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February 05, 2024 10 min read

The Shocklands of Ravnica: Clue Edition

While few will have had ‘Board game mash-up of Magic and Clue’ on their bingo cards for this year, Ravnica: Clue Edition has been surprisingly well-received regardless. It’s nice to see Magic products that can be enjoyed as fully standalone experiences, bringing to mind the Jumpstarts and Duel Decks of the world: great products that we see precious little of in Magic’s packed release schedule.

That said, beyond its utility as a board game, Ravnica: Clue Edition is essentially a mini-expansion in and of itself, packed with reprints and brand new designs for eternal format consideration. And while you may have noted their conspicuous absence from Murders at Karlov Manor, the ten Shocklands, ever a staple of our repeat visits to Ravnica, are present and accounted for here, with snazzy new borderless art to boot. In a darkly humorous touch, each depicts the scene of a gruesome murder, making the ‘Shock’ in Shockland very literal indeed.

Given its narrow appeal relative to most Magic sets, and the fact that each copy of the game only comes with one Shockland, it’s unlikely that many will get to appreciate the beauty of these lands firsthand. With this piece, we hope to address this injustice. We’ll be looking at each new Shockland in depth, dissecting every grisly detail and touch of brilliance. If you’ve ever dreamt of being a crime scene investigator, then now’s your chance to give it a spin.

Hallowed Fountain

hallowed fountain clue edition

We begin with Hallowed Fountain, from Leon Tukker: one of the most interesting Shocklands in the set in that it actually depicts a crime aboutto happen, rather than one that’s already happened, as we see in the other nine. It’s a well-known rule of both the Horror and Thriller genres that taking a bath while evil is afoot is a surefire way to get killed off first, but clearly the Azorius officer enjoying a soak in the Fountain never got the memo. The shadow of his soon-to-be killer looms in the light admitted by the open doorway, the long, cruel blade about to meet his heart visible to us in its full, lengthy glory. It’s a striking setup, made doubly resonant by how pristine the Fountain is in its pre-murder state. Bubbles overflow, candles burn softly away, the stained-glass windows at the back glow a relaxing blue: it’s serene, almost religious thanks to the statue in the center, which forms a brilliant contrast with the approaching shadow and what it represents. The checkered floor in the room is a final sparkling touch, evoking the retro interior design of classic Clue boards, and perhaps even their grid-based movement.

Watery Grave

watery grave clue edition

From one dip in a fountain to another, Alexander Forssberg’s Watery Grave shows us a very different take on the same concept explored by its Azorius sibling. This is no grand indoor bathhouse, but a scraggly, overgrown fountain in a park somewhere. And the victim isn’t waiting to be killed: they’re already long dead. The brilliance of this piece lies in the wordless story it manages to tell by the arrangement of the various objects in the scene. Naturally, the bare leg emerging from the fountain is the focal point, but already there are key details to spot for the eagle-eyed. A hint of a blue dress can be seen draped over the edge of the fountain, the match of the blue high-heeled shoe on the ground, implying that our victim was dressed up for some kind of occasion: a date, perhaps. The flowers scattered on the ground back up this theory, adding a tinge of deeper sadness to an already upsetting scene. Finally, the candlestick is the obvious murder weapon, harkening back to its appearance in Clue. It’s a fantastic setup, and the moody, misty backdrop of the fountain, with its twisted metal centerpiece, accentuates it perfectly.

Blood Crypt

blood crypt clue edition

Ironically enough, given the card’s name, Blood Crypt is one of the more understated Shocklands in Ravnica: Clue Edition, foregoing the usual corpse-and-cause setup in favor of more subtle strokes. Piotr Dura transports us into a gloomy cellar for this one: a staple of the murder mystery genre and, here, the resting place of countless barrels, more than likely full to the brim with alcohol. At first it’s unclear what’s amiss, but as soon as you notice the bottle with the purple skull emerging from the top, and the water spreading in purple pools across the floor, the pieces fall into place rather quickly. We’re dealing with a mass poisoning here, with many of the barrels appearing to be affected. Interestingly, we’re never shown any victims, just a well-lit doorway leading back to the main house: a touch which, quite literally, leaves the door open for any number of unfortunate wine-drinkers at the party above to meet their ends. The subtle storytelling here is much appreciated in a roster of mostly open-and-shut cases, as is the moody palette, consisting largely of browns, oranges, and the poisonous splashes of purple. Dura captures the grand, yet unsettling, nature of large underground cellars beautifully here.

