Interview: Mike Turian, product architect for Murders at Karlov Manor

We recently got a chance to throw out some questions to Mike Turian, product architect for Wizards of the Coast – specifically for Magic: The Gathering’s latest set Murders at Karlov Manor. The expansion returns to a fan-favorite plane in Ravnica, but this time centering on a murder-mystery theme. Here’s what he had to say about the ... Interview: Mike Turian, product architect for Murders at Karlov Manor

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We recently got a chance to throw out some questions to Mike Turian, product architect for Wizards of the Coast – specifically for Magic: The Gathering’s latest set Murders at Karlov Manor.

The expansion returns to a fan-favorite plane in Ravnica, but this time centering on a murder-mystery theme. Here’s what he had to say about the creation of this truly unique world, and all things in between for our favorite collectible card game!


Murders at Karlov Manor lets players experience both new and returning mechanics in the game. What were the challenges involved in creating this expansion from both set design and game mechanics perspective? 


For this set’s mechanics, the vision design team set out early on to find mechanics that captured the essence of the concepts like “Cases” and “Disguise”.

“Cases” are a great flavour fit for a murder mystery set, but they took a lot of work to get right. We had actually tried bringing this mechanic to a number of different sets early in their design, but it just didn’t fit. We eventually brought “Cases” to Murders at Karlov Manor. I think each time that we tried early versions of the “Cases” mechanic, they weren’t as streamlined nor as strong with resonant tropes for card designs as they ended up being here.

The vision design teams ended up trying out variations of mechanics, or sometimes completely new ideas. In the case of “Disguise”, the team fairly early on discovered that adding Ward 2 to “Morphs” would do a good job of creating both a resonant mechanic and good game play.

The game play that took the most iteration to get right was “Suspected”. Finding a way to navigate the design such that you both had reasons to give your creatures suspect counters as well as your opponents was quite challenging. Menace was the key in providing a bonus to your creature that would make it worthwhile to suspect your own creatures. In the end, I think the team found a sweet spot that captures suspected well.


On the same note, can you share some exciting and memorable moments you experienced during the development of this set? 


I’ve always loved face-down creatures as a mechanic. It is so exciting to be attacking as a bluff or trying to figure out what your opponent could possibly have as their face-down creature. One thing that is especially fun, when working on a mechanic like “Disguise”, is that the face-down creatures literally change what they do each time you are playing the set! So not only are you trying to figure out what their face-down creature could be, but you need to accept that it could be a totally new or changed card at the same time! Talk about a fun puzzle to figure out!


Ravnica: Clue Edition brought back Jumpstart (a personal favorite of mine) and incorporated deduction mechanics from Clue/Cluedo – a well-loved board game. I’m curious as to how this unique product came into development? 


As for the Clue / Cluedo collaboration, the game design team came up with the idea of combining the fun of Magic and Clue together in one game. A lot of us are fans of Clue and we played it growing up. With Clue celebrating its 75th anniversary and with Magic creating a set based on a murder mystery, we worked with our corporate partners at Hasbro to see what the possibilities could be.

The main set of MKM already had five of the six weapons that are also in the Clue board game, so that made for a great starting point. Also, Legendary Creatures are a huge focus of the Magic’s favourite format, Commander. So we took those iconic Clue characters and used them as inspiration. Early on, we knew we would be placing the setting on Ravnica, and with ten guilds, we only needed to add the Secret Passage (into Dimir colors of course) and we could make a dual land for each room from the game. Overall, I’m so impressed with what the team put together. When you play the game, it is fun and a great blend of gameplay between two amazing games!


Following the previous question, it’s good to see stand-alone Magic: The Gathering products that are aimed towards the more casual players, can we expect to see similar products like this in future sets? 


The team is always looking for places to bring collaborations together whether that be through individual cards or a whole new product experience like the Ravnica: Clue Edition game. Another place where we take this opportunity is by offering variations on Commander play, such as when we brought Planechase gameplay and cards into the March of the Machine Commander product. As for the future, I think we will continue to look for cool new products and game play experiences and we will see what comes of it!


The next set of questions are more directed in wanting to know you both as a designer and enthusiast of the game. How has Magic: The Gathering made an impact in your life? 


Oh wow! For me, I started playing Magic when I was fourteen and had just moved into a new school district. Magic immediately had a huge impact on my life as very quickly the majority of my friends were also Magic players and I spent a ton of time playing the game. As a teenager looking for my place in the world, I began playing (and winning) in tournaments against adults that I’d never have been able to compete against in other areas of life. This was meaningful and grew my own self-confidence. Eventually I would start travelling, first around the United States, and then the world competing in Pro Tour and World Championship events. Through my effort and success there, I both made lifelong friends, and opened the door to eventually become a game designer working on the game that I love. Since then, I’ve been working at Wizards for twenty years, always trying to bring the same meaning and joy that I got to experience through Magic, to all of our players and fans.


What would you like the Magic: The Gathering players to know about you? 


I’d love for Magic players to take a look at the set credits for a set and see how many people it takes to create the game they love. It is an honor working with so many talented experts, each one bringing their love and passion towards creating the cards that we all get to enjoy.


Who is your favorite EDH commander and why? 


My favourite Commander deck is lead by Rakdos the Defiler. When I play Commander, I want to amplify the political aspect of the game as I will play one-on-one to get my fulfilment for being competitive. Rakdos does a great job of bringing negotiation to the forefront. I rarely win with that deck, but it does do a great job of coming in second!


Lastly, The 5 colors are an integral part to both Magic: The Gathering’s game and story. What color or colors would you say you identify with the most? 


The first colors I played were white-green and I still have a strong affinity for them. I ended up adding red into the mix as well, so those three colors are the ones I’m most attached to. If I had to trim it down, I’d likely pick Boros (white-red) as the color pair that closest encapsulates who I am as a person. The tension between order and chaos is something that fits well with my personality. I also tend to be lawful-good in alignment, which I associate with the white color pie, while following my passion in life and my hobbies (red).


Many thanks to our friends at Wizards of the Coast for giving us the opportunity to interview Mike Turian!

Along with the new investigation-fueled theme, the set also introduces the Play Booster, which combines the pack-opening (and smelling?) experience of the Set Booster and draft-ability of Limited Play as it also functions as a draft booster – effectively getting the best of both worlds!

Check out the product lineup that you can get that’s associated with the set:

  • Prerelease Pack
  • Play Booster
  • Collector Booster
  • Commander Decks (4 different decks)
  • Bundle
  • Ravnica: Cluedo Edition


Are you ready to investigate the Murders at Karlov Manor? The set is officially out now! You can use Wizards of the Coast’s  store locator to find an LGS near you!




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