Clue is a great board game for those who want to feel like detectives, as players would have to guess who the killer is, where the crime was committed, and what was the murder weapon used to kill the owner of the mansion depicted on the board. It is a complex and fun board game that requires strategy, memorization, and quick-thinking.
Because of its unique mechanics, one has to wonder where the inventor of Clue got the idea for the board game. To answer this question, let us dive right into the origins of Clue.
The concept for Clue was created around 1944 by Anthony E. Pratt. Before becoming known as the inventor of Clue, Pratt was a musician who played in hotels that would often host murder mystery nights. During these events, actors who are hired by the hotels would have to play as detectives along with other guests to find out who killed the victim in the game. The murder mystery nights would involve several rooms in the hotel where there are hidden clues that can help the guests figure out who the murder is faster.
After being a witness in multiple murder mystery nights, Pratt combined the elements found on those events with his love for detective fiction into one board game, which he called “Murder!” Pratt then applied filed a patent for the board game on December 1, 1994. In order to sell the board game to stores, Pratt had a conversation with Geoffrey Bull, who was a friend of his and the inventor of another board game called Buccaneer. Bull introduced Pratt to Norman Watson, the managing director for Waddingtons, a game manufacturing company.
Watson became interested in the game after playing it with Pratt in February 1945, and he then agreed to produce the board game. However, before agreeing, Watson wanted to change the board game’s name to “Cluedo,” which is a mix between “clue” and “ludo” (Latin word for “I play), in order to make it more kid-friendly.
Cluedo’s production did not start until 1949, mainly due to the shortage of material after World War II. But when it was released on the said year, Cluedo became an instant hit. When it was brought to North America, the board game’s name was simplified to “Clue.”
At the start of a Clue game, one player must shuffle the Suspects deck, the Weapons deck, and the Rooms deck, and he or she must place one card for each deck into a special envelope. These cards will be the ones that will indicate who the murderer is, the weapon that was used for the murder, and where the murder took place. The player who shuffled the decks must then combine all the cards, shuffle them, and distribute them to each player. Take note that some players may have more cards than others.
Once all the cards are distributed, each player must then choose a character on the board that they want to play as. Each of these characters must also be placed in different locations of the mansion at the start of the game. Keep in mind that all of them must be placed at the side of the board first.
Here are the characters that players can choose from:
- Miss Scarlet (Red) – between the Lounge and the Hall
- Mr. Green (Green) – between the Ballroom and the Conservatory
- Professor Plum (Purple) – between the Library and the Study
- Mrs. Peacock (Blue) – between the Conservatory and the Billiard Room
- Colonel Mustard (Yellow) – between the Dining Room and the Lounge
- Mrs. White (replaced by Dr. Orchid in the 2016 version, White) – between the Kitchen and the Ballroom
One of these characters is the suspect of the game, and even the player wouldn’t know that the character he or she is playing is the murderer.
In the older versions of Clue, Miss Scarlet would always move first, but to make it fair and to stop players from fighting who will play as Miss Scarlet, the rule was changed, as the player who will move first is now decided by who rolls the highest number in the dice before the game starts.
In order to move around the board, a player must roll the dice. Once that player’s character is inside a room, which is nine in total (excluding the Cellar where the special envelope is placed), he or she can make a suggestion on who the suspect is and what the murder weapon is. The player must include the room he or she is in on the suggestion. For example, if the player is inside the Kitchen, he or she can say, “Mr. Green is in the Kitchen and used a Dagger to kill the victim.”
Once the suggestion is stated, the other players can disprove it by showing one card that depicts the murder weapon, the room, or the suspect that was included in the suggestion. However, a player can only show that one card to the player who made the suggestion, and no other player must know which part of the statement was disproven.
On the other hand, if a player is blocking a door that leads to a room, other players may not be able to go inside. However, some rooms on the board have secret passages wherein players can go to another room to make it more convenient to traverse the mansion. Here are the rooms with secret passages:
- Lounge <-> Conservatory
- Kitchen <-> Study
As the game goes on, many suspects, weapons, and rooms will be disproven, and all the players will start getting closer to the truth as they are going to figure out which cards are not in their hands.
At any point in the game, a player may already make an accusation, which details the murder weapon, the suspect, and the room where the murder took place. An accusation can be made regardless of the character of the player’s position on the board. After making an accusation, that player must then take a look at the cards on the special envelope without letting the others see its contents.
If the player’s accusation is true, he or she wins the game. But if the accusation is false, then the player must return the cards inside the envelope, and he or she may no longer suggest or accuse in the game. However, that player is still allowed to disprove suggestions from other players.
Popular Editions and Variants
There are dozens of different versions available for Clue besides the regular edition, and some of these special variants offer twists and new mechanics to the board game that murder mystery fans will surely love.
Clue Junior is a version for Clue that specially made for kids to play, as instead of revolving around solving a murder, players would have to find out who ate the last piece of cake inside the mansion. This edition of clue has fewer tiles to make it faster to play, and it also comes with a detective notepad so that kids can take notes of the clues in the game. Clue Junior is one of the editions that introduced Dr. Orchid as a replacement for Mrs. White.
This special edition of Clue is inspired by the popular TV series, Downton Abbey, and it features the main characters in the show, such as Lord Grantham, Mrs. Hughes, The Dowager Countess, John Bates, Tom Branson, and Lady Mary. In Clue Downton Abbey, players must suggest and accuse which character stole a valuable object in the game, and the stolen item can be a typewriter, a telephone, a bow tie, a pocket watch, or a Lavender loaf.
The Star Wars edition is a unique Clue board game that had two levels on the board where players must find the Death Star plans and steal the correct vehicle to escape from the clutches of the Empire. Participants of the game can play as the popular characters in the Star Wars movie franchise, and these characters are Han Solo, R2-D2, Chewbacca, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia.
What better franchise to pair with Clue, than a mystery-focused show called Scooby-Doo! In this edition, players will play as the five members of the Scooby-Doo gang to investigate Mrs. White’s mansion to know who was abducted inside the building and where the abduction took place. This special version also includes personality cards and rumor cards to make the game more interesting.
There are many more variants of Clue that are available in toy stores and online shops, but despite having many versions, the original edition of Clue is still the best-selling one out of all. Whether you are playing the regular version or a special edition, the Clue board game will surely bring out the detective in you.