Stomping Ground

stomping ground clue edition

Bringing the wild world of the Gruul indoors for this piece was no easy task, but Leon Tukkerrose to the challenge and then some. We’re given a fireside seat at a hunting lodge for this one, which maintains the Guild’s link with wild beasts and savage combat, while still feeling like a reasonable setting for a murder mystery: well balanced indeed. As for the murder itself, there are some lovely details to be had. The victim slumps in a grand armchair, clearly caught unawares while enjoying an evening of smoky contemplation. By his side, two crucial pieces of evidence: a lead pipe, one of Clue’s well-established murder weapons, and a set of muddy pawprints leading away from the scene. The latter implies that the murderer was something other than human in this case, creating a neat ‘animal takes revenge on the hunter’ story when you factor in the pelt on the floor and the great skull on the wall above the fire. It’s a wonderfully evocative piece, managing to portray a brutal crime that also feels oddly justified. It also captures the Gruul color palette well too, with the greens of the potted plants that frame the piece and the bright orange of the roaring flames harmonizing perfectly over the body of our late sporting friend.

Temple Garden

temple garden clue edition

Who said a crime scene needs to be dark and dingy? With his take on Temple Garden, Lorenzo Lanfranconi shows us that murders can occur in places of stunning beauty, too. The whole piece is an explosion of color, with rich greens and tropical pinks and purples smacking you right in the retinas on first viewing. Naturally, this being a Ravnica: Clue Edition Shockland, there’s still some foul play afoot. Our unfortunate victim this time can be seen reclining on a chaise lounge in the background, wrapped in spiked pink vines creeping in from the garden beyond. The dropped book on the stairs, still open at the halfway point, implies that they were killed before they could finish reading: a tragedy far worse than those depicted on the other Shocks of the set, in our eyes. Since there’s no readily apparent weapon here, there are a few possible explanations. Maybe the victim dozed off mid-paragraph and the vines crept in after? Or maybe they were killed and left for the garden to clean up? In any case, the skull-shaped purple flowers in the foreground hint at poison being a likely culprit.

Godless Shrine

godless shrine clue edition

Avoiding the Orzhov cliche of grand, oppressive churches, this new take on Godless Shrine from Pitor Dura instead showcases a very different kind of venue: a wealthy socialite’s dressing room. The whole scene is drenched in decadence, from the tasteful alternating blacks and whites of the walls, to the not-so-tasteful fluffy white chairs and rugs. Precious jewels and exquisite dresses are abundant despite the scene being long-abandoned, implying that this was a crime of passion and not a robbery. We’re not shown the victim’s body directly in this piece, but rather a glowing purple outline on the floor, which could possibly represent a kind of Ravnican chalk outline equivalent, or merely all that’s left of the victim after a magic-related end. In either case, the sword lying next to the body, clearly drawn from the rack on the adjacent wall, was definitely involved, be it as the murder weapon or an attempted defense by the victim. The vague, non-graphic nature of the crime scene portrayed here works in the piece’s favor, preserving the elegance of this lesser-seen side of the Orzhov while also furthering the murder mystery themes of the set.

Overgrown Tomb

overgrown tomb clue edition

If Hallowed Fountain showed us a murder scene just before it happened, then Overgrown Tomb shows one long, long afterwards. A hand, and scraps of a tattered blue dress, are all that remains of our victim here, lying in a grand four-poster bed that’s been thoroughly claimed by agents of nature. Mushrooms swarm up the sides and all over the corpse, concealing the grisly details while simultaneously turning the stomach themselves. Thick strands of spider silk criss-cross the room, illuminated by the light seeping in through the mildewed background window pane. While the setting here is unclear, it’s likely safe to assume we’re in some kind of long-abandoned manor house, Given the nature of the bed and the window. Cause of death is also unclear. We can see a lengthy rope, another of Clue’s signature murder weapons, tied round the victim’s wrist and snaking down into the foreground, but beyond that we’re left with very little to go on regarding the victim’s end. Perhaps the rope is really a rare form of Ravnican poisonous snake. Or perhaps the reality is so dark that the mushrooms are a preferable spectacle to the truth.

