As the title indicates, I consider myself something of a lightweight wargamer. I enjoy a couple of miniatures-type games, I'm always open for a game of Risk, and I'm learning Axis&Allies. (OK, so far very lightweight, but my interests lie very much in this direction).
I recently started meeting with a group of friends for a monthly games get-together. On our first meeting, I dug out every last boardgame my wife and I have ever owned - Clue 50th Anniversary Edition among them.
Well, the group chose to start off with Risk at first. We had a good game of that, then decided we wanted something a little less strategic (how little we understood!), and we reached for the Clue box.
First inspection of the set (I had never even opened this one, though my wife played it several times before we ever met) showed some very high quality bits and pieces. Very nice sterling silver pieces with color coded bases for each player, and very nice weapons to place on the board. The artwork on the board was well-done, probably a step or two above the typical mass-produced boardgame. The cards for the game were something of a disappointment though - they're nice enough, but don't really compare to the quality of the game pieces or the board itself.
Also nice were the included pencils and dedicated "holding area" for such - as long as a little care is taken when putting away the game, you should never have trouble tracking down pencils for everyone's case notes. The clipboard/invitations for everyone's notes are also fairly nice - rigid enough to take notes against without placing them directly on a table and giving away all your valuable research to your opponents.
The gameplay is pretty simple - we've managed to get in multiple games on each of our 2 gatherings. My group has now played both 4-player and 5-player games of Clue, and definitely found that more players makes the game more complex - it's difficult to get the clues out of everyone at the table unless you take VERY good notes.
Remember way back in the beginning of this review when I said we wanted something a little less strategic? Well, for better or for worse, this wasn't it. In our case, it was pleasantly for the better. Once you begin playing, you quickly find that there's a definite strategy to how you go about your investigation AND how you respond to other's investigations. For anyone out there who's never played Clue, the gist of the gameplay is this: A murder has been committed - poor Mr. Body lies dead in the mansion where all the players are attending a dinner party. There is a small set of cards - one card for each room in the mansion, one card for each potential weapon to be found in the mansion, and one card for each suspect - each person attending the dinner party. One of each card is randomly picked at the start of play and hidden in an envelope, while the remaining cards are shuffled together and dealt out to each player. Each card, obviously enough, indicates the weapon, location, and the suspect NOT involved in the murder. Each turn, each player tries to get to any room on the board (using a die to determine how far down each hall they can travel) where they can suggest a person and a weapon used in the crime in that very room. At that point, the next player can disprove that suggestion by showing the accusing player an appropriate card - if they don't have such a card, then disproving the accusation falls on the next player, and so on around the table. In this way, each player can collect a list of what cards are NOT in the envelope at the center of the board, in order to determine the how, where, and who of the murder.
And this is where the strategy begins. When you suggest someone committed a murder, you pick up their piece and move it into the room in which you're making your suggestion. Does one of your opponents seem to want to get to a specific room to make a suggestion? Well, use your own suggestion to drag them away from their intended room! Do you want to throw people off while also ruling out one card of the three categories (location, weapon, or suspect)? Suggest 2 cards you currently hold and 1 you do not - and do so repeatedly. Your opponents may believe you've got info to implicate those 2 cards you stick to, and this may throw them off the scent! There's a lot of strategy that goes into who you show certain cards to, how and when you make your suggestions, and how you choose to move around the mansion. This game is considerably deeper than it first appears.
Overall, this edition is very nice. It's a fun game, and the production values of the 50th edition package are quite nice. If you've already got a copy of Clue, there's honestly not enough here to justify picking up this package (unless you're an absolute Clue-fiend!). If you don't have a copy, this is more than worth going to pick up!