15, Feb, 24

Plethora of Karlov Manor Commons Showcase Multi-Format Domination!

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Article at a Glance

One of the biggest reasons why a lot of players enjoy opening MTG booster packs is so they can have the opportunity to crack a flashy and expensive rare or mythic rare. Many players get a thrill from opening up packs, and even if the first few don’t contain anything super valuable, all it takes is one big hit to make everything worthwhile.

As such, it’s reasonable for players to often overlook the commons and uncommons as a whole. Interestingly, though, from a Constructed standpoint, it feels like more cards of lower rarity have been rather impactful in recent premier sets. The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, for instance, featured a wide range of elite uncommons that quickly became defining cards in Standard and beyond.

In Standard, Deep-Cavern Bat was a huge upgrade for midrange decks. In Pioneer, Geological Appraiser completely warped the format, resulting in a rather timely ban. This trend of seeing more and more powerful uncommons extended with Murders at Karlov Manor, with cards like No More Lies quickly becoming multi-format all-stars. Even further, though, this set in particular has a slew of important commons that are seeing play from Standard down to Legacy. Let’s take a closer look at these strong additions that certainly deserve more respect.

Investigation Station

Novice Inspector

Right off the bat, we have a functional reprint of Thraben Inspector. Sure, Novice Inspector is a Detective, but this is a very minor detail. Novice Inspector’s printing is extremely important for two reasons in particular. First, its presence in Standard has proved to be a massive upgrade to Boros Convoke.

Boros Convoke faltered a bit before Murders at Karlov Manor entered the fray, in part because of a lack of consistency. Outside of Voldaren Epicure, there weren’t many cheap ways to reliably enable Gleeful Demolition, which lends itself to the most broken starts for the Pioneer version of the deck.

With yet another one-drop Creature in Boros that makes an Artifact when it enters the battlefield, Gleeful Demolition becomes much more appealing. This only makes the supporting cast, including Warden of the Inner Sky and Knight-Errant of Eos, much more threatening.

Even beyond Standard, though, the card is having a massive impact, which leads us to the second reason Novice Inspector is such a strong card: redundancy. Boros Convoke decks in Pioneer and Boros Experimental Synthesizer decks in Pauper are happy to run playsets of both Novice Inspector and Thraben Inspector. The added consistency players gain by playing a full 8 copies of this effect cannot be overstated.

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A Versatile Sideboard Card

Pick Your Poison

Next up, we have Pick Your Poison. What was once just a silly test card that was not tournament legal has been completely revamped into a powerful modal spell. For one mana, you can make an opponent sacrifice an Artifact, Enchantment, or Creature with Flying. While none of these modes are necessarily thrilling for a Sorcery even at one mana, the card’s versatility is essential to its popularity.

For instance, some players were already making use of Run Afoul in Legacy to help answer Murktide Regent and the like. Pick Your Poison offers a similar efficient answer in Standard to help green decks deal with Raffine, Scheming Seer. While this is a downgrade compared to Run Afoul when only factoring in the third mode, the fact that this card has uses in other matchups is essential. Players only have access to 15 sideboard cards, and while Run Afoul was strong, it was extremely narrow in its use.

Pick Your Poison, meanwhile, is a great answer to Enchantments like Urza’s Saga or Blood Moon. In Modern, getting to answer either Saga or Amulet of Vigor out of Amulet Titan decks is very valuable, showcasing the card’s flexibility even in one specific matchup.

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A Card for Control and Combo Alike


On the surface, Deduce looks like a small upgrade over Think Twice. Think Twice has seen play in Modern before, though its inefficiency has forced it to go by the wayside in recent years. Still, being able to play a card draw spell for only two mana is valuable. Even though you will need to spend four mana total to actually generate card advantage, being able to break it up over multiple turns is nice for a control deck.

In Pioneer Azorius control, for example, you can often pass with two mana available and simply react to what your opponent does. If they cast a problematic spell, No More Lies is a great response. Need to kill a Creature? Get Lost can do the trick. Now, if your opponent sniffs out your Counterspell and chooses not to cast anything into it, you can cast Deduce on their end step, using your mana efficiently and pulling you further ahead.

While this alone is decent, the fact that Deduce specifically makes an Artifact token is a huge boon for Indomitable Creativity decks in Pioneer and Modern. A huge strength that these decks tend to have is that they allow you to play reactively, while simultaneously giving you the ability to win the game out of nowhere. Deduce is strong on its own, while also providing a target for Creativity in an efficient manner. You can always crack the Clue to pull ahead on cards, but if your opponent ever puts the shields down, you can threaten to put a huge haymaker into play.

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Thrill of Possibility Meets Deadly Dispute

Demand Answers

Finally, we have a card that successfully fills multiple roles in Pauper. Demand Answers is an interesting card that gives the player casting it a lot of flexibility. For decks like Boros Synthesizer or Affinity, you will primarily be sacrificing Artifacts to cast Demand Answers. Being able to convert excess Artifacts to card advantage has long been a strong strategy in Pauper, hence the massive success of Deadly Dispute.

Obviously, Demand Answers doesn’t also come with a Treasure token, making it significantly worse in its effect. What it lacks in power, though, it gains in versatility. For instance, in Rakdos Burn lists, it’s quite common to use Demand Answers just like Thrill of Possibility. With access to three mana, you can discard Alms of the Vein, Fiery Temper, or Kitchen Imp to trigger Madness and generate card advantage at the same time.

However, unlike Thrill of Possibility, you also have the option of sacrificing Blood tokens from Voldaren Epicure. Getting to choose how you want to pay the additional cost to casting Demand Answers is quite strong. Additionally, the fact that Demand Answers is red instead of black means it fits into red-based Kuldotha Rebirth decks quite nicely.

It truly is amazing just how many cards of low rarity have made a splash from Murders at Karlov Manor. Even Shock, which is now Standard legal again, sees some play in mono-red aggro alongside Play with Fire. This doesn’t even factor in the massive number of elite uncommons that the set has given us.

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