With all the pop-culture crossovers Magic: The Gathering has been getting lately, the board game Clue certainly isn’t one I was expecting to see. More than that, it’s not one I initially expected to be quite so much fun. Ravnica: Clue Edition is a standalone box that mixes the pick-up-and-play simplicity of something like Magic’s introductory Jumpstart packs with the murderous deduction mechanics of Clue, and we’ve got details on how it works, what’s inside the box, and an exclusive look at all the new cards hiding in its packs. I even got to go hands-on and play a round with a few folk from developer Wizards of the Coast, and the result of this unexpected tie-in is a strange but surprisingly compelling mix of a multiplayer Magic match and a family board game night.
You can flip through the two image galleries below to see all of the unique cards available exclusively in this set, as well as a bunch of photos of what’s inside Ravnica: Clue Edition’s box
Ravnica: Clue Edition – Every New Card and Borderless Shock Land
Before we get too deep, you’re probably wondering how the heck you play. The answer is to that is actually deceptively straightforward – Ravnica: Clue Edition is meant to played with four players, with each player opening two of the eight included booster packs and shuffling them together to make their 40-card deck. Similar to Jumpstart, there are 10 different themed packs (with a little variation) that you could potentially open, each designed around one of the two-color guilds in Magic’s most iconic city, Ravnica. Players start at 30 life, but largely you are just playing Magic as usual.
The twist, of course, is in the parts of Clue that have been weaved into this box. In addition to the themed boosters, Ravnica: Clue Edition comes with a pack of 21 predetermined suspect, weapon, and room cards – and just like in Clue, one set of those is secretly put in an envelope at the start of the match, while the others are divided randomly amongst all the players. (These are playable Magic cards you could play in other decks as well, but for the purposes of this game they are essentially just used as reminder game pieces.) From there, you can win either by killing all three of your opponents like in Magic or correctly guessing the cards in the envelope like in Clue.
Mashing two games together like this can run the risk of feeling disjointed, but when I played Ravnica: Clue Edition myself I was impressed by how the deduction system has been used to incentivize a certain kind of behavior in the Magic game – specifically, that behavior is to play lots of creatures and make them fight. That’s because, also like Clue, you are able to ask other players if they have certain suspects, weapons, or rooms in their pile, but here making those guesses is restricted by Magic mechanics: you get the opportunity to do so only when you either deal combat damage to another player, or exile six mana value worth of cards from your graveyard at the end of your turn.
That means you’re basically playing a full game of Clue without the board, and in order to make any headway in your deductions you actively need to be attacking your opponents and casting spells instead of walking between rooms. Turtling up and not attacking may protect your life total, but stalling defensively like this isn’t really in your best interest in the long run since your opponents will still be taking swings at other people, asking questions and getting more intel while you hide in your fort. It’s an interesting way to mitigate the problem some creature-heavy multiplayer games of Magic can have, where players sometimes build up such menacing armies that no one wants to make the first move.
Everything Inside the Ravnica: Clue Edition Box
This playstyle is actively supported by the cards that have been put in each of the booster packs, too, which have plenty of ways to help you be aggressive with your creatures. The match I played felt very scrappy, with lots of interaction and combat decisions to make, both in terms of determining when you have a good attack and who you even want to hit for the most useful intel. You only get one shot when you decide to make your final guess and look inside the envelope for a potential win, but while guessing wrong here means you’re locked out of that alternate victory condition, it doesn’t stop you from still trying to come out on top by doing some murders yourself.
With all of the themed packs being based on Ravnica’s guilds, your forty-card deck is basically always going to be split between either three or four colors, but having the right colors of mana was a surprising non-issue in my match. The packs have plenty of ways to account for that built in, including dual-colored lands and other mana fixing cards, but one really clever rule is that revealing a Clue card as part of someone else’s guess also rewards you with a Treasure token. It’s extremely elegant – if you get stuck on mana and can’t cast stuff, you’re likely going to fall behind on board and get hit, which means more people will guess your cards, which means you’re more likely to get Treasures, which then fixes your colors and catches you up.
And while Ravnica: Clue Edition is designed to be packed back up in its box and stored like a little standalone board game, you could always use your own custom decks alongside these rules if you prefer. Now, obviously I don’t think the intent would be to roll in with some super efficient combo deck that kills the table all at once without ever caring about the Clue cards, but it does seem nicely suited for a more casual group of “battlecruiser” style decks looking to shake things up as they turn creatures sideways.
Of course, it’ll take more than just one game to determine how this unexpected combo holds up over time, let alone with decks not designed around it. But what I came in expecting to be a strange, one-off novelty is actually a pretty entertaining and thoughtfully designed package I’d like to try out again. If anything, my biggest takeaway is that while I may be an okay Magic player, I am downright terrible at Clue.
Tom Marks is IGN’s Executive Reviews Editor. He loves card games, puzzles, platformers, puzzle-platformers, and lots more.