Ten of the Best Mystery Board Games for when you want to tease your Brain and your Friends!

It takes skill to write a mystery. An author has to consider not just the setting and characters but also their motivations. They have to think through the narrative from every angle, not just to conclude it but to end it in such a way that it brings all the clues together in a satisfying reveal. All the pieces have to come together just right. 

However, I haven’t summoned you all here today to discuss what goes into making a good mystery. Rather, I’ve called you all here to talk about solving them. Publishers and game companies have been trying their hands at crafting mysteries for players to solve for nearly a century, and I want to get to the bottom of a single question: Which Mystery Board game is the best? 

There are endless potential suspects, but fortunately, I’ve used my years as a veteran board game sleuth to narrow it down to ten of the most likely candidates for “Best Mystery Board Games.”


The criteria I’m using to crack this case are as follows:

  • “Does it feel like a Mystery?” – I consider this one the most important. It boils down to whether or not a player can use clues found within the game to come to a rational conclusion that solves the mystery.
  • “How much fun is the game?” – This is a close second for me in importance. A good mystery can prove the phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” If a game can be frustrating, but still satisfies the urge for a great mystery, then it places higher on the list. 
  • “How many can play?” – Some games are designed to be played by one person, and that’s fine, but I find it a little limiting. A game tends to be more fun with more people. 
  • “Is it replayable?” – While board games are normally replayable endlessly, with the way mysteries are made, a few of them can only really be played through once. (Or, like, once every ten years after you’ve forgotten how it ends.) 

 (Interestingly, as is the case with many good Mysteries, Spoilers follow for a few of these.) 

The Best Mystery Games in 2023

Number 10: Mysterium

mystery board games mysterium

  • Publisher: Libellud
  • Year of Release: 2015
  • # of Players: 2–7 Players
  • Recommended Age: 10+
  • Approximate Play Time: 45 minutes

Players take on the role of Mediums and a Ghost, who is halfway between player and referee. Mediums have seven turns to figure out who killed the ghost, where it happened, and with what. The ghost can only communicate information by handing Medium’s cards that are loosely connected to suspects, locations, and weapons.

If enough of the players have figured out enough clues by the end of the seventh turn, then everyone wins. If not, then everyone loses. (Or whoever came closest wins.) 

Mysterium loses points with me because it’s reliant on players cooperating, without incentivizing cooperation. If someone decides to be a liar, or just particularly obstinate, it can ruin it for everyone. Even the “closest player wins” idea feels a little hollow with this particular game. 

Number 9: Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

mystery board games sherlock holmes

  • Publisher: Sleuth Productions
  • Year of Release: Originally 1981, with many expansions following
  • # of Players: 1+ Players
  • Recommended Age: 13+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60-120 minutes+

With this game series, you can take on the Great Detective himself, and use the power of your mind to solve mysteries. Each release comes with a case book, a map, some in-universe newspaper, and that’s about it. In conjunction with codes on the map, Players use the casebook to follow leads, “conduct interviews,” and do the rest of the detective work primarily with the power of their minds. 

This game is what’s called a Legacy game. Which is a fancy way of saying “one-and-done.” If there wasn’t a win condition, it could be called an interactive novel. There’s absolutely no replayability to it. Once you’ve solved the mystery, it’s never going to change. I can tell you from experience that it’s a fantastic way to spend either a rainy evening or a lonely day. (My favorites from the series is the Jack the Ripper and West End Adventures, as I love the idea of Holmes squaring up against Jack.)

Number 8: Dark Stories (or Black Stories)

mystery and crime board games black stories

  • Publisher: Kikigagne
  • Year of Release: 2009
  • # of Players: 2+ Players
  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Approximate Play Time: 20+ minutes 

Another Legacy game. This one has less in the box than Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, as it’s essentially just a book of stories. However, this one edges out the above because it’s encouraged to be played with multiple people. (Also, it gets a slight edge because playing it with my kids reminded me of TTRPGs, and that makes me happy.)  

One player reads the case or cases from the book. They then read a part out loud to set the scene, and the rest of the players ask yes-or-no questions until someone comes up with an answer. It could almost be described as a teaching aid to learn how to do this same practice with almost any other book or story one could name. 

