I'll always have a special place on my game shelf for Clue. It's one of the earliest games I remember playing as a child that actually utilized strategy. I wore out the box to my Clue, Master Detective game, but still enjoy playing it, and find it a very fun, highly strategic, close matchup between me and my playgroup. So when Rob brought over Cluedo last night, having just won it on Ebay, and seeing there were 6 of us, I said sure, and we sat down to unpack it and learn how it was different.
In case you're not familiar with Clue, the basic premise is that a murder has occurred, and you play a double-role as an investigator... but also a Suspect! Your job is to find out who did it, where, and with what weapon, before any of the other players/suspects do. (It seems that, even if your character did the murder, you don't remember doing it, and want to prove to the police that you were hypnotized at the time, by doing all the research to prove your guilt. )
As in Clue, the suspect, weapon, and room cards are split into individual piles and shuffled, removing one at random from each pile to the case file. These are the facts: the guilty party, their weapon, and the murder site.
Different from regular Clue, the remaining 'Clue' cards are not dealt evenly to all players; instead, the piles are shuffled together and make one draw pile, where players will slowly acquire information over the course of the game. Also, there are "item" cards available to acquire, which provide one-shot bonuses, like "roll 2 dice when moving" (instead of 1) or "you may ask one person 2 suspicions (suggestions) instead of 1", etc. Finally, there are event cards, which are one of the biggest changes in the game.
Your turn: Movement
Movement, as in Clue, is controlled by a six-sided die, but the '1' and 2' have been removed from a standard d6 and replaced with a target, which means "Draw and resolve the top event card." More on those later. Movement is on a grid, much like in the original clue, where players may move orthogonally up to their movement roll. If they land next to an unclaimed 'Clue' or 'Item' marker, they claim the marker and draw the top card from the clue or item pile, saving the items for use later and keeping the clues in their hand as the information they know. (Yes, this means you cannot reliably make an accusation until all the clue cards have been picked up.)
The gameboard is variable, consisting of 12 square tiles with 4 exits each, except the starting room which has only 3. Upon moving to an exit of your current room where there is no adjacent room, you turn over the top room tile and place it such that one of its exits (always in the center of all 4 sides, so you have 4 choices) aligns with the one you're leaving. You also place 'Clue' and 'Item' markers on designated squares in the room, typically 2-4 of these in some combination occur in each room. Each is a one-shot, first-come-first-served chance to get something to help your quest. Nine of the room tiles are the possible murder locations (familiar to clue veterans, things like Ballroom and Lounge); the other 3 are just filler locations where you might pick up more clues / items.
According to the rules, you may make a suggestion (suspicion) 'when entering/arriving at a room at the start of your turn.' This is a little vague, so we played that you had to move to a different room than the one you began your turn in to make a suspicion. I don't think doing it the other way would have been very good; it's similar to having to roll sufficiently high to make it to the next room in regular Clue. Unlike in regular Clue, you 'target' a specific player and ask them any Person/Weapon combination you like, paired with the room you are in. If they have at least one of the cards you name, they must show you one of their choice, ala regular Clue. The rule are completely absent for what to do in rooms that cannot be the murder location, so by house rule we adopted the "Cloak Room" rule from Master Detective: suspicions allow, but Person/Weapon only. One player wanted to allow "Any Room." We vetoed him quickly.
Back too those event cards: Half (approx.) of the Event cards involve 3 NPCs: The Butler, the Inspector, and the Dog. Typically these say "If [specific NPC] is not in play, place it on any blank tile in your room" or "If ... is in play, move it to any blank tile in any room." Most then allow you to continue to move, up to 6 spaces, but some end your turn immediately. These NPCs are an interesting twist: they are impassible obstacles, much the like the furniture in some of the rooms (e.g., the Pool table in the billiard room). You cannot hop over them like you would another player; you must go around (if you are trapped, you can move over one after you lose a turn). We used them offensively to trap the player we thought was the leader. I personally also used an event card that let me move everyone into the room with one of them to trap EVERYONE (but myself), since two NPCs were already there forming a roadblock. Very powerful and random. A few of these cards say "your turn ends immediately," which can really hurt, especially at the beginning of the game, as you are literally racing to get to the valuable clues and items first.
