[Top 15] Best Detective Board Games That Are Fun

You think you've got the brains to play these games?

People love a good mystery, and if you're like me, you take pride in figuring out the mystery before the hero does. Whether it be in movies, books, video games, there are many forms of entertainment that can bring out your inner Sherlock Holmes. For our list, here are the top 15 Detective Board Games that are fun to play. Think you can deduce what is at the top of the list? Read on and find out! 


15. Clue

We’re starting things off with the most familiar board game for kids and adults alike: Clue! A murder has taken place inside the mansion, and it’s up to you to find out who did it, with what weapon, and where the dastardly deed took place. 

Before the game starts, all players will select one of the color tokens and place it on their specific starting point on the board. All of the weapons (the rope, revolver, knife, lead pipe, candlestick, and wrench) are placed randomly in each room located on the board. Then you separate the suspect cards, weapon cards, and location cards into three shuffled piles. You then draw the top cards out and place them into the folder in the middle of the board that will act as the big reveal for the murder. The rest of the cards and then shuffled together and passed to each player until none are left. 

You’ll also have a special notepad included in the game where you can keep track of what cards you know are not in the folder so that you can deduce which cards are left by the process of elimination.

Make your way about the mansion and gather as much information as you can!

At the start of the game, you and the other players will roll dice and make your way into one of the locations on the board. Once you are in a location, you can make a suggestion, meaning you suggest (not accuse, that will be done later) one of the characters and what weapon they might’ve used in that area. The player to your left will then look at their cards to see if they have one of those suggestions. If they do, they must pull it from their hand and show it to you. If they have more than one, they show only one card of their choice. If they don’t have any, the next player looks at their hand, etc. 

Once you have enough information to make a guess, then you accuse on your turn. Then you will look at the cards in the folder. If you are wrong, you are out for the remainder of the game, but you cannot share what cards you saw. If you are correct in all three guesses though, you win! 

Keep your wits about you and you may discover the killer among you!

Because of the simple rules, this is a perfect deduction game to bring out for older kids as well as adults. And the gameplay can be short, so it’s great for replay value.

Buy this game if:

  • You want a game that is familiar to most audiences and not difficult to play.
  • Have kids and want them to start getting into deduction-based games.


14. Batman: Everybody Lies

Learn how to play Everybody Lies with Everybody Lies!

When it comes to fictional detectives in literature, there are a few that come to mind: Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy, The Shadow, etc. But when it comes to crime-fighting, there is only that is vengeance, that is the night, and that is Batman! 

In Batman: Everybody Lies, you do not take the role of the caped crusader. Instead, you take control of Harvey Bullock, Warren Spacey, Vicki Vale, and Catwoman and team up with Batman to solve one of three main scenarios by investigating areas, interviewing Gotham’s citizens, and looking into the occasional  Batman villain. 

Join the game as one of Batman's allies and help him solve the crimes of Gotham.

Unfortunately, because of the risk of spoilers, the gameplay can only be explained briefly, but here it is: Everyone starts the game learning the team goal, which is found in a sealed envelope. You’ll follow leads given to you through case files, newspapers, and audio tapes. Eventually, after you have gone through all of the clues, you’ll make your final report to Commissioner Gordon, which is where you find out whether or not you were correct in your assumptions.

When it comes to detective-based board games, this one fits the theme really well. While you are not taking control of Batman himself, it gives the spotlight to some of Gotham's lesser-known characters and shows players how mysteries can get solved through their own methods. The comic art style is also a nice touch if you are a fan of that aesthetic. And as a bonus, after you have finished the first three scenarios, you are rewarded with a fourth scenario that ties the entire story up in a satisfying conclusion. 

Buy this game if:

  • You or your friends love the Batman franchise.
  • You want a game that has different scenarios to take and awards you for completing all of them. 


13. Chronicles of Crime

Crime is rampant in the city of London, and it's up to you to solve them! In Chronicles of Crime, you team up with three other players and select your crime scene. The game comes with QR codes that you scan with the free Chronicles of Crime app. 

As you go through each crime, you’ll have the opportunity to go through locations, interview suspects, and gather evidence that is important to solving the crime. In the app, you’ll use the 360° camera angles to see the full area (or simply swipe left or right). But be careful about what you do, for time is not always on your side. If you take too long, certain opportunities for more clues or interrogations may pass you by and you’ll lose possible points.