Breeding Pool

breeding pool clue edition

For our Simic Shockland, Yeong-Hao Hanshows us a room which, despite the alarming neon green tone of its water, may in fact be the Combine’s official swimming pool. The elegant arches and columns quite literally support this idea, as do the neatly-arranged plants and frothing green cascades on either side. It would almost feel like a luxury spa, if it weren’t for the bizarre plant life and the corpse drifting face-down in the middle of the pool. It’s a bad way to go, but in an interesting twist, the killer is actually visible in the art here. On the left, we can see one of the strange flowers from the background, curled into a rough grip, retracting back after, more than likely, drowning our unfortunate blue-skinned friend in the pool. ‘Sentient plant’ may not be one of the classic Clue murder weapons, but it feels wonderfully Simic, and fully appropriate for the unpredictable world of Ravnica. Beyond that, on a more technical level, the lovely stained-glass swirls and Simic icon in the background provide three solid anchors for the composition, drawing the rough-hewn arches and honeycomb windows above together beautifully. Once we manage to take our eyes off the body, of course.

Steam Vents

steam vents clue edition

Furnace rooms are well-known danger zones in pretty much every genre, be it Sci-fi or Horror. Lucas Gracianoleans into their mythos hard with his take on Steam Vents, which flings open the door of an Izzet furnace to show us the charred remains of an unfortunate victim within. This alone would’ve been a unique and evocative way of hitting the ‘crime scene’ theme in this location, but Graciano takes things a step further and sprinkles in some nice environmental storytelling. On the workbench to the right of the furnace, a bloody rag hints at the mortal struggle that took place before the victim was consigned to the flames, while the single wrench, hanging on a set of hooks that supports three of them, leaves little doubt as to what the murder weapon was in this scenario. The wrench is, of course, one of the established Clue weapons, and to make use of it here, in such a fitting setting, was a masterstroke. Graciano’s top-notch attention to detail also extends to the rest of the piece, in the frayed tape hanging off the boiler pipes and the tangled cables running into the darkness above. To finish things off, he complements the roaring oranges of the furnace with light blues in the steam and circles of glass, ensuring that both sides of the Izzet palette are represented well.

Sacred Foundry

sacred foundry clue edition

It may look innocuous on the surface, but don’t let Alexander Forssberg’s excellent piece fool you: there’s nothing Sacred about this Foundry. Choosing to represent the kitchen, one of the quintessential rooms on the traditional Clue board, was a smart move given the necessity of such a facility within an active Boros garrison. What was extra smart was choosing to leave nearly everything up to the viewer’s imagination for this one. In a normal set, where you’re not looking for evidence of brutal murders in every scrap of art, this would be a perfectly solid piece: a by-the-numbers depiction of a kitchen that makes nice use of lighting. In Ravnica: Clue Edition, however, it hits very differently. We come in looking for a murder victim, and, failing to find one, can only conclude that they were diced up and added to the pot simmering innocently in the background. Once we come to this grim realization, we start to notice other details. Like the slight tinge of red on the blade of the knife jutting from the chopping board, or the blood dripping down into a pool on the floor, to be trailed away as footprints by our reckless killer. It may seem obvious when pointed out, but the fact that the rest of the piece shows a perfectly normal kitchen makes you work to unravel the mystery, creating a deep sense of satisfaction when you do.

And there you have it: a whirlwind tour of ten of the most twisted lands Magic: The Gathering has to offer. While the idea of Universes Beyond products such as Ravnica: Clue Edition was met with mixed reception at first, it’s hard to deny the stellar art and design work that’s gone into the initiative so far, and we think these lands are a fine example of that. Each manages to capture the essence of Ravnica, and the essence of the original Clue board game, on a tiny cardboard canvas: certainly no mean feat.

Notice any clues we missed? Feel free to share your observations in the comments below! And if you’re not quite ready to hang up your deerstalker yet, check out our analysis of the Basic Lands of Murders at Karlov Manor for more brilliant breakdowns and dazzling deductions.

Nathan Ball

Nathan Ball has been in Magic's cardboard clutches since a friend gifted him an M13 starter deck back in 2012. From that day on, he's followed the game religiously, greeting each new spoiler season with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. He's written extensively about many elements of Magic for TheGamer, but his true passion has always been for the art and flavour of the cards, and how they create tiny windows into a world beyond our imagination.

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