Designer: Anthony E. Pratt
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Date Released: 1949
Number of Players: 3-6
Age Range: 8 and up
Setup Time: 10-15 minutes
Play Time: Around 45 minutes
Players assume the role of a character invited to a mansion, but a murder has occurred. Someone has killed Mr. Body, and it’s up to the players to figure out who killed him, what weapon they used to kill him, and in which room the murder occurred.
Players receive character, weapon, and location cards after the top card from each card type is secretly placed in the confidential file in the middle of the board. Players must move to a room and then make an accusation against a character saying that the character did it in the room that the accuser is in with a specific weapon.
The player to the accuser’s left must prove the accuser wrong if they can by showing a card that disproves the accusation so long as the card exists in the player’s hand. Through deductive reasoning (and a handy notepad with which to take notes) each player must figure out which character, weapon, and location are in the confidential file.
Once a player believes they’ve solved the murder, they attempt to solve the case by declaring their solution at the end of their turn. If they’re right, they win. If they’re wrong, they’re eliminated and play continues. The first player to successfully guess the right combination of cards in the confidential file wins.
Clue has aged better than a lot of other early modern tabletop games. Its classic gameplay has inspired several whodunit games since and even a 1985 comedic movie.
Despite the untarnished core gameplay, Clue still suffers from the roll/spin and move mechanic. Any time a game resorts to this mechanic, at best the game has eliminated one possibility for a strategic element for the randomness of rolling a die or worse, tempted players to manipulate the rolling of said die.
Regardless, the elegance of obtaining clues, the bluffs that ensue (which leads to many strategies), and the colorful characters lead to a fun game that doesn’t take as long as you might think. Clue isn’t Monopoly. While a game could take longer than an hour, most games clock in at forty-five minutes or so. But like Monopoly, Clue has seen its share of marketing tie-ins.