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Magic: The Gathering Ravnica: Clue Edition review — Solve the mystery of who this product is for

So right out of the gate I want to say I’m pretty down on this product, but at the same time I’m glad it exists. Is that weird? It feels weird. Ravnica: Clue Edition is at least something different and shows that Wizards of the Coast is willing to try new things. A little background: Wizards has a history of trying to make a “board game” version of MtG. There have been various attempts at this with an example being the multiple Game Night box sets. Ravnica: Clue Edition feels like another attempt at the MtG game in a box. The idea behind these standalone sets is to create something that you can take off your shelf and play a multiplayer game of Magic: The Gathering. “Isn’t that what the Commander format is for?” I hear you ask. Yes, the Commander format is for multiplayer games of MtG and is currently the most popular format. This is a contributing factor to the identity crisis these “board game” versions of MtG. Why should I buy this over getting a Commander precon or building a Commander deck? Maybe you want a single product that everyone can use, or perhaps the tailored play experience that Wizards has designed is fun. However, as we take a look at the Ravnica: Clue Edition, we will see that it has some bad choices that hold it back from being a better game.

What is Ravnica: Clue Edition? – Light Up the Stage

Let’s begin by exploring what Ravnica: Clue Edition is. Inside each box you will find 8 Ravnica: Clue Edition booster packs, 21 evidence cards, 4 hidden information screens, a case file envelope, and one random CLU (CLU is the set name) edition shockland. Each player takes two of the booster packs and shuffles them together to form their deck. There are two ways to win: either be the last player alive, or solve the murder before any other player. Since this is inspired by Clue/Cluedo, the evidence cards are used to create the correct suspect, murder weapon, and location by drawing one of each and filing them away. The remaining evidence cards are randomly distributed to the players so each player has some information. The format plays under normal multiplayer rules with the addition that when you deal combat damage to players, you make a Suggestion about the answer to the murder. An example being” “I think Headliner Scarlett did it, with the Knife, in the Dining Room.” If that player has any of the cards you suggested to them, they must show you one of them. This is how you will narrow down your information for finding the answer to the murder. You can later attempt to solve the mystery by making an Accusation and guessing the murderer, murder weapon, and location, but if you are wrong you can now only win by eliminating the other players. There are other format specific rules such as everyone starting at 30 life, when you must give out information you create a treasure token, and an alternate way to make suggestions by exiling cards from your graveyard.

The contents of the copy of Ravnica: Clue Edition I opened

This game is clearly sitting at the cross section of three different influences. There’s the Clue board game where we are gathering information from other players and can win through solving the mystery. The grab two packs and combine to form your deck is an idea from the Jumpstart MtG sets, and we are using the framework of multiplayer rules from Commander. I’m someone who loves both board games and MtG and I assume I’m the theoretical target audience for this game. Despite that, one thought kept coming back to me as I explored this box: Who is this product for? I’m not sure that deduction is something I want in my MtG games. Other than duplicate cards found in Murders at Karlov Manor, none of these cards are Standard legal. So, this set can’t be used to build competitive MtG decks. This is a multiplayer set, perhaps this is a sleeper Commander starter set if you grow bored of it. I’m just not sure who this product serves.

Positives – Erratic Visionary

The most important aspect of any game: is it fun? Yes, Ravnica: Clue Edition is a fun game. The best way I can think to describe the gameplay is a low power Commander game with a deduction element and even then that description seems convoluted. At its core, this is a fun way to play multiplayer MtG. The half-decks are mostly centered on one color and are mainly creature focused. For gameplay purposes, this means everyone has the same focal point. Each player is trying to figure out how best to use their creatures. Where can you make good attacks? Where can you prevent attacks coming at you? This supports the Clue side of the game where you are incentivized to push creature damage to other players because that’s how you will get more information for winning by solving the murder. The two win conditions mean that you’re juggling more decisions than normal, but this never felt overwhelming. Depending on the information you’ve gleaned from your opponents you could be positioning yourself for a win through combat or by making the winning accusation. If you’re about to be defeated, you might as well try and win through the accusation which is a nice last ditch option.

An example combination of the murderer, murder weapon, and location

The other small touches that inform me that the designers put thought into the format are the treasure tokens and the life total. When you have to give out information you receive a treasure token. This is a small balancing act that aids you in winning the regular game of Magic since you’ve lost ground on the deduction side. The starting life totals feels like someone went, “Forty is too much and twenty is too little, eh make it thirty.” It turns out that thirty starting life actually feels right. It works well as the creatures aren’t swinging in for as much damage compared to Commander games.

