Much like Monopoly, Clue is one of those games that seems to be in pretty much every household in America. It seems like everybody has played it at least once, and it is so ubiquitous that it has simply become a part of modern culture. These days you can’t swing a candlestick without hitting a new licensed version of clue, such as Game of Thrones or Golden Girls edition. And when you say the words “Colonel Mustard” or “revolver in the conservatory” everybody immediately knows what you are talking about.

This. Actually. Exists.


Today, I want to share the story of how I ruined Clue. How I took this simple, fun, family game and ruined it by taking it far too seriously, and how you too can cross it off as a potential option at game night (because everybody else refuses to play with you).

Start the Investigation

For those who may be a little fuzzy on the rules of clue, they go like this:

  • There are three different cards hidden in an envelope – one that represents the murderer, one that represents the murder weapon, and one that represents the location of the murder.
  • The remaining people, weapons and room cards are distributed to the players (if they don’t distribute evenly, everybody gets to see the leftover cards)
  • Players roll dice to move around the board, and when they reach a room they make a guess about the murder. The other players then try to prove the guess wrong by passing their cards around to the guesser.
  • Once you think you know all three cards, you make an accusation and check the envelope to see if you are right

In order to keep track of which cards you have seen, most versions of the game come with a score sheet that allows players to mark off cards that they have already seen.

Getting a Clue

Before I begin, I want to say that I know I am not the only person to come up with the following strategy, or something similar to it. That being said, as far as I know I am the only person I have played with to use such a strategy, and it seems significantly faster than most others that I have seen.

The first step is to take your score sheet and assign each column of the score sheet to a cluescoresheetdifferent player at the table (I usually do this using their initials). This will help you keep track of who has played what cards. Then, for every card that you have in your hand (and any additional cards that may have been shown to the group) you place a row of Xs across every column to show that those cards are no longer possibilities.

Whenever you make a guess and another player shows you a card, put a check mark in that player’s column, and an X in every other player’s column. It is important not only to know what cards have been played, but also who played them, because this information will be used in later deductions.

If it is not your turn and somebody makes a guess, keep track of what they are asking for, and who passes them a card. While you may not know exactly what was passed, you do know it is one of three possible things. If somebody doesn’t pass anything, you can mark all three possibilities in their column with an X. If somebody does pass a card, I would mark all of the possible cards in that player’s column with a number that represents the current round. For example, if this is the third guess I will mark every possibility with the number 3. This is useful because if all but one of the 3s gets marked off, I can know that the remaining 3 must belong to that player.

An Example Round

Suppose you are playing with three other people – Jack, Dana and Karen. In your hand you have Miss Scarlet, The Kitchen, The Lounge, and The Rope. Also, because there are four players everybody gets to see the Billiard Room and the Lead Pipe. For all of these cards, you mark your clue sheet with a row of Xs.

It is round 5, and Jack makes a guess – “Miss Scarlet, in the Library, with the Candlestick”. missscarlet.jpgDana doesn’t pass anything, so you immediately cross off the Library and Candlestick from her column. Karen does pass a card – you don’t know exactly what it is, but you do know that it is either the Library or Candlestick, so you mark them both with the number 5.

Next, Dana makes her guess – “Professor Plum, in the Kitchen, with the Candlestick”. Karen doesn’t pass anything – which means that she doesn’t have any of these cards. You cross off the Professor and Candlestick in Karen’s column – which means that the only “5” remaining is the Library. You erase the five and replace it with a check mark, and put Xs in the remaining columns of that row.

You now know for certain that Karen has the Library, even though nobody has shown you a single card! You have also significantly narrowed down the possibilities for what Jack and Dana could be holding. This type of information piles up extremely quickly, and usually it only takes a few times around the board before you know exactly what cards everybody has, and by proxy you also know exactly what is in the envelope.

Until Next Time

That’s all I have for this week! I know this week’s article was quite a bit shorter than usual, but I am currently studying for finals – next week’s article should be back to normal. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic in the comments or on social media. If you liked the article and want to see more in the future, be sure to subscribe to the blog on Facebook, Twitter, or here on WordPress so you will always know when I post something new. And join me next week, where I will be asking the question – “How much is a monopoly actually worth?”

Posted by:Caleb Compton

I am the Head Designer of Rempton Games, and primary writer for the Rempton games blog. I am currently a graduate student in computer science at Kansas State University, and work on game designs every spare moment that I can.

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