Cluedo — known as Clue in North America — is a murder mystery game for three to six players, devised by Anthony E. Pratt fromBirmingham, England, and currently published by the American game and toy company Hasbro. The object of the game is to determine who murdered the game's victim ("Dr. Black" in the UK version and "Mr. Boddy" in North American versions), where the crime took place, and which weapon was used. Each player assumes the role of one of the six suspects, and attempts to deduce the correct answer by strategically moving around a game board representing the rooms of a mansion and collecting clues about the circumstances of the murder from the other players.
Numerous games, books, and a film have been released as part of the Cluedo franchise. Several spinoffs have been released featuring various extra characters, weapons and rooms, or different game play. The original game is marketed as the "Classic Detective Game", while the various spinoffs are all distinguished by different slogans.
In 2008, Cluedo: Discover the Secrets was created (with changes to board, gameplay and characters) as a modern spinoff, but was criticized in the media and by fans of the original game. Cluedo: The Classic Mystery Game was then introduced in 2012, returning to Pratt's classic formula but also adding several variations.
In 1944, Anthony E. Pratt, an English musician, applied for a patent of his invention of a murder/mystery-themed game, originally named "Murder!" The game was originally invented as a new game to play in bomb shelters. Shortly thereafter, Pratt and his wife, Elva Pratt (1913-1990), who had helped in designing the game, presented it to Waddingtons' executive, Norman Watson, who immediately purchased it and provided its trademark name of "Cluedo" (a play on "clue" and "Ludo"; ludo is Latin for I play). Though the patent was granted in 1947, due to post-war shortages, the game was not officially launched until 1949, when the game was simultaneously licensed to Parker Brothers in the United States for publication, where it was renamed "Clue" along with other minor changes.
There were several differences between the original game concept and that initially published in 1949, In particular, Pratt's original design calls for ten characters, one of whom was to be designated the victim by random drawing prior to the start of the game. These ten included the eliminated Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, Miss Grey, and Mrs. Silver. The characters of Nurse White and Colonel Yellow were renamed Mrs. White and Colonel Mustard for the actual release. The game allowed for play of up to eight remaining characters, providing for nine suspects in total. Originally there were eleven rooms, including the eliminated "gun room" and cellar. In addition, there were nine weapons including the unused bomb, syringe, shillelagh (walking stick/cudgel), fireplace poker, axe, and poison. Some of these unused weapons and characters appeared later in spin-off versions of the game.
Some gameplay aspects were different as well. Notably, the remaining playing cards were distributed into the rooms to be retrieved, rather than dealt directly to the players. Players also had to land on another player in order to make suggestions about that player's character through the use of special counter-tokens, and once exhausted, a player could no longer make suggestions. There were other minor differences, all of which were later updated by the game's initial release and remain essentially unchanged in the standard Classic Detective Game editions of the game.
How to Play
The game consists of a board which shows the rooms, corridors and secret passages of an English country house called Tudor Mansion, although previously named variously as Tudor Close or Tudor Hall, and in some editions Boddy Manor or Boddy Mansion. More recent editions have restored the name Tudor Mansion to the mansion and say the mansion is in Hampshire, England in the year 1926. The game box also includes several coloured playing pieces to represent characters, miniature murder weapon props, one or two six-sided dice, three sets of cards, each set describing the aforementioned rooms, characters and weapons, Solution Cards envelope to contain one card from each set of cards, and a Detective's Notes pad on which are printed lists of rooms, weapons and characters, so players can keep detailed notes during the game.
The figurines and traditional set of North American & UK suspect tokens
Depending on edition, the playing pieces are typically made of coloured plastic, shaped like chess pawns, or character figurines. Occasionally they are made from wood or pewter. The standard edition of Cluedo comes with six basic tokens representing these original characters:
- Miss Scarlett (Miss Scarlet in North American versions after 1963) is a red piece.
- Professor Plum is a purple piece.
- Mrs. Peacock is a blue piece.
- Reverend Green (Mr. Green in North American versions) is a green piece.
- Colonel Mustard is a yellow piece.
- Mrs. White is a white piece.
In July 2016, Hasbro announced that Mrs. White would be replaced by a new character, Dr. Orchid, in future editions of the game.
The playing tokens are typically made out of unfinished pewter, with the exception of the rope, which may be made of plastic, metal, or string depending on edition. Special editions have included gold plated, brass finished and sterling silver versions, which have appeared in a variety of designs.
- Dagger ("Knife" in North American editions, each represented by a respective depiction)
- Lead pipe (called lead piping in earlier UK editions; the early tokens were made out of actual lead and therefore pose a risk of lead poisoning)
- Revolver (first depicted in the UK as a Dreyse M1907 semi-automatic pistol, and in North America as a Colt M1911 pistol.) Beginning in 1972, all editions typically now represent an Allan & Thurber pepper-box revolver.
- Spanner ("Wrench" in North American editions, which depict it as a monkey wrench; it may also be shown as an open-ended spanner in some traditional UK versions)
There are nine rooms in the mansion where the murder can take place, laid out in circular fashion on the game board, separated by pathways overlaid by playing spaces. Each of the four corner rooms contains a secret passage that leads to the room on the opposite diagonal corner of the map. The centre room (often referred to as the Cellar, or Stairs) is inaccessible to the players, but contains the solution envelope, and is not otherwise used during game play. Coloured "start" spaces encircle the outer perimeter which correspond to each player's suspect token. Each character starts at the corresponding coloured space.
