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Loves/Hates For Murders At Karlov Manor

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It's the return to return to return to return of Ravnica!

We once again descend onto the plane of Ravnica for the latest Magic: The Gathering set, although this time it is very different than a battle among the guilds or a world-ending clash with Nicol Bolas or the Phyrexians. Instead we're getting what is known as a backdrop set, meaning the setting itself isn't an important part of the story. Rather, we've got a very unique set based around a murder mystery theme. I had reservations, but have honestly found the theme to be a fun and fresh one and I love a lot of the designs we've seen so far.

As of writing this there are about 245 of 286 cards previewed, meaning we've got a pretty good look at the set as a whole, which means it's time for first impressions in the form of my love/hates! Note that these are not just static rankings. The point is to shed light on cards I think are being over or undervalued based on first impressions. The point of my Love/Hate article is not just to call cards good or bad, but to view cards based on the first impressions people have been having or are likely to have. The goal is to dispel undue hype or to draw attention to cards that are being overlooked.

Let's get started!

Hate - Leyline of the Guildpact

Leyline of the Guildpact

We're going to start out with one of the weirdest cards in the entire set, Leyline of the Guildpact.

Leylines, that is 4 mana enchantments that begin the game in play if they're in your opening hand, are already one of the more bizarre card types in Magic, although powerful entries like Leyline of the Void and Leyline of Sanctity are sideboard options across multiple formats. Still, it's not often you see a Leyline played "fairly" as the fail state is so poor and they need to be balanced around being literally free if you're lucky and draw one in your opener.

Leyline of the Guildpact, despite the ridiculous mana cost, is more of the same in that regard.

Even if it is free, you're not really getting your money's worth from Leyline of the Guildpact. Yes, it does give you instant domain as well as turning on cards like Scion of Draco, but fetchlands and triomes already accomplish those tasks very well without any help, and building your deck in a manner where it only functions if you've got a Leyline of the Guildpact in your opening hand is just asking for disaster for the games you don't.

The only potential saving grace for Leyline of the Guildpact is the very high ceiling of having four free Green pips for devotion on turn zero, which could power out some truly disgusting draws alongside Nyxthos, Shrine to Nyx, but for the most part this is just a flashy magical Christmas Land card and not a serious tool for anyone building a serious deck.

Love - Snarling Gorehound

Snarling Gorehound

A playable common with really cool art? Sign me up!

As an enabler, Snarling Gorehound reminds me a lot of Dragon's Rage Channeler. While it lacks the ability to turn into a real threat with delirium, Snarling Gorehound is more synergistic with itself and a huge variety of creatures that want to be in the graveyard.

Just something as simple as Bloodghast or Cauldron Familiar both play amazingly with both sides of the ball on Snarling Gorehound, as the surveil triggers can help dump them in the graveyard, but when they come back, they can keep the triggers coming so the engine keeps rolling on. Because of this, Snarling Gorehound looks like a really nice little grease-the-wheels enabler for various graveyard-based creature decks, despite being very easy to look over thanks to being a simple common.

Don't sleep on the hound!

Hate - Outrageous Robbery

Outrageous Robbery

Magic players just love stealing their opponent's stuff, and the new Outrageous Robbery is one of the cleanest ways to do so ever printed. Just take a pile of your opponent's cards and they're yours! Play them as they're in your hand and do your thing. And this is all coming at the same card draw rate as a reasonable card like Silver Scrutiny.

So, what's not to like?

The reality is that typically the cards you put in your own deck are going to be much more useful to you than the cards your opponent puts into their deck. Playing Dimir Control and drawing a Monastery Swiftspear or Llanowar Elves is simply worth less than a card, leaving you asking yourself why you didn't just play a normal card draw card instead. This isn't to say there isn't occasionally some upside to your opponent's cards, as maybe your Mono-Black deck hits an enchantment removal card like Destroy Evil and is able to do something it would not usually be able to do, but on average your opponent's cards will just be worse than yours, and the rate isn't good enough to justify drawing their cards over your own.

Outrageous Robbery may have a home in mirror or mirror-ish matchups where you can be sure of your opponent's card quality, but on rate alone doesn't really get there despite being fun.

Love - Cryptic Coat

Cryptic Coat

What's this, an equipment with no equip cost? Tell me more!

Cryptic Coat is a somewhat odd card on first reading. You're cloaking a random card from the top of your deck, which has a wide potential spread of outcomes, and if it dies you can't reequip anywhere, but you can bounce it to your hand to do it again.

That's a lot to parse, but let me simplify it for you.

This is a three-mana 3/2 with unblockable and ward 2, that also comes with an artifact as well as being two permanents. That's kinda awesome! Rate is the first metric you want to look at any new card by, and that's a very reasonable one even before you mix in the ability to bounce it and do it again or flip up your creature.

It's not entirely clear what deck would want Cryptic Coat, but the raw numbers are there and I wouldn't be surprised to see this card show up multiple places.

Hate - Krenko's Buzzcrusher

Krenko's Buzzcrusher

Wow, Krenko's Buzzcrusher isn't a dragon?

We're pretty much past the point where a four-mana 4/4 flier is in any way shape or form interesting, so Krenko's Buzzcrusher needs to be solely evaluated on its ability, which is essentially just an untargeted Field of Ruin.

There are a lot of good creature lands in Standard right now, as well as other utility lands in other formats, and of course sometimes you will catch greedy players with only one or zero basic lands in their deck, upgrading this to a Stone Rain on a 4/4 flier which would be amazing. However, the floor feels a little too low for this to be an exciting maindeck card in most formats.

It's also a bit rough as a sideboard card, despite its unique property as one of the few ways to kill a Lotus Field. Even then, we're talking about a four-mana sorcery speed card against a combo deck when there are cheaper options available.

Krenko's Buzzcrusher will certainly see some play in various formats, but it's a surgical tool for specific situations, not an on-rate card.

Love - Aftermath Analyst

Aftermath Analyst

Splendid Reclamation is a pretty awesome and powerful Magic card, but has never really found a proper home due to how narrow and specific a deck would need to be to play it.

Well, what if it was stapled to a very reasonable graveyard enabler?

Aftermath Analyst is the rare enabler and payoff card. While something like Satyr Wayfinder that actually produces a card for your most of the time may be preferred, the 1/3 body plays much better defense, and of course not every format has access to Satyr Wayfinder. For a deck just looking for bodies and to fill the graveyard, Aftermath Analyst does some pretty good work, and then there's the Splendid Reclamation angle which may or may not be necessary for the card to be good.

Either way this is a sweet one that I'm excited to brew with.

Complete Set Review And More!

Murders at Karlov Manor is a nice mix of old a new, both thematically as well as mechanically, and it's a set I'm excited to dive into.

I'll be doing my complete set review tomorrow live on stream and it will be going up on YouTube on Sunday, as I get to get into the nitty gritty of every single card in the set for both Constructed and Limited.

And of course Ten New Brews will follow! Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast has cancelled Early Access this time around, so Ten New Brews will have to wait until the official release date, but it will still be awesome! That will also be live on Twitch and later on YouTube, and my article right here on CoolStuffInc.com will go over all ten decklists with my detailed thoughts on each!

With Bronze to Mythic to follow, as well as a trip to Chicago in February for the Pro Tour, it's gonna be a busy time at Karlov Manor!

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