Flavor Judge: Detectives in Murders at Karlov Manor

There’s some good ones, there’s some failures. Let’s go through all 47 of them. And maybe some other cards that mention detectives as well.

This is flavor-based. I might make some snarky comments about powercreep and such, but here I’m interested in how these characters serve their purpose in the world and how they relate to the image of detectives in popular media.

The Good

Okay, the potential is here. What do the tools and methods used by detectives, who don’t have access to modern technologies, but do have access to magic, look like? That’s fun, right. And to an extent, it is.

These are just kind of stupid, but in a fun way. I like these quite a bit. They are using what they have to do detective work they otherwise probably couldn’t. Cold cases can be around for a very long time. There’s still 50 year old cases being investigate here in Finland (although how actively is a completely different thing).

There’s some very nice other detective cards:

Well, they are not all equal, but they work. Again, I like the ones using their abilities to do this work, but I also like how some of them are not as ethical as others. Still, some things to note: Don’t call your rare something as generic as Homicide Investigator, because that’s what the audience thinks when detectives are brought up (because of TV). Also, don’t use names such as projektor, when there’s no explanation for it. That card is actually in the Commander decks. Stats are all over the place. Would a maverick actually be a 1/1? Or is that what makes him a maverick. I also like how many of these people just basically cause damage with their work.

More like the spirit of police brutality, as he can just state that someone is suspected and then just condemn them based on his own judgment, but flavorwise it works.

This shows you how bad the people are at making interesting characters as this is as vanilla as you can get. Use of imagination: none. At the same time, it works fine. Too powerful for limited, but otherwise fine. I did not bother to read his background fully, but a quick search did not give any direct connection to Azor, which there definitely should be beyond him being formerly of Azorius. Also, people don’t just leave guilds. That’s just stupid. The guildless have basically no rights, which someone from Azorius should know especially well, because they do also do the policing, so why would you choose to do that? Still, the design is pretty good flavorwise, even if the people behind it don’t really know the world.

This is my actual favorite:

Just the idea that this guy can’t be bothered unless there’s some real lead. Why is he named “analyst”? That’s not good, but you know, still the best, which should tell you something.

The Bad

Okay, a new rule: If you start using the names of your cards as puns, you can’t just stop it. So, if there’s something called ‘hotshot’, it needs to be red. Are we clear on this?

I kind of like the theme of the card. We have someone with magical skills they can use to figure out what happened… so why does this card feel like a shaman? CSI isn’t detectives. They are professionals of other disciplines, but somehow that message was lost to WotC, which makes them very dissonant as a type. Anything can be a detective if you squint hard enough. In fact, there seems to be a problem with the inability to distinguish between detectives and other professionals. Like these:

… but moving on.

Is this supposed to be a joke? If so, why does the art not support it in any way? Shouldn’t the art be this huge Simic mutant trying to be disguised as a goblin or something instead of being dressed as a generic private eye from an old film noir. They just had ideas and decided to mush them all together and failed.

Did someone just vandalize a painting by adding the hat and the smokewisp behind him? And then they decided that this guy must be a detectivbe because of the hat.

The Ugly

First problem: There’s 47 of them plus a handful of others that create detective tokens. That’s just ludicrously too many. I get that they try to make sure everyone understands the themes of the set by looking at the “fan” of a booster (meaning you can spread out the cards in a booster and you should be able to see what’s going on).

Second problem: Many of these people work for Ravnican Agency of Magicological Investigations. Why is it named “Ravnican”? Someone didn’t bother to use a second of their time to think about this. Sure, Ravnica is the name of the city, but if the city is everything there is, why did they feel the need to be specific? How often do you see companies that need to specify that they are from the Earth?

Then there’s Izoni. Izoni used to be a shaman, but somehow she is now a detective. So, I couldn’t be bothered to read the stories, but I could read the synopsis on the Wiki and… she did some chemical analysis for Proft. That’s it. That’s the extent of her investigation. So, according to WotC, all the people in the labs are detectives. Hope they are paid that well. Well, according to Indeed, detectives get about 50% more.

Anyhow, apparently running Golgari doesn’t really take up enough time, so Izoni needs to fill time by being a part time detective. And she’s not the only guildmaster to do so, because apparently Lazav does as well.

They didn’t have an occupational type before, but for some reason, they are no detectives. They don’t appear in the stories, so there’s no basis for this, except that they just wanted so hard to do so. I guess. It’s not as if they don’t have enough on their plate with trying to rebuild their guild, which was pretty shattered after the events of War of the Spark.

The two guildmasters are actually otherwise very nice designs, but adding the detective type just makes all of this just so stupid.

Blue has been a rogue color for a while. When Arne Huschenbeth won a Mythic Championship with rogues, that deck was blue and black. However, in this set, there are no blue rogues. There’s even a white one (well, black-white, but still). Why isn’t this one a rogue? It clearly should be. Being able to escape a dangerous situation might be an important skill for detectives, but that should not be the identity of one. That seems like a very criminal endeavor.

Again, it’s in the name. These are security guards at a market. I guess you could argue private eyes with not enough work would do something like this on the side, but that is still not a job that actually requires detective work. Sure, there are store detectives, but that is a separate job.

Okay, detectives don’t stop crimes. They are called in after the crime has happened.

This card is just something else. Did anyone think this through to any extent? Okay, 4/5 is huge by human standards. There aren’t many humans that are bigger. Sure, there’s many of them, but they are also youths. They aren’t trained or experienced… so why do they mimic a Boros ability? Sure, they are in the same colors, but Boros is disciplined, unlike some random meddling youths. And why should they be detectives? I mean, are all the kids, who want to be detectives actually detectives? Sure, it’s a reference to Scooby-Doo, but that doesn’t mean that they need to destroy the flavor of their own game. The flavor text makes all of this worse, because something that powerful should not concern themselves with dumpling stalls. Even the art is kind of bad, because it centers the guy the actual creature has caught.

And there’s Kellan, but I already wrote a whole article about how badly he has been handled, so I’m not going into that again.


Failure. The whole theme is just too forced. It feels like a kids idea of a game, where they just spouted out all the things they think detectives might do and made a card for each. Some nice ideas are overshadowed badly by the bad and the ugly. Someone works with detectives, so they are a detective. Someone likes to play a detective, so they are a detective.

I actually feel I had a kind of light touch here. The good is often just fine, while the bad is often really bad.

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