Being one of the most popular older board games, Clue has spawned a lot of sequels/spinoffs over the years. While most versions of Clue just seem to re-theme the game there have been some attempts to change up the gameplay. One of those games is today’s game Clue Suspect. Clue Suspect is a card game version of Clue that removes the board in an attempt to streamline the game. While Clue Suspect succeeds in streamlining the original game, it does so to the detriment of the mystery itself.
How to Play Clue Suspect
Choose whether you want to play the advanced version of the game (just adds additional cards to the mystery). If you don’t want to play the advanced version remove all of the advanced cards with the plus symbol in the corner. Separate the white case file cards based on the symbol in the bottom corner. Each player takes a set of cards and the extra cards are put back into the box.
Sort the orange evidence cards into piles for weapons, suspects, and locations. Shuffle each set of evidence cards and choose one card randomly from each set to put under the crime card. This is the crime that all of the players have to solve.
Shuffle the remaining evidence cards and deal them out evenly to the players. If there are any extra cards they are placed face up on the table. Before starting the game remove all of the white case file cards from your hand that either match the evidence cards in your hand or are face up on the table.
Choose who will start the game.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they will ask the other players about two pieces of evidence. They can ask about two people, two weapons, two locations or one of two different types of evidence. The player to the left of the current player then looks through their orange cards. If they have one or more of the evidence cards asked for, they show one of the matching cards to the current player (without the other players seeing). To keep track of the information received discard the matching case file card from your hand. Then hand the evidence card back to the player who handed it to you. The next player then takes their turn.
If the player to the left does not have any of the cards asked for, the next player to the left will have to look through their cards. Each player will only get to see up to one evidence card on their turn. If no one has any of the cards asked for, the player doesn’t get to see any evidence cards on their turn.
End of Game
If a player thinks they know the solution they place the three case file cards of their guess face down at the beginning of their turn. If someone else wants to make an accusation they can place their guess face down as well. The first player to make an accusation looks at the three cards underneath the crime card. If the cards match their guess they reveal both sets of cards and win the game. If they don’t all match the player loses the game. The player no longer asks questions but has to answer the other players’ questions. The next player to make an accusation then checks their guess. If no one can solve the crime, none of the players win the game.
My Thoughts on Clue Suspect
With a name like Clue Suspect it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the game shares a lot in common with the original Clue. Basically Clue Suspect is Hasbro’s attempt to streamline Clue to make it quicker and more travel friendly. The premise and most of the gameplay mechanics are exactly the same. You are trying to solve a crime by asking questions about the cards possessed by the other players. Instead of asking for a location, suspect and weapon; players can only ask for two things. You can ask about two items of the same type though. Through deduction skills and process of elimination players need to figure out the suspect, weapon and location involved in the crime.
Seeing as basically everyone has played Clue/Cluedo at some point in their lives I am not going to really talk much about the main mechanics of the game. Basically I think Clue is a solid deduction game that is a good introduction to the deduction genre. When I was young I played Clue quite a bit and still occasionally play the game. I have found better deduction games though that I would usually prefer playing over Clue. For more information on Clue in general check out my Clue Master Detective Review.
Instead of wasting time talking about a game that everyone has probably played at some point in their lives, let’s discuss the differences between Clue Suspect and normal Clue.
Since Clue Suspect no longer has the gameboard, the dice rolling and movement mechanics from Clue have been eliminated. Probably my biggest complaint about Clue has always been the dice rolling mechanics. I have never liked them since they artificially lengthen the game and add unnecessary luck. A player that rolls poorly is going to have a hard time winning a normal game of Clue. With these mechanics missing from Clue Suspect I was interested in seeing how the game would play.
While I never liked the dice rolling mechanics removing them kind of leaves a hole in the game. I still don’t think the dice rolling mechanics in Clue are good but when they are gone you kind of see that there isn’t a lot to the rest of the game. It really feels like the game is missing something as the simple deduction mechanics are not enough to hold the game together. I have to say that I was surprised by this since I thought getting rid of the dice rolling would have significantly helped the game.
The second biggest difference between Clue and Clue Suspect is the fact that there is quite a bit less information that you have to go through. The basic version of Clue Suspect has six suspects, three weapons and three locations. Using the advanced rules adds another two locations and one weapon. Meanwhile the original Clue had six suspects, six weapons and nine rooms. Even if you choose to use the advanced rules (which I would highly recommend) there is still six less pieces of information to figure out in Clue Suspect than normal Clue.
I think this is the biggest problem that I had with Clue Suspect. While I can see that the designers eliminated some options to speed up the game, I think it hurts the game. The best part of Clue is the deduction element and by eliminating six potential options from the game there is just not enough information to wade through. With less information to figure out it just makes it more likely that a player will win based on lucking into asking the right question. I actually think this is one of the main reasons that it feels like something is missing from Clue Suspect. With fewer things to figure out, the mystery is just way to simple to solve. It doesn’t even feel like much of an accomplish when you eventually solve the case. If Clue Suspect just came with all of the options from the original game I think it could have been just as good as the original Clue.
The third change I don’t completely understand. Instead of using checklist sheets, Clue Suspect decides to use cards. Each player gets a set of case file cards which has a card for each potential suspect/weapon/room. Instead of crossing off things that you have eliminated, you remove the corresponding cards from your hand. I am guessing this was done to make the game more portable but I think it just complicates the game. You have to handle two sets of cards in your hand as well as have a set of cards that you have removed from your hand. While you eventually get used to using the case file cards I just think they aren’t worth the hassle that they add to the game.
These three changes lead to Clue Suspect being a significantly shorter game than normal Clue. A normal game of Clue probably takes around 45 minutes to an hour. On the other hand most games of Clue Suspect will only take 10-15 minutes. I do give Clue Suspect credit for successfully streamlining the original Clue. This reduction in length can mostly be attributed to removing the movement mechanics as well as reducing the amount of information you have to work through. While normal Clue can last a little too long, I think Clue Suspect goes a little too far in the other direction. At only 10-15 minutes the mystery aspect of the game just seems to end too quickly. I think around 20-30 minutes would have been the perfect length for the game.
When factoring in all of the additions, I have to say that the original version of Clue is a better game in my opinion. The original Clue runs a little too long and I have never been a big fan of the roll and move mechanics. It is superior though because the deduction element is better which is the most important thing in Clue. Clue Suspect is so focused on streamlining Clue that they inadvertently hurt the game. There is just not enough to the mystery of Clue Suspect to make it as entertaining as the original game.
Should You Buy Clue Suspect?
Clue Suspect is basically an attempt by Hasbro to streamline the original Clue. It succeeds in shortening the length of the game from 45-60 minutes to 10-15 minutes and does a good job making Clue into a travel game. By turning the board game into a card game it removes the board and the associated dice rolling mechanic that I have never liked. Clue Suspect’s biggest problems come from it streamlining the game too much though. The game eliminates quite a few of the elements of the mystery which hurts the deduction mechanic of the game. The mystery ends up being too simple which really hurts the game. This is the main reason I still prefer the original Clue over Clue Suspect.
If you have never really cared for the deduction mechanics of Clue I don’t see you really liking Clue Suspect. People who want a more challenging mystery might also be disappointed since the game simplifies the mystery quite a bit. If you like Clue though and are looking for a simpler and faster game it might be worth looking into picking up Clue Suspect.