Top 10 Most Played Commander Cards From Karlov Manor

Magic: the Gathering card art for Demand Answers from Murders at Karlov Manor by Justyna Dura
(Demand Answers| Art by Justyna Dura)

New Set, New Writer

Hey everyone! Nick Price here, ready to bring you more weekly articles about your favorite format. People who know me probably think of me as more of a Limited or 60-card Constructed player. The truth is, I’m simply a hardcore Spike who loves Magic: the Gathering—and winning—in many forms, and Commander is one of them!

I’m especially excited to join the EDHREC team right around the release of the latest Standard-legal set, Murders at Karlov Manor (MKM). Not only do we get a ton of new cards to evaluate at face value, we also get to look back at the game’s rich history and figure out how the newest arrivals combine with and complement those that came before. It’s always a fun and challenging exercise to speculate which cards will finally make our pet commander pop off at the table.

In this list, we’ll look at EDHREC data to see which cards from MKM have already made a splash in the format and how players are incorporating them into decks.


10. Rakdos, Patron of Chaos



The latest incarnation of the Cult of Rakdos’ founder and occasional planeswalker mount gives one opponent a simple choice each turn: Do I get to refill my hand or will you cool your jets a little?

Now, “punisher” cards that give your opponent two unpleasant options to choose from can often feel pretty underpowered in a high-octane format like Commander. On the other hand, most punisher mechanics don’t come stapled to a 6/6 Demon with flying and trample. We're seeing Rakdos combined with effects that get him into play earlier and that turn his ability up to 11.

Whether Rakdos is your newest commander or you slot him into your Demon-matters deck, Herald of Slaanesh gives you a big discount and lets him get an attack in immediately. It’s easy to see why we’re seeing the two cards paired in 60% of the almost 200 decks Rakdos has shown up in so far.

Speaking of Demon-heavy decks, Roaming Throne makes Rakdos’ choice all the more punishing thanks to its doubling ability. It’s a great fit in a deck full of creatures with already-showstopping triggers that can become all the more splashy when doubled.

You can also play him with cards that love seeing opponents' permanents being sacrificed, like fellow MKM debutant Vein Ripper and sacrifice mascot Mayhem Devil.


9. Forensic Gadgeteer



Forensic Gadgeteer is a sweet little rare that gives you a lot of value without asking for much in return. The bare minimum you need to do to make this card pay off is to surround it with cheap artifacts that net you a bunch of Clue tokens. Even if you don’t work too hard to break Gadgeteer’s second ability, getting to sacrifice your Clues for a 50% discount can be enough to merit inclusion in blue artifact decks.

So far, it has found a home in a small percentage of Urza, Lord High Artificer lists, which makes perfect sense given how Gadgeteer does a passable mini-Urza impression while also supercharging your mana engine with the 1/4 legend in play. And don't forget how much Lonis, Cryptozoologist and Breya, Etherium Shaper just love having extra artifacts lying around ready to be turned into something sweet.


8. Crime Novelist



While the Gadgeteer helps make your deck more efficient and puts more cards in your hand, Crime Novelist threatens to win the game (big thanks to the all-seeing eye that is Commander’s Spellbook for pointing this out)! All you need are an Animation Module, a sacrifice outlet like Ashnod's Altar or Arcbound Ravager, and an artifact to get the chain going.

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Novelist and its combo companions slot right into the 99 of new commander Krenko, Baron of Tin Street. In the grand tradition of Krenko cards, the Baron can get out of hand very quickly by amassing a huge army of Goblin tokens. It also synergizes very well with the Novelist at times when you don’t have the one-hit-KO assembled because your opponents decided they also get to take game actions.

Looking at the top commanders that play well with Novelist, it’s a murderer’s row of Treasure token generators. Prosper, Tome-Bound, Jolene, the Plunder Queen, and Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter all produce multiple Treasures, which actually net mana and stats with this card in play.

7.Slime Against Humanity



Magic players love “collect them all” cards like Rat Colony that let you break one of the most fundamental rules of Commander. This hilariously named sorcery is the latest version of this effect and one that goes especially well with Ooze commanders.

Umori, the Collector helps you get around the spell’s clunky mana value, as casting multiple of these a turn is the best and funniest way to overwhelm your opponent. It’s not like we were ever going to play around sweepers with a deck full of Slimes!

Meanwhile, Aeve, Progenitor Ooze arrives fashionably late to the party, brings their fun friends, and gets really, really big. If you somehow manage to cast multiple copies of this sorcery in the same turn, then it should be over for the opponents unless they have that sweeper we were worried about.

Speaking of “Storming” off, Radstorm is the perfect enabler for the job while also amplifying Slime’s post-apocalyptic feel. Other copy effects like Pyromancer Ascension and Harness the Storm similarly let you go ham—or go slime, against humanity.

6. Aurelia, the Law Above



I love Aurelia, the Law Above for a few reasons. First of all, she’s the quintessential Boros (red-white) commander that rewards you heavily for going all-in on aggression. If you’re newer to the format and are overwhelmed by everything going on, Aurela is a flashy card from the latest set that will take your hand and guide you down the path of the blade. Second, I don’t think we as a community will ever get tired of sweet riffs on Serra Angel.

But probably my favorite thing about this hasty 4/4 is that while she simplifies the game for you, her global abilities force your opponents to make uncomfortable decisions when attacking. Drawing cards and Lightning to the face can start to add up.

