3, Feb, 24

MTG Alternate Reality Game Heavily Impacts Karlov Manor Art!

Article at a Glance

We’re in day two of Murders at Karlov Manor Prerelease weekend. Many players have now had their opportunity to play with Murders at Karlov Manor for the first time, and the set is absolutely oozing with its Murder Mystery theme. To get people into the whodunnit spirit, Wizards announced that a massive Alternate Reality Game, or ARG, will be happening alongside the Murders at Karlov Manor set, and according to recent player reports, the ARG is absolutely massive.

We don’t really know what any of it means, but MTG fans everywhere have been pouring onto social media, showing off elements found in the MTG prerelease that seemed a little bit off. Here are some examples of what has been found so far.

A D18?

The D20’s found in the Murders at Karlov Manor prerelease kits seem to have some missing numbers… except it’s technically not meant to be used as a die.

Pictured in the Reddit post above is a die-shaped item with two missing numbers. This allows you to peer through the die, which is particularly important.

According to player statements, this die is meant to be used as a color-filter lens to find clues related to the ARG. This can be used to interact with a ‘puzzle sheet’ in the prerelease kit.

That said, many players first thought that this ARG piece was just a misprinted product. Misprints have been so commonplace in recent MTG product that many immediately thought that this was just another defect:

“Ngl it’s funny seeing so many posts of “is this part of the puzzle or just a misprint””


“There’s a puzzle xD? Nice didnt know that. Now i feel kinda dumb…”


Artwork Differences

The most common clues that people are finding in their prerelease products seem to relate to small ‘spot the difference’-esque items in MTG MKM artwork. For example, the Surveillance Monitor pictured in the Reddit post above has a distinct difference: the picture frame in the background has two different colors.

A similar difference can be found looking at these Undercover Crocodelfs. The colorization of these cards are slightly different and can add to the overall ARG.

A lot of these art differences seem to pop up on foil printings of Murders at Karlov Manor, or MKM, MTG cards. Cold Case Cracker, for example, has symbols that appear under its foil printings that do not show up in the nonfoil artwork. Gearbane Orangutan has a symbol that appears on a rock in the background of its foil artwork. Chalk Outline has similar symbols appearing in its background as well. Many of these symbols, which likely play into the larger ARG, all seem to appear on grids.

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Commander Deck Ciphers

Even the new Commander precons aren’t escaping the reach of Magic’s latest ARG. In each Commander deck, you can find a cypher. This can be used to decipher a new card that appears in all four of the Commander decks: Ransom Note. Even though each Commander deck has a Ransom Note, and all four of those cards are mechanically the same, each Ransom Note has a different artwork that, when decoded with the appropriate cypher, presents different messages.

Each of the four Murders at Karlov Manor preconstructed decks also contains a cypher. While the symbols are shared between Ransom Notes (not necessarily in the same order), one cypher may not be able to decode all of the notes, as each of these cyphers present different meanings for the same symbols.

This means that if you want to decode the Ransom Note from a particular Commander precon, you’ll likely need the cypher from that precon to decode it. According to players, each of these cyphers point towards another MTG card related to the ARG.

A Brilliant Move from Wizards of the Coast

Murders at Karlov Manor’s ARG is so deeply immersed in this set, and I applaud Wizards for it. Players are excited to interact with the mystery and are sharing clues to try and decipher what it all means. In my books, that means that this was a success.

Some of my fondest memories playing Magic were early prereleases I attended when learning the game. Fate Reforged specifically jumps out to me as memorable, as players would have the opportunity to dive into a unique cutout to find special prerelease packs for rare, alternate art cards from the main set. Whenever someone opened the incredibly rare prerelease-exclusive Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, (which I think was twice), the entire venue erupted.

It may not seem like much, but these cool immersive elements at prerelease events really help emulate the specialness of MTG to newer players trying Prerelease events for the first time.

As for what the ARG clues mean? We have no idea! That said, anyone who wants to try and solve the mystery for themselves can participate on this official website.

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