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MTG: Why “Outlaws of Thunder Junction” Outpaced “Murders at Karlov Manor”

3 Minute Read
May 2 2024

The last two sets have been an old-fashioned shootout, but this time, the Outlaws outgunned the Detectives.

Welcome in, Planeswalkers and Praetors! Outlaws of Thunder Junction has been live for a few weeks, and it’s shaping up to be a rousing success. Between a host of familiar characters and tons of new ways to craft your deck, Outlaws is burning up the scene.

However, the set that came before, Murders at Karlov Manor, isn’t keeping that same momentum. While the set also brought in familiar characters and new themes, it didn’t seem to grab players in the same way. I certainly wouldn’t consider Murders a failure. However, it hasn’t had the traction of Outlaws, and I think there are a few reasons for that.

DISCLAIMER: Before we begin, I LOVE Murders at Karlov Manor. As a big fan of the mystery and crime theme, I think it captured a unique film noir vibe. However, I know my opinions aren’t widely matched. I just wanted to throw my support to a set I loved.

MKM was Very Self-Contained

Both Outlaws and Murders introduced a new creature group, Outlaws and Detectives, respectively. However, Outlaws included a group of five creature types, whereas Detectives were a brand new type that had not been seen before or since. Murders put a lot of their eggs in the Detective basket and released a wealth of new Detective creatures. Unfortunately, since a lot of the cards only interact with cards already in the set, they didn’t have the value of more wide-ranging effects. Murders needed to be played with other same-set cards, and that hurt its staying power.

Outlaws had Better Reprints

A big draw for Magic sets is the reprinted power cards from older sets. Whether these are included as a List spot in booster packs or on a Special Guest bonus sheet, there’s always SOMETHING to hunt for. Murders had a few decent pulls, but Outlaws is LOUSY with them. Being sandwiched between a Mana Crypt reprint and a Mana Drain reprint was tough for Murders. I don’t think anyone is going back to grab them now.

Speaking of Bonus Sheets

This one has been a hotly debated topic. Some fans love the multiple Bonus Sheets included in Outlaws, and some despise them. I am firmly in the first camp, and I love all the thematic and interesting high-value bonus cards. Murders only had the Special Guests sheet, whereas Outlaws had Special Guests, Big Score, List, and Special Guests sheets. Dollar for Dollar, Outlaws gives you a better chance of pulling a high-value card. Plus, the cards included on the Outlaws sheets are multi-format power pieces. It’s just hard to keep up with.

Which set did you like better?

Author: Clint Lienau
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