There are some games that are just classic. They might be simple in how they work, not upgrade to new versions to compete with other board games, they just do what they do very well. Many of the classic good family board game night games are like this and Clue is one of those games. Many a time at our gaming table we’ve joked “Colonel Mustard with the Candlestick….” while playing another game.
The reference is iconic, as is the game.
But what if you love the mechanics, enjoy the mystery feeling of the game, but just want something a bit new or different? The good news is that although not the most common style of board game out there, you do have several good options for finding an alternative to the board game Clue.
Mysterium is generally considered the best Clue-like board game among board game enthusiasts. The other most popular board games like Clue include Mystery of the Abbey, Sleuth, Orient Express, and Letters from White Chapel. Generally speaking, those are on almost every list of best Clue-like games.
That said those aren’t the only games on our list. While these top board games are mentioned for a reason, and offer hundreds of hours of replayability, you’re going to be missing out if those are the only Clue alternatives you enjoy.
My Favorite Board Games Like Clue
Most of the classics are on this list because they are games that I’ve really enjoyed that reminded me of the original classic. That being said, the reviews on many of them online have been less than stellar, so these will give you more first-hand insight from someone who has actually played the games.
There are also some favorites of mine that I think don’t get enough attention but definitely belong in the same sub-genre of board games as Clue. This are great games that deliver the same experience while changing things up when you’ve heard one too many Colonel Mustard or Professor Plum jokes from the current group.
So here are the best alternatives to Clue currently on the market!
You really learn how other players at your table think when trying to work your way through Mysterium. In this great game there has been a murder and the spirit of the victim only has a very limited amount of time to make contact with the surviving investigators before passing over. But contact can’t be direct.
That would be too easy. The spirit of the victim has cards that each depict a dream like image with multiple details. Based on who the murderer was or the weapon used or where the exact crime took place, the ghost can give a picture that might connect with the answer. This can be from an item, a color, or a theme that connects that “psychic vision” the ghost gives to figure out the murder.
This communication mechanic might remind some people of Dixit and there are some similarities. Figuring out clues by matching some aspect of a “vision” to the pictures of places, people, and potential murder weapons has a heavy pattern recognition element that is incredibly enjoyable.
As the players are searching for clues the player who plays as the victim (aka the ghost) has cards of “visions” that are given to the sensitive investigators looking for answers. This is a cooperative game in the sense that everyone is attempting to work together to try to get the answer. The ghost is trying to assist.
An hour glass timer keeps people guessing trying to tie together some really abstract clues while rushing against the clock. The ability to agree or disagree with other players’ guesses gives the potential for more clues down the line creating an interesting balance.
And hopefully by night’s end the mystery is solved so the ghostly victim can finally rest in peace, thanks to a team of medium/psychic detectives putting together the clues to solves the mystery in this wonderful Clue-like team game.
This is actually one of my favorite games that I don’t yet own, but I’m going to make sure to remedy that shortly. It’s a fantastic game, a ton of fun, and because of how differently some people think has a strong replay value as you change players in and out from the table. I have yet to personally play any of the expansions yet, however big gamer friends of mine have been very big on both the Hidden Signs and the Secrets & Lies expansions to the original.
Even better, there is a 2 player mode for Mysterium that actually plays quite well, though is very challenging. I would still consider this the best 2 player game like Clue based on my personal experience playing these games.
Bare Stats: Good for 2-7 players, acceptable for children ages 10 and up, co-op game (everyone wins or everyone loses), great 2 player option
- Check Prices for the Original Mysterium Board Game on Amazon
- Check Prices for the Mysterium: Hidden Signs Expansion on Amazon
- Check Prices for the Mysterium: Secrets & Lies Expansion on Amazon
Mystery of the Abbey
This is a really unique board game in that it combines two common forms of gameplay by having the mystery element of using clues to figure out who the killer is, while actually gaining victory points throughout the game, which is the final deciding factor in which player wins the game. This means that it is possible to be the player who reveals who the killer is and still actually lose the game because you have less points.
While this can sound like a put-off at first, which is understandable, the truth is that Mystery of the Abbey actually works really well. Don’t let this detail throw you off, if you have an opportunity to play this game, do it.
This is a very enjoyable game where the peaceful background of a French monastery and really smooth mechanics set the stage for a whodunit, but with extras.
The back of the cards display beautiful artwork, and the game board is very pleasant to look at.
