Going Analog

Where video game industry veterans introduce great board games to video gamers

Ditch Clue (and crack these better board game mysteries instead)

Escape the musty mansion to these delights of deduction and deception.

It’s not the dozens of empty turns. It isn’t even the minimal demand for deductive reasoning. No, our biggest problem with Clue -- that’s Cluedo for our non-US readers -- is that the mystery itself doesn’t make a lick of sense. You can spend up to an hour bumbling around a manor only to discover that you were the murderer all along and win by, er, turning yourself in?

Surely we can do better than that. In fact, we’re already on the case -- and you can be too! 

Better board game mysteries to replace Clue

Clue may have slunk into game collections across the globe, but we’re not convinced its appeal lies in either the setting or the core mechanics of dreary dice rolling and tedious box-ticking. For us, it’s in the idea of piecing together a puzzle through partial information.

Our substitutes, both co-op and competitive, lean into that element rather than sticking solely to murder mysteries. Each one has been assigned a deductive designation out of five to let you know just how often you’ll have to enter your mind palace in pursuit of victory.

The Search for Planet X

A stellar race of reasoning between aggressive academics.

The Search For Planet X set up on a table with a central circular board of the night sky surrounded by four player view shields to hide their note sheets on mysteries and guesses
A free tip: always take notes in pencil.

The Search for Planet X delivers in every way that Clue fails with its core concept. In it, you’ll be playing as competing astronomical research teams, all chasing the fame of being the first to discover the night-sky location of the elusive Planet X. The race takes place on board showing a circular, segmented night sky. Different objects -- comets, asteroids, gas clouds and more -- are assigned randomly by a digital app, one to each slice. Your task is to figure out what lies where.

Much like Clue, everyone is given a unique batch of starting information. The difference here is that finding out more isn’t down to trial and error. Sweeping scans can uncover information about what lies within their range, and vital research will reveal new rules that determine the relative positions of certain astronomical bodies.

Crucially, you can choose to publish your findings as you go. This earns points but could reveal key information that helps others jump ahead to the end goal. It’s kind of like a competitive sudoku puzzle. Except expanded, gamified, and -- most importantly -- actually fun.

Deduction designation: 5/5 - You know a puzzle is getting serious when your note-taking skills are just as important as the questions you ask.

MicroMacro: Crime City

Co-op crime-cracking with cartoon visual capers.

The black and white map for Micro Macro: Crime City laid out on a table with the box next to it
Finding a suspicious figure in Micro Macro's monochrome maze is harder than you'd think.

Murders are just one of the many devious activities underway in the sprawling Crime City. Seriously, move to a place with that name, and you’ve got no right to complain when boxes start disappearing at your game nights. Fortunately, you’re only here to catch the culprits. Working together as some kind of omnipresent, time-traveling surveillance team, you and your co-detectives will scour a large map of the cartoon city for both crimes and clues.

MicroMacro: Crime City’s map isn’t a single snapshot in time. It shows an ongoing sequence, with the same people appearing in numerous places as they go about their business. Following prompt cards, you’ll be tasked with locating various bad behaviors before tracing the key actors backwards or forwards to identify the criminals and their motives. Think a giant, black-and-white Where’s Waldo, but with the ability to spot that stripey jumper both before and after he clocks Wizard Whitebeard on the head with a baseball bat.

It’s a unique style of puzzle that’s ideal for a light afternoon of investigation for two or three players. And if you enjoy it, the series has proven popular enough to spawn several further batches of misdemeanors.

Deduction designation: 3/5 - Assessment is key, but when all of time is in your purview, there’s no harm in piecing things together at a leisurely pace.


Solve your friend’s murder via psychedelic messages from beyond the grave!

A game of mysterium laid out with murder mystery targets, locations, and weapons and a the ghost's player stand behind
All of Mysterium's suspects ooze suspicion, but only one is the true killer.

