Board games are a great way to put yourself in the shoes of a character and play out an interactive narrative in ways that are more tactile and immediate than, say, video games.
And few board game genres are more cerebrally challenging and narratively intriguing than the murder mystery board game, where you play as a detective with a case to solve.
But murder mystery board games can be more than just whodunit riddles. They can be battles of wit and cunning that have you strategizing your next moves and sniffing out ulterior motives in your teammates. In the end, the goal is always the same: catch the killer in time.
While Cluedo may be the most obvious choice when it comes to murder mystery board games, there are actually so many other titles worth playing out there. Here are our picks for the best murder mystery board games that aren’t Cluedo.
10. Mr. Jack
For 2 players.
Mr. Jack is a detective board game about catching the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
One player embodies Jack—who is among one of the eight characters of the game—while the other player is the investigator who must identify which character is Jack the Ripper in only a single accusation.
This cat-and-mouse chase lets you step into the shoes of a private eye detective. Special powers and locations come along to help or harm the characters, so every move by every character must be strategic, especially for the inspector and the one “Mr. Jack.”
For 3 to 10 players.
Ultimate Werewolf is a social deduction game in the same style as Mafia. One person stands as a moderator, while the rest of the players are villagers with special roles and defensive powers.
Each round consists of a night phase (where one or more villagers die) and a day phase (where each surviving player must defend their innocence and convince the rest that they aren’t a killer). The villagers must deduce the werewolves’ identities by casting votes.
One must know how to defend themselves (or lie) in this game to succeed. No one knows the roles of the other players, thus every villager must act as their own private eye and cooperate to eliminate the werewolves. It’s a great game to bond over!
For 2 to 6 players.
Letters From Whitechapel is another Jack the Ripper-themed board game. One player takes the role of the murderer and is tasked with claiming the lives of five victims. The other players are police detectives who must navigate the streets of Whitechapel and capture Jack the Ripper in under 90 to 150 minutes.
This detective murder mystery board game requires cooperation and wits to stop Jack the Ripper. While the latter moves swiftly and secretly between streets to hunt down victims, the policemen must work around their patrol paths and retrace the killer’s paths to track him down.
For 2 to 6 players.
While the board games mentioned so far have you acting like Sherlock Holmes, 221B Baker Street: The Master Detective Game has you actually being Sherlock Holmes and assigned challenging cases to solve.
Each player starts on 221B and moves around the board until he/she picks up a clue at their locations. The goal is to be the first one to solve the case at hand—before everyone else.
It’s the kind of game that requires a sharp mind and decisive mystery-solving skills. One must really embody the mind and abilities of Sherlock Holmes to solve these cases and win the game.
6. Mythos Tales
For 1 to 10 players.
Mythos Tales is tailor-made for fans of H.P. Lovecraft. But even if you aren’t a Lovecraft fan, it’s still a fun and twisty horror board game.
Players are tasked with navigating the city of Arkham, following the clues from your arsenal (like newspapers and directories), and solving the mysteries at each scenario.
Players also have to match wits with Armitage, the private eye who has seen the blood and horrors of Arkham. Yet, players have the freedom to take any path to solve their cases. It has the impression of a choose-your-own-adventure game, but with more bloody dread.
For 3 to 6 players.
Betrayal at House on the Hill brings the terrifying experience of a haunted house to the board gaming table.
This tile game has two phases: the first phase has players exploring a haunted mansion and stumbling upon different ominous items, while the second phase is where the horrors begin as one player is designated as traitor and must be stopped by the other players.
This game has everything: fetch quests, intriguing mysteries, a bloody showdown between humans and monsters, all inside a haunted mansion. It’s a fight for survival that encourages teamwork and strategies, one that is perfect game for haunted game nights.
For 3 to 6 players.
Need more cat-and-mouse mystery board games? Scotland Yard tasks players to become detectives on the hunt for a criminal known only as Mr. X (who happens to be one of the players).
Players must move around the city of London using different modes of transportation—ones that Mr. X also uses—and catch the criminal.
This board game mixes the thrills of a spy movie with the excitement of an Amazing Race challenge. Players need to be deductive in locating Mr. X but also wise in spending their fare tickets when traveling.
For 1 to 8 players.
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective has players take part in solving mysteries together.
The game features 10 cases to solve (all intricately researched from the Victorian era) and offers clues and directions that lead to the culprits. Players compare their findings to come up with a unified conclusion.
What’s unique about this board game is that there’s no board to play on—it’s just a thorough investigation using a map of London, interview excerpts, newspaper clippings, and other evidence. Players will have their brains tickled with riddles, quests, and intriguing mysteries.
For 2 to 7 players.
Mysterium mixes elements of murder mystery with creative card interpretations. One player is the ghost of a murder victim who can’t speak and must communicate using image cards. The other players are mediums who must interpret the cards to solve the murder.
Think of it as Cluedo except with a ghost providing eerie clues—a whodunit game that’ll surely creep you out as you play it. And much like other murder mystery games, you’ll need to use your wits and instincts to identify the correct murder scenario. Let your own clairvoyance begin!
For 4 to 12 players.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is an acclaimed social deduction board game where players play as investigators assigned to solve a murder. Players are randomly assigned special roles for the investigation, and one of them is the killer. (For larger games, there’s also an accomplice.)
The investigators have to interpret clues given by the Forensic Scientist, while the hidden murderers must derail the case by misinterpreting the clues and leading the other players astray.
It’s a true battle of wits and hunches, and it makes for fun banter and cooperation for those wanting an awesome murder mystery board game night. A classic whodunit that belongs in every board game collection.