For decades, players of Cluedo have relied on intuition and the goodwill of the die to deduce the circumstances of many a murder.
But the grisly fate that has befallen one of the board game’s famous characters is so transparent as to make sleuthing skills redundant – it was a toy company executive, in the boardroom, with a rebranding strategy.
The matronly figure of Mrs White has been bumped off as part of the first major overhaul of the classic family game since its launch in 1949.
The stalwart of Tudor Manor, ordinarily a chief suspect, will make way for Dr Orchid. It is the first time one of the original characters has been axed for a new entrant into the game’s standard edition.
Craig Wilkins, marketing director for the game’s makers, Hasbro, in the UK & Ireland, explained: “It was a difficult decision to say goodbye to Mrs White, but after 70 years of suspicious activity, we decided that one of the characters had to go.”
Her replacement, also a woman, is heir to the fortune of Dr Black, the owner of Tudor Manor and the game’s perpetual victim. Billed as a biologist with a PhD in plant toxicology, Mr Wilkins said he was confident the introduction of Dr Orchid would enthrall new and old players alike.
The move is part of a trend among classic board game manufacturers to keep their titles up to date and the ride the crest of the wave that has seen tabletop gaming enjoy a renaissance
A host of new games became bestsellers over the past decade, such as the railway-themed Ticket to Ride and Cards Against Humanity, a party game in which players fill in blank statements using risque words and phrases.
Classics of the staple, such as Monopoly, have sought to stay relevant, by introducing a range of editions based on cities or film licenses.
Adam Davies, stock manager at Static Games, a specialist board game retailer in Glasgow, said: “The board games market has grown over the past decade. The time people have to play is more limited due to family and work commitments. A game in a box that takes a couple of hours to play is perfect.
But Mr Davies said that the older titles face a challenge in maintaining their appeal.
“Cluedo and Monopoly are always there, but to be honest, we don’t sell a lot of copies of them,” he added. “I can’t actually remember the last time I sold a copy of either of those games. It’s titles like Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne that are more popular nowadays.”