So, why is it on this list? Because this game gives you all the tools you need to play. The stories are ready-made, and they’ve got a good track along which to ask and answer questions. If you’ve got older kids, or mystery-minded, bored adults, this is a great game to pick up and tease your friends’ brains with.   

Number 7: Mortum: Medieval Detective

mystery crime and detective board games

  • Publisher: Jet Games Studio
  • Year of Release: 2021
  • # of Players: 1-6 Players
  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Approximate Play Time: 120-180 minutes 

This is another great game to play with older kids. It combines all the best parts of a TTRPG, with all the greatest parts of a board game, and throws in a heaping helping of mystery-solving to the mix. One way it one-ups those TTRPGs, however, is that it doesn’t include any homework. There’s no weighty tome you have to read through to figure out how to play. You can pretty much open the box, choose an “agent,” and get started. 

Players choose from one of six agent cards, representing an individual character with their abilities; then, the players begin one of the three included cases. Everything is done with cards, and the game is designed in such a way that players learn by playing it. Different cards open up different map options, as some cards become location tiles, and some cards lead to interactions with NPCs. 

(For my fellow TTRPG nerds: Honestly, it’s a bit like a slightly more serious game of Munchkin.)

The game is fun, fast-paced, and great for a lazy afternoon, (or an evening where the DM doesn’t feel like DMing). However, it does lose some points in my book for being another Legacy title, as well as being comparatively short. If you’re familiar with Mystery games, you’ll probably go through all three cases in one four-hour sitting. 

Number 6: Betrayal at House on the Hill

mystery, crime, detective board game

  • Publisher: Avalon Hill
  • Year of Release: Originally 2004, with multiple editions released after
  • # of Players: 3-6 Players
  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Approximate Play Time: 60 minutes 

Many people would call this game a masterpiece, and they’re not wrong. It’s a very complex game that took a lot of creativity to write and design. It’s released three editions over the last eighteen years, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. (I’m primarily talking about the third edition herein, as that is the most recent, and it’s the one I’ve played the most.)

Players take on the role of investigators in a haunted house, with one among them randomly being chosen as “the betrayer”, before picking a scenario to play through. Players move through different levels of the house, drawing random room tiles as they progress to build out the house. Different rooms revealed will trigger different Omens, Haunts, and Events. After the players take their turns, the house gets a turn, with the actions it’s allowed depending on the scenario the players have chosen.  

This game is incredibly in-depth and immersive. It can take hours to finish a single play-through. It’s got a ton of different outcomes, scenarios, and replayability. Every round builds suspense, not just in not knowing what the next room will bring, but also in knowing that one player among you is going to betray your team at a certain point. That’s part of the problem, honestly. Despite its near-endless re-playability, this game is more about horror, and random luck than solving a mystery, with only certain scenarios playing out like more traditional mystery games.

Number 5: Paranormal Detectives

paranormal murder mystery crime board games

  • Publisher: Lucky Duck Games
  • Year of Release: 2019
  • # of Players: 2-6 Players
  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Approximate Play Time: 30-50 minutes 

Paranormal Detectives features a group of players who take on the role of investigators, trying to lay a ghost to rest. One of the players, however, takes on the role of a ghost and uses various visual clues to help the other players solve their murd- Actually. Wait. That sounds familiar… Yes. This one is a little bit similar to Mysterium, above. At least in the premise. In actual play, I found that I enjoyed this game a lot more. 

At the start of the game, the Ghost is given a story card that tells them the details of the case. They read it completely, and then the other plays ask them open questions to try and deduce the who, what, where, when, why, and how, of who killed them. The Ghost then uses a variety of ways, (like representations of hangman’s knots, tarot cards, and other interactive mini-games,) to answer the players’ questions as best they can. Most of these, because they are so visual, end up giving the same information to all the players. Each player has two chances to guess the correct answer to the mystery. If one gets it right, both the detective and the ghost win. If no one gets it, then the player who got the closest wins. 