If Mysterium has taught us anything, it’s that ghosts make for terrible conversation partners. In this cooperative guessing game, one player embodies the spirit of a murder victim, while everyone else plays as psychic mediums hoping to identify their killer. Over a limited number of rounds, each medium must correctly determine first their given suspect, then location, and finally a potential murder weapon. Only when the full lineup has been amassed can the true killer be found.

There’s just one problem: The deceased ghost can only communicate through cards featuring fantastical art. Does an image depicting plenty of water point towards the bathroom or the outdoor fountain? Mediums are free to discuss, but all will need to guess correctly before the clock strikes seven.

With the ghost restricted by the cards in their hand, mistakes are inevitable. But the moment someone spots the connection between two different clues, it generates a genuine spark of excitement for all involved. If you want to enjoy Clue’s visual aesthetic but with a co-operative, player-led mystery, then take a seat at this séance.

Deduction designation: ?/5 - A difficulty level determined by just how closely your artistic interpretation aligns to those around you.

Whitehall Mystery

Catch the killer! Unless you are the killer… In which case, run!

The Whitehall Mystery board game set up showing a map of a portion of London with circular locations and a few player figures. A few cards are laid around the board as well as a player shield
Whitehall Mystery compresses the thrill of hidden movement games into a brief, frenetic hunt.

If one your friends did commit a brutal murder, Whitehall Mystery might be closer to how things would play out. In this hidden-movement game, one player is on the lam after committing the unthinkable. Shifting through the maze-like alleys of 19th century London, they strive to dispose of grisly evidence at several key locations without being caught. The rest of the table? They’ll be playing the rozzers (aka, cops), tracking the killer’s footsteps through the streets.

Moving unseen, the killer knows all three investigators’ positions, allowing them to misdirect their pursuers. But time is not on their side. For the detectives, deduction and forward-thinking must be followed by tight-knight coordination. After catching the killer’s scent, they’ll need to carefully close the net, forcing their quarry into a corner before pouncing, cuffs in hand.

While Clue’s murder is usually followed by a confused stumble from billiard to ballroom, Whitehall Mystery’s begets a breathless chase whenever the map unfolds on your table.

Deduction designation: 3/5 - Less whodunnit and more howdunntheyescapedagain!?


A tense team-based duel of code cracking and creation.

One player's side of Decrypto, with a clue sheet and view of the four secret codewords: Cave, King, California, Extra-Terrestrial. The code 2.1.3 is visible on a card. A grey cat sits on the opposite team's player area
In Decrypto, your opponent will always be trying to claw some insight from your clues.

Decrypto is probably the only board game capable of making you feel like you’ve cracked the enigma machine. Fittingly, it’s also extremely difficult to describe. It’s a game that sees two teams of four pit their wits against one another.

Each team is assigned four secret code words, labeled 1-4. Taking turns, one player then has to give respective, single-word clues for three of their code words to their teammates. The trouble is, the other side also gets to listen in. Over multiple rounds, they can make logical connections between clues to try and guess the number sequence currently at play.

The challenge is thus: Use clues too direct, and the other side will quickly crack your code. But make things too obtuse, and your own team will fail as well. Two successful guesses of your opponent’s code secures the win. But should your own team fail twice, you’ve lost.

Decrypto creates tangible moments of tension as both teams stretch their hints to brain-aching lengths toward the tail end of a game. And that eureka moment when you finally clock an opponent’s word? Unparalleled. If the competitive element sounds a bit too much, consider checking out the co-operative Master Word instead.

Deduction designation: 5/5 - By the end of a game, you can practically feel a clue-giver’s brain straining against its confines as it tries to conjure one last link.

Eager to seek out more board game mysteries? Train your magnifying glass on the Going Analog Podcast for all the evidence you need. For more leads, follow Going Analog on Instagram, Bluesky, Threads, X, and Facebook!

Author bio: When he’s not losing himself as a mercenary in Frosthaven, Henry Stenhouse can be found scouring the web for the latest and greatest games, then wondering why he never has time to actually play them. Share your love of deck builders with him on Bluesky, or drop an email to henry@moonrock.biz.