Blame Game Review & Upgrades - Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser

Ross Gloekler
January 26, 2024


Hello and welcome back. In today’s article I’m going to go over the preconstructed commander deck and new cards in the recently previewed Murder at Karlov Manor commander deck Blame Game. Afterward, I’ll make some suggestions for additions and subtractions to the deck to make it a bit stronger, but of course build to your own style and preference.

The deck itself comes built around the idea of getting other players to attack each other instead of you, so most cards in the deck help you do just that. With the frame of mind let’s get to finding our culprits.

Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser

Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #4)

The face commander of the deck, Nelly does about everything you want the deck to accomplish. She’s good on offense and defense thanks to vigilance, which also helps her attack trigger get triggered. While she doesn't have the best stats, she can keep the larger blockers at bay with her first ability, which suspects a creature and makes it unable to block with the downside of it becoming more unblockable itself with Menace. They continue to stay out of the way because she also goads all suspected creatures.

Even if there are no profitable attacks, her second ability still might lure a player in a direction other than yours. I’ve not known too many people to turn down a free card drawn. Your opponents do have to hit the other players, which plays well with suspect.

The overall design of this card is synergistic and really spot on for what the deck wants to do. Get your opponents to attack each other, profit. I would caution that Nelly needs protection, since she needs to both attack to get her first abilities’ trigger and continue to survive if you want to goad more and more creatures.


Feather, Radiant Arbiter

Feather, Radiant Arbiter (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #6)

I had to do a lot of thinking about why this design was in this deck, and largely I think it is to highlight the Impetus and like enchantments that can goad or otherwise redirect your opponents. Unfortunately there are only three in the deck, so Feather 2.0 here isn’t likely to be your commander.

However, Feather does open up more options for Boros via an Aura build, and you can still go for a bit of spell slinger as well. While she can do work in this deck, she’s better off on her own. As a bit of a tangent, I think cards that reduce costs of the spells that you want to copy make sense, or cards like Urabrask or Birgi that give up mana when you cast a spell helps Feather out a lot. The Red and White Defilers work well here for the aura build since she has lifelink.

As for the card itself, it’s an aggressively costed flyer with lifelink and a rather large 4/3 body. Non-creature spells are a large swathe of Magic, but unfortunately she can’t really take advantage of Planeswalkers or Artifacts since the vast majority, if any at all, target a creature on cast. That leaves us with Instants, Sorceries, and Enchantments. I spoke a little of that above, but the bottom line here is she doesn’t seem to fit the deck herself. Easy cut.



Immortal Obligation (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #10)

This instant brings not your stuff back from the dead.

Wait, what?

Yep, you get to return a creature from someone else’s graveyard to their battlefield for just two mana! It’s not all downside for you though. It gets a nice shiny Duty Counter, and as long as it has that, it’s goaded, can’t attack you or your stuff, and can’t block your creatures. Part of that seems redundant, but it gets around another player stealing it for shenanigans and to protect your planeswalkers.

This card can be really good. It returns a threat your opponents might not want to deal with, possibly again. Sometimes there is even a chance you could use this to really mess with someone, like reviving their Phage the Untouchable or Leveler.

This is really a meta call. If you play against reanimator decks a bunch, or people like recursion, this might be a good keep for the deck. If you play against a lot of blink decks, then maybe not so much since it depends on that counter to work.



Otherworldly Escort (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #12)

Jarring outfit aside, this is an interesting surprise blocker. With flash and a decent body, it could trade with a number of important creatures. What’s even better is that it comes right back.

When it does so, it gets a creature type change and four charge counters. These can then be removed to destroy a creature that damages you, and not just combat damage. Goodbye Syr Konrad (he actually deals damage not loss of life).

I like the design, though in this deck I feel like the cards at 4 MV are a bit crowded. That said I haven’t played the deck, so it might be fine. I’d consider keeping this card in. Along with Selfless Squire, you have a decent defense for yourself.



Redemption Arc (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #13)

Now this is an interesting enchantment, and really brings home the White slice of Goad. Largely, White’s piece of that pie is in enchantments, usually auras. Eriette of the Charmed Apple will probably love this card, and I do too.

This aura provides Goad on its own, but in exchange makes the enchanted creature indestructible. Nice little trade there. Use it on your stuff for protection, or other things to get the ouches going somewhere else. What really puts it over the top is that you can pay to exile the enchanted creature at any time. This helps with a number of scenarios, like the creature being sacrificed or gaining a protection from White or auras, but it also allows you to get the aura to the graveyard and reuse it. Since the aura doesn’t go to exile with the creature, it just falls off.

This is one of the few cards that Feather can really use in the deck, but again, I don’t think she fits well as this deck’s commander.



Trouble in Pairs (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #15)

I don’t know why I always think trouble in Paris, but that’s what I do.