Use your clues and the app wisely to find out who committed the crimes!

When you think that you have cracked the case after doing everything you possibly can, you will report back to your superior. He’ll give you a series of questions. If you have done all of your homework, you’ll know the correct answers. Answering all correctly means that you win the scenario. 

Chronicles of Crime is on the longer side of gameplay, which can be a turn-off for some players, but the opportunity to immerse yourself into each scenario makes for fun gameplay and makes you feel like a real detective. And Chronicles of Crime is part of a series of games that take place in different stages of time, so there are plenty of opportunities for more playtime later.

Buy this game if:

  • You love games that include apps for full-immersive gameplay. 
  • You are looking for a game that depends on team cooperation to complete.

12. Whitehall Mystery

We’re going to step aside from the cooperative games for a little bit and throw a little something different into the mix. Instead of everyone solving a crime together,  one of you will be a serial killer at large and the rest are trying to find out where you are and catch you! Caught your interest? Then let’s play Whitehall Mystery. 

Up to three players will play as the policemen try to catch the one player as he attempts to commit his heinous acts before the night is over. Each player moves through a square board consisting of dashed lines and circled numbers. The killer’s goal is to reach four of these numbers before he is caught, and he will have a similar board. This board stands on its own and acts as his cover so the other players won’t know his next plan. 

The killer also has three movement actions that determine how he moves around the board and when he has committed a murder, he will use red tokens to mark the spot for the rest of the players to see.   

Keeping track of where you have been is crucial to catching Jack the Ripper.

During their turns, the policemen will either make an arrest or investigate for clues. Whichever they do on their turn, they must call their decision out loud. If they choose to investigate, they will call out where they think Jack the Ripper has been. If correct, they place the yellow token down to keep track and they will discuss their next move. If they choose to make an arrest (meaning they believe that Jack is on the same spot on the board as they are), then they must declare that. Each policeman has only one arrest that they can make, so they have to be careful when to do it. If they are correct in their arrest, they win and Jack loses. If they all guess incorrectly or if Jack is successful in reaching his four goals before being caught, he wins. 

A perfect game of cat & mouse, this will bring out the deducing sleuth in everyone who plays. Using simpler rules than its predecessor  Letters from Whitechapel, each playthrough takes only 1-2 hours. If you love one-vs-all board games, give this one a try.

Buy this game if:

  • You love cat & mouse play styles. 
  • You want a game that is simple to learn, but fun to play over and over again.

11. Case File: Truth & Deception

Crime Podcasts are all the rage right now, and standing near the top of everyone’s playlist is Casefile. Every week, listeners tuned in to listen to the anonymous narrator’s voice as he discusses mysteries and crimes. The team at Casefile recently released a board game for you to play, and it’s up to you to solve its mystery!

In Casefile: Truth & Deception, you and up to three other players will solve the murder of Casey Parker. Who killed Casey Parker, why, and with what weapon? That’s up to you to find out. 

Similar to Clue, players are tasked with solving a murder by identifying the suspect, the weapon, and the location. On top of that, you’ll also identify the motive (why the suspect did what he did) and weed through false evidence. And much like Clue, you’ll call out evidence, suspects, and the motive to see who has what. Players who have the cards in their hand that you call out must show it to you, but there is also the option of bluffing, so you don’t have to show the player every card you have.

Much like Clue, you find out whodunnit but without the use of dice!

The first player to correctly use their deduction skills to narrow down what four cards are in the envelope is the winner.

What stands this game out from Clue, however, is the option to force to swap hands with another player through certain actions and the with the dice-rolling taken out, so there is no slow gameplay as you try to move from one location to the next. 

Buy this game if:

  • You enjoy listening to the CaseFile podcast.
  • You want a game with infinite replay value. 
  • You want to play something similar to Clue, without using dice.


10. Detective Club

In the same spirit as Dixit, The Chameleon, and Mysterium, Detective Club is played with beautiful but abstract art cards. For each round, each player will have six of these cards in their hands and a notepad. These cards are secret to everyone else. During your turn, you will choose two of the cards and come up with a word that connects them. Then you pull everyone’s notepad and write the word on all but one of them. Shuffle the notepads and return them. Those players then look at the word and come up with their own two cards that fit the word. 

