Clue is generally considered a classic board game. As a child I remember really enjoying the game. While a lot of people like Clue, some people aren’t fans. For a game that is over 70 years old at this point, there is a lot to appreciate about the game. It is probably the first ever mass market deduction game. Clue had quite a bit of influence on where the genre is today. The game has a number of issues though with one of the biggest being that it takes too long to play. Hasbro has released a number of Clue spinoff games over the years that have tried to tweak and improve upon the original formula. Released in 2020 Clue: Liars Edition is one of the newest spinoff games.
I will admit that I didn’t have particularly high expectations when it came to Clue: Liars Edition. I can’t say that I am a fan of games that add in lying mechanics as a gimmick. When it is a key component of the gameplay, I don’t have a problem with it. There are a number of games that add in a lying mechanic which doesn’t really add much to the actual gameplay.
I was curious how you could lie in a game like Clue and not ruin the entire game. The game doesn’t work if players lie about what cards they have in their hands. This is why I was a little intrigued by Clue: Liars Edition because I wanted to see how it could actually add lying to the game without ruining the gameplay. Clue: Liars Edition has a few interesting additions that improve the game, but most of them just make it worse than the original game.
For the most part Clue: Liars Edition plays like the original game. The objective is still to try and figure out who killed Mr. Boddy, with what weapon, and in what room. This hasn’t changed in the 70+ years that the game has been around. You still take turns asking each other questions trying to figure out what cards are in the other players’ hands. Clue: Liars Edition does tweak the gameplay in two main ways. First the gameboard was tweaked. Otherwise players will get to play Investigation cards which allow them to take an additional action on their turn. Some of these cards require players to lie to take the action though. If another player catches you lying, you will face a punishment.
If you would like to see the complete rules/instructions for the game, check out our Clue: Liars Edition how to play guide.
Not surprisingly the biggest addition to Clue: Liars Edition is the ability for players to lie. Thankfully this isn’t allowed when players ask about the Evidence cards in other players’ hands. This would literally break the game as you would never know for sure what cards the other players held in their hands. It would then be impossible to figure out what cards were in the envelope.
Instead the lying is built around Investigation cards, which are new to the game. These Investigation cards allow you to take an additional action on your turn. These actions include making an additional suggestion on your turn, you can look at some of another player’s cards, or all of the players could be forced to pass a card to the player on their left.
While these cards add quite a bit of luck to the game, I kind of liked them. One of the biggest issues with the original Clue is that games take too long. These new actions allow players to acquire more information on their turn. Thus you can figure out the mystery in less turns. This is a positive for the game. How you utilize these additional abilities can also add a little more strategy to the game.
If I stopped at this point, I would actually say the Investigation cards are an improvement to the original game. The problem is that half of the cards are lies and don’t actually give you an additional action. In these cases you have to lie about what is written on them. If you can successfully lie about the card, you get to take the action. If you are caught though, you are forced to place one of your Evidence cards face up on the gameboard helping all of the other players. Unless you are extremely lucky you will be forced to lie from time to time.
I wouldn’t mind the lying if it added anything meaningful to the game. Unfortunately I don’t think it does. It just feels like the lying was added to the game so it could be marketed as a new type of Clue that allowed you to lie. The game doesn’t give you the option to lie. You have to tell the truth or lie depending on what Investigation card you draw. You don’t get to choose what you want to do on your turn.
The main problem is that it usually isn’t very easy to lie in the game. You will be caught lying most of the time. This is due to a couple of factors. The Investigation deck features 12 cards. Six are truth cards and six are lies. There are three different actions that players can get on truth cards. When you have to lie you will choose one of these three actions and try to bluff that you have it.
The problem is that it is usually pretty easy to card count to know when another player is lying. For example you could get stuck in a situation where all of the truth cards have already been played from the deck and most of the players are pretty confident of that fact. In this case no matter what lie you tell, you will be caught.
To improve your odds of getting away with a lie, you typically want to choose the action that has been used the least since the last time the deck of cards was shuffled. Even if you pick the best option, if another player has a truth card of the same type you lie about, they have a pretty good chance of knowing that you are lying. Maybe our group is just terrible liars, but I would guess that liars were caught around 60-75% of the time.
