Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de




No. of Players:
2 - 5



An absolute gaming classic is PARKER's old detective game Cluedo (or Clue or Detective, and I remember quite well playing an old and aged version of the game with my grandfarther at the beginning of the 1980's. The playing concept is much older still, and today HASBRO every now and then releases a new version of the game, matching the current Zeitgeist with design and background story of the new product.

Today, I would like to have a look at two new offsprings of the Cluedo family, but before we give the new basic game and the Cluedo Harry Potter Edition a closer examination let's first remember the basic rules mechanisms. In Cluedo, the players usually have to solve a murder mystery which took place in a major estate with several rooms. It will be the aim of the players to find out WHO is the murder, WHERE the murder took place and WHAT weapon was used for the deed. Three decks of cards exist (People, Rooms and Weapons), and at the beginning of the game one card is drawn from each deck. The cards then will be placed in a secret folder without looking at them, and the players will have to solve the riddle which three cards are in the folder. All remaining cards will be shuffled and dealt evenly to the participating players, so that each players knows a few People, Rooms and Weapons which cannot be involved in the act of murder.

During their turns, the players then will roll a dice and move their figure over the gameboard. If a figure reaches a room, it stops its movement there and the player is allowed to voice a suspicion. He names a Person and a Weapon which he suspects to be involved in the act of murder in this very room, and then in turn the other players will have to check their cards whether they have one of the three cards which the current player named as his suspicion. If a player possesses a matching card, he must secretly show it to the current player, and then the current player turn will be over. If no player possesses a card, the current player will be a step closer to the solution of the crime.

A player who thinks that he has solved the crime must move his pawn to the central room of the gameboard, and there he may make an accusation by naming his final suspicion. He then checks the folder with the three murder mystery cards, and if he accusation has been correct he will reveal the cards and wins the game. Otherwise, the player puts the cards back into the folder and - having lost - he will not allowed to participate in the game anymore.


The new basic game of Cluedo comes with a fitting, stylish artwork and once again has warped the setting of the game a few years forward. Whereas in former times the game took place with an illustrious society at an English castle, the setting for the modern game is a Millionaire's party for a bunch of V.I.P.s. Amongst the characters attending the party are an Ex-Soccer-Star, a Video-Games-Designer, a former Child-Actress, a vain Politician, a Movie Star and an enigmatic Manager, and as it seems one of them is involved in the terrible murder of the host. In contrast to the older versions of Cluedo each of the characters now possesses a special ability which may be used once during the game, giving each player an advantageous dodge like the issuance of a second suspicion in the same turn.

However, even more interesting are the conspiracy cards which must be taken if a player either rolls a question-mark or lands on a question-mark-space on the gameboard. Some of these cards may be used for a one-time benefit just like the special abilities of the player characters, whereas other cards actually show a clock. The clock cards simulate the passing of time, and when the eighth clock card is found the killer will strike again and kill the unlucky player who has found that card! This player is removed from the game, and since the eighth clock card will be put back below the stack of conspiracy cards it is quite possible that several (or even all) players may get murdered before the crime is solved.

Although the clock cards are a rather rough and random means for the simulation of passing time, these cards add a degree of tension to Cluedo which could not be felt before. Players now have to watch for the dwindling pile of conspiracy cards, and this may actually force them rather to leap for a premature conclusion than to risk being murdered. This nice twist in the rules also introduces a whole new degree of bluffing (voicing a suspicion with one or more cards which the player has on his hands to confuse the others), and so the few new rules offer new playing fun indeed.


The other new title released by PARKER in 2008 is the Cluedo Harry Potter Edition which makes the players assume the roles of their favourite characters from Joanne Rowling's books. In this Cluedo-variant for up to 5 players one of the main characters has vanished from the Hogwards School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, and the other characters (players) have taken up the quest to solve the mystery which villain has used which kind of foul means in which castle room to make the character vanish.

The biggest variation between this game and traditional Cluedo lies in the four Secret Wheels which are located below the four corners of the gameboard. The players roll a special Hogwards dice which displays emblems of the four wheels, and whenever an emblem is rolled the matching wheel will be turned for one space. The gameboard offers holes through which the current result of the wheels is read, and in most cases the wheels will display different secret passages which interconnect the different rooms on the board. In addition, the wheels will cause the doors to the rooms to be either locked or unlocked, and taken together this constant change effected by the wheels nicely resembles the architecture of Hogwards, since the books said that the staircases at the castle always kept re-aligning themselves. So, unless a player has earned an Alohomora-Spell for unlocking doors, they will be forced to keep a zigzagging course across the gameboard.

Each of the players also possesses a score of Hogwards House points, and whenever either a dice rolled or a wheel moved by a player displays a Black Mark the active player is forced to draw a Dark Forces card which will force him to loose some of his points. If a player has lost all his points he will get detention (and thus has to lose the game), but there exist some Aid cards which the players may draw on certain spaces and which may be used to avert the effects of matching Dark Forces cards.

Overall, the transition to a Harry Potter Cluedo-game was done rather well so that the game has gained a quite fitting playing atmosphere. As indicated, the rules of the Cluedo Harry Potter Edition offer some nice twists and ideas which reflect the spirit of the books rather well (House Points, Villains and Heroes, Architecture), and taken together this variant certainly should appeal to fans of the books. However, sometimes I wonder what game-designers think while creating a game - despite the rather nice gameboard and playing cards and tokens created after the movies, the question-mark playing pieces and the crime folder from the basic game is used in the Harry Potter variant as well, and so the atmospheric design does not extent to all playing components. This adds a somewhat strange undertone which mixes with the general good flavour.

Nonetheless, both new games have revived the family of Cluedo-games with new vigour, and it is especially nice to see that some classic games always find new ways to re-appear. What is more, the different editions aim and different target groups, and so people with different backgrounds of hobbies might be tempted to play a round of Cluedo.

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany