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First Thoughts on MKM Limited

First Thoughts on MKM Limited

Today was the first day that Murders at Karlov Manor was available on online platforms. I was fortunate to be invited to the Alphafrog Invitational sponsored by Daybreak Games on MTGO and spent the day drafting to prepare.

This was as stacked a draft pod as you could get with players like Reid Duke, Nathan Steuer, and Karl Saraap. Of all these high-profile players, I was chosen as the featured drafter. You can go find my draft on YouTube or the MTGO Twitch channel if you're interested in seeing the draft from my perspective and understanding my approach to this format in its infancy.

Here is my deck's final screenshot before I was whisked away.

Mike's final draft list on MTGO

My thoughts on the format are centered on it being hard to block, but not overly fast due to creature sizing. Because of the disguise mechanic, creatures in the early game are not that big and you can trade early or take a more aggressive approach. Blocking can be punishing, as many combat tricks have investigate tacked on, so every time you lose a creature in combat in that fashion, you're down material in the long run since they get to crack their clue later on.

This means I want to hit the ground running, and I highly value two-drops and any good spell that's two or less mana. In Limited, you want to plan out your turn, and your next turn if possible, based on spending mana efficiently. In this format, you're incentivized to figure out how the game is going to go for more than just two turns; you want to look at the next few to plan how to spend the maximum amount of mana and keep the tempo positive over several turns. Between efficient tricks, clue tokens, and morph, there are many ways each turn to dump mana. This often means being patient with disguise creatures and not flipping them until you're out of ways to press the board.

White is currently my favorite color, but I don't think it's much better than anything else. I also like red because of cards like Shock and Galvanize. Instant-speed interaction is strong because you can get a ton of tempo when you interact with a creature that loses its ward after it becomes undisguised. White has a nice curve of creatures at common and some synergies with Detectives. Thinking Cap will likely be undervalued early in the format and end up being a high pick, much like Pirate's Cutlass from the original Ixalan.

There are a lot of strong rares. The format is bomb heavy, so, staying low to the ground and getting underneath players with stronger cards is the best approach if you're not opening a ton of bombs.

Three-mana cards are worse than they look because of disguise. You get glutted at three mana, so you need a good reason to take a three-mana card over a cheaper one. Value over the replacement level is not high enough on a card like Inside Source. In general. three-mana 2/2s that bring a 1/1 body along with them are always strong. While Inside Source is quite good, I like to take a solid two-drop like Marketwatch Phantom or even Novice Inspector over it because good three-drops are more accessible.

The new Play Boosters setup feels more impactful than I anticipated. While you don't get two rares every pack, some strange circumstances pop up that are nearly impossible to read.

If you were passed a pack with two strong rares in a format like March of the Machines, you could easily identify that a foil rare was taken if a common is missing. With play boosters, there can be a bunch of normal rares so it's hard to narrow down what the opponent may have taken since it could be anything from a List card to a better rare of the same color they passed.

My knee-jerk reaction to this set was I wouldn't like it much and that it's too tempo-heavy, too focused on combat, and your drafting goals were simplified to curve out with creatures and make sure you can continue to attack. Nathan beat that out of me in the finals, as he just played rare after rare in his five-color green deck. The fixing, card quality, and cheap removal are there to go deep if you want.

In the games I lost to Nathan, it was as simple as not having a two-drop on two. I may be able to leverage my advantage if I did, and I even considered casting one of my premium disguise creatures as a generic 2/1 on turn two because I knew how important that would be.

Out Cold has my vote for the current most underdrafted common. Blinding Beam was considered one of, if not, the best commons in a strong Limited format many years ago. That effect's biggest downside is usually losing a card when it doesn't work, so using it defensively rather than proactively means you're likely to get buried down the road. With Out Cold, you get to make a clue and use it defensively to stabilize or as an up-tempo spell to push your onboard advantage.

I lost the finals with my strong UW deck in a close three-game set, but I like that I went into the draft with a plan and was able to execute it against the best the world has to offer.

I recommend this set for Limited currently, which is an endorsement I didn't think I'd make, but it's definitely going to be fun for at least a little while.

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