By January 27, 2009

Clue Express board game review

I have only won like twice in my whole life, but I like the board game Clue. I think it was one of the first games I played with a lot of pieces. I can still remember the pistol clearly; it was a pepperbox-style hand gun with a rounded grip.

Anyway, I was searching for some new games to play at the office. So far we have really liked co-operative games, but we have burned through Hoopla and Cloodle many a time over and were due for a change. I saw Clue Express at Target on sale for $10 and thought I would give it a shot.

The game promises to take twenty minutes or less, and that seemed about right with the amount of time we could devote to play. Would it be as fun as the full-blown version?

The most obvious difference is that all of the cool collateral in the original game is gone. No noose, no candlestick, no pepperbox. In fact, there are no murder weapons at all and you don’t have to guess where the murder took place. The object of Clue Express is to guess who was responsible for the murder, and only who was responsible. In the “basic” version, you have to deduce who was the Brains and who was the Brawn behind the crime. In the “advanced” version you have to guess who was the Brains, the Brawn, and the getaway Driver.

Each character from the original game is back (Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green, Mrs. White, etc). Each character has a Brains, Brawn, and Driver card, so it’s possible that the same person could take on all three roles. The dealer takes one Brain, Brawn (and possibly Driver card) and puts them face down in the case file envelope without looking. At the start of their turn, a player rolls four dice. Three dice have pictures of each suspect, the fourth is the “special” die with different actions on it, like being able to make a second round of questions or asking any one player if they know anything about one particular suspect.

The active player chooses two of the character dice that were rolled, and puts one die in the “Brains” column and one in the “Brawn” column (and the remaining die goes in the “Driver” column in the advanced version). For example, let’s say I put Colonel Mustard on “Brains” and Miss Scarlet on “Brawn.” Any player must reveal the Col. Mustard brain card or Miss Scarlet brawn card if they have it. If a player has more than one card that matches the accusation, they choose which one to reveal. Trust me, the game is easier to play than it is to explain, unless of course you’re Bond, who completely hosed our inaugural game.

My butchery of the rules aside, the game is pretty fun. It does go by quickly, especially on basic mode when everyone knows the rules already. The game takes just enough brainpower to be challenging, but it’s otherwise cruise control. I really enjoy it later in the day, as I could use a work break but I’m too burned out to play something that requires a lot of energy. We played it during the layoff, and it definitely helped people take their minds off of things, if just for twenty minutes at a time.

Will Clue Express replace Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Cranium as a party favorite? Highly unlikely. But the game packs up well and would be fun on a camping trip or as a time-out at the office. There’s no pepperbox inside, but you can’t have everything for $10.


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1 Comment on "Clue Express board game review"

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  1. Jim says:

    Try out “Kill Dr. Lucky” by Titan Games. It’s the precursor to Clue (where you have to try to kill the Professor in a certain room with a certain weapon… which is surprisingly difficult). Its a fun game where everyone cooperates to make you fail 🙂