† ‡ denote secret passages to opposite corner
At the beginning of play, three cards — one suspect, one weapon, and one room card — are chosen at random and put into a special envelope, so that no one can see them. These cards represent the facts of the case. The remainder of the cards are distributed among the players.
Players are instructed to assume the token/suspect nearest them. In older versions, play begins with Miss Scarlett and proceeds clockwise. In modern versions, all players roll the dice and the highest total starts the game and then proceeds clockwise. Players roll the dice (some versions contain one and others two) and move along the board's corridor spaces, or into the rooms accordingly.
The aim is to deduce the details of the murder; that is, the cards in the envelope. There are six characters, six murder weapons and nine rooms, leaving the players with 324 possibilities. While determining the details of the murder, players announce suggestions to the other players, for example:
- "I suggest it was Professor Plum, in the Dining Room, with the candlestick."
The player's token must be in the room they suggest (in this example, it must be in the Dining Room); suggestions may not be made in the corridors. The token of the player suggested as the murderer as well as the weapon suggested are moved into the room, if not already present.
The player to the left of the suggesting player must then disprove the suggestion, if they can, by showing the suggesting player one (and only one) of the cards containing one of the suggestion components (either the suspect, the weapon, or the room), as this proves that the card cannot be in the envelope. This is done in secret so that the other players cannot see which card is being used to disprove the suggestion. If a player has more than one such card, they may select which one to show. If the first player to the left of the suggesting player does not have any of the three cards needed to disprove the suggestion, the next player clockwise must disprove the suggestion, if possible, and so on clockwise until either the suggesting player is shown a card that disproves their suggestion, or each player advises that they cannot disprove the suggestion. The suggesting player's turn then ends. The suggesting player does not advise the other players whether they hold any of the three cards.
Once a player has sufficiently narrowed the solution, that player can make an accusation. According to the rules, "When you think you have worked out which three cards are in the envelope, you may, on your turn, make an Accusation and name any three elements you want." Players may name any room (unlike a Suggestion, where a player's character pawn must be in the room that the player suggests).
The accusing player checks the validity of the accusation by checking the cards, keeping them concealed from other players. If they've made an incorrect accusation, they play no further part in the game except to reveal cards secretly to one of the remaining players when required to do so to disprove suggestions. Also, according to the rules, "If, after making a false Accusation, your character pawn is blocking a door, [you must] move it into that room so that other players may enter." If the player made a correct accusation, the solution cards are shown to the other players and the game ends.
A player can use the piece representing the murderer. This does not affect the game play; the object of the game is still to be the first to make the correct accusation.
All editions of the current version of the game are advertised as a three to six player game only. Traditionally, the UK version was advertised for two to six players. The problem with two-player games under these rules is that each player has half of the remaining cards, and thus anything shared easily gives the game away. A player could potentially win after making a single suggestion for which the opponent does not have any of the cards.
Though gameplay is relatively straightforward as described above, various strategies allow players to maximize their opportunities to make suggestions and therefore gain the advantage of accumulating information faster. As alluded to above, blocking the entrance to a room is one way to prevent an opponent from entering a desired room and making a suggestion.
Choice of playing piece
The first opportunity is in choosing the initial playing piece. Mrs. Peacock has an immediate advantage of being one space closer to the first room than any of the other players. Professor Plum can move to the study, and then take the secret passage to the Kitchen, the hardest room to get to. Traditionally, Miss Scarlet had the advantage of moving first. This has been eliminated with the implementation of the high roll rule.
The next opportunity is choice of initial rooms to enter. Again Mrs. Peacock has an advantage in that she is closest to the Conservatory, a corner room with a secret passage, enabling a player on their turn to move immediately to another room and make a suggestion without rolling the dice. Miss Scarlet has a similar advantage with the Lounge. Making as many suggestions as possible gives a player an advantage to gain information. Therefore, moving into a new room as frequently as possible is one way to meet this goal. Players should make good use of the secret passages. Following the shortest path between rooms then is a good choice, even if a player already holds the card representing that room in their hand. As mentioned earlier, blocking passage of another player prevents them from attaining rooms from which to make suggestions. Various single space tracks on the board can therefore become traps, which are best avoided by a player when planning a path from room to room.
Each player begins the game with three to six cards in his hand. Keeping track of which cards are shown to each player is important in deducing the solution. Detective Notes are supplied with the game to help make this task easier. The pads can keep not only a history of which cards are in a player's hand, but also which cards have been shown by another player. It can also be useful in deducing which cards the other players have shown one another. A player makes a suggestion to learn which cards may be eliminated from suspicion. However, in some cases it may be advantageous for a player to include one of their own cards in a suggestion. This technique can be used for both forcing a player to reveal a different card as well as misleading other players into believing a specific card is suspect. Therefore, moving into a room already held in the player's hand may work to their advantage. Suggestions may also be used to thwart a player's opponent. Since every suggestion results in a suspect token being re-located to the suggested room, a suggestion may be used to prevent another player from achieving their intended destination, preventing them from suggesting a particular room, especially if that player appears to be getting close to a solution.
One reason the game is enjoyed by many ages and skill levels is that the complexity of note-taking can increase as a player becomes more skillful. An amateur may simply mark off the cards he has been shown; more advanced players will keep track of who has and who does not have a particular card, possibly with the aid of an additional grid. Expert players may keep track of each suggestion made, knowing that the player who answers it must have at least one of the cards named; which one can be deduced by later events. One can also keep track of which cards a given player has seen, in order to minimize information revealed to that player and/or to read into that player's suggestions.