In 2024, Wizards of the Coast is truly pushing the boat out in terms of setting. Getting weird and wild with not just the premier sets, but supplemental releases too, 2024 is a strange-looking year. With a haunted house, anthropomorphic kingdom, wild west wasteland, and murder mystery bonanza, this year really has it all.
As if the unique lineup of premier sets wasn’t noteworthy enough, 2024 also boasts Fallout and Assassin’s Creed crossovers. With Modern Horizons 3 finishing the lineup, this coming year is absolutely stacked, and that’s putting it lightly. Before we can get to all that, however, Murders at Karlov Manor has to be released first.
Boasting the aforementioned murder mystery theming, Murders at Karlov Manor has kicked off 2024 with an almighty bang. Featuring oodles of soon-to-be staples, a Clue crossover, and even a board game, this set has it all. In the eyes of many players, Murders at Karlov Manor is another smash-hit that continues the trend of Q1 successes.
Unfortunately for Wizards, not every MTG player is so enthralled by Magic’s next set. In fact, for some, the intense murder mystery theming is a step too far. With everyone wearing trenchcoats and fedoras, is there really any magic left?
Too Much of a Good Thing?
In Murders at Karlov Manor, there’s no doubt that that flavor from the rich noir aesthetic is absolutely fantastic. With cards like Chalk Outline and Call a Surprise Witness, browsing spoilers is like reading a classic detective thriller. If you’re into those murder mystery tropes, this set is a true delight, however, not everyone is so fond of the genre.
Thanks to the top-down design of Murders at Karlov Manor, the murder mystery theme is admittedly somewhat overpowering. While the set clearly takes place on Ravnica, those design elements are on the back foot. This fact is especially evident in the lack of guild symbols, a detail that is typically a hallmark of Ravnica.
Explaining this oddity, MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, stated that this was a conscious decision by Wizards. “We didn’t want guilds to be the focus for Murders at Karlov Manor, so we chose not to use the watermarks.” Alongside this, in a past article, Rosewater mentioned that 2024 doesn’t really need any more guilds.
“There was discussion about some players being upset that we returned to Ravnica and didn’t have guild-themed play, but Ravnica Remastered was coming out a month before it, so we felt that would give access to players who wanted it.”
Despite the existence of Ravnica Remastered, Ravnica is still a beloved plane that players hate to see squandered. As a result, across social media, many MTG players have been pushing back against the overabundance of tropes. Much of this has been fueled by Mark Rosewater, who asked Question Marks on Blogatog about the set’s thematic balance.
Responding in droves, as usual, the general consensus was fairly split across Blogatog and social media as a whole. Despite this, the disgruntled players all pointed out the same flaws, indicating clear thematic problems. Sure, the setting is nice, but the tropes, fedoras, and trench coats were simply overused.
“When tropes are overdone they become cliche. I feel this set is terribly cliche.”
“I’ll echo other sentiments here. The set looks fun, but I personally think yall might have gone overboard on the trenchcoats and fedoras”
Picking the Right Plane
Within the sea of disgruntled comments, many players pointed out that Murders at Karlov Manor’s setting might be the problem. For better or worse, Ravnica is an iconic and beloved plane within MTG, one that players have expectations for. If Wizards had gone down a different route, the overabundance of Detectives and Fedoras might have been more agreeable.
While players didn’t universally agree with one another, New Capenna was a popular alternative suggestion. Despite lacking a strong police force, the art 1920s Art Deco aesthetic would have integrated with detective noir perfectly. Sure, we might have been to New Capenna fairly recently, but we’ve literally had two Ravnica sets back to back…
Ultimately, New Capenna is still largely unexplored as a plane, leaving it full of potential. Thanks to Atraxa causing a ruckus during the Phyrexian Invasion, it’s due for an overhaul too. While this could have easily explained the new police presence, one plane deserves much more screen time. Never seen before in a premier set, players are clamoring for a trip to Kylem.
Primarily themed around the Valor’s Reach stadium, Kylem is all about sport and gladiatorial combat. While this is the undisputed focus, Kylem also has plenty of subterfuge and intrigue even before any murders happen. Should these take place, it’s reasonable to believe that Detectives may come crawling out of the woodwork.
Technically, to throw a spanner in the works, it doesn’t even matter if a plane has a detective agency. Thanks to Omenpaths, Detectives from Ravnica or anywhere else could easily flock to a plane when summoned. Is this how Omenpaths work? Not really… Can Wizards make it work to have a fun and interesting set? Absolutely!
Too Many Detectives, Yet Still Not Enough
As much as New Capenna and Kylem were interesting alternative choices, WotC makes the decisions around here. At the end of the day, Wizards chose Ravnica and that’s the choice we’re stuck with. This decision likely had something to do with the fact there were so many beloved, named, and notable characters to kill off.
Remarkably, while some MTG players are disgruntled about the amount of Detectives, others want even more. Relishing the flavor of the set, there are those who can’t get enough of this flavorful release. As a result of this, many players have been pushing for some cards to get errata-ed into Detectives.
Found within the Revenant Recon Commander deck, Dogged Detective has been reprinted for Murders at Karlov Manor. First appearing in New Capenna Commander, this card is obviously a detective by trade. Despite this, they’ve not had an errata to give them the creature type. Unfortunately, this possibility was explicitly ruled out by Mark Rosewater.
Ultimately, while the reception to Murders at Karlov Manor’s flavor has been mixed, most players seem happy with it. Over time, we suspect this positivity to grow even more once it drops becoming the latest controversy. This would follow the trend set by Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and even Universes Beyond.
Initially dismissed for their non-Magic flavor, opinions surrounding these sets have improved over time. Now, in fact, these sets are heralded as some of the best that MTG has to offer. Considering the amount of flavor that Murders at Karlov Manor has going for it, we certainly expect this to happen again.