MTG Commander Deep Dive: Sophia, Dogged Detective

Bennie Smith shows how to make your opponents say “Ruh-roh!” when you build a Commander deck around Sophia, Dogged Detective from Murders at Karlov Manor Commander.

Sophia, Dogged Detective
Sophia, Dogged Detective, illustrated by Campbell White

There’s often Commander gold to be uncovered by looking past the face commanders in the precons, and Murders at Karlov Manor Commander is no different.  The “backup” legends are all pretty cool, and today I wanted to do a deep dive on the Scooby-Doo-inspired Sophia, Dogged Detective!

Sophia, Dogged Detective

I’m actually shocked that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) hasn’t put out a Scooby-Doo Secret Lair tied into their murder-mystery Magic set.  It’s such a slam-dunk obvious moneymaker it leads me to think maybe one is coming soon, or perhaps they were unable to get a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery, the company that owns the Scooby-Doo IP.

If one doesn’t materialize, it seems like a great opportunity for the Magic card alterists of the world to make some fun Scooby-Doo themed alters; Sophia, Dogged Detective and the Tiny token seem like excellent candidates for Shaggy and Scooby-Doo alters.

Now, I watched Scooby-Doo way back in the day when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t consider myself a super-fan, so I’ll leave it to those folks to build a full-blown Scooby-Doo-themed deck. Instead, I’ll dig into what cards you might want to use to build a fun and powerful Commander deck with Sophia as the commander. Obviously, Sophia’s activated ability gets better and better the more Dog creatures you have on the battlefield, and the more you’re able to deal combat damage to a player, the more triggers you’ll get that makes Clue and Food (Scooby Snack?) tokens.

Jinkies! Let’s dig in to the cards to consider.


Pack Leader Mowu, Loyal Companion Rambunctious Mutt Selfless Savior Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful Isamaru, Hound of Konda Floodhound Tanuki Transplanter Loyal Warhound Spirited Companion Ainok Bond-Kin Mushroom Watchdogs Release the Dogs K-9, Mark I Karvanista, Loyal Lupari Iron Mastiff Ainok Survivalist Alpine Watchdog Longshot Squad Blink Dog Krovod Haunch Karlov Watchdog Animal Sanctuary

Pack Leader is the all-star of a Dog deck, boosting your pack and letting you attack with them without fear of dying to combat damage; this works great with Sophia’s triggered ability, assuming one player might not have a solid wall of blockers. Mowu, Loyal Companion is a fantastic Dog in this deck, since Sophia’s activated ability will grow Mowu quickly, making Mowu’s vigilance and trample abilities better and better.

Karvanista, Loyal Lupari is a cool card that seems to work best in a Human typal deck, but I think it still does work here since your commander is Human. Like Mowu, it’s got a package of abilities that work fantastically in Commander, especially when it grows bigger and bigger.

The “Hounds” from Khans of Tarkir, Ainok Bond-Kin and Longshot Squad, have been re-typed as Dogs, and since we’re planning on putting +!/+1 counters on our Dogs, their text boxes are definitely of interest. Mushroom Watchdogs can eat your Scooby Snack Food tokens to get extra +1/+1 counters and vigilance for the turn.

Lastly, I want to give a shout-out to whoever designed Krovod Haunch. You can use it as a weapon, you can eat it as Food, and when it goes to the graveyard, it can bring a couple of Dog tokens around. I’m slotting it in other Commander decks just as an efficient modal Equipment card, but it’s great to put it into a Dog typal deck.


Mirror Entity Realmwalker Masked Vandal Unsettled Mariner Chameleon Colossus Moritte of the Frost Amoeboid Changeling Shapesharer Maskwood Nexus

There are some sweet Shapeshifters with changeling that count as Dogs and are high-quality inclusions in a typal deck, especially Realmwalker and Unsettled Mariner. I also really like Chameleon Colossus since it should grow with +1/+1 counters, eventually making its activated ability quite scary. Amoeboid Changeling and Maskwood Nexus can let your commander be a Dog and receive some of those +1/+1 counters and other typal synergies.


Toski, Bearer of Secrets Earl of Squirrel

Real-world Dogs love to chase Squirrels, so I thought adding a Toski, Bearer of Secrets to the decklist would be fun for both flavor and for some extra card drawing.

Earl of Squirrel lets you make all those Clue, Food and even Dog tokens into Squirrels, which is funny, but since this is a silver-bordered card from Unstable, make sure you make sure it’s fine with your playgroup during your Rule 0 conversation.