There’s a total of thirty new card designs inside the set and these new cards are pretty fun. They are multiplayer focused which makes sense and this means they could be used in Commander. The deduction cards used to set up the Clue side of the game are fully playable MtG cards. While it’s odd they have no MtG function (in Ravnica: Clue Edition), they’re nice inclusions should you want to use them as MtG cards elsewhere. You’ll likely want to sleeve them since they are used for their hidden information aspect here, but usually MtG players have an excess amount of sleeves. I appreciate that someone took the time to design cards for this side of the game. This wasn’t needed and it feels like the designers took the time to flesh out everything they could.

Examples of the new multiplayer focused card designs

I mentioned the CLU edition shockland, if you’re not sure what that is, it’s a bonus for purchasing the box. Wizards usually includes some kind of bonus cards in these products to incentivize players to pick one up. In the past this was special printings of full art basic lands, here it’s a special printing of expensive dual lands from Ravnica referred to as shocklands. While it does nothing in the game itself, it’s a nice bonus for those that will make use of it elsewhere. With this box you’ll receive one random foil shockland out of the ten with new artwork exclusive to the CLU set. The full art shockland’s artwork is very nice and the artwork is themed around a murder which is thematic for Clue.

Negatives – Watery Grave

I have two major criticisms of Ravnica: Clue Edition that really bring the product down for me. The sad part is that neither is about the gameplay itself, rather how the product is sold to the player. While Wizards doesn’t release an MSRP, the original listed price (that I could find) for Ravnica: Clue Edition is $70. This is too much for what you’re getting. As of this writing you can find the game for much less, mostly hovering around $50. That’s the market adjusting the price of the product closer to what consumers are willing to pay, but I am evaluating this at the $70 price Wizards debuted with. Even $50 is too steep for what you’re getting because I can’t tell you what is inside your copy of Ravnica: Clue Edition.

Inside each copy you’ll find eight CLU edition booster packs. These are random booster packs from a pool of twenty total packs. Ravnica has ten two color guilds and there’s two packs for each guild. For example there’s a “red” Izzet pack (Izzet League 1) and a “blue” Izzet pack (Izzet League 2). If you have both packs you can combine them into the full Izzet League deck. It is possible that you’ll pull decks that work better together, or decks that don’t synergize as well. Everything is designed to work together in some way, but there are combinations that clearly work together better.

It is entirely possible to pull duplicate packs, which means you’re seeing less combinations of cards and I do not like this. Strangely it means you’ll have a mechanically better deck to play with, but I would rather have a variety of cards. The random booster packs are operating against the idea of a MtG game in a box. If Wizards sold these packs individually that would help, but they do not. You either buy them in blocks of eight in each box or none at all. Previous boxes in this line (such as the Game Night boxes) had specific contents so you knew exactly what you were getting. If for that $70 price tag you got all 20 decks and could mix and match I’d have a different opinion. With that idea there would be increased replay value and more choices. The random booster packs feel like a way to get players to buy more than one copy of Ravnica: Clue Edition. While that works for dedicated TCG products, if this is bridging into “board game” territory, this does not work.

The two Izzet League decks are duplicates

There’s some smaller problems too. The game has you create treasure tokens, but doesn’t include any. This seems like an oversight. The CLU edition foil shockland has great artwork, but its print could be poor quality. The Watery Grave I opened curled almost immediately after being opened, a common problem for foil MtG cards. I fully admit this last one is a nitpick, but some of the cards reprinted in the set aren’t very flavorful for Ravnica. If you’re familiar with other MtG planes, cards like Doomed Traveler and Gods Willing are iconic to Innistrad and Theros, not Ravnica. They are good reprints, but we just had Ravnica: Remastered, a set fully built from previous Ravnica sets. I would have rather seen other reprints representing Ravnica or new card designs rather than cards iconic to other planes.

Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

Chris began tabletop gaming in college and quickly fell into the addictive world of cardboard. Beginning with D&D and Catan he became an enthusiast of all things gaming; analog or digital. Chris, now a relapsed MtG player, loves connecting with people via gaming through RPGs, board games, and video games. A particular favorite is testing friendships through social deduction games.

60

Alright

Magic: The Gathering

Review Guidelines

Ravnica: Clue Edition is a fun box set of Magic: The Gathering that is the latest attempt at the “board game” version of MtG. This standalone set features fun multiplayer gameplay that crosses over with Clue through it’s addition of deduction elements using MtG combat. The creature focused gameplay is fun and focused. However the way the game is sold is a major downside. Each copy comes with eight random booster packs and this does not work for a box set style product. I can not tell you what will come in your version of Ravnica: Clue Edition. This coupled with an extremely high original $70 price makes recommending this very difficult. At a lower price my recommendation gets better, but the random booster packs mean you may not even get the gameplay style you want. If you want to add some deduction to your MtG nights, or you're looking for a fun standalone MtG multiplayer set there is good gameplay within Ravnica: Clue Edition. For me though, I’m not likely to pull it off the shelf when I could play a game of Commander or a deduction board game.

Chris Wyman

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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