So, if it’s so similar to Mysterium, why did I think this one was more fun? I think it comes down to three factors: Tone, creativity, and cooperation. This game doesn’t take itself as seriously, so people end up laughing more, while still making use of mystery-solving skills. The various ways the Ghost player tries to give clues also lets Ghosts and Detectives alike get creative with their answers. Crucially, this game doesn’t expect players to work together. One Detective player, and, potentially, the Ghost can win. For me, all of that just ended up being more fun. 

Number 4: Letters from Whitechapel

letters from whitechapel mystery detective crime board game

  • Publisher: Nexus Editrice
  • Year of Release: 2011
  • # of Players: 2–6 Players
  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Approximate Play Time: 90 minutes

Earlier, I talked about how much I enjoyed the idea of detectives squaring up against Jack, the Ripper. Well, you may not play as Sherlock in this game, one player plays as Jack, and it’s up to the other one to four players to stop him. 

This game is a little bit complicated. However, the summarized version is that Jack’s player secretly chooses a space on the board to serve as his hideout, then, he uses a “movement sheet” to keep track of where he is as he tries to “kill” five of the “wretched” tokens on the board and make it back to his hideout without any of the police players catching him. Play progresses in phases between Jack and the police until one of the policemen catches Jack, or Jack successfully kills five of the wretched and makes it back to his hideout for a fifth time. If any one of the policemen does so, all of the policemen win. If none of them do, Jack wins. 

This game is another that’s endlessly replayable. It’s a little involved as far as setup, and so complicated that I had to heavily summarize the rules, so it’s not a great one for younger players. However, it will test out a person’s detective skills, and whether you’re Jack’s player outsmarting four others, or one policeman catching Jack, you feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re finished.  

Number 3: There’s Been A Murder – A Collaborative Card Game of Death and Deduction

murder mystery detective board game

  • Publisher: Nexus Editrice
  • Year of Release: 2019
  • # of Players: 3-8 Players
  • Recommended Age: 13+
  • Approximate Play Time: 5-15 minutes

This one is kind of exactly what it says on the box. There’s been a murder, and players collaborate in a card game about death and destruction. This one’s another pretty simple one, as it’s mostly a box with about two dozen cards and some gameplay instructions. 

In this game, no one can talk about the cards they’ve seen, either in their hands or in play. Everyone gets two cards to start with, playing one at a time, before it resolves, and they potentially get a second. Play continues in turns until someone has solved the mystery, or the killer kills the witness, (usually, this means the deck has run out). 

This one’s another one that’s great fun at a party. It’s got a little bit of a learning curve, but after a round or two of it, the game becomes pretty quickfire, with most rounds lasting less than fifteen minutes. It’s got enough replayability that it can still kill an afternoon, and it heavily encourages the players to work together, as either the players win, or the deck wins. 

Number 2: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

one night werewolf mystery paranormal board game

  • Publisher: Bezier Games
  • Year of Release: Originally 2014 (multiple expansions have been released since) 
  • # of Players: 3–10 Players
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Approximate Play Time: 10 minutes

I’m a big fan of Werewolves. The old stories play up the amount of isolation and fear that boils in a community that knows there’s a monster among them but can’t quite figure out who. One Night Ultimate Werewolf replicates this feeling well. 

Setting up for this game takes all of two minutes. Everyone takes a role card at random. These have various roles, like Villager, Seer, Robber, Werewolf, and several other cards. Everyone closes their eyes except when they’re “awake.” Play then proceeds in phases with different roles awake at different times. The goal of the game is to find out who’s a werewolf, and “kill” them by voting them out. Any Werewolves are on a team with one another, while everyone else is against them. Players will talk to each other, and ask questions, trying to figure out who is a werewolf. At the end of a “Night”, everyone votes on who they think is the werewolf. The person with the most votes “dies” and reveals their role card. If it’s a tie, all players with the most votes “die”, and reveal their cards. If a Werewolf dies, the villagers win! If no werewolves are killed, but a villager dies, then the werewolves win! 

This is a game of deductive reasoning and deception. Lying is a built-in part of the equation. In that way, it almost doubles as a social experiment about paranoia and trust. However, not every role is equal, and some have notably more abilities and things to do than others. So it loses a few points for me for not being equally fun for everyone.

