The classic family board game Clue has been a staple of many people’s family game nights and for good reason. Just about everybody loves a good who dunnit.
But when you have younger children, it can be hard to talk about murdering someone and the graphic way to do so. “How does a candlestick kill someone?” (Parents cringe here.)
I have an early mystery lover in my house–Busytown Mysteries was a big hit! So, when I saw Clue Jr on a shelf in a store, I knew I had to get it.
To start, there is no violence, only a sneak who eats a piece of chocolate cake BEFORE supper! It is the player’s job to figure out who are it, with what drink and at what time the cake was eaten.
Like in traditional Clue, you collect clues from people and places and mark your findings on a secret sheet. But there are several differences.
First, there are no cards to keep secret or track of. The clues are under the game pieces. To set up the game, you separate the plastic bases by colour. One white base has the crumb picture under it. This is the clue that will say who ate the cake. It is set aside and someone randomly choose a base that will be the answer to the time question. I like to set this base back in the box for safe keeping. The crumb piece is returned to the other white bases and then they are mixed. The characters are then added and placed on the board.
The yellow bases are similar. They have the drink clue under them. There are two blank ones. These two are set aside. Someone randomly choose one to set in the box: the drink answer. The blank ones are returned to the pile and are mixed in. Then the furniture pieces are added to the bases and placed on the board.
The rules state that they last person who ate a piece of cake goes first–a fun and different way of deciding.
Unlike traditional Clue, every player can move any suspect piece. This was the hardest rule to get use to, as we were use to picking a character to “be”.
On a your turn, you roll a dice. If the yellow square is rolled, you can look under any furniture piece you want. If the white square is rolled, you can look under any character piece you want. If a number is rolled, you can move any character piece along the path on the board. You do not have to move the whole number of spaces (if you roll a three you can choose to move only one or two spaces). You can’t land on the spot you started, nor can you share a spot with someone else.
If you land on a yellow space, you can look under that room’s furniture. If you band on a white space, you look under that character’s base.
All clues that you learn are kept track of on a marking sheet. The sheet also helps you keep track of which characters and item you have looked under.
When you think you know the answer, you can make an accusation at the end of your turn. For example, you would say “It was Professor Plum at 2:00 with the lemonade.” You then get to look under the character of the accused and the pieces in the box. If you are correct, you win the game. If you are not correct, you are out of the game and the other’s continue.
This game is a great alternative to the traditional Clue. There is less strategy which is better for younger kids. There is an element of chance, with getting to look under bases just for rolling. There is also, a little frustration. If you want to look under, say Mrs. White, and you move her towards the white space but don’t quite make it, the next player can swoop in and move her and therefore get the clue first. And because you can’t start and end on the same space, on your next turn you would have to move Mrs White off the white space, wait for your next turn and hope no one else moves her, and then move her to the white space to get the clue.
One of the best things about this game, is that kids can play by themselves. The suggested age is 5 to 8. I think is a good age range, although older kids and adults can play this game as well without feeling like it’s a game just for little kids. There is little to no reading–great for the younger kids.
The one issue I have is that on the tracking sheet you have to look closely to differentiate between some of the drinks.
Overall, Clue Jr is a great addition to a young family’s game shelf.
pros: kids can play on their own, sturdy pieces
cons: need to look closely on tracking sheet
mom: strategy–how to move the person to the right spots
Time: 15 min.