Winning the game
Once you've figured out, through whatever means, usually a combination of clever suspicions, lucky guesses, and your own Clue cards, who, what, and where, you must race all the way back to the entrace and stand next to the telephone in order to make an accusation. An interesting twist here from regular Clue is that you write down your accusation and only reveal it if you're right, so as to not give away extra information to the other players with a wrong guess.
The game has a lot of randomness, between the die roll, the random room setup (some rooms are better than others), the event cards, and the item cards. In fact, it's too much randomness. It's very hard to feel like you're in control, largely because you're quite often not. You needed to roll a 3 to reach that clue? Too bad, you rolled an event that ends your turn. You were on your way to the Hall so you could rule it out? Too bad, tea is being served in the Kitchen and you must attend.
A bad event card draw at the start can really hurt. In our 6-player game, Lisa lost her first turn due to an event card. She never got any Clue cards. Kyle did only slightly better with 1, and Nancy got 2. That means that 3 players got 5/6th of all the cards, which is just insane. And it's not like the others weren't trying; they just couldn't get there first.
Theme: 4/5. This version, if you read the full text of event and item cards, really does a nice job with capturing the theme that we're in a mansion and investigating a murder.
Mechanics/Gameplay: 2/5. The mechanics are a neat idea, if not entirely well-executed. Tamer event cards maybe? Give everyone one clue to start to help balance that? I don't know.
Strategy -- need to use to win: 3/5. A lucky guess still goes a very long way. But part of the lucky guess is knowing what to guess.
Strategy -- ability to use to win: 2/5. As mentioned above, there's too much randomness interfering.
Replayability: 4/5. If you like this game, you'd find it a completely different game every time. Almost nothing is the same between any two games. However, a game length of just under 2 hours is a little high for a Clue-type game in my book.
Overall: 2.5/10. If you want a more strategic Clue, check out Clue Master Detective. If you're looking for a light-hearted murder mystery game, regular Clue is probably as good, easier to get, and plays faster. If theme really matters to you, this is a good bet, or maybe Mystery of the Abbey; although both suffer from a lot of randomness.
hi..nice to see a review of one of my family's favourite games and a good review it is to
we play this lots at a very competitive level and while the event cards are very random (and the npcs could be better used imho) we find its never decisive and adds immensely to the fun for us over the original cluedo (which we rarely play anymore)
i think the uneven clue distribution among players isn't a factor..in fact i actively try and get only 1 or 2 clues as this means people rarely ask me any questions and thus i get maximum information on other people's turns and its never done me much harm..i instead collect as many items as possible because....
in a lot of our games we find everyone has pretty much worked out whodunnit (not completely but enough for a guess) at about the same time and so when one person starts for the phone there is a hectic scramble where those cups of tea cards really come into their own
given this close competition new strategies have evolved especially regarding room movement as quite often its the room you have left to work out at the end therefore careful note is paid to other player's movements so as to deduce what rooms they think/dont think it is - so much so i spend a lot of time purposely moving to rooms JUST to bluff what i know
having said all that we mostly play 3/4 player games but the few 6player games weve played have been every bit as tense/fun
i keep meaning to try and rejig the event/item cards to better effect but that's on a (ever growing) long list of games to make/modify..maybe one day
i'd agree if you want more pure deductive strategy then go for vanilla cluedo but for a lot of fun and theme CSS rocks
oh and don't ever bother with the passport to murder cluedo - a tedious race game and little to do with 'proper' clue
I recently bought this game after having seen it at a friends place. And I have to disagree with the comments on it being slower and less strategic than the original Cluedo. I think that, with the NPCs and items (plus the random board element) it makes for a much more tactical game and generally a lot quicker than normal too.
I gave it 8 out of 10 as I enjoy playing this all the time, whereas with original Cluedo I get very bored very quickly... perhaps it's just one of those games that just isn't very interesting after being around so long. But either way, I find it far more entertaining trapping someone behind the butler and the dog and running away with the clues than just traipsing from one room to the next making suggestions!