Last updated on March 30, 2024

Etrata, Deadly Fugitive - Illustration by Livia Prima

Etrata, Deadly Fugitive | Illustration by Livia Prima

Greetings planeswalkers! Today’s article will be a brisk synopsis of the cloak mechanic. It’s one of the brand new mechanics in Murders at Karlov Manor that helps build up the secrecy and surprise of face down cards.

How does it work, how many cards do it, and are any of them worth playing?

Read on to find out!

How Does Cloak Work?

Vannifar, Evolved Enigma - Illustration by Iriah Voth

Vannifar, Evolved Enigma | Illustration by Iriah Voth

Cloak is a keyword action that greatly resembles manifest. When you “cloak” a card, you place it face down onto the battlefield (from wherever the effect specifies). That card is now a nameless, colorless 2/2 creature with no creature types. This is 1:1 with manifest so far, but cloaked creatures have one extra advantage: Ward . It’s going to be inconvenient for an opponent to remove your cloaked creatures.

The History of Cloak in MTG

Cloak debuted in 2024 with Murders at Karlov Manor. There were also cloak cards in the MKM Commander precons.

Cloak is not likely to become an evergreen mechanic, but disguise/cloak might replace morph/manifest going forward. Ward seems vital to give disguise cards a real chance at doing something in Standard.

Is Cloak an Activated Ability?

It is not, it’s a keyword action. Notably, turning a creature face up with disguise/cloak is not an activated ability either, it is a special action.

Is Cloak a Triggered Ability?

Technically no. As stated above, cloak’s a keyword action, which is a substitute for rules text so that WotC didn’t have to write out what cloak was one every card. In practice cloak may occur as a result of triggered abilities (i.e. Etrata, Deadly Fugitive).

Can You Stifle Cloak?

This depends on how the cloak is occurring. If cloak is happening via an ability (say, from Ransom Note), then yes. In this case, you’re Stifle effect is targeting the activated ability of Ransom Note, not the cloak ability itself. If cloak’s happening as part of the resolution of a spell (Hide in Plain Sight) then no, it cant be Stifled.

What Happens If You Flicker a Cloaked Card?

What happens depends on the card type. If you were to flicker a cloaked creature, it would get exiled then re-enter face up. The same goes for other permanents like lands, enchantments, and artifacts. If the enchantment was an aura, the game will require you to attach that enchantment to a viable target as soon as it re-enters (if there isn’t one, the aura will immediately go to the graveyard). And finally, if you flicker a cloaked creature that isn’t a permanent, it will be exiled but fail to re-enter the battlefield, causing it to remain in exile with no effect.

Do Cloaked Creatures Have Summoning Sickness?

Yes they do. However, turning a creature face up is not the same as that creature entering the battlefield. If you’ve controlled a cloaked creature since the beginning of your turn and you turn it face up, it won’t have summoning sickness.

Do You Have to Reveal a Cloaked Creature if it Dies?

Yes, you must reveal a cloaked creature any time it would leave the battlefield, and at the end of a game. If a cloaked creature dies, it will end up in your graveyard face up, effectively revealing it to your opponent.

Cloak Vs Disguise

Cloak and disguise are similar mechanics. Both are spins off of manifest/morph with the addition of Ward . The difference is that disguise is an ability that lets you play creatures face down from your hand as nameless 2/2s. Cloak, on the other hand, happens by different means, usually from the resolution of a spell or ability.

Even for a brand-new mechanic, there are actually very few cards with cloak available! Currently there are just eight across Murders at Karlov Manor and Murders at Karlov Manor Commander. Here’s the full list:

Best Cloak Cards

What is “best” depends on the kind of format you’re playing. Since there are so few cloak cards, let’s cover several different formats.

Limited

Cryptic Coat, Etrata, Deadly Fugitive, and Vannifar, Evolved Enigma are incredibly good rares for Limited. I hope to open all three of these this prerelease weekend! Expose the Culprit also looks fun to mess with, although it’s more “sweet” than “good.” The risk of it doing nothing in some games seems pretty high.

Standard

I’m not expecting any of the five Standard-legal cloak cards to have much success. Cryptic Coat is very likely too slow for Standard, and Etrata, Deadly Fugitive will have stark competition from many other excellent 3-drops.

Commander

Commander is probably the most exciting format for this mechanic. There are a number of decent cards that can either command new decks or support existing 99s. Let’s take a look:

Unexplained Absence

Unexplained Absence is awesome! This is a really good removal spell that basically casts Reality Shift on up to four things at once. Given that Reality Shift is a Commander staple already, I have high hopes for this, and expect it to be a popular piece of interaction for many white decks.

Veiled Ascension

Veiled Ascension is a decent value engine that continuously pumps out flying 2/2s. It wants to play with other face down creatures if possible. Its color unfortunately means Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer can’t play this card.

Ransom Note

Ransom Note is flexible but not all that exciting. You can get a cantrip, goad, or cloak a creature from the top of your library. It’s probably best in artifact decks that can make extra use of it via recursion or alongside other cards that care about artifacts.

Etrata, Deadly Fugitive

Etrata, Deadly Fugitive looks like a neat commander. It mixes assassin typal with thief style gameplay, and can be really scary if you’re farming an opponent in a “big spell” archetype. Cheap evasive assassins like Aven Heartstabber and Changeling Outcast are great inclusions.

Vannifar, Evolved Enigma

Vannifar, Evolved Enigma seems completely outclassed by Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer to me. You lose access to and the extra card advantage Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer provides. Perhaps a better use for Vannifar is focusing on Thopter tokens? This effect does pump all “colorless creatures” after all, not just face down ones.

Hide in Plain Sight

Hide in Plain Sight might make the 99 in Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer. You could also play it in some kind of Bant flicker strategy, with the goal of flipping huge fatties face down and then flipping them over.

Wrap Up

Expose the Culprit - Illustration by Ryan Valle

Expose the Culprit | Illustration by Ryan Valle

And with that, this brief article is over! I don’t expect cloak to be a huge hit, but I do think it’ll play well. At the very least, I’d encourage everyone reading this to pick up many copies of Unexplained Absence.

What do you think about cloak? What do you think of it in terms of the rest of the set, and what cards are your favorite so far? Let me know in the comments below or in the Official Discord Server!

Until next time, may your favorite old mechanics always be buffed!

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