Clue is not terrible. It’s bad, but it’s not THAT bad. Clue is probably the best of the games that have 1000 variants and are sold in major toy stores. Did you know that in England, Clue is called Cluedo? This is a play on the words CLUE and LUDO (which in latin means “I play”)! Isn’t that the worst name for a game ever? Nothing ever good comes from mixing Latin with children.
In Clue, you play as one of 6 people who all find themselves in a house with a dead body. You’re all suspected of being the murderer, and it’s your job to go around the room and figure out who actually killed “Mr. Body”- because why think up something interesting- it’s only a children’s game. You all start the game with a few cards that have various people, places and things on them, which you reveal to other players if they happen to name one of things on your card. Eventually you figure out which three cards are in the secret envelope, and you make a guess and you win the game.
I played a lot of Clue when I was a kid because 90s. It is pretty much the same game every time. First off, you fight over who is going to play as Ms. Peacock, because she’s the only player that can get into a room on the first turn with a 6. It’s theoretically possible that Ms. Peacock doesn’t get into a room first, but she usually does. Without doing any actual math or statistical analysis, Ms. Peacock is the most likely player to win the game, because she is going to be able to see the most cards the fastest. That’s PRETTY MUCH a fact (not a fact at all). The rest of the players are on an even footing after that, and there’s really no advantage to playing any other character.
Clue has a really clunky end game. Suppose you have found your way into the kitchen. Therein, you are going to suggest that Ms. Scarlett killed Mr. Body (ugh) with a revolver. You know that it was Ms. Scarlett, you know that it was in the kitchen, but you don’t know which weapon was used. Suppose you stumble on the correct answer, and no one shows you a card with the revolver on it. Well, you didn’t make an accusation, only a suggestion, and now you have to wait for another of your turns before you can win the game. In that time, someone can swoop into the kitchen, and make the accusation that wins the game.
There is also a really clunky moving system that’ll have you, on most turns, just rolling a dice and moving spaces. This aspect of the game is really terrible- it’s just a way of making the game longer than it needs to be. Clue wants to last an hour, but it doesn’t want to be enough of a GAME that it should. If you knocked off the silly movement mechanic, you’d have a game that would, at most, last about 20 minutes.
Finally, we get to my usual gripe with this stuff- VARIANT CLUE! There’s a collector’s edition, an Alfred Hitchcock edition, a Simpson’s clue, a Dungeons and Dragons Clue (it should be obvious which player killed the dragon, you were all there), a Harry Potter edition, a 24 edition (where you torture each other by playing games of Monopoly Shaharazad style), an Office edition, and a Big Bang Theory edition. Blah blah blah. There are some interesting variants that have come out, and apparently a 2008 edition of the game was criticized by the media for altering the game too much- That’s right, someone saw a company trying to update Clue and said NOT FOR ME! What a joke.
Thematically, Clue makes no sense. One of the players likely killed Mr. Body (FUUUU). The murderer doesn’t know that they are the murderer, and can win the game via self-accusation. I killed Mr. Body (Jesus…) in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe! I WIN! AND NOW I GOT TO JAIL. Wouldn’t it be much better if there were ways to bluff in this game? Wouldn’t it be better if you actually had to figure out which of the players was the murderer? Ah well!
What should you play instead?
You should play Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. Or, if you’re playing with children, you can probably still play Clue. Clue isn’t bad! I’m going to put off discussing Consulting Detective for now, as I want to write a review, but it’s quite good and very thematic.