Anyway, this is already making many players go back and forth on this card’s worth as far as gameplay. The general consensus is that it will be good. I’ve even seen it compared to Smothering Tithe!

While I don’t think it’s Tithe good, it hits so many boxes that you are likely netting yourself an extra card each turn cycle at a minimum. It disincentives opponents from attacking you so you don’t get cards, which works well in the deck, and gives you cards when they do things anyway.

I guess I should also mention that it also doesn’t let your opponents take extra turns. Not usually relevant, but it might be in your meta. Personally, I put extra turns right up there with mass land destruction.

I’m not sure how good it will actually turn out to be outside of decks like Kwain, but I’m putting my bet down that it will be good enough to see play.



Havoc Eater (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #31)

This is a big beater that fills my heart with joy. At seven mana it’s a bit of a heavy lift, but you do potentially get a really big flyer and up to three things not bothering you anymore. It’s a nice simple design.

I think it could stay in the deck and help win games, but seven mana is a lot. I’m on the fence with this one despite how much I love the design. On the bright side, it can be blinked for more goading to help provide a path to victory, even if you lose the counters.



Hot Pursuit (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #32)

Here we have another card that suspects a creature. While said creature is suspected, it is also goaded. Seems to take inspiration from Nelly.

The second ability is the interesting one here though. Basically, if the game becomes 1v1, you then get to steal all the goaded or suspected creatures your last opponent control to help close the game. This is a great effect because Goad severely lacks any oomph when the game becomes 1v1. This enchantment just pays you for all your hard work. The timing is interesting as well. Since it triggers at the beginning of combat, you have about half a turn to get some extra goading and suspecting in to increase your chances to steal more creatures.



Mob Verdict (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #33)

Political cards are always a lukewarm in Commander, and this one is on the fence for me. The ceiling for the best results of voting are good. 6 damage to someone and their whole board is fairly okay for 4 mana, with an extra 2 damage to someone else and their board. Likewise, 2 damage to someone and their board and 3 cards for you.

I think this card will work best with players who know how to politic the table. The problem with that is players might have different priorities, and the votes aren’t ever guaranteed. This card is probably another meta call as well, since it might be more effective more of the time against token decks or deck with many mana dorks.

Overall, I’d play with it to see, but it’s a possible cut.



Prisoner's Dilemma (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #34)

The card making the most waves in the circles I’m in, if only for the value of politics at the table.

Each of your opponents secretly pick from the choices Silence or Snitch. If everyone picks the former, 4 damage to all of them. If each picks the latter, 8 damage to each of them. However, if the table isn’t unified, the snitches take nothing and the silent ones take 12 damage!

Makes for some intrigue, eh? Much like Mob Verdict, this card is on the fence for me. It can do damage to people and create some interesting, hopefully friendly vendettas at the, but that’s it. I think it will be fun in the beginning, but without anything else to add to it, like damage doubling or lifelink, I’d lean on taking it out of the deck.



Ransom Note (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #45)

Not much to say on this one. It highlights a number of mechanics from the set, and honestly feels more like it was meant for the draft environment as a filler card. It’s a flexible card otherwise, and does goad a creature or draw a card. If you want to test in it initially in the deck, it’s an okay card to fill out the number of effects, but it’s an easy cut when you get working on making the deck better.



Take the Bait (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #43)

Don’t mind if I do. By far may favorite new card from the deck, I’ve seen it compared to Reins of Power.

While it’s not that, it is a way to keep the whole of someone’s creatures off you and send them somewhere else. It also protects you and any planeswalkers you have, but not your creatures. Bit of a letdown there.

What I really like about the card though is the timing. Cast only during combat may seem restrictive (and on an opponent’s turn), and it is, BUT there are 5 steps in combat to abuse. If you have ever used the enchantment Reconnaissance, you know what I’m talking about. With Take the Bait, you can commit to a few blockers or wait for others to do so, wait for damage, and then goad the aggressor again into the fray to help kill off even more stuff in the extra combat phase. This works because damage is marked until end of turn, so the creatures will all be wounded. Cast this at the End of Combat step in the combat phase for effect.

Of course, you can cast it earlier if that’s too risky, or just don’t block since combat damage dealt to you is prevented. I love the flexibility here. I wonder if there is a way to loop this…



I mentioned a bit when talking about the new cards the ones I’d likely cut. In this section I’ll list about ten cuts and additions each, and briefly talk about why. I’m not going to touch the mana base. It needs better lands of course, and what you put in wont necessarily be the same as what I’d need for my build at this time.

