Cluedo board.jpg
Board Game published by
No. of Players 2 to 6
Session Time 15-60 minutes
First Publication 1949

Clue (or Cluedo in metric units) is a murder-mystery board game with a roll-and-move and deduction mechanics. It's too simple if you're old enough to have beard on your neck, but like Risk and Monopoly, it is well-known, simple enough for non-gamers, and has produced some memes. Unlike those two games, it can actually be fun to play.



While the names and exact story depend on the edition, they all tend to follow a common pattern: the extremely wealthy Reginald Boddy (or Dr. Black) has been discovered dead in his mansion. The only people who had the opportunity to kill him are the people staying at his mansion at the time:

  • Miss Scarlet, an exotic, almost seductive woman.
  • Colonel Mustard, a military man with a mustache and beard that would make Castor jealous. Imagine every stereotype of British big-game hunters.
  • Mrs. White, Mr. Boddy's maid.
  • Mr. Green, a business tycoon with some shady connections. In the UK, he's a crooked Reverend.
  • Mrs. Peacock, an elderly aristocrat. Some versions of her depict her as being constantly involved in scandals.
  • Professor Plum, an absent-minded professor.
  • Dr. Orchid, a secretive Asian biologist, replaced Mrs.White in the most recent edition as a new suspect. This was around 2016; The fact that this happened three years ago and the only one really giving a shit is the couple of indifferent journalists (and the Chinese) trying to hype this up probably testifies her only existence is a marketing ploy.

There is also the question of which of six weapons was used to kill him (the Candlestick, the Knife, the Lead Pipe, the Revolver, the Rope, or the Wrench) (you would think it'd be pretty obvious what weapon was used, but still...), and which of the nine rooms in his mansion he was killed in (the Ballroom, the Billiard Room, the Conservatory, the Dining Room, the Hall, the Kitchen, the Library, the Lounge, and the Study) (and you'd think this would also be obvious). The "master detective" version of the game is exactly the same with a larger board, 12 rooms, 10 suspects and 8 weapons.

Cluedo D&D.jpg
It was the Dwarf, in the oubliette, with the mace of disruption.


"I set Plum on overwatch."
"A candlestick genestealer enters the hallway."

Players begin by placing the tokens corresponding to the characters (a pawn whose color matches the name of each guest) on designated starting spaces. The cards corresponding to the guests, weapons, and rooms are shuffled, and then one of each is drawn and placed in an envelope in the center of the board. This represents the actual combination of who killed Mr. Boddy, what he or she used to kill him, and where he was killed. The remaining cards are dealt to the players.

Each player then rolls a d6 in turn, and moves the corresponding number of spaces. The near-term objective is to get to a room, and then Suggest that Mr. Boddy was killed in that room, by some character (who is moved to that room) and with some weapon (which is brought to that room). The other players then must disprove the suggestion by showing the suggesting player that they have cards corresponding to the room, weapon, or person in the suggestion. Note that some clever/unscrupulous players can make frivolous suggestions to draw their rivals across the board and hinder their own investigations.

By keeping track of what cards the other players have (and, more importantly, which cards they don't have), players try to work out which cards are in the envelope. A player who thinks he or she has the answer may make an Accusation in his or her turn, naming a character, weapon, and room, and check the envelope. If the accusation is correct, then the cards in the envelope are revealed and the game is over, with the accusing player winning. Otherwise, the cards are left concealed, and the incorrect player is out of the game, except to show cards to other players who make suggestions.

An odd quirk is the names of suspects are re-used for the names of the player tokens; it may be that the "Professor Plum" player wins the game by correctly announcing that "Professor Plum" is the suspect card in the envelope! Some versions have fluff that explains that if that is the case, the player, rather then publicly admitting to the murder, has taken the evidence, and covered up the murder so that he gets away with it.


While not directly relevant for gaming purposes, it may amuse you to know that they actually made a movie based on this game. And unlike forgettable garbage like Battleship or Ouija, or (God help you if you actually saw those) the three Dungeons & Dragons movies; people remember the Clue movie fondly. It wasn't especially great or any ground-breaking, but a murder mystery actually makes for a good story that anyone can relate with and enjoy. The movie stays true to the spirit of the game while greatly expanding on all the characters and giving them all credible reasons to want Mr. Body dead, giving it a good mix of intrigue and comedy. Also, Tim Curry brings his A-game as the hapless butler Wadsworth. The movie was also unique in that there were three separate theatrical versions with three different endings. Seriously, go watch it.


Mostly unknown to people these days, in the 90s there was a series of children's/young adults fiction books based on Clue, presenting Mr. Boddy as a hapless but good-natured fellow who admits he probably needs a better band of friends. Each book was made up of multiple misadventures, which was basically adapting the Clue formula of deductive reasoning to various silly scenarios; the final misadventure in each book was always the closest adaptation to the actual game, revolving around Mr. Boddy's (apparent) murder and a theft.

Probably most notable for, amongst Clue fans, creating the basic personalities of the characters - Colonel Mustard as a pompous, sabre-rattling military man and ex-hunter with a penchant for bragging and challenging people to duels, for example.