Monks have obvious identifying factors. They can be fat or thin, have facial hair or be clean shaven, have hoods up or down. There are three different groups of friars and the gameplay is like Clue in many way in trying to eliminate suspects from other players’ hands to come up with a solution while making sure to investigate to find the culprit.
Most of the time it does work out that the person who figures out the killer will also have the most points, though that is not always the case.
The gameplay is different but intuitive. It gives that feeling of Clue, lets players really get into the game, and has a strong replay value that makes it a favorite among many board game families that have a large collection.
The English rules PDF for Mystery of the Abbey can be seen by clicking on that link.
This is a wonderful game that definitely is one of the top options when looking for a game like Clue and I really hope it gets a reprint in the near future so I can pick up a copy for my own collection.
Now one important note: Mystery of the Abbey as of this blog post, is out of print. Which means you need to look at online auction sites or local garage sales to try to get a copy. In some cases a local gaming store might have a lead, but this game does have a cult following so it can be as expensive as a popular new board game.
So if you see it at a garage sale for $5…just don’t haggle. Pick it up, walk away, and try not to whistle along the way.
Bare Stats: Good for 3-6 players, Ages 8 and up.
So we’re going more on card games than board games with this one, but if you’re a fan of Clue then Sleuth is way too good a game not to have on this list! Or in your collection.
Besides, there’s plenty of overlap between board games and card games, right?
This game was originally a Sid Sackson game, and players are searching for the hidden gems to figure out which is stolen versus those that are still in play. Called by many “Clue with cards” this is a game that requires memory, sharp gameplay, and the ability to use the clue cards in the deck with smart questions to gain knowledge and whittle down the possibilities.
While this is a game that has plenty of mental energy as you are going to need strong memory, deductive abilities, and have the mental wits to tie it all together. This is a game that looks simple, and is to some extent in format and setup, but at the same time it is very mentally taxing as you have to keep track of so much information without tipping your hand too much to fellow investigators.
The gaming experience is fantastic. This does a great job of keeping the sleuthing feeling and importance of Clue while adding additional mental exercise that, in some ways, definitely creates the feel of being a detective solving a mystery better than Clue.
I love Clue, but the setup is pretty simple as you steadily check off the boxes. Here because of the interaction of questions and Clue cards the questions that you ask and to whom matters a lot in determining whether you’re a Sherlock Holmes…or the Three Stooges.
Are there any negatives to this game? In my experience there is one thing that I don’t like about Sleuth.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the art. It’s simple, and it’s not bad, but it’s nothing special, either. If a classic game was going to have a reprint or re-imagining, then why wouldn’t you go the extra mile to make sure the art really delivers?
Just seems like a missed opportunity to me.
Beyond that minor criticism, Sleuth is a fantastic game to add to the gaming cabinet.
Bare Stats: Good for 3-7 players, Ages 15 and up (mainly due to complication of rules/strategies versus themes of any kind), card game
Clue: The Great Museum Caper
Okay so a bit of a cheat here but come on….this is such a GREAT game! For anyone who grew up in the early 90s and had family board game nights, this probably popped up at some point. An incredibly fun variation of the original game one person plays as the art thief and is attempting to disable cameras and steal works of art without getting spotted. The other players cooperate to try to locate the cat burglar and stop him/her before too much art is stolen or before they get away.
Once spotted, the race is on as those players in the game searching for you will then clearly see the thief’s position (which was hidden up to that point). If the thief makes it out with three paintings he/she wins. If not, they get caught and the other players working in cooperation win.
This is a fun game with a lot of mechanics going on. Cameras can reveal where a thief was but they can also be disabled. When the thief takes a painting, he/she is allowed to take their next move before removing the painting from the board. The thief is limited to 3 squares per turn while players roll a die.
If the thief is spotted with the naked eye of a player, they must reveal themselves on the board. Then the chase is on!
Even more interesting is that locks are placed at exits. They are randomized and no one knows which ones are open and which are locked. When the thief tries one of these, even if he/she is still invisible, they need to flip over that lock, giving away their position.
Then the race is on!
This is a very fun rest of the board vs. a player game and it won’t be hard to convince the group to play more games as the role of art thief gets passed around.
Bare Stats: 2-4 players, best with 3-4 players, ages 10 and up
Hard to find takes a lot of patience. This is a Clue-like game for adults. It can be complicated, especially the first time out, and it does require patience to fully get into but once you do, you’ll find the experience well worth it. I can’t remember which friend broke this out from the vintage board games cabinet, but that warning was given to us before we experienced a wonderful playing experience.
