Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Luke Turpeinen
Play This Instead: Clue & Guess Who / Mystery Of The Abbey
Summary: If you enjoy Clue or Guess Who you will enjoy this title. Those who don't like deductive reasoning games, those who have trouble keeping moderate amounts of notes and younger children might not get a lot out of this pick.
There are a lot of games from our childhood that resonate with us as adults. Just thinking back to playing games like Life, Monopoly and Sorry! with my family reminds me of exactly what it was like living with them at that time. In our Play This Instead series of articles we will take games that were popular when we were kids and suggest a modern board game that you could play instead! Board game design has evolved a lot since many of these games were made, and a lot of the games we suggest are designed to be updates to older game ideas.
One of my favorite games to play as a kid was the board game classic, Clue. Using deduction one could figure out who had killed Mr. Body, and it always excited me to race through this reasoning faster than anyone else I was playing with. Likewise, Guess Who was a favorite game to play with my sister in long car rides (even though I always won when she chose a woman). Both of these classic games use deductive reasoning to find a specific person out of various characteristics. In Clue you are figuring out which items, characters and locations other people have in their hand, which lets you know what cards are in the secreted away set. In Guess Who you choose characteristics that have a chance to significantly narrow the further field of choices, trying to find out which character card your opponent has. There are minor issues with both games: in Clue the “roll the dice and walk around” part of the game is really completely unnecessary and adds nothing to the game, in Guess Who picking a woman is tantamount to losing because of the ratio between men and women in the game. Luckily there is a game that has very similar gameplay that is still just as accessible and fun as these two classics.
Mystery of the Abbey combines the physical characteristics of Guess Who with the kind of query leading to deduction gameplay that Clue does very well. Monks at the Abbey have discovered a murder, and it is up to the players to determine who it is. Players can differentiate the monks by their order (Benedictine, Franciscan or Templar), by their rank (Father, Brother, Novice), their weight, their beard length and whether they wear a hood. Players accrue victory points for making correct assertions about the culprit’s characteristics, and lose victory points for making accusation, the winner of the game is the player with the most points when the culprit is revealed. This is usually the person doing the revealing, but not always. What’s good about this set up is that it encourages good detective work and punishes sloppy investigators. It also gives an advantage to those who pay attention during others’ turns and who can deduce monks that other players hold just by the kinds of questions they ask during the declaration action.
The game also has a map/movement component, with different actions available to the players. There is also an interrogation type action that lets you ask other players Guess Who style questions about the cards they have in their hand instead of just sticking with the Clue style declarations. An example question could be, “How many bearded monks do you have in your hand?” or, “Do you have the X card?” (there are multiple examples in the rule book). These kinds of questions open up the game to a much higher level of deductive skill as the questions could theoretically get quite complicated, though they don’t have to be complicated for your group. This seemingly small mechanical choice really opens up the game to a wide range of player ability, making it much more replayable than most other deductive games. Children can enjoy the game at the level of Clue and Guess Who and there is nothing with approaching the game in that manner. More crafty people can also get very subtle and specific with the mechanics and truly create a series of intense logic puzzles to solve in the most efficient manner by being a careful listener and a cautious logician.