Your opponents’ combat phases will be even more stressful when you combine Aurelia with high synergy cards that force your opponents to attack with everything they’ve got, like Disrupt Decorum or Taunt from the Rampart. Goading every creature you don’t control is sure to net you some triggers while maintaining a high life total—and a target on your back!

Of course, Aurelia is also amazing with cards that let you attack with reckless abandon, and Frontline Medic is an excellent option that also boasts incredible Boros flavor synergy.

5. Warleader's Call

Speaking of new Boros cards that play to type, Warleader's Call is a classic anthem effect that also lets you lean into a more combo-oriented style of play by pinging your opponents for each creature that enters the battlefield. We’ve seen several commanders printed recently that make the most of Call’s one-two punch.

When built around correctly, Pia Nalaar, Consul of Revival can net you a ton of pings while also generating tokens that are hard to block and benefit greatly from the anthem. It’s no wonder almost 7% of Pia decks have already started playing this card.

Looking at the EDHREC data, we see several green cards synergizing well with this enchantment. This makes a lot of sense since Naya concoctions like Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second are particularly good at making use of the ping ability with token generation. Combining Call with Impact Tremors looks like a great way to destroy a table without worrying too much about pesky sweepers.

4. Delney, Streetwise Lookout



Cards like Delney, Streetwise Lookout are always delightful to build around because they make you care about something different or new. A lot of permanents that go well with Panharmonicon-like effects are already small creatures like Solemn Simulacrum and Karmic Guide, but why not stick multiple doublers in your White deck and really squeeze the most value out of creatures with power 2 or less?

Looking at recently printed commanders, Delney slots right into Teysa, Opulent Oligarch’s 99. This 2/3 already packs a punch thanks to its wall of text and can only get more exciting when you make twice as many Clues and Spirits each turn.

Preston, the Vanisher is a powerful four-cost commander whose puny power makes him the perfect pairing with Delney. Sacrificing five Illusions is a steep price to pay for board control, but the ability gets a lot more enticing when you also get to double dip on the enter-the-battlefield effects of your Illusions.


3. Undercity Sewers (and the other Surveil lands)



It’s a testament to the power of dual lands that multiple members of this Surveil cycle occupy the top 10 most played cards from MKM. Of course, reading different list entries for essentially the same land would be boring, so I’ve grouped them together at number three, where Undercity Sewers sits as the most played nonbasic land from the set.



I’ll note that the Dimir (blue-black) Surveil land was always likely to be the most played, given the color pair’s proclivity towards putting creatures and spells in the graveyard. Just the thought of turning a land drop into a 2/2 Zombie with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant makes me excited to build a new deck.



But even when you don’t care about ‘yard shenanigans, having access to a fetchable land that gives you some extra value will make your deck play out more smoothly, even when it always comes into play tapped. The key is that you usually get to choose when to utilize it, whether it's on turn one to get the tapped land in play right away, or in the late game when you’re digging towards a particular effect.



2. Archdruid's Charm



The second most played card from Karlov Manor, Archdruid's Charm, is a lot of awesome things stuffed into a neat little package. It’s the second member of the triple-pip Charm cycle of rares that began with the printing of Archmage's Charm in Modern Horizons. As a Charm, it gives you three powerful options that combine to make this card fairly easy to find a slot for in your 99. Finally, as a card with a very restrictive, triple-green-pip mana cost, it gives mono- or heavy-green decks a flexible tool that decks playing more colors might have a harder time fitting in.

Looking at the EDHREC, it’s currently only played in about 3% of decks. But it’s a new card with the potential to be a strong role-player in some of the most popular green-based decks in the format, including Aeve, Lord Windgrace, and Lathril, Blade of the Elves.

Likewise, players building newer commanders like Anzrag, the Quake-Mole, The Pride of Hull Clade, and Voja, Jaws of the Conclave are finding room for this toolbox instant.


1. Demand Answers



I can’t say I’m surprised to see Demand Answers taking the top spot of most played MKM cards in Commander. We get powerful and fun legends every set, but effects like this that are incredibly flexible and that do something a color doesn’t usually have access to come along only once in a while.

Red has already gotten several spells that let you discard a card to draw two new ones. These effects are great for many reasons, including card selection, getting cards into the graveyard, and spells-matter themes. In fact, Thrill of Possibility is a very popular card that sees play in 11% of decks that can cast it.

This is a strictly better version because of the added versatility it brings to the table by letting you sacrifice an artifact instead. It turns out that getting a Deadly Dispute in red is a big deal! Since the release of MKM, it’s shown up in 12% of decks, powering up a wide range of commander strategies including Magar of the Magic Strings, Kalamax, the Stormsire, and Osgir, the Reconstructor.

Of course, you can also just run this alongside Thrill and enjoy the type of redundancy that tends to bring decks to the next level of power and consistency. 50% of decks added to EDHREC since the release of MKM already run both cards!

It's a Murderers' Row

It's still so early in the life cycle of Karlov Manor but we're already seeing these cards and more make a good number of EDHREC users' decks. I'm sure we've only scratched the surface of how impactful MKM will be on the format. Personally, I'm happy to see a flexible role-player like Demand Answers immediately see heavy play, because games where everyone gets to hit their land drops and enact their game plans are usually more fun for everyone.

Read more:

Top 10 Creatures for Delney, Streetwise Lookout

Murders at Karlov Manor Set Review - Black


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