Greatest Mystery and Deduction Board Games

Mystery and deduction games are among my favorites. Few things are more satisfying than seeing hard work pay off by solving a crime or mystery. These games all provide that sense of fun and accomplishment over and over again.

  • 01 of 10

    Mystery Rummy

    Mystery Rummy
    Mystery Rummy. Image courtesy of U.S. Games Systems

    Published by U.S. Games Systems and Rio Grande Games, 2 to 4 players. Five games have been published in this series from designer Mike Fitzgerald: Jack the Ripper, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Jekyll and Hyde, Al Capone, and Bonnie and Clyde. Each adds new elements to the basic Rummy card game and offers plenty of atmosphere. Designer Mike Fitzgerald has produced an incredible series of games. (Wyatt Earp, a western-themed card game, uses a similar game system and is often considered part of this...MORE series.)

  • 02 of 10

    Sleuth

    Sleuth
    Sleuth. Image courtesy of Face 2 Face Games

    Published by Face 2 Face Games, 3 to 7 players. Master designer Sid Sackson created this diamond in 1967; a 2004 edition is available. A deck of 36 gem cards is shuffled, and one is removed. Players must deduce which gem card is missing through clever interrogation and deduction. The simple rules and gameplay mask the real brainpower needed to win.

  • 03 of 10

    Published by Rio Grande Games, 3 to 4 players. Spies rendezvous in Venice during a carnival; their first task is to move through the city of canals, trading information (some true, some false) with other players to determine who their partner is. They must then complete a mission to win this game, designed by Alex Randolph and Leo Colovini. With an innovative movement system and a thoroughly enjoyable premise, Inkognito was first published by Milton Bradley in 1988 but is available in a 2006...MORE edition.

  • 04 of 10

    Mystery of the Abbey

    Mystery of the Abbey
    Mystery of the Abbey. Image courtesy of Days of Wonder

    Published by Days of Wonder, 3 to 6 players. Brother Adelmo is dead. Who killed him? The suspects are 24 monks in this twisted design by Bruno Faidutti and Serge Laget. To discover the killer, players move around a medieval monastery, sometimes questioning other players but often doing independent investigation -- and never missing Mass. Options include searching other monks' bedrooms and refusing to answer questions by taking a vow of silence.

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  • 05 of 10

    221B Baker Street / Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

    221B Baker Street was published by John N. Hansen Co., 2 to 6 players. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective was published by Kosmos, 1 to 6 players. Both of these games are based on the world’s greatest detective and feature specific cases players try to solve. In 221B Baker Street, players visit London locations to collect clues; in Consulting Detective (winner of the 1985 Spiel des Jahres), players decide who to interview and then refer to a clue book to gather information.

  • 06 of 10

    Top Secret Spies

    Top Secret Spies
    Top Secret Spies. Image courtesy of Rio Grande Games

    Published by Rio Grande Games, 2 to 7 players. Deduction meets bluffing in this game by Wolfgang Kramer. Each player is assigned a spy at the beginning of the game; the goal is to earn points for that spy without revealing your identity to other players.

  • 07 of 10

    Kill Doctor Lucky

    Kill Doctor Lucky
    Kill Doctor Lucky. Image courtesy of Paizo

    Published by Cheapass Games / Titanic Games, 2 to 8 players) There's a reason that James Ernest's Kill Doctor Lucky is the best-selling game in the history of Cheapass Games: It's fun to try and kill the old coot. Players maneuver through a mansion, predicting where Doc Lucky will be so they can try to take him down.

  • 08 of 10

    Published by Milton Bradley, 3 to 4 players. Designed by Eric Solomon, this is an under-appreciated classic. Eight treacherous spies are ready to be hired; the player who spends money most wisely and brings the briefcase to his headquarters wins the game.

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  • 09 of 10
    Scotland Yard
    Scotland Yard. Image courtesy of Ravensburger

    Published by Ravensburger, 3 to 6 players. Mr. X is on the run, trying to stay a step ahead of the authorities, in both of these board games. One player controls his movements, which are mostly secret, while the others try to corner him. The end is nearly always exciting, as the authorities close in and Mr. X stays just a step ahead.

  • 10 of 10

    Clue DVD Game

    Clue DVD Game
    Clue DVD Game. Image courtesy of Hasbro / Parker Brothers

    Published by Hasbro, 3 to 5 players. The more I play this game, the more impressed I am. I wish it had sold well enough to warrant additional cases on additional DVDs, although the 10 included here supply more than enough enjoyment to make it worth a purchase (if you can track down a copy -- it is now out of print). Players compete to solve a theft at Tudor Mansion, with 10 suspects, 11 locations, and 10 times. The mix of board play and DVD play is nearly flawless.