The 8 Best Detective Board Games

Unleash your inner Sherlock.

Written by Claire Epting
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Detective board games are a great way to infuse your game nights with an extra dose of excitement and mystery. Easy to set up and follow, the best detective board games are highly interactive and provide plenty to do for players. Some are designed for one-time play, while others provide multiple outcomes — so you can play them over and over again.

What To Consider When Shopping For The Best Detective Board Games

If you’re a total beginner, it’s important to pick a detective board game that isn’t too challenging. Many manufacturers will disclose either the level of difficulty or the recommended ages of the players, so you can ensure you’re getting a game that will be fun for everyone in your group. Meanwhile, seasoned players or puzzle solvers will most likely want a more involved game that includes multiple pieces of evidence to work through. While you’re searching, keep in mind that there are two main types of mystery board games: single-use and multi-use. Here’s a quick rundown of each:

Single-Use Games

Single-use games tend to be much more involved than their multi-use counterparts, consisting of several layers that can take multiple hours to solve. Typically, they’re centered around a murder mystery case that you and your group must crack together by using the included clues. They’re great for special occasions, and they come in a range of difficulty levels. Once you’ve figured them out, however, you can’t play them again — but you can swap them with your board game-loving friends.

Multi-Use Games

On the other hand, mystery-solving games with replay value tend to be on the simpler side. Instead of relying on pieces of realistic-looking evidence, they include a set of interchangeable cards that are passed around to each player. Since the results are different every time, you can even play multiple rounds in one night. Multi-use games are usually quicker to play, so they’re great for those who are pressed for time — or they can be used as a warm-up for a bigger single-use game.

The World Of The Game

Regardless of which type of game you choose, you’ll have an array of mysterious worlds you can immerse yourself in. From a classic Nancy Drew-inspired game that’ll have you investigating a potential poisoning at a botanical garden to a cold case murder in small-town Indiana that’ll have you sifting through the evidence for hours, each of these mystery-solving games will transport you to another place and time.

Discover a wide range of detective board games below, from fast-paced whodunnits that’ll keep you guessing, to murder mysteries that’ll send a chill down your spine in the very best way.

Shop The Best Detective Board Games

In a hurry? These are the best detective board games on Amazon:

  1. A Sherlock Holmes Game With 10 Mysteries To Solve: Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Mysteries
  2. The Classic Clue Game From Your Childhood: Clue Retro Series 1986 Edition
  3. An Immersive Murder Mystery Game For Beginners: Hunt a Killer: Death at the Dive Bar
  4. A Complex Mystery Game For Nancy Drew Fans: Nancy Drew: Mystery at Magnolia Gardens
  5. A Super-Sized Version Of Clue With More Rooms & Characters: Clue Master Detective
  6. A Fast-Paced Game That’s Great For Large Groups: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
  7. An Easy-To-Play Board Game With A Supernatural Twist: Mysterium Board Game
  8. A Cold Case Game For Advanced Detectives: Unsolved Cold Case Files: Who Killed Harmony Ashcroft?


A Sherlock Holmes Game With 10 Mysteries To Solve

Take a trip to Victorian London with this Sherlock Holmes-themed detective game that can be played either solo or in a group of up to eight people. The set comes with 10 booklets — each of which includes a different mystery — as well as 10 corresponding newspapers, a map of London, and a directory. As you dive in, you’ll sift through articles, interview suspects, and search for clues. Once you think you’ve cracked each case wide open, you’ll compare your sleuthing work to that of the famous Sherlock Holmes.

Each mystery takes about 90 minutes to solve, and setup is straightforward and uncomplicated. Every member of your group will find plenty to do, and the variety of mysteries provides plenty of fun for multiple game nights.

According to a reviewer: “Perfect for fans of choose your own adventure stories who want more of a challenge and open endedness. Great solo or collaboratively.”

