Murders at Karlov Manor Commander Staple is Breaking Through cEDH!

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We’ve crossed the month mark from the release of Murders at Karlov Manor, and the results are a bit different than expectations. While there was speculation that a broad number of cards could see a reasonable amount of play in top cEDH decks, it turns out Murders is closer to one or maybe two cards deep, and both are white. All in all, this set did not add much to the cEDH format, but there are some new appearances.

All Around Top Include

It’s not even close. Delney, Streetwise Lookout is the singular standout card from Murders, and it’s relatively easy to see why. Commonly played creatures with two or less power that have game altering triggers include: Dockside Extortionist, Orcish Bowmasters, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and even Thassa’s Oracle.

In the face of counterplay like a Stifle or Tishana’s Tidebinder, you can still win with an extra trigger ready to resolve. Shoring up a win through specific countermagic is just part of Delney’s goodness. Additionally, there are other commonly played creatures like Lotho, Corrupt Shirrif, Esper Sentinel and Faerie Mastermind that give you plenty more value if not immediately winning.

On top of all of this, some of the best decks play all of these creatures with Tymna the Weaver as a Commander. Tymna, of course, also benefits from the Delney double trigger. Yes, the “best deck” gets better with this include. Results speak for themselves. At the same time, though, many other tournament winning decks don’t bother. But, all in all, enough cEDH decks are continuing to include Delney and posting wins, so it has cemented itself a prized slot. What about the rest of Murders?

Second with a Bullet

This card is in so many decks! How is this second place? That’s where really taking a deep look into the data from mtgtop8 pays off.

A lot of the success for Trouble in Pairs comes from a couple of specific players and events. Look at the first and second place Tivit, Seller of Secrets decks at the Commander Invitational Qualifier in Chapel Hill, NC. But then keep looking. Tivit is very overly represented, and you have a top eight Tivit deck without Trouble in Pairs, while another top 32 Tivit has it. It looks like Tivit was a good meta choice for that event overall, which makes it hard to gauge just how much of its success is down to one particular include.

Now compare to a first place finish by a Tameshi, Reality Architect deck featuring Trouble where there were no other Tameshi’s. On top of that, the very powerful and popular pairing of Tymna+Kraum got incredibly shut out. Only one of six Tymna+Kraum cracked the top 16 at this event, although five placed within the top 32 of the 72 player event. Lots of anti-Tymna and Kraum tech like Trouble in Pairs certainly helped in this event.

It’s always smart to have includes based on a local meta. However, you don’t always know what deck is showing up where. For that reason, Delney makes significantly more sense, as you know what your deck includes. Trouble can be extremely efficient provided your opponents show up with what fuels it. Otherwise it’s a four mana spell that could provide a lot less value than you would hope for. Still, when the card is good, it’s cEDH good, so it’s a relatively proven include for certain decks.

Distant Third

Archdruids Charm

Outside of a first place finish in a small event with Ellivere of the Wild Court as the Commander, Archdruid’s Charm has achieved multiple top five finishes and a third place result in an Etali, Primal Conqueror deck. The card has performed well at multiple medium sized events and appears to be building some momentum, but a triple green casting cost is a tough selling point for the current top decks. Still, out of all the other Murders cards, this one is seeing the next most play while getting good results.

But What About…Surveil Lands?

It took time to find brave Magic players, but find them I did! There are enough top ten worthy cEDH decks packing a Surveil land or two to mention. If you are playing a two-color deck, the cost of playing a tapped land goes down quite a bit. Thus, Winota, Joiner of Forces can get away with having an Elegant Parlor and still place in the top half of a small event.

Unimpressive you say? What about Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy with a Hedge Maze in the top 32 of a 136 person event? Not good enough, you say. Well, a very brave Niv-Mizzet, Parun won a 40 person event in Thailand with the help of Thundering Falls.

The bravest of all? An Omnath, Locus of Creation player achieving a top eight with not one but two surveil lands in their 28 land manabase. Two tapped lands, top 8, in cEDH.

These are results from just over one month of play. It’s obvious that, just like in Standard and Modern, these Surveil lands are perfectly capable of generating free value in combination with fetch lands. It looks like two-color Commanders probably have the most to gain, or the least to lose, from their inclusion. It also looks like landfall decks and even spell slinger archetypes might be thinking of including this new technology. Fears that you will be forced to mulligan because you could start with a tapped land are likely overblown.

From a quality standpoint, most of the decks that included surveil lands placed very well. Quantity wise? Very few people were willing to try them. In the future, I would expect many more people will include these lands, particularly anyone playing exactly two color decks.

Missed Potential?

It’s not low mana at four, but Reenact the Crime lets you play any nonland card from any graveyard. Many decks use Brain Freeze in combination with Underworld Breach as a way to win. So, the logic here is that you probably have Brain Freeze. This means if you needed to you could mill your opponent. Why would you do that? In case you need an answer that your deck does not have or a win condition that you no longer have. For example, let’s say someone hit you with Praetor’s Grasp and exiled a card. You crack a fetch land and confirm they hit your Thassa’s Oracle. Your Breach and Brain Freeze line is still good because you could mill someone else and use Reenact the Crime to cast their Thoracle instead.

That being said, the reverse is also true. Reenact is another potential counter to your opponent’s Breach/Brain Freeze line. You can Reenact a key card in response to them, say, trying to recast a Lotus Petal or Lion’s Eye Diamond for mana and interrupt their sequence.

The number of times you might need to use someone else’s card to win should be relatively low. That ultimately makes Reenact a usually worse Mnemonic Betrayal. That said, Betrayal is two colors and sorcery speed. If you lack black, it may be worth considering and merely the idea of a mono-blue, instant speed, reanimation spell that can hit any graveyard should be enough to entice some brave players.

Manor too Medium

Ultimately cEDH has some of the strictest requirements for deck construction. The format includes virtually every Magic card ever printed, so competition is fierce. While Lord of the Rings, Lost Caverns of Ixalan and Wilds of Eldraine all featured format defining staples, Murders is less represented in quantity and quality. Is this a deliberate effort by Wizards to slow down the warp speed of the format, or merely the Clue mechanics not finding a competitive home?

Sometimes, however, new technology can be developed if you give a set a little bit of time. Even tapped lands can see play, and win, at the most competitive levels. Be on the lookout for the new Fallout set. As the tournament reports come in we’ll cover what is seeing cEDH play – and winning!

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