I had a blast playing in the Prerelease this weekend, and I have a hunch this will be one of the better Limited sets in recent years. With the digital release of Murders at Karlov Manor arriving today, I wanted to submit my predictions for the top commons for the format, as well as provide some context.
Inside Source has a lot of applications. Multiple creatures entering the battlefield synergizes well with cards like Neighborhood Guardian and Case of the Gateway Express, and it enables the pseudo-battalion mechanic on cards like Karlov Watchdog. There is also a common play pattern where the 2/2 token will trade with a disguise creature and leave behind the 1/1. The activated ability is relevant as well, and pairs nicely with something like Perimeter Enforcer.
Novice Inspector is a replica of Limited powerhouse Thraben Inspector, with a bonus in the creature type. There are plenty of synergies, from the Clue token-enabling Galvanize to the cheap-creature-buffing Get a Leg Up, or simply wielding a Lead Pipe. This is great in any white deck, and will likely be passed late during drafts in the first week, as the card is rather unassuming.
Makeshift Binding is white’s only unconditional removal spell (at common/uncommon), but it’s reliable. It’s a bit slow when compared to something like Pacifism, but the lifegain helps compensate for its speed, and will be very relevant against aggressive decks.
Crimestopper Sprite fits blue’s overall gameplan very well in this set. It can enable an attack the turn it comes down, and if you’re able to collect evidence, stunning a potential blocker or threat can warp the game in your favor.
Cold Case Cracker
Overall, the flyers in the set are a bit weak, so don’t be fooled if Cold Case Cracker looks weak at first glance. The 3/3 stat line allows you to challenge early disguise creatures by blocking, and if they trade the creature (by flipping), casting a pump spell, or casting a removal spell, you end up ahead with a Clue token for your trouble.
A tempo card that can slow your opponent down in a big way. Optimally, you want to cast Out Cold on your opponent’s upkeep (after their untap step) and lock down some potential blockers or threats for two turns. The “can’t be countered” text allows you to avoid the ward cost on disguised creatures, and providing a Clue token effectively replaces itself with another card.
Murder is, by now, a classic removal spell that most people are familiar with. The downside for this format is that it doesn’t do a great job dealing with disguised creatures.
Slice from the Shadows
Another instance of “cannot be countered” helps deal with any ward creatures, trading evenly on mana to kill a disguised creature on Turn 3. While Slice from the Shadows is less effective than Murder at dealing with large threats, there are plenty of great X/1 targets to kill on Turn 2, like Tunnel Tipster.
Unscrupulous Agent is another new iteration of the classic Burglar Rat. The upsides on this one are exiling the card (avoids collect evidence) and the Detective creature subtype. Another small creature that pairs well with the plethora of Equipment available and cheap tricks like Toxin Analysis.
Galvanize is a powerful red removal spell that can scale up later in the game to take down bigger threats. Obviously, Clue tokens can help you to meet the draw-two requirement, but Demand Answers works well if you want to deal five during your opponent’s turn!
A true classic, Shock murders plenty of creatures at Karlov Manor, can trade evenly on mana to pick off a disguised creature, and finishes off an opponent at two life. It was good, it’s still good, it’s all good.
A 2/2 attacker on Turn 2 allows you to start applying pressure immediately. It can trade with your opponent’s Turn 3 disguised blocker, wears Equipment well, and makes for a great suspect target. When it has outlived its usefulness, you can cash it in to draw a card. You can also cast this creature during your second main phase to avoid attacking and draw a card after chump blocking with it! I think Red Herring is going to be a big sleeper.
Green is a bit slow, relying on its bigger creatures being able to enter the battlefield to pull ahead. Following up with a disguise creature on Turn 3 will also grow Tunnel Tipster immediately, and I don’t think it will be uncommon to see this Mole as a 4/4 if left alone long enough to see its shadow (or not, I’m not sure how Groundhog Day works).
Bite Down on Crime
It’s McGruff! The collect evidence boost is a little underwhelming, but I’m sure saving two mana in the mid-game will come up. Bite Down on Crime buffs your creature’s power to help take down larger threats and attack after.
Topiary Panther is a versatile card that fills a few different roles. First, it’s a great mana-fixing option, enabling splashes more easily. It’s also the best collect evidence fodder, as it’s easy to get into the graveyard, and can do so at instant speed. Lastly, a 6/5 with trample is actually a pretty solid threat for green decks, as they look to rely on these big creatures to end games.
Now that you’re equipped, grab your Thinking Cap and solve some cases!
Lose and Learn, Learn and Win!