My good friends, Steven and Alex, a few others, and I one night came up with some house rules for the board game Clue.

We are a bunch of Mathematicians, so when we play a logic game like Clue, we play to win. Each of us keeps meticulous notes about every disjunction we encounter, and every new fact leads to a re-examination of those disjunctions to find out which we need to keep and which we need to discard. It’s tense. The games needs something to help us chill out a bit. We chose, of course, drinking!

Definition of terms:

  • Propose a theory: What you spend most of your time doing in Clue, when you make a guess and ask other players to disprove it.
  • Make an accusation: When you’re ready to win (or lose) the game and check the confidential file to see the true circumstances of the case.

The drinking here is sometimes a penalty, sometimes a reward, and acts as a handicap for people who are doing just plain too well. We adopted the following rules:

  • Drink a shot of beer when:
    • Another player proposes a theory that cannot be disproven (penalty).
    • You reveal a card to another play that they have not seen before (penalty).
  • Drink a shot of spirits when:
    • You propose a theory that no one else can disprove (reward/handicap).
    • Another player reveals a card to you that you have seen before (penalty).
    • Once per turn if you want to buy one extra movement point so that you don’t have to end your turn right in front of the door to some room. (We like to hear and propose theories.)
    • You make an accusation and you’re wrong (penalty, besides losing the game).
    • Another player makes an accusation and is right (penalty, besides losing the game).

The end conditions trigger drinking because we often play through several games in one night (to correct for excellent hands, such as getting two opposite corner rooms).

We haven’t played this in a long time, because this game tend to mess us all up rather quickly. When we originally settled on these rules, there were not a lot of Drinking Clue variants available online. As of the writing, I can find two:

  • These rules discourage making accusations, which is most of what we do when we get together and play (roll-and-move is for tools), so I don’t really like these rules. Also, they unfairly penalize people who ended up with the Billiard Room or the Library in their hand.

  • These rules are pretty similar to ours, mixed with some campiness. Our concerns were mostly penalizing/incentivizing certain behavior, while making our carefully collected notes useless, so we don’t use a whole lot of camp.

We haven’t played this in a while, but if we do soon, we’ll probably tweak the rules a bit. If that’s the case, I’ll post a short update.