How to Play Clue: The Classic Mystery Board Game

clue board game

Introduction & Overview

If you love playing the detective or unraveling a great mystery, the board game Clue is a terrific way to spend the afternoon. Based on the popular detective fiction of the early 1940s, this crime-solving game teaches strategy, logic, and the process of elimination.

The classic mystery game has three main objectives: discover the suspect who murdered the victim, decide which room location fits the crime, and determine the murder weapon used for the crime.

Because the Clue game rules focus on detective sleuthing while keeping the murder component fairly non-graphic, it has become a classic family pastime as well as a great way to teach the power of deductive reasoning.

History of Clue

British musician Anthony Pratt invented the board game as a way to pass time while waiting out the U.K. air raids of World War II. He filed to patent the game in 1944.

After receiving the patent in 1947, he sold the game to the manufacturing company Waddington’s Ltd.

The company released the game to the British public in 1948, and the American distribution company the Parker Brothers bought the rights to sell the game in America in 1949.

The American multinational conglomerate Hasbro acquired the Parker Brothers in 1991 and currently distributes the game.

Clue vs. Cluedo

Many individuals have asked, “What is the difference between Clue and Cluedo?” It is important to note that Clue and Cluedo are essentially the same game.

The North American manufacturer (Hasbro, Inc.) markets the game as “Clue” to the United States and Canada. Remaining distributors label the game “Cluedo” in over 40 countries throughout the rest of the world.

The reason for the difference is that Anthony Pratt initially named the game Cluedo. The word is a portmanteau of “clue” and Ludo, 19th-century board game named after the Latin phrase “I play.”

Since most Americans were unfamiliar with the Ludo game, the Parker Brothers shortened Cluedo to Clue upon its release in North America.

Clue – Master Detective

clue master detective board game

In 1988, manufacturers introduced a supersized version of the game known as Clue – Master Detective. This expanded version of Clue includes 12 rooms, 10 characters, and eight weapons.

Published via Winning Moves Games USA, this version of the game can support up to 10 players at a time.

Clue – Discover the Secrets

Introduced in 2008, Clue – Discover the Secrets is a modernized version of the board game that changed the board, game rules, and characters. Despite the widespread attempt to update the game, however, both fans and game professionals criticized changes to the game.

In 2012, the publisher revived Cluedo – The Classic Mystery Game as a celebrated return to the original formula with a few modern elements.

Components of the Clue Board Game

Clue Game Board

The Clue game board shows nine rooms as well as corridors and hidden passages located within a Tudor-style English mansion. In the classic game, the board represents a snapshot of what the interior of an English country home would have looked like in Hampshire, England in 1926.

The nine rooms on the game board include the kitchen, ballroom, conservatory, dining room, cellar, study, billiard room, library, and lounge room.

Six Colored Tokens

Each of the six tokens represents a murder suspect in the game: Col. Mustard (yellow token), Miss Scarlet (red token), Prof. Plum (purple token), Mr. Green (green token), Mrs. White (white token), and Mrs. Peacock (blue token).

In 2016, Hasbro replaced Mrs. White with a new character named Dr. Orchid (pink token).

Six Miniature Weapon Tokens

The six miniature weapon tokens consist of a candlestick, dagger, lead pipe, wrench or spanner, revolver, and rope.

Pack of Cards

The card pack designates one card for each of the nine rooms, six suspects, and six weapons.


The game comes with notepads on which players can make detective notes. Each notepad features a printed list of rooms, weapons, and characters. This feature brings authenticity to the game by emulating the standard detective notepad of the early 20th century.

Case File Confidential Envelope

This confidential envelope contains the secret cards that show the murder victim, weapon, and location. During the game, the envelope sits in the center of the game board.

One Die

Each set contains one die. According to the Clue game rules, players roll the die to determine how many spaces their tokens move along corridors and into rooms throughout the game.

Additional Components in Clue – Master Detective

The supersized version of Clue includes the following added suspects: Miss Peach, Monsieur Brunette, Madame Rose, and Sgt. Gray.

In addition to the standard miniature weapons, the game also adds a poison token and a horseshoe token. Extra rooms like the fountain, gazebo, and carriage house complete this expanded edition that accommodates up to 10 players.

Setting Up the Clue Board Game

Preparing to Play Clue

Once you have gathered all of the components of the game, it is time to start preparing to play. The process of the game is that each player rolls the die to move along corridors and into rooms on the game board.

Participants play the sleuth along until someone figures out which three cards in the secret envelope explain the “who,” “what,” and “where” of the crime. Therefore, the first step is that each player must select a colored suspect token.

Once every player has selected a colored suspect token in preparation to play, take each suspect token and place it on that character’s assigned starting space on the board.

All six suspect tokens go on the board regardless of the number of players. This means that if there are fewer than six individuals currently playing the game, you still need to put the remaining suspect tokens in the correct starting squares since any character in Clue may have committed the crime.