What I’d take out:

1 Feather, Radiant Arbiter

2 Anya, Merciless Angel

3 Prisoner’s Dilemma

4 Mob Verdict

5 Ransom Note

6 Etali, Primal Storm

7 Keeper of the Accord

8 Solemn Simulacrum

9 Winds of Rath

10 Curse of Opulence

For the first number of the selections, I’d take out cards that I don’t think will do anything for the deck overall. Feather, Anya, Dilemma, Verdict and Ransom Note all say this to me.

Feather, Radiant Arbiter (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #6) Anya, Merciless Angel (Commander Anthology Volume II #8)

Prisoner's Dilemma (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #34) Mob Verdict (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #33) Ransom Note (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander #45)

Feather, as I explained above, seems to want a different build altogether, and Anya is too much of a wait and see if it might be good. Dilemma and Verdict are fun and interesting cards, but I think they can be retired for cards that accomplish more over a game. They would be more fun in other decks I think, rather than one build around combat. The Note is a card I actually really like the design of, but as alluded to earlier, it just kind of seems extra.

Etali, Primal Storm (The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander #224)

Etali is a great card, but I’m not sure what it’s doing in this deck. I’d have preferred Emissary of Grudges or Aurelia, the Warleader.

Keeper of the Accord (March of the Machine Commander #191) Solemn Simulacrum (Commander Masters #973)

Keeper of the Accord and Solemn Simulacrum both provide some necessary ramp, and they were harder to cut. With the deck as it stands I leaned more heavily into drawing the lands and added Sword of the Aminist since our commander wants to attack.

Winds of Rath (Forgotten Realms Commander #78) Curse of Opulence (March of the Machine Commander #274)

Winds of Rath doesn’t quite belong. While it is actually an inspired choice considered the Impetus enchantments, I don’t think we get enough oomph. Curse of Opulence is quite the same. I’ve seen it played a few times, but rarely does anybody care about it, especially now that you can just make your own treasures and more of them.

What I’d like to try:

1 Firemane Commando

2 Aurelia, the Law Above

3 Mangara the Diplomat

4 Bothersome Quasit

5 Coronation of Chaos

6 Taunt from the Rampart

2 Sword of the Aminist

4 Agrus Kos, Spirit of Justice

6 Winds of Abandon

10 Flawless Manuever

For things I’d add to try, I want some more Goad and card draw, and to try and bring the curve a little lower. I’m not sure I did anything to the curve, but I like the selections.

Firemane Commando (March of the Machine Commander #73) Aurelia, the Law Above (Murders at Karlov Manor #188) Mangara, the Diplomat (Commander Masters #42)

For more draw, I added Firemane Commando, Aurelia the Law Above and Mangara the Diplomat. None of them straight away draw cards, BUT they each feature drawing in return for doing what the deck is doing anyway, and fit well with Smuggler’s Share, Trouble in Pairs and our Commander. I’m not sure it will be enough, but testing should answer that.

Bothersome Quasit (Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate #674) Coronation of Chaos (Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate #168) Taunt from the Rampart (Tales of Middle-earth Commander #71)

As for goad, I added Bothersome Quasit, Coronation of Chaos and Taunt from the Rampart. Quasit isn’t the best but it does provide support to get your creatures through, even if the goad is hit or miss. Coronation of Chaos does this as well, but with up to three creatures. Taunt from the Rampart wins games, and there isn’t anything else to say besides it also keeps thing from blocking (I hope we get a magic IP version someday).

Agrus Kos, Spirit of Justice (Murders at Karlov Manor #184) Winds of Abandon (Modern Horizons #37)

To round out my additions, I added Agrus Kos, Spirit of Justice, Sword of the Animist, Winds of Abandon, and Flawless Maneuver. This version of Kos acts to help suspect creatures with our commander, and acts as removal in concert with Nelly as well. The deck itself doesn’t seem to have much removal, so getting it on a repeatable source was an important include. Speaking of, Winds of Abandon is one of my favorite cards. It’s single target removal or mass removal, completely one sided. I don’t see this card very often, but I love it and it goes in everything I build with White. Ideally, your opponent won’t recover from your attack afterward.

Sword of the Animist (Commander Masters #413)

Sword of the Animist was added to compensate for the removal of Keeper of the Accord and Solemn Simulacrum. It’s more easily used to get more lands than either of those, and since our commander wants to attack, it should function fine.

Flawless Maneuver (Commander Masters #24)

Lastly, I added Flawless Maneuver. While I’m not a fan of free spells, I felt that in the heat of the combat phase we needed something we could generally rely on. This deck doesn’t have a lot of protections for its creatures, so since that number of cards with this effect is so low, feel free to change this to more removal, ramp, draw, etc. Whatever you’d like.



That’s it for this review. I preordered this one myself and am interested in seeing how it plays. Maybe I’ll like some of the cards I said I’d cut. Maybe I’m spot on. I feel the only real way to know is to play a bunch of games!

Until next time, sleuths.