Type: Multi-use | Number of players: 1 to 8 | Ages: 14+ | Play time: About 90 minutes for each mystery (10 separate mysteries included)


The Classic Clue Game In Retro Form

The timeless whodunnit, this is Clue in its purest form, right down to the retro game board and pieces. The nostalgic game has no extra bells or whistles — the layout is simple, and the objective is clear: Figure out the murder suspect, their weapon of choice, and which room they were in when they did the killing. Since everyone is playing against one another to solve the mystery first, it allows for a bit of healthy competition, as well.

While you’re not going to get the same level of immersive gameplay as with the other options on this list, Clue has stood the test of time as a beloved family-friendly board game — evident by its 4.8-star overall rating on Amazon. The vintage-inspired look also makes it a cool conversation piece on your bookshelf.

According to a reviewer: “Like others have said, This is THE classic Clue game you remember playing as a kid. I am so glad I bought this. It's already been getting a lot of use in the little time I've had.”

Type: Multi-use | Number of players: 2 to 6 | Ages: 8+ | Play time: About 45 minutes


This Immersive Murder Mystery Game For Beginners

Hunt A Killer’s murder mystery board game is a great introduction for gumshoe detectives, and it’s earned a 4.7-star overall rating after more than 8,000 reviews. The owner of a small town dive bar has fallen off a cliff to his death, and your team will work together to examine the clues and eliminate foul play suspects one by one. Clocking in at around 45 to 60 minutes of play time, the board game creates an immersive mystery experience for one to five players ages 14 and up. The set includes a wealth of crime-solving evidence, including realistic police reports, a drink coaster, and a bottle opener.

The brand gives this game a low difficulty rating, so your group is unlikely to get stumped while working through it. (If you’d like a similar option with a moderate difficulty level, you may want to check out Body on the Boardwalk.) Death at the Dive Bar can only be solved once, however, so it’s best to save it for a special occasion — and then hand it off to another team of murder mystery enthusiasts.

According to a reviewer: “Enjoyed every second of solving this mystery. All the little items (including a very cool bottle opener) were just awesome. Please give this as a gift to your favorite armchair sleuth - they’ll love it.”

Type: Single-use | Number of players: 1 to 5 | Ages: 14+ | Play time: 45 to 60 minutes


A Complex Mystery Game For Nancy Drew Fans

Nancy Drew fans, this detective board game is for you. In the Mystery at Magnolia Gardens, you’ll be tasked with hunting down the nefarious character guilty of using dangerous plants to poison people at the botanical gardens. The game is filled with enticing pieces of evidence, including seed packets, a locked keepsake box, and a tea infuser. Recommended for one to six players ages 14 and up, the complex game has a moderate difficulty rating — and it can take up to 90 minutes to solve. As a team, you’ll evaluate your evidence and piece together the clues to zero in on the murderer from a group of suspects.

Like Death at the Dive Bar, this highly rated game is a single-play experience. However, for Nancy Drew enthusiasts, it’s definitely worth the investment. Plus, you can pass it along to your fellow sleuthing friends to see how long it takes them to crack the case.

According to a reviewer: “The little details like the pencil box and other non-paper components made it a lot more immersive, and the brochures and things are incredibly well done. We completed the mystery without difficulty in one sitting, but for an afternoon of entertainment I think the price was worth it. We actually repacked the components and are going to pass it to some friends of ours to get another play out of it.”

Type: Single-use | Number of players: 1 to 6 | Ages: 14+ | Play time: About 90 minutes


A Super-Sized Version Of Clue With More Rooms & Characters

If you’re already a fan of Clue, you will find everything you love about the original game — and more — in Clue Master Detective. Perfect for groups of up to 10 players ages 10 and up, the murder mystery board game expands upon the Clue legacy by adding more rooms, more weapons, and more characters. The oversized game board features vibrant illustrations of Mr. Boddy’s country manor, and each player individually collects clues by visiting the different rooms until someone is ready to make their final accusation of whodunnit.

