It’s almost always fun when Dungeons and Dragons crosses over with other kinds of media. It’s great to see them utilize the story and lore that has been built up over the decades in novels, videogames, and comicbooks. Sometime those crossovers are epic in scale (like the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3 videogame), and sometimes they’re far simpler and closer to home, like Dungeons and Dragons Clue.
As a fan of both Clue and D&D, I was extremely excited to try out every combination of the two that I could find. In this case, it was the 2019 version of the game:
The Story of D&D Clue
D&D Clue is a murder mystery. Instead of a grand mansion, however, you and your fellow players find yourself in the city of Baldur’s Gate. Here, a devil has slain and taken the place of a party member, stealing an infernal puzzle box, and hiding it in a location somewhere in the city. If the forces of evil find this box, they’ll be able to invade Baldur’s Gate! So, you’ll have to figure things out first.
The Gameplay of D&D Clue
As one might expect, D&D Clue plays in mostly the same way that regular Clue does. For those who may have never played, it goes like this: There are 9 locations, 6 (magical) weapons, and 6 suspects (also characters). Each of them is illustrated on a clue card, and one of each type of card is chosen blindly at the beginning of the game, then placed in a small envelope, where they cannot be seen. The remaining cards are then shuffled and distributed amongst the players.
Then the game begins. Players roll the dice, move around the board into the various illustrated locations, and “investigate” the likelihood of various combination of cards being the “whom, where, and with what”. To do so, they announce the combination that they wish to investigate (the location necessarily being the one in which their pawn is located), and the player to their right must discreetly reveal if they have one of the cards announced, thereby eliminating that card as one of the culpable ones. If that player doesn’t have such a card, it goes around to the other players to do so.
Eventually, one of the players will have eliminated the impossible, and come to the solution to the mystery. They’ll return to the center of the board and make such an accusation, finally looking inside the envelope. If their guess was successful, they announce it to the players and win! If it wasn’t, they don’t tell anyone, are out of the game, and play continues.
Edition Specific Mechanics
D&D Clue has a couple of additional mechanics.
For one, each character has their own special ability, which they can use once during the game, like moving twice or peeking at someone else’s cards.
For another, there is an additional deck of cards, with both ‘rumor’ and ‘intrigue’ cards. If you land on a ? space, roll a ? on a die, or have your character pawn moved by another player, you can draw one of these cards. You’re likely to get an intrigue card allowing you to try and roll for a bonus of some kind. Of course, you might also draw a devil card. A player to draw the 7th of these if eliminated from the game.
Luck vs. Strategy
Like regular Clue, this game is all about strategy, although not necessarily a complicated one. You might get slightly lucky and get a very informative hand, or very unlucky and draw the 7th devil card, but the overall gameplay emphasizes the standard Clue strategies.
Number of Players
This game requires 2-6 players. The more players that you have, the longer the game will take, since you’ll take longer to pare down your suspects. And a 2-player game won’t be as fun, since the strategizing aspects of the gameplay won’t be so available to you. There’d only be one person to view cards from, after all.
The tone of D&D Clue is just as lighthearted as you might expect. It isn’t a heavy game, despite a murder being central to the premise. The lack of any kind of combat or direct conflict with other players removes any strong feeling of competition, making it a good party or holiday game.
The use of recognizable characters, locations, and magical items does give a more complete feeling of immersion into Toril and the Forgotten Realms than many Clue spinoffs. If you or your friends are fans of the lore and story of D&D, it takes on a nostalgic and quaint feeling, being able to recognize them.
History and Availability
This version of Dungeons and Dragons Clue is actually the second time that one has been released. An older edition was released in 2002 (matching more closely with 3e or 3.5e play). This 5e version was released in 2019 and has been readily available on shelves and online ever since. Reviews are middling for both versions of the game – Clue being a game rather different in tone and objective than DnD usually is.
You can find this game easily on Amazon here: (Amazon.com: Clue Dungeons & Dragons | Collectible Dungeons and Dragons Clue Game (2019 Version) | Officially Licensed D&D Board Game : Toys & Games,) or in local gamestores, and probably even in standard shops that carry toys and games.
Our Personal Thoughts on D&D Clue (2019)
While I thoroughly enjoy both Clue and D&D, and very much enjoyed the 2002 edition of their mashup, the 2019 5e Clue was very much a letdown.
The standard Clue mechanics, unchanged as they are, are fine. The art is well done, the character choices endearing, and the little magical item tokens are super cute. It’s the supplemental mechanics that don’t really hold up.
The additional ‘rumor and intrigue’ deck is not very well thought out. Many cards require you to roll to gain their ability, aiming to roll above a certain result. But it isn’t made clear whether you should be rolling with one die or two (neither in the rulebook nor on the cards). To make this worse, rolling one die would make some of the cards nearly impossible to receive, while rolling two would make some of them impossible not to receive.
The ’devil card’ mechanic also feels poorly thought out. Clue as a game relies upon deduction not just with your own guesses but attempting to figure out which cards other players have, what they’re investigating, and why. Removing them arbitrarily from gameplay by an unavoidable mechanic actively weakens the fun of the game.
Overall, this is still a cute game. And if you really want to play Clue in the Forgotten Realms it’s a lot easier to find than the 2002 version. But you’ll have a lot more fun by ignoring the supplemental deck and playing like you would with a standard version of Clue. The art and characters are great even on their own!
Have you ever played the 2019 version of DnD Clue? Did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments below!