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On Clue and Other Games

Clue is just one of those games I played all the time as a kid, as I'm sure lots of other people did. It was my first experience with any sort of logical reasoning game and I think that's what kept me interested.

It wasn't like Life or anything like that. Nobody's "good at Life", and if they say they are then stay away from them. What's the skill in that game?

"Dude, always buy the insurance. It is so worth it. And if you're losing real bad at the end, just try to be a millionaire." The only real decision-making in Life takes place within the first two or three turns; after that, it's just a game of Spin-the-Wheel.

But don't take that to mean I don't enjoy the game, I really do. But mostly because it's all three-dimensional and has lots of parts, and I'm a sucker for that.

I liked Clue as well because it didn't take as long as Monopoly (because other people didn't want to sit around and play a game through, I always did and still do most of the time). Usually a game of Monopoly was just me and my brother and sometimes my mom if it was after work. I only remember playing it once with my dad and I was really young and totally freaked out when I didn't get my Orange properties. I didn't know it at the time but I was probably justified since they're the best deal for the money.

So yeah, mostly it was a two-person situation and that turns into an almost Axis & Allies-style timespan. But there was always my mom's old, old copy of Clue hanging around up in her bedroom closet along with King Oil, Facts in Five, and a bunch of other games that led me to think there was some sort of board game revolution in the 70's.

We'd break out the game, he'd be Mustard & I'd be Plum and off we'd go. It was a slow trek from room to room sometimes and it just being two people makes it feel even slower. If you've ever had three turns take place entirely within the hallways you know what I mean.

Realize as well that Clue is meant to be played by 3-6 people so were sort of pushing it with it just being the two of us. Since all cards are dealt except the three in the solution envelope it was sometimes the case that you knew one of the answers right away. We'd have, what, eight cards each so you were sure to eliminate about half the cast on your first go.

But we'd trudge along and invent new ways to frustrate (constantly calling the other player to your room as a suspect, sitting in one room just suspecting a new weapon each time) so it was fun. It does make you a much better player in groups, too.

I think many games are like that; if you want to get really good at it, play it against one person only. A sibling if possible since they can really work the mental part too.

Oh, I should say now that when I was younger I was prone to cheating. Oh Dan's gotta go to the bathroom? Maybe I'll just see what weapon was used. Or if it was Monopoly I'd take some loans from the bank at 0% APR. But I didn't want to cheat the whole way since that's harder to cover up. I just wanted a slight edge. He was (and still is) four years older than me so I felt I had to even out the field a bit.

He was very much not into cheating, but I'm sure he must have known I did it a little bit. And hey, if he wins against a cheat that's an even sweeter victory.

But now that I'm older, I don't cheat anymore. And it's not because of my sense of fairness; it's because I want to know I can win even if the other guy's cheating.

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Copyright © 2005-2013 Graham Cranfield