On the Job | Murders at Karlov Manor
20, Feb, 24

New MTG Survey Seemingly Reveals Surprise Flop

Article at a Glance

To kick off the year with a bang, Wizards of the Coast seems to go all out for their Q1 premier sets. Loading them up with immense flavor and competitive bombs, players have seen hit after hit in recent years. Between Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and Phyrexia: All Will Be One, this release window seemed like gold dust!

As it was being previewed and the hype train picked up speed, Murders at Karlov Manor seemed poised to continue this trend. Offering exceptional murder-mystery theming, its own immersive ARG, and some stellar staples too, this set had hit written all over it! Despite looking like a surefire success, once Murders at Karlov Manor was released, the fanfare stopped.

Considering Murders at Karlov Manor seemed effortlessly poised for success, this is undeniably quite the turnaround. Thankfully, despite the flavor of the set, this fall from grace isn’t a total mystery. Thanks to a new MTG player survey from Wizards, players haven’t been shy about making their voices heard.

Too Many Hats Spoil the Broth

Ezrim, Agency Chief | Murders at Karlov Manor
Ezrim, Agency Chief | Murders at Karlov Manor

Within the vast world of MTG, a player survey from Wizards is absolutely nothing new. Typically released a couple of weeks after an MTG set’s launch, this survey helps Wizards determine what went well overall. While not every MTG player will pitch in with responses, this feedback is nonetheless invaluable in helping guide the future.

Unfortunately, while the MTG player survey is publicly available, the responses aren’t, which minimizes the conclusions that can be drawn. Thankfully, despite the lack of concrete data, players are usually rather keen to share their responses across social media. For Murders at Karlov Manor, this trend has continued, revealing a possible fatal flaw.

For many players, it seems that Murders at Karlov Manor was simply too silly. With the majority of characters clad in fedoras and doing detective work, Wizards pushed past the acceptable limit. Ultimately, this made the otherwise compelling murder mystery feel more like a parody. 

Curiously, Wizards seems astutely aware of this fact, as they specifically questioned players about this detail during the poll. Asking “How did you feel about the tone of this set?” it’s clear Wizards understands players may have some reservations. Some players wager that Wizards even had intense internal discussions about this topic.

Parallel to the silliness, Wizards also asked players what they felt about the setting overall. Taking place on Ravnica, Murders at Karlov Manor had oodles of potential, however, many players felt this was squandered. Rather than feeling like a Ravnica set, Murders at Karlov Manor was missing iconic features like guild watermarks and their related mechanics.

When combined with the overabundance of hats, this left Ravnica feeling like an afterthought. Considering the plane is one of the most beloved in MTG, this ultimately detracted from the set.

Plummeting Play Boosters

Sudden Setback | Murders at Karlov Manor
Sudden Setback | Murders at Karlov Manor

Alongside questions about the set itself, unsurprisingly, Wizards also asked players about Play Boosters. As a brand-new pack type replacing both Draft and Set Boosters, it’s understandable Wizards wanted some feedback. To this end, WotC asked players about each individual element within Play Boosters and how they may contribute to a purchase.

Unfortunately, as we mentioned before, we don’t have the data for how players responded to this question. This is a real shame considering this question is arguably the most important within the entire poll. Potentially, depending on how players answer, Wizards could fundamentally change the pack contents of Play Boosters.

For better or worse, we don’t expect Wizards to make a change like this lightly. Nevertheless, since Play Boosters are so new, there’s undeniably a lot that can be learned. That being said, some players feel like Murders at Karlov Manor may not be the perfect testing ground for these bold new packs.

While a few cards are proving their worth, Murders at Karlov Manor has very few massive bombs to justify pack cost. Right now, only three cards are worth more than $10, and just 12 cards are selling for over $5. Considering the price of purchasing packs, and playing Limited, has gone up, this makes Play Boosters seem far from compelling.

Sadly, without any concrete data, it’s difficult to tell just how well Play Boosters are actually selling. From what can be seen online, however, the initial outlook is rather grim. On TCGplayer, the price of a Play Booster display has plummeted post-release, showing a lack of demand and value.

Initially, a Play Booster Box would set you back around $159 from most online retailers. Now, however, a  Display Box, containing 36 packs, sells for just $109 on TCGplayer

The Show Must Go On

Deduce | Murders at Karlov Manor

Ultimately, it seems that Murders at Karlov Manor may buck the trend of fantastic Q1 releases. As a result, Wizards of the Coast may have a lot to learn from this set and implement in the future. Unfortunately, any changes that could help future sets won’t be implemented for quite a while.

With Wizards working over two years out on set development, on-the-fly changes rarely ever happen. For 2024, this may mean that we’re stuck with a very trope-based year. Looking at the content calendar ahead, every premier set has an incredibly strong top-down theme. Between a murder mystery, Wild West showdown, animal kingdom, and a modern haunted mansion, 2024 is literally all tropes.

Hopefully, since hope is all we can do, these upcoming tropes will land better than Murders at Karlov Manor. Whether or not that will be the case, however, remains to be seen. With Outlaws at Thunder Junction’s first look on the horizon, we may find out sooner rather than later for once.

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