How to Play the Classic Clue Board Game + Tips for Victory

Updated April 14, 2022
1950 Clue board game

The Clue board game has been a favorite for more than half a century. If you've never had the opportunity to solve the illustrious manor's murder, it's easy to learn how to play Clue, the classic mystery mid-century mystery game. So pull out that board and get ready to have a fun time discovering if the murderer was Mr. Green in the billiard room with a wrench, Scarlet in the study with a knife, or Mrs. Peacock in the library with a lead pipe.

The Original at-Home Murder Mystery Game

As guests of the Tudor mansion, the Clue characters 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 the 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're numerous possible combinations that help make the game interesting and challenging each time you play.

Who Can Play Clue?

The classic version of Clue is designed to be fun for most ages, with a minimum cut-off of eight or older for children. It may also be suitable for younger children if they play on teams with older kids or parents. However, the game is best played with 3-6 players. The more players that you have, the more difficult the game will be, which always makes for a more fun and competitive time.

What's Included in the Board Game

Clue is known for its iconic game board, character pieces, and miniature weapons. Familiarizing yourself with these aspects of the game will make playing easier, and it'll 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.

The Classic Clue 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.

Classic Clue Characters and Pieces

1950 Clue board game characters

There are six different characters in the game, each of which is associated with a piece. Clue's character pieces look like traditional board game pieces, but the piece colors represent each character:

  • Yellow - Colonel Mustard
  • Purple - Professor Plum
  • Green - Mr. Green
  • Red - Miss Scarlet
  • Blue - Mrs. Peacock
  • White - Mrs. Orchid (formerly Mrs. White)

Weapons

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

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

Classic Clue Playing 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.

Other Classic Clue Game Items

In addition to the main components, the game contains the following items needed to fully play:

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

Steps to Set Up Classic Clue

The board represents Mr. Boddy's mansion and all of the players have a designated place for where their characters' playing pieces start. To being the game, follow these simple set up steps:

Sort the Cards and Select the Murderer

  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.

Shuffle and Dole out the Cards

  1. Shuffle all the remaining cards together, then hand them out evenly among the players until all cards have been dealt.
  2. 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.
  3. Each player now takes the suspect token for the character that they've chosen to play as.

Place the Tokens on the Board

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Fill Out Your Suspects on the Clue Sheets

  1. 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.
  2. Place your cards face down in front of you. You're ready to begin!

Classic Clue Board Game Rules

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.

Move Around the Board

At the start of 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. 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. Keep in mind when you're moving around that board that:

  • You can move vertically or horizontally, but never diagonally.
  • You cannot 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.

Enter a Room and Make a Guess

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.

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. Scarlet in the kitchen with the wrench." In doing so, you then move the suspect and the weapon into the room you're in.

After you make a guess, the player to your left checks to see if her cards contain the character, room, or weapon you've 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.

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.

Make an Accusation to Win or Lose

Make an accusation to win or lose the game, ensuring that your game piece is in the room you're 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.
  • 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 Beating the Competition

Family playing Clue game

The object overall of Classic Clue is to have fun with this murder-mystery adventure game and enjoy your friend's and family's company. However, if you're driven to win, your focus should be on 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. You can also download new printable Clue tracking sheets.

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 throw everyone for a loop since none of the other players 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.

Keep Track of Other Players Guesses

One of the quickest ways to eliminate sections of your suspect sheet with your limited number of turns is to listen to the other players' guesses. If you find someone continually including a weapon or character or moving back and forth between rooms, chances are high that they're trying to get support for their potential accusation, and you can use those repetitious questions to your advantage.

Include Cards You Have to Eliminate Specific Items

If you really feel like you know what one of the parts of the accusation is, but aren't ready to give it away yet, you can make a guess, including two cards you already have and the one you want to check. If no one in the group has those cards, then you know for certain that the unknown card is in the confidential sleeve.

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. There's a reason that escape rooms are incredibly popular today, and the thrill of playing through a whodunnit is as its best when it's played in the original murder mystery game, Clue.

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How to Play the Classic Clue Board Game + Tips for Victory