Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving Gaming: Zombie Clue

A few years ago my delightful progeny's elementary school gave him the whole week of Thanksgiving off rather than just the 4-day weekend that the holiday is typically honored with so we ditched Mama--she had a "Big Project" at work--and flew across the country to spend the week with a pile of family members.

Of course, none of them had the whole week off so, for three days while my brother and sister and their families were off to work/school, me and the little dude had several hours to kill. We hopped in leaf-piles of every species and played pumpkin soccer until the neighborhood was a gorey orange mess. Then we headed inside to slurp hot cocoa laced with molten marshmallows while plundering my sister's stash of board games.  

Clue quickly became the consensus favorite, even though it's kinda' hard to play one on one: If I don't have Miss Scarlet and you don't have Miss Scarlet, well, I guess we know who did it. So we massaged the rules a bit to make it more interesting for mano a mano play.

I'm using this illegally so check out Andy Hunter's art here.
First thing we did was:
  • Place a clue card on each room on the board before dispersing the rest of the cards between the players.
Now if neither of us had Miss Scarlet she might still be lounging in any one of the rooms. Possibly even the lounge.

While adding the necessary uncertainty that the two-player game lacked, this step also made exploration of the entire board a very significant part of the game; now you have to visit each of the rooms in order to eliminate all possible solutions. It might be more fun to play this way regardless of how many players are at the table.

Just for the heck of it we also made this new rule:
  • All the unused tokens are now "zombies" who follow the "live" player tokens around the board.
At first, if they caught you you had to go back to your starting position, but then we decided on another convention:
  • Place the weapons tokens in each of the rooms on the game board. 
'Cuz if you're having to dodge zombies while looking for clues, it helps if you're armed.

Quick combat dice mechanisms were devised:
  • zombie and player each roll the die, who ever rolls higher wins. 
  • If the player has a murder weapon in hand such as the lead pipe, wrench, or dagger, player rolls 2 dice to the zombie's 1.
Weapons are a huge benefit.

But ranged weapons are an even huger benefit:
  • the knife can be thrown up to 6 spaces to kill a zombie--roll d6, if the number is greater than or equal to the distance from you to the zombie, then zombie is done. 
  • Revolver works the same except roll 2d6. The revolver only has 5 bullets. 

Why five? Becuz someone already put one into John Boddy earlier in the evening. Did you forget that you're still playing Clue?

What to do with the rope:
  • set up a trip wire, use it as a lasso, or tie up a zombie. 
  • Use it to rappel out a window.

And the candlestick is essential to quick navigation of the secret passages because:
  • When you enter a secret passage roll 2 dice; if you roll doubles you successfully get to the other end. If you fail, you're lost in the dark, roll again next turn. Maximum 3 turns like Jail in Monopoly.
  • If you have the candlestick you don't need to roll dice to get through the passage. And you can opt to go to any one of the other three corner rooms. Without candlestick, you can only go the room opposite, i.e. Lounge-conservatory or kitchen-study. 
Since fighting and evading zombies was turning out to be more fun than solving the murder, we pillaged other sources for game pieces to be used as zombies and other monsters that could breathe fire or teleport or fly... Good old fashioned Clue had serendipitously morphed into D&D: The Board Game. Not to be confused with the  D&D version of Clue.

Things I learned whilst writing this post:
  • Mr. Green is called Reverend Green in non-North American versions of the game. I'm guessing that the Parker Bros. didn't think an American audience would appreciate a game that insinuated that a man of the cloth could be a murderous creep.
  • Likewise Clue is called Cluedo in Not-North-America-land. 
  • The victim--John Boddy--is called Dr. Black in the rest of the world.
  • Some versions of the game--probably those non-North-American ones again--include a bottle of poison and a horse shoe as potential murder weapons.
  • The original game designers suggested that a bomb, axe, or hypodermic needle might also be used to kill off John Boddy/Dr. Black. I could certainly think of a few ways to use them to fight off the zombies.