Cluedo - the Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Cluedo - the Game

5 Conversations

I suggest that the murder was committed by Colonel Mustard, in the Kitchen, with the Dagger.

In 1948, Waddington's Games Ltd was approached by a Mr Anthony Pratt1, who, along with his wife, had designed a board game based on the variations of 'Murder in the Dark'2 that were popular at the time. The game was named Cluedo, referring to the search for clues, and also as a play on the word Ludo - Latin for 'I play' and itself the title of a popular board game. Waddington's accepted the idea, and began producing one of the most successful board games of all time.

The Concept

The game's alternative title, Murder at Tudor Close, is a fair indication of the idea behind the game. Dr Black, the owner of Tudor Close, has been found murdered at a spot marked 'X', the foot of the stairs leading to the cellars. The object of the game is to find out who killed him, the weapon they used, and the room they killed him in.

Up to six people can play the game. Each is allocated a playing piece, which represents a character suspected of the murder, and a sheet with the names of the characters, rooms and weapons on, which they can write upon as they see fit.

The game comes with 21 cards in total - six characters, six weapons and nine rooms. These cards are first separated into their three categories. Each pile is shuffled, and one card from each is removed and placed in the Murder Cards envelope - the three cards representing the actual murderer, weapon and room that must be deduced. This must be done carefully, so that:

  • No one sees the cards.

  • You definitely end up with one character, one weapon and one room in there. It's high on the list of very frustrating things indeed to find that the murderer was actually the Library, in the Study, with the Hall.

The remaining 18 cards are then shuffled together, and dealt out. If there are four or five players then some will have fewer cards than others - it's a cruel, cruel world. Each player looks at their cards, and usually crosses them off the sheet they were given earlier, keeping them hidden at all times. The game can then begin.

Playing the Game

The object is to work out which three cards are in the envelope. Players can automatically rule out the cards in their own hand, and as the game progresses they should be able to work out which cards nobody has in their hand.

Before the game starts, all six characters are placed on their allocated spots, whether a particular player is using them or not3. Miss Scarlett always moves first - because she found the body - by moving the number of spaces dictated by the die, in any combination of directions she chooses, except diagonally.

Eventually, one of the players will reach the doorway of a room s/he wishes to enter, and go in. Once inside the room, the player can make a suggestion involving that particular room, plus any of the characters and weapons. For example, if the player controlling Mrs White manages to steer her into the Ballroom, s/he can then accuse any of the characters (whether a player is controlling them or not) including Mrs White herself. Should the player decide to suggest that the murder was committed by Professor Plum, with the Revolver, in the Ballroom the player would first take the piece of Professor Plum, and the revolver, and place them in the ballroom.

The player seated to the left of Mrs White would then be forced to consult his or her cards. If s/he holds Professor Plum, the Revolver or the Ballroom then s/he must show the card to Mrs White, keeping it hidden from the other players. If s/he holds more than one of these cards, s/he can choose which to show. If s/he holds none of the cards, the suggestion is passed to the next player, and so on. The turn ends when either Mrs White has seen a card, or all the players have passed on the suggestion.

The players will gradually be able to deduce which cards are in the packet. Every time they see a card, they can cross it off the list. Every time they ask for a card which no one can supply, and which is not in their own hand, they can circle it as being one of the cards. Once a player thinks s/he knows the answer, s/he must first head for the room. Once there, s/he can make a suggestion in the normal way, and see if anyone has those cards in their hand. If they do, the player needs to have a rethink. If they don't, however, the player can choose to make an accusation.

This involves stating the accusation in a dramatic voice4, and looking at the murder cards, concealing them from the other players. If the murder cards match the accusation, they are placed on the board, face up, and the accuser is the winner. If the cards do not match, they are placed back in the packet and the accuser is no longer allowed to play except to answer the suggestions of other player. If the cards don't match, it also raises the possibility that someone has been cheating by not showing their cards, in which case that person is likewise out of the game and in disgrace. The other possibility is that one of the cards was in the accuser's hand, in which case s/he feels stupid for the duration of the game.

