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Deduce

53 (37%)1271270

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Pick Your Poison

50 (35%)85085

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Raucous Theater

44 (30%)44440

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Elegant Parlor

22 (15%)22220

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Thundering Falls

13 (9%)13130

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Commercial District

9 (6%)990

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This is a surprise! A common that you’d play in Draft is also playable in such a high-power format like Modern!

Deduce immediately draws a comparison to Hard Evidence. The difference is that Deduce is an instant speed card and is actually card advantage. It complements your control plan nicely, as it makes it much easier to gas back up after dealing with opposing threats.

It can also help you win seemingly out of nowhere where you just end step get a Clue, a difficult to interact with permanent, untap and cast the namesake.

I am curious to see how many copies will be played going forward but it’s exciting that such an innocuous common can actually make an impact!

Living End

Another deck, another instance of surveil lands. So far I seem to have been saying ‘this deck is really taking advantage of those lands’. Well, it’s no different here! But the reason is again unique to the strategy.

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Hedge Maze

178 (50%)1781780

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Thundering Falls

109 (30%)1091090

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Commercial District

41 (11%)41410

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Underground Mortuary

6 (1%)660

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Undercity Sewers

1 (0%)110

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Cryptic Coat

1 (0%)202

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Living End wants to fill up the graveyard with creatures to then mass-reanimate them. If you see a creature with the surveil trigger, you can just ditch it. It’s as if you got a free cycle without spending mana!

On top of that, it’s a cascade deck so the same reason listed in the Rhinos case applies. You don’t cast spells until turn three so there is time to spend the time on card selection.

Amulet Titan

Amulet Titan has gotten a new toy, and it's a doozy! You can learn more about it in our recent guide, Amulet Titan Guide, by CrisMTG77, one of the top Amulet players on MTGO.

CardDecksTotal CopiesMainSideboardLink

Worldsoul's Rage

145 (35%)18511966

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Commercial District

26 (6%)28244

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Hedge Maze

9 (2%)16160

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Pick Your Poison

8 (1%)13013

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Underground Mortuary

2 (0%)880

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The card looks like a Fireball effect that allows you to ramp a bit or re-use land that’s in the graveyard. Frequently, that would be Urza’s Saga, as it naturally hits the graveyard. And while all of it is true, there is an infinite combo in the deck thanks to this card!

When you have two Amulet of Vigor out with Mirrorpool and a bounceland you can play Rage for X=2, copy it with Mirrorpool’s ability and then with that copy put Mirrorpool back from the grave and a bounceland into play. With Amulet triggers you untap them, float mana, and do it again. Every loop grants you 2 damage dealt to the opponent.

I saw it a couple of times in the sideboard but sometimes it even appears in the maindeck! This might be a combo to look out for!

Conclusion

As you can see, the set has impacted almost every single top deck in the format! Clearly, surveil lands are at the forefront and they do warrant a separate piece - but no worries, it is in the works.

Until then, remember to hold my hand and pass the turn together.

Cheers!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones 8 New/Refurbished Pioneer Decks with Smuggler’s Copter by Mogged, Top Standard decks after the first week since Dominaria release, The Truth Behind the Surveil Lands, Mastering Pioneer: 10 Sideboard Cards to Beat the Metagame

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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: 2024-02-16 00:00:00

The Truth Behind the Surveil Lands

February 23 | by Skura

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