The punishment for being caught is quite high as well. You lose a key piece of information having to reveal one of your Evidence cards to the other players. This puts you at a pretty big disadvantage. As you have no choice between lying or telling the truth, the cards you end up drawing will play a big role in how well you ultimately do. Outside of potentially choosing a better action for your turn, you are almost always better off getting a truth card as you then face no chance of a negative outcome. Maybe if Clue: Liars Edition tweaked this mechanic in some way, it could have worked. How it is implemented though, it just doesn’t work.
Outside of the Investigation cards and the lying mechanic, Clue: Liars Edition has one other main tweak to the original game. I am not sure if this has been used in other Clue board games before, but the game uses a significantly more streamlined gameboard. Most if not all other versions of Clue feature the mansion board which has spaces between each of the rooms. On a lot of turns you will roll a number not high enough to make it to the next room. Thus instead of gaining information on your turn, you waste time just moving around a board.
Clue: Liars Edition improves upon this by eliminating all of these additional spaces. The number you roll on the die allows you to move directly between rooms on the gameboard. This is by far the biggest improvement Clue: Liars Edition makes on the original game. Probably the biggest issue with the original Clue is that too much time is wasted moving around the mansion. The core of Clue is supposed to be about figuring out the mystery. It is not moving a pawn around a gameboard.
Clue: Liars Edition realizes this and allows each player to make at least one suggestion on each of their turns. This puts the investigation back at the center of the gameplay. It also means the game plays quite a bit quicker as you get information considerably faster. I don’t know if other versions of Clue feature this board design, but I think it is an improvement and should be used more in the future.
Otherwise Clue: Liars Edition is basically the same as the original Clue. The gameplay is fun. It is satisfying slowly figuring out the solution to the case. The game is easy to play where families can enjoy it. While you have to put some thought into the questions you ask to narrow the possibilities, the game is pretty simple where it doesn’t overwhelm you.
Clue: Liars Edition still relies on a decent amount of luck though, and it just feels a little too simple in areas. Your enjoyment of the game is really going to depend on your opinion of the original Clue. If you never cared for the original Clue, there is little chance that will change for Clue: Liars Edition. If you are a fan of the original game though, I think there is a pretty good chance that you will enjoy this game as well as long as the lying mechanic intrigues you.
Before wrapping up I wanted to quickly talk about the game’s components. The components aren’t bad, but in some ways they felt kind of cheap. The gameboard is on the thinner side. The artwork is pretty good. The Liar Button doesn’t really do much outside of saying some variation of “liar”. It adds a little flair to the game, but otherwise wasn’t really necessary. Otherwise the components are pretty generic.
At the end of the day I think Clue: Liars Edition is worse than the original Clue. I do like some of the things that the game does. It actually does a decent job making the game play faster which is one of the biggest issues with the original Clue. The Investigation cards allow you to obtain more information each turn. The streamlined board means you don’t have to waste turns just moving around the board. The lying mechanic doesn’t really add anything to the game though, and mostly just adds even more luck. Otherwise Clue: Liars Edition plays exactly like the original Clue. The game is a simple and somewhat fun family deduction game. It has issues though that this spinoff doesn’t address.
My recommendation for Clue: Liars Edition is going to rely solely on your thoughts towards the original Clue. If you aren’t a big fan of the original game, I wouldn’t recommend Clue: Liars Edition as I think it is ultimately worse than the original game. If you are a big fan of the original game though and are intrigued by some of the new mechanics, it may be worth giving Clue: Liars Edition a chance.
Clue: Liars Edition
Year: 2020 | Publisher: Hasbro | Designer: NA | Artist: Henning Ludvigsen
Genres: Deduction, Family
Ages: 8+ | Number of Players: 2-6 | Length of Game: 30-45 minutes
Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate
Components: gameboard, 6 character tokens, 6 weapons, 21 Evidence cards, 12 Investigation cards, 6 Reference cards, Case File Envelope, Detective Notepad, die, Liar Button, instructions
- The Investigation cards and the streamlined gameboard do a good job speeding up the original game.
- Still has the simple and fun deduction gameplay from the original game.
- The lying mechanic doesn’t really work as it is pretty easy to determine when another player is lying.
- Seems to rely on more luck than the original game.
Recommendation: For fans of the original game that are intrigued by the game’s new mechanics.
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