After matching the suspect tokens to their character names on the board, place each of the miniature weapon tokens in a room.

Note that while some Clue boards match weapon tokens to specific rooms, others allow you to place the tokens at random into any room.

Getting the Cards Ready for Clue

To get the cards ready for Clue, one player sorts each card by type into three separate groups: suspects, weapons, and rooms. Shuffle every pile and then place each deck face-down.

Without looking at the front of the cards, the player who shuffled the deck draws one suspect card, one weapons card, and one room card. Slide these three cards into the confidential envelope, then place this top-secret envelope in the middle of the game board.

At this point, a different player can shuffle each deck again and then deal the remaining cards clockwise to the players around the table. Once the shuffler has dealt the remaining decks, players can now view cards in their hands.

It is also okay to begin making notes in the player notepad (such as crossing off one’s own cards as possibilities for guessing the cards hidden in the secret envelope).

What Is the Object of the Game Clue?

The premise of the game Clue is that the players have found Mr. Boddy (Dr. Black in Cluedo) dead in one of the rooms of the mansion. The players must figure out which character committed the crime as well as the location and murder weapon used.

Game Play Strategy for the Clue Board Game

Mastery of the Clue game requires logical deduction and sharp reasoning. However, beginners can still have a great time upon understanding basic game-play strategy for Clue.

There are three main components of game play: moving the pieces, suggesting a suspect, and making an accusation.

Basic Strategy for Moving the Tokens

Tokens can move along corridors, move into rooms, and move out of rooms.

Moving Tokens Along Corridors

The suspect Miss Scarlet (red token) always takes the first turn in Clue. Once Miss Scarlet starts the game, begin taking turns by going clockwise around the playing table.

Each player rolls the die and moves the token the number of spaces along the corridor. Movements are either horizontal or vertical (or forward and backward). Players cannot make diagonal corridor moves.

Moving Tokens Into the Rooms

It is important for players to get their tokens into rooms in order to suggest suspects or discover more clues. A player can enter a room via a doorway as long as the number of spaces on the die enables the token to reach that room.

There are also secret passages that let players jump into a room. For example, a player in a corner room can use a secret passage to jump to the other corner room.

The player does need to roll the die, and jumping into the other room completes that player’s turn.

Moving tokens out of the rooms

A player’s token can exit a room in three ways. The player can roll the die and obtain a number that lets the token exit through a doorway.

If the room has a secret passage, the token can leave the room this way. And if the player’s token becomes a suspect, the token must move to the suspected location of the murder.

Note that it is possible for other players to block a door, thereby trapping a token inside a room. In this case, the player waits for another player to move or unblock the door once again.

Basic Strategy for Suggesting a Suspect

After a player moves a token into a room during a turn, it is time to make a suggestion to help eliminate possible suspects by guessing the murderer, weapon, and crime location.

For instance, a player who enters the library can say, “Mr. Green committed the crime in the library with a revolver.” As a result of the suggestion, the suspect and weapon are both moved into that room.

Detective sleuthing proceeds as follows:

  • The player to the immediate left must disprove the suggestion by showing a card that matches the suspect, weapon, or room. If the player does have any of these cards, the player can show only the player who made the suggestion and no one else. Note that if a player has more than one card that matches the suggestion, the Clue game rules stipulate that you can only show one card at a time.
  • If the player to the immediate left is unable to do so, then the next player to the left must try to disprove the suggestion by showing a card.
  • Keep going clockwise until a player can show a card that debunks the theory or until all players have had a chance to do so.
  • Finally, the player who made the suggestion should take notes if another player had to reveal a suggested card. If no other player could disprove the suggestion, the player may either end the turn or go on to make an accusation.

Basic Strategy for Making an Accusation

The accusation stage occurs when all other players fail to disprove a suggestion. By process of elimination, a player can rule out fake possibilities and stand a good chance of solving the murder mystery.

The player can choose to end the turn by announcing an accusation. This means that the player makes a final statement of the suspect, weapon, and room card in the confidential envelope.

After declaring the accusation, the player can peek at the three cards in the envelope. If the accusation is accurate, the player can flip the cards face-up to confirm a winning game. However, if the accusation was inaccurate, the player immediately loses the game.

The cards remain face-down in the confidential envelope, and the eliminated player can no longer take turns or move tokens. Other players can make notes about this inaccurate accusation and can still direct questions toward the eliminated player (who must show cards).

The game ends either when all players but one make inaccurate accusations or if the last player standing guesses correctly to win the game.

How to Play Clue Faqs

What is the Difference Between Clue and Cluedo?

Clue and Cluedo are virtually the same game. Manufacturers call the board game “Clue” in the United States and Canada, and they call it “Cluedo” across the rest of the globe.

How Do You Play the Game Clue?

