Cardsphere Picks: Murders at Karlov Manor

Matt Bodensteiner • February 3, 2024

A murderer is on the loose as we return to the city-plane of Ravnica for the fourth time. This set is jam-packed with flavor and tropes but it's no mystery that there are also a ton of new cards to investigate. Top detectives from among Cardsphere's staff and community members have been brought together to collect the evidence and make some picks for the most suspect new cards.

Leading the investigation in this case of Cardsphere Picks are two of the Discord moderators, Bodey (@bodey_) and Doug (@dougyfresh88). Joining them are two seasoned members of the Discord community, Finn aka "Consolidated Finndustries" (@emetchi) and 3Deuce (@3deuce).

As usual, these picks can be based on any criteria, from a pushed rare  to a narrow support card for a niche archetype, or from a captivating  work of art to a deep-cut line of flavor text. The criteria don’t matter  here; what matters is the excitement that gets us returning to the  scene of the crime for more Magic. Let’s line up the suspects.


Demand Answers

Every set tends to have one or two innocuous commons or uncommons that really get me excited, and for Murders at Karlov Manor, Demand Answers is one of those cards. The next evolution in the Thrill of Possibility series is taking a page out of Deadly Dispute's book with the alternative additional cost of sacrificing an artifact. As an avid player of artifacts and ways to sacrifice them, this is exactly what I want in a card to grease the wheels of my decks.

Krenko's Buzzcrusher

This card is so cool. It has a name that's fun to say; it's an Insect Thopter; it's a 4/4 for 4 with flample?! You could stop right there, but WotC never just stops right there. How many basic lands do you run? Is this acceptable mass land destruction for Commander? Those are the questions I'm asking my playgroup as I dream about doing degenerate things with this card and things like Goblin Welder.

Vannifar, Evolved Enigma

The new take on Vannifar is probably my favorite new legendary creature of the set for Commander because there are so many possible build paths (and the Ravnica City showcase art by Olena Richards is great). One option would be to lean into cloaking high-costed permanents from your hand and then blinking them face-up. Building a blink deck without white sounds intriguing. Alternatively, leaning into putting +1/+1 counters on colorless creatures has many potential avenues by itself - Eldrazi (Scions and Spawn, not the titans), artifact creatures, or just other face-down creatures. I'm not sure where I'll land yet but this card has the brewing juices flowing.


Anzrag, the Quake Mole

Anytime a creature type line says ‘Mole God,’ you are going to get my  attention. Give it a stat line of 8/4 for only 4 mana, and you have me  intrigued. Add a unique ability to create multiple combat phases, and  you can just paste the ‘perfection’ meme. This card seems like it will  have so many fun build-arounds to utilize its 7 mana ability. Give it  indestructible, and you can wipe all the creatures on the board that are  8 toughness or less. Add Indomitable Might and you can clear every opponent with a creature in one turn. Sure, it’s a stretch of a combo, but I still love it.

Aurelia's Vindicator

This card strikes me as a weird mix of Exalted Angel and Angel of Serenity.  It is a totally reasonable body to drop on turn 4 and will probably blow out quite a few matches, with Ward 2 giving it a slight edge vs removal. The Disguise side will allow it to act as a tool to clear opponents' threats or hide your own creatures from removal, and I think is aggressively costed. One important note: if the angel dies, the creatures do not enter the battlefield but are returned to your hand. While this may not make a huge splash in Standard, I expect it will dominate many a limited game.


Move over Vin Diesel, a new XXX is in town. Only the third card to be printed with an XXX mana cost, this card is going to do some wild things at higher mana totals. Eleven mana is a fair bit to ask for, but you are getting nine permanents out of the deal. From fourteen on you are actually getting more than one permanent per mana spent. The only downside is it doesn't have a clause to work around the legend rule.


Undergrowth Recon

As someone who considers Cube (both designing and playing) to be the pinnacle of Magic experiences, I'm always on the hunt for effects that are novel, memorable and reasonably straightforward. As Wizards continues to print more and more cards each year, the standouts, for me, are the cards that feel like they could have been a Standard classic 15 years ago. For this reason, I love Undergrowth Recon. A new take on Crucible of Worlds effects, it trades combo potential for ramp potential and promises a grindy game for any deck that incorporates it. Its text is wonderfully svelte, its art is another Pancoast instant classic, and I expect it to be a much discussed option for an array of cube types.

Assemble the Players

My second pick for this set is Assemble the Players. As a Cube designer, I love the flexibility of this card and the potential choices it opens up in draft. If you're playing a low to the ground aggro deck, you could draft it as an option for extra reach, taking advantage of cards like Rabbit Battery or Laelia, the Blade Reforged for some unexpected heat. You could also draft a more tempo-y blink deck utilizing cards like Mulldrifter and Soulherder, making sure to draft creatures that allow this to act as a one-sided Howling Mine. In Cube, where the majority of creatures are often small and spell-like, this card is not as narrow as it appears.

Follow the Bodies

Although I often feel buried by the reams of new cards printed every year, the "set and commander set" releases do allow Wizards to experiment with off the wall mechanical combinations, sometimes utilizing forgotten mechanics. When I saw Follow the Bodies I was ecstatic. Future Sight is a favorite set of mine and I love seeing its ideas being used to this day. What's more, Follow the Bodies accomplishes a cool feat: an interesting and useful card with only two words in the text box. Best of all, unlike Throes of Chaos, this one has a version without reminder text.


Undergrowth Recon

This is easily my favorite design of the set. Clean, elegant, and simple, riffing on other designs, but still mechanically unique. This potentially ramps and incentivizes graveyard things outside of just playing fetches, such as self mill, cycling, or discarding for value.

Detective's Satchel

I keep trying to find ways to shoehorn artifact themes into my lower-power cube. A self-enabling piece of slower card advantage in a color pair that leans into artifacts looks promising, and I'm happy to try it out.

Repulsive Mutation

A potential 2-mana counter that supports counters themes or power-matters for cubes or battle boxes. This card can play a lot of ways with combat or stack battles, and looks like a lot of fun for Simic mages.