It’s safe to say we’ve all played Cluedo. If you haven’t played Cluedo, you are either a tortured and stunted victim of a joyless childhood, or you are American. If you’re the latter, chances are you played Clue instead. The game was a British invention from 1944 and was rebranded for the American market. Because “Cluedo” is a play on the Latin word “ludo” (“I play”), it’s tempting just to say Americans don’t know their Latin. Unfortunately Hasbro has shot down this theory (in the conservatory with the revolver). They claim the name Cluedo is a three-way pun on the words “clue”, “ludo”, and a reference to the board game Ludo, which Americans will know better as Parcheesi. Because Americans know Ludo by a different name, they decided to rebrand the thing in case the reference was lost1.
The game hasn’t changed that much since its patent in 1945. The Gun Room got amalgamated into the Dining Room and we lost a few of the original ten characters — Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, Miss Grey and Mrs. Silver have all fallen by the wayside. However the really wrenching disappointment is that the rather cool and gruesome instruments of murder also changed. You could dispose of an annoying houseguest with any one of an axe, a shillelagh2, a bomb, a rope, a dagger, a pistol, a hypodermic, a bottle of poison, or a fire poker. Why oh why did they get rid of the bomb? It’s clearly the weapon of choice for the discerning society psychopath. And the syringe, well, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as forcibly injecting a victim with something unsavory from the kitchens.
But those aren’t the best changes. Not by a long shot. The thing I love most about the evolution of Cluedo is the fact that the Americans changed the Rev. Mr. Green to simply Mr. Green. They thought Americans would take such umbrage at the idea of a priest committing a murder that they had to change his title! Because we all know priests are so trustworthy it’s impossible for them to commit any sort of crime at all. What’s the cherry on the icing on the cake for me is a line from Father Ted, in which three Catholic priests are having a game of Cluedo. One priest accuses the Rev. Green, to which Father Ted replies, “Hah, those Protestants! Up to no good as usual.” 3
And now, because this blog is a thinly veiled excuse to take the piss out of stupid words, have some player names in foreign languages. In Greek Col. Mustard is Syntagmatarchis Moustardas (three letters expands to about ten million — sounds about right.) In Dutch Professor Plum is Professor Pimpel. But honestly, no other country is going to out-do the Danes, who have branded Mrs. Peacock as Fru Paafugleblaa. Say it with me. Paafugleblaaaaaaa.
- Hasbro. “Master Detective”. Hasbro. Web. 4 December 2012. <http://www.hasbro.com/common/instruct/cluemasterdetective.pdf>.
- Howls, Paul. Cluedofan.com. Paul Howls, 2012. Web. 4 December 2012. <http://www.cluedofan.com/>.
- Pratt, Anthony Ernest. “GB586817 (A) – Improvements in board games”. Application no. GB19440024000 19441201. 1 April 1947. Print.