Do you consider yourself to be somewhat of an armchair sleuth? If you do, playing some of the best mystery board games can be a great way to scratch that detective itch.
Even though the cases are not real, the process of figuring out clues and gathering evidence is exciting and the stories that these board games have can suck you in so much that hours pass by without you realizing it.
Have a look at the best mystery board games on this list and play them by yourself or with others!
Best Mystery Board Games for Game Night
Let’s kick this list off with a classic whodunnit. Clue was the first ever murder mystery board game and has been enjoyed by families and friends since it was released in 1949 and still holds up as one of the best mystery board games today.
If you have never played it, now is a better time than never to pick it up and use your process of elimination and deductive reasoning to figure out who was murdered, in what room, and with what weapon.
The game starts with each player being given a character, location, and weapon card, and the top card from each of these categories are placed in a pile that stays confidential until a later point. After this, the interrogations can begin as each player moves to a room within the mansion and accuse one of the other characters of murdering the victim in that room with a specific weapon.
If the player to the left has any of the cards that the accuser has said, then they must show them. As the game goes on, more and more people show their cards, and then through deductive reasoning, each player has to figure out what character, location, and weapon is in the confidential file.
The great thing about this mystery game is that people as young as eight can play as it is not too complicated to understand and is great fun. It also accommodates up to six players so it’s a great choice for families.
- Family Friendly – even though it is about solving a murder, it does not go into detail and is suitable for players as young as eight to play
- Playtime – you do not need to clear your schedule when you play this because it lasts 45 minutes
- Best played occasionally – Clue has a particular charm and excitement to it but it can wear off if you play it too regularly
If you love the game Clue, then be sure to check out our full article on the best board games like Clue!
Letters from Whitechapel is a mystery board game that revolves around the Jack the Ripper murders. A particularly interesting aspect of this game is that one of the players takes on the role of Jack the Ripper and the other players are detectives who must search for clues and catch Jack before he makes it back to his hideout.
If Jack the Ripper can make it safely back to his hideout by the end of the fourth night, then he is declared the winner, but if the investigators are able to track him down and capture him then they win and Jack the Ripper is put behind bars.
This goose chase is navigated via a map that shows Whitechapel in London with the streets having numbers lining them and available routes are indicated with black squares and dotted lines.
Jack the Ripper’s goal is to commit five murders before he is caught and there are seven red squares to signify potential murder sites and if Jack the Ripper chooses to commit the murder then a red disk is placed which will alert the investigators of the crime, beginning the chase.
- Design – the components that come with this board game are high quality and very well designed that helps you feel immersed
- Exciting gameplay – the game stays exciting throughout as you try to outsmart your opponents
- Play length – it can take between 90 – 150 minutes to complete the game which may be too long for some people
In Mysterium, each player takes on the role of a medium who can communicate with ghosts, and it is their job to deduce how one of the players who takes on the role as the ghost has died.
If you liked Clue, you will like Mysterium because it works in a similar way as each medium is given a selection of three possible combinations of how the ghost was murdered, what they were murdered with, and where the murder took place.
However, the player who is the ghost cannot communicate with the other players unless it is with the vague images on the tarot cards provided. The images on these cards are beautiful and can be read in many different ways which is where the real challenge comes in.
The mediums are working together to decipher the ghost’s story, and if they fail the ghost will be doomed to haunt the mansion forever and the game is lost.
Potential suspects, locations, and weapons pertaining to the murder of the ghost are placed on the table, and on each round, a medium must place a marker on the card of their choice and if they correctly guess part of the combination they can move onto the next round.
To get bonus points, the other mediums can agree or disagree with the choice. There are seven rounds in total, and during the final round the mediums are to work out the accurate combination of cards that tell the story of what happened to the ghost, if they are correct the ghost can go towards the light and the mediums win the game.
- Beautiful artwork – the cards, especially the tarot ones look really good and they bring the mysterious atmosphere to life
- Engaging – the combination of working as a team and individually toward your own goals keeps it exciting and starts interesting conversations when having to make decisions together
- Set up time – it takes a long time to set up this game compared to other board games as it has a lot of components and details
When you think of mystery, your mind might go straight to Sherlock Holmes and how cool it would be to try crack some of his cases. Well, in this board game you don’t only crack cases, but you also go head-to-head with Sherlock Holmes himself.
You play as residents of Baker Street and take turns to be the lead investigator who will make the decisions for the next action. However, this does not take away from the fact that this game is a co-op experience and encourages you to work together to reach the goal of solving the case before Sherlock Holmes.
There are ten cases that you can choose from to solve, and the game comes with very detailed and immersive case files, props, and clues that you and your team have to deduce which makes it very challenging.
- Exciting – since you are in a race against Sherlock Holmes, it keeps the energy and tension high
- Props – high quality components help to visualize the cases that you are solving and makes it more immersive
- Challenging – as mentioned, the cases are difficult to solve and even though the game says it is suitable for ages 13 plus, it is possible that it would be too challenging for younger people
If the thought of competing against Sherlock Holmes is a bit too intimidating, you may be happier to become Holmes and Watson yourself. You begin at 221B and make your way through the streets of London where you pick up clues that you must analyze to solve the compelling mysteries.
There are 75 of these cases that you can choose from and are represented by cards with possible locations and suspects involved in the case. The case card also has questions on it that you must answer by figuring out the clues which can be found in each of 14 locations throughout the London map.
