by The Beast!
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Number of players:
A classic board game unlike any other, Clue (or Cluedo outside of North America) is a simple concept, but a real challenge, especially for younger players. Play by candlelight on a rainy day for that mystery atmosphere!
The game and gameplay
Clue (also known as Cluedo) is like an Agatha Christie novel set in game form. It’s been around for decades and, like many other of the popular classic board games with cult followings, has spun off various versions, including The Simpsons Clue.
As the board game play is identical from version to version, we probably won’t bother to review them all in full. But we will attempt to keep up with the versions by publishing news items for you.
The owner of a mansion has been murdered and the six guests at the house (the players) are all suspects. Players must gather clues from the nine rooms of the house, interrogate their fellow guests and try to solve the murder.The original game pieces in the Clue board game had colours to match their names. These names have entered into modern folklore, so don’t be surprised if you’ve heard them before:
* Professor Plum
* Miss Scarlet
* Reverend Green
* Mrs. Peacock
* Colonel Mustard
* Mrs. White
There are cards matching each of these characters, plus a card for each of the nine rooms of the mansion and six murder weapons (which have physical representations too). Clue board game, especially in its classic form, definitely has an indefinable English country manor feel to it that’s very appealing, not to mention eerily familiar to fans of murder mysteries!
One of each type of card is placed unseen into an envelope. These unseen cards – person, room, weapon – tell the players ‘Whodunnit’, and how, at the end of the game. The rest of the cards are dealt equally to the players. Each player also receives a pencil and a list of the rooms, suspects and murder weapons.
Finding out the facts of the case in the Clue board game requires observation, strategy and careful note-taking, by eliminating known cards from the players’ lists to narrow down the possible conclusion. For example, if a player is dealt five cards at the start of the game, that’s five that can’t be in the murder envelope. These can be crossed off their list immediately.
Each player begins at a designated starting point on the board. By throwing dice, they move around the mansion. Once in any of the rooms, they can make a suggestion of a possible murder combination involving that room. That combination is recreated.
So, if a player reaches the Library, says, “I suggest Professor Plum with the revolver in the Library”, the Professor Plum and revolver tokens are moved to the Library.
Now, clockwise around the board, the other players must disprove the suggestion, if they can, by showing ONLY the current player ONE of the three cards he has mentioned. If the first player has none of them, the next must show one and so on. The current player can then cross another potential location, weapon or suspect from his list and the game continues.
The winner of the Clue board game is the first person to make a correct accusation, in the same format: “I accuse X person with Y weapon in Z room.” He opens the envelope without showing the other players.
Once an accusation is made by a player, it’s binding. If he’s correct, the game ends. If not, he is eliminated from the game, returns the envelope and the other players continue.
There’s plenty of scope to make a mess of things as a bumbling suspect-cum-detective in Cluedo’s creepy mansion. You may end up being more Clouseau than Poirot, especially if you aren’t diligent about keeping track of the cards that have been displayed to you.
The game can be frustrating. One particularly nasty rule is the one about moving a player to a room when a suggestion is made. If you are on one side of the mansion and need to get to a certain room, being ‘summoned’ to hear a suggestion involving your character is extremely irritating. And hilarious for everybody else.
This is all part of the Cluedo board game charm, though. And I doubt if there’s a player alive who hasn’t got excited and made a premature exit from the game after a half-baked accusation. (This was a speciality of mine as a youngster. I lacked the patience required to win!)
Each game has the potential to last an hour or more, depending on how long it takes to narrow down the possible outcomes and figure out ‘Whodunnit’.
Pros and cons
Unlike many board games, which seem to lack a certain charm, Cluedo board game has bags of character. Take my advice about playing by candlelight, especially with children. It really turns up the heat under the game!
Some of this charm is the very English nature of the board, the pieces, the names and the methodical approach to the problem-solving gameplay. It’s very much like a 1950s British movie.
This is especially true of versions featuring the original board. I am all for improving something, but later versions miss the point, in my opinion. Less is more in this case.
People with a need for more immediate gratification may find the slow, patient approach needed for Cluedo off-putting. Some children especially play games to avoid using a pencil! But there’s educational value here, with reasoning and observation skills required to be successful.
I would recommend at least one older teenager or adult plays with a group of younger children, as the game does play better with a calm head supervising proceedings.
It’s perhaps a better game if played occasionally. The magic of Cluedo can wear off if you have too much exposure to it, but that’s true of most board game experiences.
An ingenious design and playable for people of all ages, Cluedo (or Clue in North America) is a top-class board game. Sure to build many happy family memories and is missing that “kick the board in frustration” factor that some kids feel with more hyperactive boardgame experiences. Recommended.