Clue Master Detective can be played an unlimited number of times with groups of various sizes, making it a detective board game staple that you’ll get tons of use out of. It has an overall rating of 4.8 five stars on Amazon, solidifying its status as a worthy spin on a cult classic game.

According to a reviewer: “As a longtime fan of Clue, I’ve often [thought] there should be a bigger version of it with more rooms and more characters. In my mind, I envisioned creating some two story version in my spare time—which is ridiculous because I can’t see myself actually taking the time to do that. Fortunately, I discovered ‘Master Detective.’ It adds some more rooms (including some outdoor spaces) and increase the number of characters and weapons. My family recently tried it out at my mother’s birthday and everyone enjoyed it.”

Type: Multi-use | Number of players: 3 to 10 | Ages: 10+ | Play time: About an hour, depending on number of players


A Fast-Paced Game That’s Great For Large Groups

Deception: Murder In Hong Kong is a solve-the-mystery game with a play time of just 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for those who like a fast-paced experience. The objective is similar to other games such as Werewolf or Mafia; one player is the murderer, who chooses a weapon and piece of evidence, while another player is the forensic scientist, who has the key to convicting the criminal but can only share their knowledge through analysis of the scene. The rest of the players are investigators who must interpret the clues in front of them and convict the killer.

The multi-use game also makes a great warm-up for a longer, single-use board game. Recommended for ages 14 and up, Deception: Murder In Hong Kong requires anywhere from four to 12 players — making it a great choice for large groups. Setting up the cards, tiles, and game pieces is simple and quick, so you can get playing right away.

According to a reviewer: “A blazing fast setup and a quick rules explanation and you're off to solving the crime. There is a huge amount of clue and means cards as well as forensic scientist scene cards so the game could stay fresh for hundreds of plays.”

Type: Multi-use | Number of players: 3 to 10 | Ages: 14+ | Play time: About 20 minutes


An Easy-To-Play Board Game With A Supernatural Twist

A wholly immersive experience, Libellud’s Mysterium detective board game offers plenty of spooky opportunities for creative problem-solving and strategizing with your teammates. One player acts as the ghost of a murdered servant, while the rest of the players are psychics who must interpret the ghost’s clues. Setup for this game is more involved than the others on the list, so make sure to allot enough time to place the fold-out mansion, cards, and clock on your table.

Created for groups of two to seven players ages 10 and up, Mysterium is a multi-use game that’s different every time you play it. The average play time for one round is 45 minutes, which is enough time for your group to figure out the culprit of the heinous crime committed at Warwick Manor.

According to a reviewer: “This game has been a blast. The asymmetric gameplay of one player as the ghost and the others as the team of psychics is a pleasurable experience for both sides.”

Type: Multi-use | Number of players: 2 to 7 | Ages: 10+ | Play time: About 45 minutes


A Cold Case Game For Advanced Detectives

While it isn’t a board game per se, Unsolved Cold Case Files is a shoe-in for any veteran detective — or anyone who’s up to a challenge. The single-use game challenges you to solve three separate mysteries in order to crack the cold case of Harmony Ashcroft’s murder. To get there, you’ll sift through more than 50 evidence photos and documents, including newspaper articles, maps, witness statements, and more. Online answer keys let you know when you’ve gotten past each step of the case, so you can proceed until you reach its final conclusion.

It’s suitable for players ages 14 and up, but an unlimited number of people can play — solve the case for yourself or have a group over to work cooperatively. This pick is a time investment, with reviewers noting it can take anywhere from two to seven hours to complete — and some recommended spreading it out over the course of a week.

According to a reviewer: “The quality of the components are the best I've seen and the presentation makes you feel like you've been handed an actual case file (minus the gore) from a police department. Newspaper articles feel like they are from a newspaper, photos are actual real photo quality, reports appear as if they could be legitimate documents.”

Type: Multi-use | Number of players: 2 to 7 | Ages: 10+ | Play time: About 45 minutes