Typal Support

Vanquisher's Banner Herald's Horn Heirloom Blade Kindred Discovery Distant Melody Door of Destinies Metallic Mimic

It’s awesome having access to blue in typal decks since you get to tap into Kindred Discovery, a truly bonkers card-drawing engine. Distant Melody is no slouch in the card-drawing department either. 

Scooby Gang

Alquist Proft, Master Sleuth Tireless Tracker Detective of the Month

If you want a little dash of Scooby-Doo flavor, it seems acceptable to add three more Humans to your deck to round out your four-Human “Scooby Gang”.

These three seem awesome; even though Tireless Tracker was made prior to the creation of Detective as a creature type, it’s still an awesome way to generate Clue tokens.


Tamiyo's Journal Ongoing Investigation Ulvenwald Mysteries Thorough Investigation Confront the Unknown Disorder in the Court Officious Interrogation Follow the Bodies They Went This Way Five Hundred Year Diary

The deck should easily generate three Clue tokens by the time you cast Tamiyo’s Journal, which will let you activate it to go get something sweet from your deck and put it in your hand; I’d recommend having a couple of cards like Heroic Intervention or Teferi’s Protection to protect your Dog pack from battlefield sweepers. Of course, you probably don’t want to churn through too many of the Clue tokens, since they can help you generate extra mana from Five Hundred Year Diary, but in case of emergency, break Clues!

The gravestorm ability of Follow the Bodies is a nice way to replace a bunch of artifact tokens you may sacrifice to Sophia’s activated ability in one turn to grow your team.

Other Artifact Tokens

City of Death Spell Swindle The Shire Witch's Oven Late to Dinner Spider Food Bloodforged Battle-Axe

City of Death is a fun Saga from Doctor Who Commander that makes a Treasure and then spends the next five Chapters copying non-Saga tokens you control. This should supply a steady stream of Clues or Scooby Snack Food tokens. I know Witch’s Oven is usually reserved for one particular black Cat, but in a pinch, you can feed a Dog that’s otherwise going to die (or is blocked) for Food you can sacrifice to Sophia to grow the rest of your team. I also really like the reanimation spell Late to Dinner to bring back a key creature from the graveyard and give you a Scooby Snack for your troubles.

Even though Sophia’s ability makes Clue and Food tokens, you can certainly feed your Dogs any artifact token around, which kind of makes them Goats now, doesn’t it?  That’s why I feed my Dogs copies of Bloodforged Battle-Axe, a great card to equip to Tiny since it has trample!

+1/+1 Counters Synergies

Agatha's Soul Cauldron The Ozolith Ozolith, the Shattered Spire Hardened Scales Inspiring Call Bred for the Hunt Damning Verdict Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter Cauldron of Souls

It’s unfortunate that Agatha’s Soul Cauldron is so good that its price is so high, but if you have a copy available this would be a great deck for it, especially since you might get to copy some wild activated ability with all the Dogs you have +1/+1 counters on. What if you exile an Incubation Druid or a Selfless Spirit with Cauldron?  Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter will let your Dogs with +1/+1 counters on them tap for mana, which can help feed Sophia’s activated ability to churn through more artifact tokens.

I’d like to give a mention to Cauldron of Souls, a great way to save a bunch of creatures from a battlefield sweeper so long as they have toughness better than one. Sophia’s activated ability can knock off the -1/-1 counters on your Dogs, which will let Cauldron of Souls be able to save them again.

Tokens Synergies

Doubling Season Rise and Shine Parallel Lives Anointed Procession Second Harvest

If you’re playing enough ways for making Clue and Food tokens outside of Sophia, you might want to consider cards that let you make even more tokens, like Parallel Lives, Second Harvest, and Anointed Procession. Doubling Season will double your tokens and double the +1/+1 counters, so if you have one of those, it will do great work in the deck. Rise and Shine is a nice way to turn your Clue and Food tokens, or any artifacts you have, into 4/4 creatures that can join the Dog pack for a big attack.

Artifact Synergies

Inspiring Statuary Tarrian's Soulcleaver Nettlecyst Whir of Invention Reverse Engineer

I love Inspiring Statuary for any deck that’s making artifact tokens, since they’ll help you cast your bigger nonartifact spells thanks to improvise. Nettlecyst might be a decent Equipment too if you’re making a bunch of artifact tokens, though Tarrian’s Soulcleaver might be a better choice since you want to be sacrificing artifact tokens to Sophia, and it can trigger off Treasures your opponents are using too.

Which new commanders from Murders at Karlov Manor Commander are you most excited about building Commander decks around?

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And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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