Can you figure out the message being told through the other players' cards?

The one that didn’t get a word becomes the Conspirator, and the others become detectives. The conspirator tries to guess the secret word based on everyone else's cards. Then everyone has a small discussion on whom is the guilty one of the group. After a vote, those that guess the Conspirator correctly earn points. If no one manages to guess correctly, then the Conspirator gets points. Those who have the most points after everyone has had a turn as the Conspirator is the winner!

This is a perfect party game if you have a larger group and want to include sleuthing or deduction into gameplay. Finding out who is lying in the group is fun, and it’s just as much fun to fool everyone also. 

Buy this game if:

  • You love the game styles of The Chameleon and Dixit.
  • You want to see how people can come up with ideas for abstract pictures. 


9. The Initiative

Have you seen Inception? You know, that move about going into dreams within dreams? Well, this game is kind of like that, except it’s a board game within a board game  In The Initiative, you and three other players take the role of teenagers in the 1990s that have discovered a board game called The Key at a local yard sale. Once they take it home and start playing it though, a mystery begins to unveil itself.   

Take on the roles of teenagers and find out how their lives become entwined with a board game they find!

It starts simple enough. You take the roles of teenage characters (who in turn take control of characters in the mysterious board game) and begin playing The Key. The goal of that game is to steal some files from an office. You will have the instruction manuals that show you the first steps you take and when to take them.

Solve tricky puzzles to get the most out of your playthrough!

With each mission you complete, you will unlock new mysteries to solve, and as you unlock new mysteries you’ll also release more of the storyline of the teenagers that you are playing, and their experience with The Key. And the best part is that even if you aren’t successful in one mission, it won’t stop you from progressing if you are invested in the story. 

Buy this game if: 

  • You want a game that focuses more on the story rather than the gameplay.
  • You love comic books, as this book uses a comic book in order to play the game to its fullest potential. 


8. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Baker Street Irregulars

While Sherlock Holmes is often hailed as the greatest detective to ever live, he is only one man and can’t see everything that happens in his hometown of London. He needs eyes in places that he couldn’t normally get to, so he has often enlisted the help of the Baker Street Irregulars to solve some cases. 

The Baker Street Irregulars: a newer installment in the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives series

For the introduction, the Baker Street Irregulars are a group of street boys that roam through London, normally causing a ruckus, but on occasion will help Holmes for a shilling a day. In this board game adaptation, you take on the role of these kids and solve mysteries and crimes alongside the detective.

As you play through each case, you learn a little more about each member of the group and develop a connection with them. It is actually in one of these cases that you gain a new member of the gang! You’ll use actions to go through the city and talk to people or search through areas. There are some cases where you will be chased by thugs, and you may need to make choices on where to go from there. If you get stuck, you can turn back to Sherlock Holmes for hints and advice. 

You win the game by successfully connecting all clues, hints, and interrogation information together to solve the mystery. As to what the mystery is, you’ll have to play it to find out!

Buy this game if:

  • You want a fresh perspective on the character of Sherlock Holmes without taking on his role.


7. Beyond Baker Street

Once again, we’re focusing on a board game that doesn’t involve Sherlock Holmes directly, just the people around him. And this time, you aren’t asking for his help solving a mystery; you are trying to beat him to the punch! Your goal is to find out (in typical whodunnit fashion) the criminal, their motive, and their opportunity to commit the crime. 

For each turn, all players will have cards that are facing outward toward everyone else. During your turn, you can play cards to investigate (which is the main part of achieving the main goal of the game), eliminate cards, confirm a lead (the who, the why, and the opportunity), and assist other players by giving clues as to what they are holding in their hand. Doing this will move the Sherlock Holmes token toward his end goal. If he gets there before you solve the mystery, everyone loses. 

Can you crack the case and beat Detective Holmes to the punch?

Play enough cards and confirm all three leads before Holmes reaches the end of his tracker to win the game! 

Multiple cases can be played in Beyond Baker Street, and each has its own level of difficulty so the replay value is pretty high. This is also a great game to play if you are tired of games where you “rely” on Sherlock Holmes in order to solve a case. Each round lasts around 20 minutes, so it's great for playing multiple times in one sitting. 