The Clues

The clues from which the game gets its name are the cards the players hold in their hands.

The Characters

There are six suspects in Cluedo, represented by a brightly coloured playing piece which matches their name.

  • Colonel Mustard is yellow.
  • Miss Scarlett is red.
  • Professor Plum is purple.
  • Mrs Peacock is blue.
  • The Reverend Green is green.
  • Mrs White is white.

The Weapons

The weapons are placed in any room to start with, and move around the board as they are suggested. They are generally represented by little models.

  • The Revolver
  • The Dagger
  • The Lead Piping
  • The Rope
  • The Spanner5
  • The Candlestick

Note the lack of poison. Poison is not a part of Cluedo.

The Rooms

The room is traditionally the hardest clue to solve in Cluedo. Not only are there more rooms than weapons and suspects (nine, as opposed to six and six) but the player also has to physically move his or her piece to the room before it can feature in a suggestion. Some rooms are more difficult to get to than others, depending on where they are on the board, and where their doors are situated - the Kitchen and Billiard room in particular are awkward. To help the players, there are two secret passages connecting rooms that are diagonally opposite each other on the board - one running Lounge-Conservatory, the other running Study-Kitchen. Travel down a secret passage counts instead of a throw of the die - on its move the player can either throw the dice and move from the room in the conventional manner, or move via a secret passage. The player doesn't have to decide until after s/he has seen whether the dice throw is sufficient to reach another room.

  • The Kitchen
  • The Dining Room
  • The Lounge
  • The Hall
  • The Study
  • The Library
  • The Billiard Room
  • The Conservatory
  • The Ballroom


Unlike some games, Cluedo has many opportunities for clever - and stupid - strategies. An easy way to narrow down the murderer and weapon is to move to a room that you have the card for, and eliminate characters and weapons slowly. This will prevent you from having to move between rooms, and perhaps make your opponents think that you have discovered the real room.

The classic red herring involves suggesting a murder when you have all three cards. You can then smile to yourself when no one can produce the cards, convincing your opponents that you have discovered something. Beware one thing, though - there always seems to be a loudmouth who blurts out 'Hang on, I thought you showed me all them earlier', giving your opponents the advantage of crossing off more cards.

The meanest tactics tend to occur at the end, when two or more players know the solution, and are racing towards the room in question. Generally, one gets to a room en route and calls the other player into the room with a suggestion. It then degenerates into one player moving, the other calling him back, until everyone gets thoroughly sick of the game and vows never to play it again.

The Descendants

Cluedo became popular in a great many countries, from Sweden - where it had its own television series - to America, where it was renamed 'Clue'. There have been many different products associated with the name of Cluedo, quite apart from the various special editions of the game itself, such as the Junior version6, and the travel set7.

  • Cluedo jigsaws tend to follow a set form - you read the paperwork relating to a murder, and then piece together the jigsaw, for which there is no picture. The finished jigsaw hides a clue to the identity of the murderer. For the hard of thinking, the answers are in the instructions.

  • The Cluedo television series appeared in many countries in the early 1990s, with the same basic format - the obvious murder, and then whittling down the list of suspects, giving the viewer a fair chance of working out the mystery.

  • The musical, Clue is popular in the United States

  • The 1985 film was unusual in that it had three different endings, which were shown at random in the cinema, although videos show all the endings.

Then there are the other assorted CD-ROMs, card games, travel sets and, oddly enough, Christmas decorations, that can be expected.

1Yes, 'A Pratt'.2A party game. All players take slips of paper from a bag, most saying 'innocent' but one saying 'murderer' and one saying 'detective'. The detective leaves the room, the lights go off, and the players wander around, until the murderer chooses a victim and whispers 'you're dead'. The victim screams, falls down, and the lights go back on. The detective comes back and questions the surviving players, in order to find out who the murderer was.3If four people are playing, two of the characters will go unused, but they will still be placed on the board just like the others.4Actually, this isn't strictly necessary.5Known as the wrench in the American version.6With treasure to find - or toys in the US.7Don't believe those lies about it being convenient. It's not.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:


h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more