Grab your magnifying glasses and strap on your gumshoes (that’s how those work, right?) because Magic: The Gathering has revealed a substantial number of details about the first premiere set of 2024 - Murders at Karlov Manor. Rather than focusing on the whole plane of Ravnica and its tenuous ecosystem of guilds, this batch of cards tightens the scope down to a group of intrepid investigators striving to solve a high-profile murder.
Desparked planeswalker Kaya returns to Ravnica traumatised by the Phyrexian invasion and faces a home that holds her responsible for not doing more. Honoured in her place is the Ravnican Agency of Magicological Investigations and head sleuth Alquist Proft, a brilliant and scattered mind attempting to solve a string of murders and attempted murders shaking the foundations of the ecumenopolis.
Kaya is swept up in the conspiracy, along with precocious Eldraine native Kellan - he’s been training on Ravnica for some time and is wilting under recent fame. Other familiar faces include Judith from the Rakdos guild, Dimir agent Etrata, goblin baron Krenko, Boros angel Aurelia and several new faces from the other Ravnical guilds. We still don’t know who has been murdered, and the first story spotlight on MTG’s website introduces plenty of would-be cadavers at an exceedingly tense dinner party hosted at Teysa Karlov’s family home.
Clues will appropriately play a key role in the premiere set’s mechanical foundation, but Wizards of the Coast remained coy on too many details. Dozens of teaser cards (which you can view in the gallery below) show a new creature type - Detective - that interact with Clue tokens and other effects. When the whole city is a crime scene, these dogged investigators are fully in their element.
Collectors and fans of alternate art cards can look forward to the usual spread of full-art and showcase treatments. Murders at Karlov Manor ‘booster fun’ involves Ravnica City treatments featuring the current leaders of the ten guilds - Aurelia and Rakdos, himself appear amongst the teasers. Each of the leaders will also be printed with a serialised stamp limited to 250 English-language cards.
Murders’ unique showcase is the genuinely clever Dossier treatment, which transmutes a selection of MTG cards into a detective file complete with paper clipped headshots and typewriter-font field notes. It’s flavourful and stands out amongst the trading card game’s traditional framing. Full art lands portray the city’s innumerable spires as an impossible labyrinth of Escher-esque proportions.
Wizards of the Coast announced what sounds like an ARG to promote Murders at Karlov Manor. Thirteen different puzzles (according to Blake Rasmussen on a Weekly MTG video) spread between prerelease on February 2nd and the set’s launch on February 23rd, will lead players towards a final solution revealing “the future of Magic: the Gathering”. MTG’s webpage will host the puzzles, and clues can be found within card art, story spotlights and product packaging, at least, but there’s no telling where they’ve squirrelled away hints and ciphers.
Four themed commander decks will accompany the launch, as is customary for MTG’s premiere sets at this point. Deadly Disguise (Red-Green-White) will centre on Disguise cards - seemingly an as-yet unrevealed keyword - while Revenant Recon (Blue-Black) is full of Surveil and creature resurrection. Deep Clue Sea (Green-White-Blue) appropriately situates Clue tokens for card advantage, and Blame Game (Red-White) is full of goading effects and… “identifying suspects”? That’s likely tied to the Ravnica: Cluedo Edition product launching shortly after the set, which layers classic Cluedo rules and characters onto multiplayer MTG.
Murders at Karlov Manor will come to MTG Arena first on February 6th, days ahead of a global tabletop launch on February 9th. Prerelease events hosted by local hobby shops will run from February 2nd through the 8th, and previews of the set are scheduled to begin in earnest on January 16th (mere days after the release of Ravnica Remasterd, phew!)