The premise of Clue is that a murder takes place in a mansion. Players must determine who committed the crime, where the crime took place, and the type of weapon used. Each player rolls the die, playing the sleuth and making moves along the board until someone guesses the answers to these three questions.

What are the Rules for Cluedo?

In Cluedo, the player who accurately determines the Who, What, and Where of the crime wins the game. Players roll the die and move from room to room as they eliminate suspects, weapons, and locations. The Clue game rules stipulate that players cannot look inside the secret envelope until they are out of the game.

How Do You Win at Clue?

The winner of a Clue game correctly identifies the crime’s weapon, location. and culprit. To win a game of Clue, create a strategy to eliminate one possible crime scenario during each turn. Focus on rooms and secret passages between rooms. Take notes on all suggestions and do not share extra information.

Where Do You Start in Clue?

All suspect tokens go on starting squares that correspond with character names. Once you have finished setup, the character known as Miss Scarlet always takes the first turn. After this, each character starts a turn by moving the token via rolling the die or using a secret passage.

How Do You Ask Questions on Clue?

Once your token enters a room, you can stop and ask questions about one suspect, one weapon, and the room you just entered. The purpose of asking question is to cross out possibilities in your detective notebook.

Can You Play Clue With Two (2) Players?

You can play Clue with two players using modifications. Shuffle the three decks and select the usual three secret cards for the confidential envelope. Deal each player ONE Clue card. The remaining rumor cards go two to each room and one in the middle, but the player must travel there to view the card.

Can You Lie in the Game Clue?

You can mislead or confuse other players by asking questions about cards you are already holding. But if you prefer to lie outright, there is also a Liars’ Edition of the Clue game.

What Do You Do With the Cards in Clue?

One player divides the cards into three decks and shuffles each deck. Select a face-down card from each deck, and put the three secret cards into the confidential envelope at the center of the board. A different player then deals the remaining cards evenly among all players of the game.

How Long Does a Game of Clue Take?

A classic game of Clue takes anywhere from 10 minutes to over one hour. On average, a complete game takes 30 minutes to an hour. The fewer individuals playing, the shorter the game takes to complete.

What is a Secret Passage in the Clue Game Board?

A secret passage in a corner room allows players to jump to an opposite corner room during a turn. Instead of rolling the die, a player uses the secret passage to move the token to an opposite corner room and then makes a suggestion thereafter.

What is a Rumor in Clue?

In Clue – Discover the Secrets, a player can start a rumor about which cards are the missing cards in a game. However, if the player on the rumormonger’s left can disprove the rumor by showing one of the cards suggested, then the rumormonger must show all secret cards.

How Many Possible Solutions are There in the Board Game Clue?

Since the board game Clue features six weapons, six suspects, and nine rooms, there are 324 possible solutions to the game.

What Do the Weapons Do in Clue?

The weapons tokens represent six possible murder methods. Determining the weapon is one-third of the game’s solution. The weapons tokens also provide visual cues for questioning during turns.

Who is the New Clue Character?

In 2016, manufacturer Hasbro replaced the housekeeper Mrs. White (white token) with a new character named Dr. Orchid (pink token).

What Happens When Only One Player is Left in Clue?

The final player can still direct questions toward the eliminated players (who must show cards). Even though the eliminated players cannot move tokens, the final player proceed as normal to deduce the secret cards in the confidential envelope.

How Many Cards Does Each Person Get in Clue?

There are 21 total cards in Clue (representing six weapons, six suspects, and nine rooms). The shuffler removes three cards face-down and places them in the secret envelope. A different player deals the remaining 18 cards as evenly as possible. The number of cards can vary depending on how many players in the game.

Can a Person Keep Switching Between Two Secret Passages?

A player can keep using two secret passages to switch back and forth between the rooms to collect information until another player shows a card that eliminates the suggested room.

Is Clue a Good Board Game For Kids?

Clue is a good board game for developing logical reasoning, problem-solving, detective sleuthing, and note-taking skills. So, yes it is!

How to Leave a Room in Clue Through a Blocked Door?

Tokens can only leave rooms through open doorways. If another player blocks a door in Clue, you must wait for the player to move and unblock the door before leaving.

Why is Miss Scarlet First in Clue?

In the classic Clue game, Miss Scarlet (red token) is an attractive femme fatale. takes the first turn because this character is the first to notice the death of Mr. Boddy (Dr. Black).

What are the Six (6) Weapons in Clue?

The six weapons in Clue are the candlestick, knife (dagger), lead pipe, revolver (pistol), wrench (spanner), and rope.

What is the Appropriate Age for Clue?

Clue is an appropriate game for ages 8 and up.

The Bottom Line

Clue is a terrific board game for having fun with others as well as excellent practice in logical reasoning. The classic mystery game enables each individual to play the sleuth while solving the Who, What, and Where of an event.

From family game nights to sleepovers or rainy after, this board game offers a great opportunity to put away the electronic devices and develop some investigative skills.

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