Buy this game if:

  • You want something different from other Sherlock Homes-themed games.
  • You want different levels of difficulty with each game.
  • You want a game with short rounds. 


6. The Grimm Masquerade

For the next game on our list, we’re going to take a slight detour so we can go to a party. As it turns out, you have been cordially invited to a masquerade party! When you arrive though, you have been transformed into a fairy tale creature! The Beast is challenging all players to play his little game and make a most memorable experience out of it.

In The Grimm Masquerade, you and up to four other players must collect three “boon artifacts,” meaning that there are artifacts that belong to your particular fairy tale character that you must have in order to win. You collect these while attempting to reveal the identity of the other players to earn roses, which act the as your points for the game. Forcing players to collect two “bane artifacts” will unmask them and take them out of the game.

Transform into a fairy tale character and either collect your artifacts or unmask your other friends to win!

During each turn, each player draws a card from the artifact pile and will either keep it or give it to another player. You will draw a second card and do the opposite, meaning you keep the card if you gave the first one away, and vice versa. If you manage to collect your fairy tale character’s three boon artifacts, you win a rose. If a player forces you to take two bane artifacts, you have to reveal yourself and that player earns a rose. 

If you can successfully deduce someone’s character without using artifacts though, that earns you two roses. But if you are wrong, then the accused player gets a rose instead. The player with the most roses at the end of the game is the winner!

While not necessarily a “detective-based” game, The Grimm Masquerade involves gameplay where the deduction is key to earning more points, and the mystery surrounding each player is cool, and the fact that you are impersonating fairy tale characters brings to mind a lot of mysteries where the villain is unknown until the end. And that is why this game made the list.

Buy this game if:

  • You want a change of pace by changing your deduction-based game into a fantasy setting.
  • You love Grimms fairy tales or have friends that are into that.


5. Mortum: Medieval Detective

For this next board game, we are going to take yet another detour away from the typical dreary crime-riddled London scenario and turn left to enter ye olden times! 

In Mortum: Medieval Detective, you take on the roles of agents from an old secret organization during medieval times. You’ll be given three cases in the main game (telling you what they are would also contain spoilers, so we won’t go into that), and you can select which members of the secret organization you want to take with you on the case. 

As you lay cards out, you’ll be given scenarios where you may need to take a “choose your own adventure,” if you will. You may choose to break down a door. You may opt to interrogate someone. You may be stealthy and find the answers in the darkness. The choice is yours. 

Choose from various agents and solve the three cases of the game. 

You will discover clues and hints as you play the game. You may also take special actions depending on which characters you choose for your adventure. As you progress, the overall story begins to unfold, revealing the greater mystery hidden in the game. 

This is definitely a game you should play at least once. There is no rule book that comes with the game; all of your rules will be given to you in cards that are played throughout the case. The fact that you have the rules laid out in the cards instead of in a book means that you won’t be taking up a lot of space on your table, and the game is good to play by yourself as well! 

Buy this game if: 

  • You want a game that can be played solo or with some friends. 
  • You want a different setting besides modern (or Victorian) England for a deduction-based game.


4. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

Let’s take a trip to Hong Kong for our next adventure! Surely we won’t find any crime there, right? Wrong! In Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, you try to find the murderer in your group before it’s too late!

It's time to take on the role of either the investigator, forensic scientist, or murderer in this game. As the forensic scientist, you act as the game master and will have access to all the information the investigators need to win. Before the game starts, the forensic scientist and the murderer will secretly decide on the murder weapon and the key evidence to put the murderer in jail. It is then the scientist’s goal during the game to provide clues through special game tiles for the investigators to locate the evidence. All the while, the murderer is still among the investigators trying to throw off their trail while keeping his role a secret. If the investigators are able to successfully find the evidence within three rounds, they win. If not, the murderer gets away. 

Use your deduction as well as the clues from the Forensic Scientist to win.

In optional versions of the game, there are additional roles that you can add. They are the accomplice and the witness. The accomplice will try to subtly divert the investigators’ attention away from the murderer to himself and try to make them use up their guesses for each round. The witness knows who the murderer is and is trying to coerce the investigators to accuse the murderer correctly. Both need to keep their roles a secret. 

If the murderer is caught but correctly guesses who the witness was, then he and the accomplice still win the game. 

