How to Play the Classic Clue Board Game

Clue board game

For more than half a century, players have enjoyed solving the murder mysteries of the classic Clue board game. Sure, Mr. Green committed crimes in the billiard room with a wrench, but the next time maybe it was Scarlet in the study with the knife. Yet other times Mrs. Peacock may be found in the library with a lead pipe. Whether you are playing for the first time or returning to the beloved game after some time away, these instructions and tips will help you play like you mean it and solve the mystery while having fun.

Components of Clue

Clue is known for its iconic game board, character pieces, and miniature weapons. Familiarizing yourself with these aspects of the game will make playing much easier, and it will also put you ahead of the game, so to speak. While newer versions of Clue have come along over the years, these elements and instructions for the classic version are still popular today.

Game Board

The game board represents the layout of a mansion and features nine different rooms:

  • Dining room
  • Conservatory
  • Kitchen
  • Study
  • Library
  • Billiard room
  • Lounge
  • Ballroom
  • Hall

Characters travel between the rooms by rolling the dice and moving from floor tile to floor tile to reach the doorway. Secret passages also allow players to move from one room to another or move around the board more quickly.

Character Pieces

Clue's character pieces look like traditional board game pieces, but each color represents a different character:

  • Yellow = Colonel Mustard
  • Purple = Professor Plum
  • Green = Mr. Green
  • Red = Miss Scarlet
  • Blue = Mrs. Peacock
  • White = Mrs. White

Weapons

The game of Clue features miniature versions of six different weapons. The weapons include:

  • Revolver
  • Knife
  • Rope
  • Lead pipe
  • Wrench
  • Candlestick

Cards

Included with the game are cards to represent each character, weapon, and room in the mansion. At the beginning of each game, one of each type of card is randomly selected and placed in a confidential case file without being seen by any of the players. These cards represent the murderer, the location of the crime, and the weapon used to commit the deed. The remaining cards are dealt to players, and the game focuses on determining who committed the murder as well as where it was committed and with which weapon.

Other Game Pieces

In addition to the main components, the game contains the following elements:

  • A pad of detective notebooks for writing down clues
  • Two dice for moving around the board
  • Game play instructions

Object of the Game

First and foremost, you need to keep the object and storyline of Clue in mind throughout the game. As guests of the Tudor mansion the Clue characters have arrived for a gathering, yet they find themselves suddenly suspects and investigators in the untimely death of their host, Mr. John Boddy. Players must correctly determine the killer, the room where murder took place, and the weapon that was used in the crime to win the game. Because of these three variables which change with every game, there are numerous possible combinations that help make the game interesting and challenging each time you play.

Set Up the Game

Setting up the board for optimal play is the best way to ensure a fun and fair game is enjoyed by all. The board represents the home of Mr. Boddy. All players have a designated place on the board for where the characters' playing pieces start. Follow these simple steps to set up the game:

  1. Sort all three types of cards, creating three stacks. One stack should be for the suspect cards, one for weapon cards, and one for the room cards. Shuffle each pile and place the cards face down beside the board.
  2. Without looking at the faces of the cards, take one room card, one suspect card, and one weapon card. Place these three cards into the "Confidential Case File" envelope.
  3. Place the "Confidential Case File" envelope on the stairs in the middle of the game board.
  4. Shuffle all the remaining cards together, then hand them out evenly among the players until all the cards have been dealt. Also hand each player a blank sheet from the pad of detective notes so that they can write down clues as they try to solve the murder mystery.
  5. Each player now takes the suspect token for the character that they have chosen to play as.
  6. Place all character tokens on their designated spots on the board. Even if you don't have six players, all tokens should still be on the board.
  7. Put each weapon in a different room on the board. These needn't match up in any way. Any room will do, but all weapons should be in separate rooms.
  8. Look at the cards in your own hand without showing them to anyone else. Check off each of your cards on the blank clue sheet since they couldn't have been involved in the "crime," then fold the clue sheet in half so that no other players can see your notes. Place your cards face down in front of you.

