MTG: August 2022’s Custom Cards

August is over, a month of tricks, so what cunning trick did I play this time? What single, central theme was how I built the story of the month’s cards?

Warning: Wizards employees, this post contains primarily custom magic cards.

We got to see something I almost never do in these roundups: A new keyword mechanic! I don’t like making keywords unless they serve a specific purpose, and this time I had no alternative.

The instigator idea here was Friends Forever, a mechanic on the Secret Lair cards, which let you use any two of a small collection of cards as commanders. I toyed with the idea of a group of characters who share a similar mechanic that let you build a multicoloured deck. I really like these cards because they’re good for cards that are ‘almost good enough’ to turn into commanders, but not quite.

I aimed to make a set of mono-coloured grouped cards, and looked around for inspirations that worked for August’s theme of tricks month. I’d done ‘classic cons’ last year — and that gave me the idea of murder mystery tropes. I saw the card Investigator's Journal, and realised I was seeing an exciting new idea — Clues that weren’t tokens. That led to Suspicious Meal and Candelabra, and that made me think of Cluedo.

Yeah, the classic board game.

Then I had the idea of tying the ‘grouper’ mechanic to the theme of being suspects in a murder mystery. That got me to Under suspicion, which is like Friends Forever, but it also adds a wrinkle: Whenever you cast the commanders with Under Suspicion, each player investigates.

That gave me what I needed; Cluedo references. Cards that represented locations out of Cluedo, murder mystery components, common phrases from classical murder mysteries, and just a bunch of Clues stuff!

Anyway, here’s the cards:

And here are some detailed bits on each card:

  • You can see the references in their names: Colonel Mustard, Mrs Peacock, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlett, Reverend Green, and Dr Orchid.
  • There are two cards that specifically reference the card Murder — the Butler that murders people, and the Auren Express, a very clear reference to the Murder on the Orient Express.
  • The Kitchen, Study, and Conservatory are rooms from Cluedo.
  • The Gratedeep Skywatcher started out as a robot fish that recorded information, as the Gratewatch. Bonus, it’s only got a colour indicator changing it to red because then it’s a red herring.
  • The Hedge-Maze Seer is a byproduct of unwanted changes. The original idea was a hedge maze. That gave me the idea of a green card that could do the Maze of Ith style thing, like, get it, it’s a Maze and it’s a Hedge. The problem is that that’s not an effect green gets. Easiest solution was to make it a green-white dual, but then that limits it to one specific pairing. Eventually, it became this – a kind of mash up of Endurance and Gilded Goose, which I like just fine, because all three parts of it are working against one another, meaning it can do a lot for any one of them.