The winner of the game is the player who figures out all the answers to the questions on the case card and returns to 221B.
- 75 Cases – the high number of cases to work through gives the game good replayability as by the time you have finished them all and want to start from the first case again, a lot of the clues and hints will be forgotten
- Straightforward rules – it does not take long to get started with playing the game and is aimed at people as young as 14
- Complex clues – some of the clues require a lot of brain power which can be draining after two hours
This board game is not only mysterious, but very spooky. However, you will have the help of your other players as this is mostly a co-op game with a board that can change your stats and give you items, some of which are called omens and will drive your team closer to victory.
- Unfortunately, there are also traitors among your team who are given different objectives and in order to win, both teams must work against each other to either wipe out the opposition, escape the house, or return a sacred item to its resting place.
The components of this board game are a big part of what makes it so fun and intriguing. The game board is procedurally generated and each of its three floors are built as the game progresses.
There are six miniature figures that each have a two-sided character card that display two sets of stats per figure that you can choose from which will affect the starting traits of the character and how they progress.
As well as this, there are 45 tiles that you can use to build the board that allows for a different layout every time you play. The events, omens, and items that you come across as you play are represented by 80 different cards.
- Good replayability – you can change the layout of the board and the traits and skills of each character which makes it a different experience each time you play
- Unique theme – it has an interesting narrative that is different to other mystery board games
- Complicated – if you are new to RPG board games, the dice and combat system can be confusing at first
Put your kids brains to the test with Outfoxed! A board game where you are tasked to catch the fox who has stolen Mrs Plumpert’s prized pie before they escape. To do this, you and up to three other players must work as a team to search for clues and uncover secrets which will be deemed successful by rolling three custom dice and if they match the decision you made after three tries then the investigation can progress.
There are 16 suspected foxes that have stolen the special pie which are revealed by the fox eyes on the dice and you must figure out which ones are innocent or guilty. To reveal the 12 different clues, the paws on the dice will lead you to them but keep in mind that there will be some red herrings that will try to throw you off track.
The game included a neat little device called a clue decoder that you can put the clues into to see if they lead to the fox thief. To win the game, you must catch the fox before it has time to get back to its foxhole with prized pie in tow.
- Great for kids – the instructions are simple, and the visuals are fun and vibrant
- Fun components – the cards and the clue decoder are fun to use and immersive to the mystery solving experience
- Playtime – if you are playing with young children (age 5+), then the game can last longer than intended
When you play this board game, it is like you are watching a crime show unravel in front of you with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. You and your team take on the role of investigators and this game can have up to 12 players and can be completed in as quick as 20 minutes.
Even though each session lasts just 20 minutes, you can play it over and over again as it comes with 250 cards that you can use to change the narrative. The players are to solve a murder, but the killer is one of the investigators which is randomly set at the start of the game as well as forensic scientist, investigator, witness, murderer, and accomplice.
The investigators must deduce the clues given to them by the forensic scientist and will win the game if they are able to identify both the key evidence and the means of murder.
While the investigators are trying to crack the case and find the murderer, the other team must attempt to mislead them. The accomplice is an optional role if you have more than six players and knows who the murderer is and how to solve the crime. If the murderer is not caught, both the accomplice and the murderer win the game.
- Play time – it only takes 20 minutes to play which makes it a great game to play if you don’t want to commit to playing a game that lasts two hours
- 12 players – makes for a great party game because it can accommodate so many players
- Favored team – players have said that it is hard to win as the murderer
Mystery Board Games Buyer’s Guide
What theme are you looking for in a mystery board game? Some stick to the classic murder mystery narrative such as the games where you play as or against Sherlock Holmes, whereas other mystery board games are spooky and have supernatural aspects.
Those are just a couple of examples but there are multiple different themes that you can choose from, it just depends on what interest you and what will keep you engaged throughout the duration of the session.
Do you like a lot of visual representation in a game? From mini character models, dice, maps, and plastic equipment, there are many props that come with some mystery games which makes a lot of people feel more immersed in the experience.
However, you may feel that the abundance of components is a hassle to set up and you prefer to get stuck into the game as soon as you take it out of the box. As well as this, having a lot of components makes it more likely that you are going to lose one or more of them even if you are careful because accidents happen and couches do tend to swallow a lot of bits and pieces when you’re not looking.
Solving mysteries should be fun and if you find that they are too challenging it can suck the fun out of it and become frustrating. Most mystery board games are great at achieving the right amount of fun and difficulty but there are still a few that are reserved for the super sleuths who love the intense brainstorming needed for tough cases.
When looking for a mystery board game, you should think about how many people you are wanting to play it with. You can play some board games as one player which is great for those who like to solve things by themselves whereas there are other board games that can have over ten players which is better for people who like to play board games socially and make decisions together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is It Important To Play Board Games?
Why should you go out and find that perfect mystery board game to play with your friends and family? Well, it is said that by playing board games especially with new people, helps you to meet new people, strengthen relationships, and brings people closer.
As well as having social benefits, playing board games also increases your brain function and is like exercise for your brain. The parts of your brain that are responsible for complex thought processes and memory formation are stimulated no matter what age you are. Board games (especially mystery ones) also help with developing essential cognitive skills like decision making, problem solving, and strategic thinking.