This is a beautifully designed game that has a very distinctive and unique art style that brings home a very specific and old school elegant feel as you being this murder mystery board game.
One very different trait about this game is that there is no “this is the right answer.” There are many logical assumptions that must be made and there isn’t a 100% certainty that the right (or wrong) person was accused. This bit of uncertainty puts a weight on every decision or assumption that creates a very different gaming experience that I personally loved.
You may need to do some searching to find this one, but it is worth the effort!
Bare Stats: 2-6 players, age 12 and up.
For more information you can check out this writeup at boardgamegeek.com on the game.
Unfortunately, finding a copy of Orient Express is very difficult and likely any copy I could find to link here would be sold by the time anyone reading this would want to check pricing. But I want the list of best Clue-like games, not just the ones available for sale, so Orient Express definitely belongs on this list!
Letters from Whitechapel
As a warning, this game is a bit more mature and deals with the Jack the Ripper murders so it is best for ages 14 and above as opposed to younger children who can play Clue. So be aware of that age range this game is aimed at.
Each parent or adult can make their own decision, but if there are younger children around use your best judgement. However if it’s adult gaming night then Letters from Whitechapel will help your group of fully grown Clue fans enjoy a very familiar yet incredibly in-depth and different gaming experience that everyone should enjoy.
This is a game about bluffing, about deduction, and about one player as Jack going against the table. There is a very solid 2-player game mode and this one scales up quite well. The map is beautifully laid out and really gives the feeling of late 19th century London.
This 4-round game does a great job creating the cat and mouse effect as you imagine being a killer evading pursuing detectives or as the law trying to close in on the vicious serial killer. This is an exciting game that is also incredibly intense. I can attest from first-hand experience that it’s really easy to get sucked in no matter which side of the table you’re on.
There are mature themes on this as active murders are taking place so for families or individuals sensitive to this, the game might not be the best choice. However, if these themes don’t bother you or your gaming group of choice, it’s worth noting that this is a remarkably well put together game that creates an outstanding gaming experience.
Bare Stats: 2-6 players semi co-op for games of 3 or more players, ages 14 and up
Honorable Mentions for Board Games Like Clue:
Betrayal at House on the Hill – not a whodunit but many mechanics have a very Clue-like feeling as the true villain, scenario, and end game are revealed throughout game play.
- Stop Thief – Well the title sort of says it all, doesn’t it? Similar in many ways to Clue’s Great Museum Caper, at least as far as mechanics go, this is a great cat burglar vs rest of the table game that is good for 2 to 4 players. This makes it great for a small table, as well as one of the few 2 player alternative to Clue.
- Mr Jack – A 2 player game around Jack the Ripper where one player plays Jack and the other plays the investigator. Fun, good for a couple, and with some interesting mechanics, this is a good game. The mechanics are quite different but it delivers a thrilling little experience.
- Scotland Yard – A semi-cooperative board game in the deduction genre, Scotland Yard has one player as the criminal Mr. X while the rest of the table moves in tandem trying to close in and figure out the crucial details in time even as the criminal mastermind has heavy control over movement on the board.
- Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective – A game with a solo mode as well as a 2 player mode, up to 8 people can play but this game is best at 2-4 players. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous fictional creation will step into the shoes of the famous Holmes solving crime after crime while tracking down nemesis Dr. Moriarty.
- Time Looper – This is a game that I enjoyed immensely once I caught on to how the admittedly somewhat complex mechanics worked. Most people won’t be able to jump right on board but if you have a good group of adult gamers willing to put some time into learning how everything works this goes from mildly frustrating to an incredibly in-depth and engaging deduction board game unlike any other.
- The Fury of Dracula – While in a very different genre than the other games on this list, the semi-cooperative nature of an entire table of players trying to track down and defeat the player in the role of Dracula has a lot of deduction and hunting that makes it a heavily deductive game that has many of the great qualities of Clue and similar games.
So Solve That Mystery…Game (In Conclusion)
There’s nothing wrong with going back to an old classic board game like Clue. Truth be told, I still enjoy a good game of Clue with friends, racing to be the first one to figure out the room (without being too obvious) to get that leg up with the sprint to the end.
But there are other great games like Clue. Some are very comparable while some are, in my opinion, potentially even better.
With this list here if you are a fan of logic games, of deduction games, of the entire genre around Clue and games like Clue, then this list will provide you and your family, or gaming friends, with many, many hours of outstanding gaming experiences.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.