MTG Lead Designer confirms Murders at Karlov Manor was a Magic misfire 

Jack Bye
Karlov Manor MTG Misfire header

2024 has been packed with high-profile Magic: The Gathering releases, from the hugely successful Universes Beyond: Fallout Commander decks to full set releases like Outlaws of Thunder Junction and Modern Horizons 3.  

With Bloomburrow already getting fans excited and Duskmourn promising a spooky shift in tone later in the year, Magic fans have truly been spoiled by the year’s releases. It’s all the more surprising then, that 2024’s first set was such a misfire for MTG, with so much working in its favor. 

Murders at Karlov Manor promised a rip-roaring return to the plane of Ravnica, with a Murder Mystery embroiling both new faces and returning favorites. With Ravnica being MTG’s all-time great setting, many players were excited to hop back over to the City of Guilds for the first time since the War of the Spark came to a close.

MTG Murders at Karlov Manor cast

Unfortunately, Murders at Karlov Manor proved a poor fit for Ravnica. A lot of the fun of the set came from its Murder Mystery trappings, with the team at Wizards going all out in packing the set with clues and capers and puzzles to solve.

While this might have played out better on a new plane where the Murder Mystery theme could really breathe – or an existing one more befitting the set’s aesthetics like New Capenna, Murders at Karlov Manor ultimately couldn’t fully decide what it wanted to focus on.

By splitting focus between showing how Ravnica had changed in the wake of the Phyexian invasion and going all in on the Murder Mystery genre, Karlov Manor diluted both the Murder Mystery flavor and Ravnica’s usual style and solid guild-based mechanics. Neither half was ever allowed to fully cohere in a satisfying manner. 

Magic: The Gathering Lead Designer Mark Rosewater recently took to his personal blog to respond to a fan asking how Murders at Karlov Manor performed. The answer was a simple “below expectations.”

Rosewater later expanded on the point, confirming that while Ravnica will return to the game again and again, Karlov Manor may have proven a one-and-done for MTG attempting murder mysteries: “Something not meeting expectations on its first outing, makes the second outing significantly less likely.”