Whenever players look at a new set of cards, there are some immediate standouts. Murders at Karlov Manor, of course, is no exception.Insidious Roots looks like an immediate option for Yawgmoth combo, Archdruid’s Charm looks insane in various combo decks, and No More Lies fits into every Azorius control deck like a glove.
That said, the cards that commonly take people by surprise are the ones that players don’t see coming. Which cards in Murders at Karlov Manor are good in a sneaky kind of way? Let’s take a look, starting with the new Surveil lands!
The Surveil Lands
The ten new Surveil dual lands are definitely going to see some play, but the question was how much. Early tournament play suggests that the answer is something along the lines of ‘way more than people expected.’
These Surveil lands are an obvious slam dunk for non-cEDH Commander decks. Between offering card selection and having basic land types, these Surveil lands are both fetchable and synergize with a ton of different graveyard synergies while offering card selection. Undercity Sewers, for example, is the perfect card for one of the new Karlov Manor precons.
In Standard and Pioneer, the Surveil lands will likely see play as well. Triomes do go a long way to stablize some manabases, which could push these out, but any decks that are interested in the Surveil synergies that these cards offer probably won’t be able to ignore it.
In Pioneer, Temples still see some play in decks like Lotus Field Combo. Early lands do not need to enter untapped in that deck, and having some additional card selection is incredibly valuable when you’re trying to top deck a combo starter. That said, because the deck wins by resolving Emergent Ultimatum, you don’t necessarily want to move cards to your grave. Conversely, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and Dark Petition love cards in your grave.
In Modern, however, while the potential for these Surveil lands to be relevant is definitely there thanks to Fetch lands finding them, many were unsure if the card selection was worth the exchange of having the land enter tapped. After one weekend of tournament play, that perspective has done a complete 180.
Way Better Than We Expected
Anyone who attempted the Surveil lands over the weekend at SCG Hartford appeared incredibly impressed by them. By the testimony of a few different players who had decent performances this weekend, the new Surveil lmay become standard in Modern’s current best deck.
Multiple players attempted some Surveil lands in the Crashing Footfalls decks this weekend, and all of them had the same thing to say about them: they are absolutely broken:
“Surveil lands are broken.”Andrew Elenbogen
“SCGCon Hartford part 2 (now with 100% more broken surveil lands)”
In many scenarios, in a deck like Crashing Footfalls, you don’t have a lot of turn one plays. Aside from Suspending Crashing Footfalls itself, which is not ideal anyway, there’s not much that this deck is trying to do out of the gate. You still have the option to Fetch for an untapped land if need be, but if not, you can capitalize by fixing your draw and fueling graveyard synergies like Murktide Regent.
All of the players who tried Surveil lands this weekend have big things to say about them. If you’re running a deck that doesn’t necessarily need to have a series of untapped lands in the early turns consistently, you should consider giving a few Surveil lands a try!
Cryptic Coat would have had players howling to the stars a few years ago. Back in the days when Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic were ruling the Modern format, this would have been an obvious frontliner. While Cryptic Coat still looks powerful, this Living Weapon-esque equipment may be more powerful than it seems.
Thanks to its ability to bounce itself back to its owner’s hand, Cryptic Coat can both provide a ton of value, and becomes difficult to remove properly. Even if your Cloaked card goes down, you can simply bounce the Coat to your hand and redeploy it. Between being very difficult to remove and providing tons of value, Cryptic Coat may be surprisingly powerful.
Case of the Stashed Skeleton
Any deck that can utilize Case of the Stashed Skeleton and can Solve its Case somewhat consistently probably wants this card. One existing archetype that appears to want this card is Creativity in Pioneer, and maybe even Modern. Not only does Case of the Stashed Skeleton create a token that can be used for Indomitable Creativity, but, should the token die in some way, you can solve Case of the Stashed Skeleton for a Demonic Tutor.
This could also be a strong reason for Creativity in Pioneer to continue playing Make Disappear. You can use the Causality keyword to get rid of your Skeleton and solve the Case. At the moment, Pioneer Creativity is not playing white, so No More Lies may be a less natural upgrade.
This could alternatively be a decent option in Rakdos Sacrifice, creating a ‘silver bullet’ system for the deck to utilize. Between Deadly Dispute and Witch’s Oven, getting rid of the Suspected Skeleton is child’s play. Using Case of the Stashed Skeleton’s Solved ability also involves sacrificing it, which has its smaller synergies.
While Case of the Stashed Skeleton could be worth playing, at worst, it’s just a 2/1 Skeleton that can’t even block. Make sure you can use this Case at its fullest if you play it, as it is rather underwhelming if you cannot.
Repulsive Mutation may not be strong enough to see play outside of Standard, but the card could be a fantastic addition to tempo strategies. Repulsive Mutation has the unique application of both buffing your board presence and countering a spell, making it an incredibly powerful tempo play.
One particularly important note with this card is that it doesn’t have to counter a spell, allowing Repulsive Mutation to be used as just a combat trick. This also means that Repulsive Mutation will be unable to counter a spell if you do not have a creature in play, and can be blown out by instant speed removal, just like any other combat trick.
That said, Repulsive Mutation at peak efficiency is disgustingly powerful. Any Commander deck interested in +1/+1 counters or X spells is also likely to take a shine to this card. If played with smartly, Repulsive Mutation can provide a ton of value, creating a strong, disruptive gameplan.