How to Play Clue

After all the pieces are set up, the players take turns. Playing Clue involves deductive reasoning as all players try to figure out who murdered Mr. Boddy, in which room, and with what weapon.

  1. Commence the game. Whoever has Miss Scarlet gets to take the first turn, then the play goes around the table starting with the person on that player's left side.
  2. When it's your turn to move around the board, roll the dice and move your piece the corresponding number of spaces, towards the first room that you want to explore. Move vertically or horizontally, but never diagonally. Also, you are never allowed to land on the same space as another player, but you can pass through a doorway that is blocked by an opponent's character. Multiple characters are allowed to be in the same room.
  3. When you enter a room, stop moving even if you have more spaces left on your turn. As the game progresses, try to get into a different room on each turn. When you land in a room that has a secret passageway you can take it directly to another room on your next turn.
  4. Make a guess about the solution to the murder, wherein you announce the suspect, the room where the crime took place (which must be the room that you're in), and the weapon. For example, you may guess "Mrs. White in the kitchen with the wrench." In doing so, you then move the suspect and the weapon into the room you're in.
  5. After you make a guess, the player to your left checks to see if her cards contain the character, room, or weapon you have named. If the player has one of the cards she discreetly shows the card to you, so you can then mark it off on the clue sheet. If she has more than one of the cards, she only chooses one to show. If the player does not have any of the cards, the responsibility to reveal a card moves to the next player to the left.
  6. If your character is moved because of another player's suggestion, you can then start your turn with a guess if you'd like to, using the same room. Otherwise roll the dice or, if there is one in the room, take a secret passageway. Gameplay continues as usual, but your new starting point will be the room where your character was moved.
  7. Make an accusation to win or lose the game, ensuring that your game piece is in the room you are naming. If you think that you can correctly guess the character, room, and weapon that's contained in the "Confidential Case File" folder, state that you want to make an accusation. Only do so if you're really sure, though, because, if you're wrong, you will instantly lose the game. Announce who you think the character, room, and weapon is, then open the folder to see if you're correct. If you're right, lay the cards out in front of you to show everyone that you were right and proclaim yourself the winner of the game.
  8. If your accusation was incorrect, return the three cards to the folder without revealing them to any other players. Sit back and watch your friends finish up the game. Your help may be enlisted to disprove the theories of others since you still have cards.

Tips for Better Game Play

The design of Clue is fun and certainly sets the scene for a murder-mystery adventure game. However, when you are driven to win, what you want to focus on is gathering information and making smart moves.

Take Note of the Facts

All Clue games come with a detective notebook sheet pad, but, if you're playing with an older game, they likely ran out a long time ago. If you don't have those detective sheets on hand, don't worry. Simply have a pen or pencil and a scrap of paper with you when playing. Taking notes can help you keep track of the cards you've seen and the clues you've discovered.

Move Optimally Between Rooms

When you think you know the answers to win the game, you may still lose if you can't get your piece into the room where you think the "murder" took place. So it follows that you need to get to that room in as few moves as possible. Be aware of the secret passages between the conservatory and the lounge as well as the secret passageway between the study and the kitchen.

Also, some other aspects of the board may help you at different times during the game. There are only six squares between the conservatory room's entryway and Mrs. Peacock's starting position, for example.

Put On Your Poker Face

When you enter a room, try to make an accusation using two or three of the cards that you have in your hand. When you use all three cards in your accusation, you will likely throw everyone for a loop since nobody can disprove these suspicions. As you continue with the game, the next time you make an accusation, be sure to try something else entirely, drawing attention away from your first accusation.

Form No Alliances

Clue isn't a game that lends itself well to teamwork. No matter how few clues you possess, they should remain a secret until the end of the game. Keep the information that you deduce to yourself. Sharing information will only up the odds that you'll lose the game.

Play Clue With Your Family

The Clue board game makes a great addition to any game collection and is a perfect choice for family game night. While Clue is recommended for ages 9 and up, it may be suitable for younger children if they play on teams with older kids or parents. In fact, The Huffington Post named Clue as the best game from childhood, so get in on the fun and give the game a try.

How to Play the Classic Clue Board Game