Buy this game if: 

  • You love games like Werewolf, Codenames, and Mysterium.


3. Mystery House

When people think about mysteries in literature, they usually think about how key pieces of evidence fit together to come up with the solution to the problem. And for that reason (among many others) is why escape rooms have become so popular. Being trapped within a secluded area where you only have a small amount of time to figure out how to leave has a lot of appeal to those who love deduction. And that is why this next game made the list. 

Do you dare look inside the Mystery House?

In Mystery House: Adventures in a Box, you find yourself at the entrance of an abandoned mansion, where many have entered, but few have ever come out. It is your goal to solve the mysteries of the house. After setting up the 3D mansion, you’ll download the accompanying app and select which scenario to play. Following the prompts from the app, you’ll look for clues, peeking through every window and corner. You’ll find items to help you along the way, and you’ll enter your findings into the app, and from there you’ll learn whether or not you have solved that particular mystery. 

For an immersive experience, you should give this a try. It’s great for solo play, but you should keep a pencil and paper on hand to write a LOT of things down, as you may end up getting lost without them. It really helps to have at least one other person playing with you so that you don’t miss anything. 

Buy this game if:

  • You like playing escape rooms. 
  • You want an immersive experience while in the comforts of your own home.


2. Detective: City of Angels

In 1940s Los Angeles, most of your group will take on the role of eager homicide detectives, who will stop at nothing to make sure that a case gets solved. There is one player though that will play the Chisel, and his goal will be to ensure that the case does not come to a successful conclusion. 

Explore the terrain of Los Angelas

Throughout the game, the detectives will move through the board and interrogate suspects and gather clues using what has already been given to them in the beginning. During interrogations, the Chisel will tell the detectives what responses the suspect gives, and it's up to the detectives to determine if it is a lie or the truth. And while they scour the city for answers, they have to be mindful of the time, because they only have a certain amount to find the truth. 

The artwork for Detective: City of Angels is beautiful and stunning to look at, so players will get a visual appreciation while moving through the game. The Chisel is a great part of the game because it adds depth to suspects and can sow doubt in the detectives, which can hinder progress.

Buy this game if:

  • You enjoy beautiful artwork with your board games.
  • You have played LA Noire on the Playstation. 


1. Micromacro Crime City

Imagine going through a Where’s Waldo book, but instead of looking for Waldo, you’re looking for his dead body. OR perhaps catching him in the act of murder! In MicroMacro Crime City, you do almost exactly that. 

The main feature of the game is its gigantic map. Measuring a whopping 29.5” x 43”, you are either going to need a really big table or lots of room on the floor to work around. There are 16 cases that can be found on the map, and finding them will provide a challenge as the scene is located in a bustling city full of inhabitants that are going about their daily lives. 

To start the game, one player is first designated as the Lead Investigator. His job is to provide hints and clues and tells if the rest of the group comes to a successful conclusion on a crime scene. After each scenario, players can take turns so that everyone has a chance at playing with the map.

Holy Moley, look at the size of this map!

 To find a dead body, you have two options. You either need to follow the prompts on the included cards, or you can just simply scour the map. Either option is legit. Once you do find a body, you can find the card associated with it to gather some clues (i.e. questions asked to help you along), or you can just scan the area and figure it out for yourself. The latter option is considered the advanced way to play the game, but it isn’t impossible to do. 

After going through the clues in either the cards or the surrounding area, players can then turn to the Lead Investigator to state their guess. The Lead Investigator will go through the answer cards. If they are correct, the Lead Investigator will say so. If not, he states otherwise and the players turn back to the map to look for more clues. 

Try your best to find all of the crime scenes!

With a map this big and with so many crimes to find on it, this will provide hours of entertainment for everyone playing. And everyone will get a kick out of some of the actions of the little inhabitants in the city, whether they are connected to a crime or not. 

Buy this game if:

  • You need a crime-riddled version of Where’s Waldo in your life.
  • You want a game where cooperation is key. 
  • You want a game that can be played solo. 
More on this topic:

With his Wii nunchucks in one hand and a potato in the other, this Idaho-born gamer still bares the scars on the palms of his hands from his Mario Party 3 incident with pride.
Gamer Since: 1994
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Control
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dishonored, Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Game Series, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

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