We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Murders at Karlov Manor was a flop, says MTG head designer

MTG head designer Mark Rosewater has revealed that Magic's recent mystery-themed set, Murders at Karlov Manor, fell short of the mark

Teysa Karlov deceased

According to MTG head designer, Mark Rosewater, Murders at Karlov Manor is considered something of a flop. Responding on his blog to a question about how the detective set was received, he revealed it had performed “below expectations”.

Released in February this year, Murders at Karlov Manor took the popular MTG plane of Ravnica in an unusual direction, using it as a backdrop to explore the murder mystery genre. Along with flavorful mechanics like Clues, Disguise, and Suspect, the set featured dozens of detectives – a relatively new MTG creature type that was probably created with this set in mind.

We can see why Wizards of the Coast would choose Ravnica for this MTG set, rather than plonking it on New Capenna or a brand new plane. After all, a murder mystery rather requires you to be invested in the plot and the characters, and Ravnica has some of the best established, best known characters Magic can offer.

MTG art showing a redheaded angel

The designers likely hoped that the death of Teysa Karlov would be a big deal that would hook fans in to the set’s mystery story.

However, in practice, it seems like many fans found the set lacking in classic Ravnica flavor because it leaned so heavily on the murder mystery angle. This genre felt shoehorned in, in a heavy-handed, unnatural way – which is why you saw so many jokes about every card being ‘well-known character in a detective hat’.

The sudden appearance of so many detectives in a world where ghosts are commonplace and life is pretty cheap felt jarring, and the detective agency being unaffiliated with Ravnica’s guilds – the selling point of the whole setting – seemed like a misstep.

While Wizards is continuing genre hopping in 2024 with the just-released Western set Outlaws of Thunder Junction and the upcoming horror set Duskmourne, the failure of Karlov Manor means Magic is unlikely to do a murder mystery set again any time soon.

Rosewater spelled it out in pretty straightforward terms on his blog: “Something not meeting expectations on its first outing, makes the second outing significantly less likely.”

However, just because the genre has been deemed a dud, doesn’t mean that Ravnica itself will be caught in the blowback. “The plane of Ravnica will be fine,” the designer told worried fans.

For more Magic: The Gathering news, check out our complete guide to the MTG release schedule, or our list of the still functional MTG Arena codes.