Before We Reach the End of this Mystery

These potential suspects for Best Mystery Board Game were intriguing. They didn’t make my list, but they might bear some further investigation.

  • Mansions of Madness
  • Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
  • Blood on the Clocktower
  • Tragedy Looper
  • A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game

Without further ado, my choice for Best Mystery Board Game:

Number 1: Clue/Cluedo

clue mystery detective board game

  • Publisher: Hasbro
  • Year of Release: Originally, 1949 (Multiple re-releases and new editions since)
  • # of Players: 2–6 Players
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Approximate Play Time: 45 minutes

If you’ve come this far, and you’ve been paying attention, then chances are you’ve guessed what was going to come first just by noting its absence until now. (Or you read my “Bottom Line Up Top” section earlier.) That’s called “deductive reasoning,” and it’s Clue’s secret weapon. This game is many people’s first introduction to Mystery Games, and even though most people are pretty familiar with it, most people are still happy to sit down and play it. It doesn’t take long to learn how to play Clue, (or Cluedo in the UK,) and it doesn’t take long to set up. 

Players shuffle three small decks of cards, representing rooms, suspects, and weapons, choose one at random from each, and tuck them into an envelope. Players are then dealt cards, and everyone takes turns moving around the board into different rooms, accusing suspects from the list. If players have a card to disprove another’s theory, they show it, (eliminating a suspect, weapon, or room,) and play continues until someone is confident they know the who, how, and where of the murder. They then look in the envelope. If they’re right, they reveal this to the other players. If they’re wrong, they’re eliminated, (as are at least some of their suggestions). The game ends when a player correctly deduces all three variables, or there’s only one person left.   

The way the game is designed, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played it before, or you’ve been playing it for thirty years. It doesn’t even matter if a player lies through their teeth. If you’ve got good deductive reasoning, you’ve got a good chance to win. It’s also endlessly replayable, as each game will end up different. 

Ultimately, Clue is my solution to “Best Mystery Board Game,”: It’s the best of all worlds. It utilizes deductive reasoning to create a fun game that almost anyone can learn, play, and win. It can be played with children as a family activity, or even broken out in the middle of a party. Even first-timers can usually skim the rules, and have the game going within ten minutes. 


Mystery Game developers have an incredibly hard job. Not only do they have to make a game that’s fun to play through, but it also has to have a narrative with a satisfying conclusion! Games go about this in different ways, and some of them are more to my tastes than others.

I feel the best games are those you can play over and over again, at any time the mood strikes, and still end up with that all-important reveal at the denouement. There’s no better feeling to me than being flush with satisfaction at having cracked the case. That’s why I play mystery games! 

But it’s just one solution among many, and fortunately, there’s no envelope to tell us objectively if it’s right or wrong. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Are there any Mystery Games that don’t involve murder?

Answer: The vast majority of mystery board games seem to be about solving, (or preventing,) murders. However, I’ve included a few on this list that aren’t about murder. There’s also a few really good ones that aren’t on this list about it, such as Scotland Yard, and some of the cases in MicroMacro. 

Question: What are some good Mystery Games for kids?

Answer: If you’ve got really young children, (or you just don’t want to go too dark with the subject matter,) I’d recommend Outfoxed! It’s a great whodunnit game that can be replayed over and over again. I’d also recommend Spy Alley which is another excellent outlet for testing your deduction abilities. There’s also Clue Junior, a kid-friendly version of the classic that has almost as many iterations and variations as its forebear.

Which is the Best Version of Clue?

Honestly? They’re all amazing! Most versions of Clue are the exact same ruleset, just with different artwork. Some versions are licensed, so if there’s a particular fandom of yours that has it’s own version, then go for it! Chances are that it will feature the same six suspects, six weapons, and nine rooms formula with different names, artwork, and perhaps an additional rule or two. There are a few notable exceptions to this that have been released as well, such as Clue, Master Detective Edition, Clue Jr, and several others. (However, if I had to pick, I’d go with Clue, Legend of Zelda, or Clue, Golden Girls because I want to pretend I’m hanging out in Hyrule, or listening to Bea Arthur throw shade as much as possible.)

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