Clue (Cluedo outside the U.S.) is a popular murder-mystery board game. It was originally published in Leeds, England in 1949. It was devised by Anthony E. Pratt, a solicitor's clerk from Birmingham, England. It is now published by the United States game and toy company Hasbro, which acquired its U.S. publisher Parker Brothers as well as Waddingtons.
The object of the basic game is for players to strategically move around the game board (a mansion), as of one of the game's six suspects (or, collecting clues from which to deduce which suspect murdered the game's perpetual victim: Mr. Boddy (Dr. Black, outside of U.S.), and with which weapon and in what room.
Several games, books, and a film have been released as part of the Cluedo franchise. The board game forms a chronology. Overall, several spinoffs have been released, some featuring extra characters, and for some, different game play. More recent editions have restored the name Boddy Mansion to the mansion, and say the mansion is located in Boston, Massachusetts in the year 1954 (located in Hampshire, England outside of the U.S.).
In 1944, Anthony E. Pratt, an English solicitor's clerk, filed 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 during sometimes lengthy air raid drills in underground bunkers. Shortly thereafter, Pratt and his wife presented the game to Waddingtons' executive, Norman Watson, who immediately purchased the game and provided its trademark name of "Cluedo" (a play on "clue" and "Ludo", which 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, at which time the game was simultaneously licensed to Parker Brothers in the United States for publication, where it was re-named "Clue" along with other minor changes.
However, 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, with Nurse White, and Colonel Yellow. 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 axe, bomb, syringe, poison, shillelagh (walking stick/cudgel), and fireplace poker. Some of these unused weapons and characters would appear in later spinoff 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 would be updated by the game's initial release and remain essentially unchanged in the standard classic editions of the game.
The game's current equipment consists of a board which shows the rooms, corridors and secret passages of an English country house called Boddy Mansion, although previously named variously as Tudor Close or Tudor Hall, and in some editions Tudor Manor or Tudor Mansion). The game box also includes several colored 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.
Depending on edition, the playing pieces are typically made of colored 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 the following original characters:
- Ms. Vivienne Scarlet, the sultry and beautiful actress of the game.
- Col. Michael Mustard, the militant and athletic colonel of the game.
- Mrs. Blanche White, the intrusive and kindly maid of the game.
- Rev. Jonathan Green, the conniving and religious priest(mobster) of the game.
- Mrs. Elizabeth Peacock, the sinister and political senator of the game.
- Prof. Peter Plum, the uptight and intelligent professor of the game.
The new suspects are:
- Miss Georgia Peach, the manipulative and innocent southern belle of the game.
- M. Alphonse Brunette, the weaselly and skillful artist of the game.
- Mme. Rhoda Rose, the peculiar and eccentric psychic of the game.
- Sgt. Marshall Gray, the demented and corrupt cop of the game.
- Lady Su Sian Lavender, the honorable and shrewd herbalist of the game.
- Prince Philippe Azure, the worldly and secretive prince of the game.
- Mrs. Jane Meadow-Brook, the gossipy and temperamental reporter of the game.
- Mr. Miles Meadow-Brook, the just and blundering lawyer of the game.
- Mr. Rusty Nayler, the grouchy and helpful gardener of the game.
- Garden Shears
There are nine rooms in the mansion where the murder can take place, laid out in a 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 center 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. Colored "start" spaces encircle the outer perimeter which correspond to each player's suspect token. Miss Scarlet starts at the red space, Colonel Mustard starts at the yellow space, Mrs. White starts at the white space, Mr. Green starts at the green space, Mrs. Peacock starts at the blue space, and Professor Plum starts at the purple space.
Here are the original rooms of Boddy Estate:
- Billiard Room
- Dining Room
- Guest House
- Drawing Room
- Master Bedroom
Here is the standard map:
† ‡ denotes 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. Play begins with Ms. Scarlet and proceeds clockwise. Players roll the dice and move along the board spaces accordingly, and entering rooms in order to make suggestions from that room.
The aim is to deduce the details of the murder; that is, the cards in the envelope. There are six different characters, six possible murder weapons and nine different rooms, leaving the players with 324 distinct possibilities. In the course of determining the details of the murder, players announce suggestions to the other players, for example, "I suggest it was Professor Plum, in the Study, with the Gloves." All elements contained in the suggestion are moved into the room in the suggestion.
The other players must then disprove the suggestion, if they can. This is done in clockwise order around the board. A suggestion is disproved by showing a card containing one of the suggestion components (for example, Professor Plum) to the player making the suggestion, as this proves that the card cannot be in the envelope. Showing the card to the suggesting player is done in secret so the other players may not see which card is being used to disprove the suggestion. Once a suggestion has been disproved, the player's turn ends and moves on to the next player.
The player's suggestion only gets disproved once. So, though several players may hold cards disproving the suggestion, only the first one will show the suggesting player his or her card. A player may only make a suggestion when his or her piece is in a room and the suggestion can only be for that room.
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 the player suggests). The accusing player checks the validity of the accusation by checking the cards, keeping them concealed from other players. If he has made an incorrect accusation, he plays no further part in the game except to reveal cards secretly to one of the remaining players when required to do so in order 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." Since a character pawn can only block a door by being outside of a room, this clearly demonstrates that the character pawn need not be in any room to make an Accusation. If the player made a correct accusation, the solution cards are shown to the other players and the game ends.
It is possible for a player to be using 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. If the game is played with two people, the process of elimination diffuses the same information to both players. Such a game tends to pass quickly. All editions of the current version of the game are advertised as a three-six player game only. Traditionally, the UK version was advertised for two-six players.
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 SuspectEdit
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. However, Ms. Scarlet moves first.
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 his turn to move immediately to another room and make a suggestion without rolling the dice. Ms. 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 that room in his 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.