Rediscovering Cluedo

It's been so many years since I last played Cluedo that I'm not even sure I've played it in my adult life. Santa kindly dropped off a copy for us to play this week.

My first surprise was that the board has changed, not just in style but also in layout.

The board I remember looked like this:

The new board looks like this:

I'm sure there are plenty of sites around discussing the differences and bemoaning the changes. I didn't find them that bad and the pace of the game seemed a lot better with each player getting to make a guess almost every turn.
My brain slowly re-engaged after a few games and I refined my passing style with the following ideas: once again there are probably a multitude of sites that already have these suggestions.

Always Pay Attention

Just because it's not your turn to throw the dice and make a guess it doesn't mean you can't learn anything useful.

For example: Another player guesses, "Scarlet, Lead-Pipe, Kitchen". You have Scarlet and Kitchen in your hand; another player shows a card to the asking player. By a process of simple deduction the card down must have been the Lead-pipe - cross that off your list.

It's More Than Ticks and Crosses

Evolution of my deduction style
It took me a while to realise how much extra information could be stored in the score sheet. If you have an amazing memory you might find some of these ideas to be overkill. After a few games in a row I'm much happier relying on written notes.

Initially I started playing the simple/obvious way; cross off cards as I saw them and eliminated them as possibilities and ticking items when I was certain they were part of the winning trio.

Ticks and Crosses
Then I realised I could easily keep track of which cards I held by circling the x's on my sheet. This meant I could more easily monitor the "Scarlet, Lead-Pipe, Kitchen" situation (above) without needing to pick up my cards all the time.

The following game I realised that I was under no obligation to just put ticks and crosses in the boxes ... and I could use them to track who I'd learned the information from. In my games I was lucky enough to have unique initials for the other players - so I could mark the squares with 'P' and 'K'.

Getting Sneaky
Why is this useful? Combining this with "listening even when it's not your turn" means you can tell when someone's trying to force specific information out of other players. It also means you have more information for the "Scarlet, Lead-Pipe, Kitchen" situation.

For example: P has shown you the dagger. You have the kitchen. P asks if it was, "Green. Dagger. Kitchen". K shows P a card. Voila! You know P has one of the cards, and you have the other. Thus the only card K could have shown P was green. You can cross Green off your list of suspects.

Don't Rush Your Note Taking

If you make a deduction when it's not your turn and race to make notes on something another player did, you risk raising their suspicions, or worse, giving them extra information. If you can, remember the information until you have a reason to be marking your note-sheet. Mark the earlier discovery at the same time as your normal note-taking.

Mix It Up

If you've deduced that it was Scarlet with the Lead-Pipe and you are left to eliminate rooms, don't make all of your guesses, "Scarlet, Lead-Pipe, <room>". People will quickly catch on and you've given away your advantage. It only takes one forced guess - "Scarlet, Lead-Pipe, <room I have card for>" - for the other players to also only need to deduce the room.

This is especially obvious if the murderer is being played by one of the other players. They'll quickly get annoyed and curious about being moved by you every turn.

Use the murderer in your guesses, but also use suspects you hold cards for. There will still be some repetition, but it's not quite so obvious.

Hold Back

You're not allowed to lie in the game, so sometimes you are forced to disclose cards you would prefer not to, but there's nothing wrong with picking a specific card (maybe a suspect) and doing your utmost to make sure you don't show the card to another player. Chose to reveal the room instead of the suspect. Make it almost impossible for other players to work out who the murderer was.

Repeat Yourself

Try to "punish" other players for asking about the same thing twice. If the player before you asks, "xxx, xxx, Kitchen?" and you remember that you've already shown them the kitchen, show it to them again. The less information you give away, the better.

Accuse Yourself

If you are playing a character that you hold the card for it may be beneficial to accuse them more than others once you are confident who the murderer is. It's also useful if you want to force reveals for the weapon or room. This tactic is especially good if you're able to hold back on your character card - other players will start to think you are the murderer, and there's nothing wrong with a little misdirection is there?


Bluffing and misdirection is a great tactic. There's nothing wrong with pretending that something someone else has done has given you some information and faking some note taking, with a nod or smile for good measure.

Last thoughts...

If you're an Android user and you're feeling lazy, or just like to use battery instead of pen and paper, there's a Cluedo helper application that also allows you to record some of the information above. Personally, I don't like it and think it detracts from the game and will still to pen, paper and strange facial expressions.

I still really enjoy Cluedo ... it's mainstream but it's still fun. Part of me misses the classic board but that's what eBay is for, right?

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