I’m the Rules, and this is Codenames game, a team wordplay game for four or more players. 

In Codenames, you play as members of two competing spy networks, communicating in codes to contact your secret agents, while avoiding the deadly assassin. 

The goal of the game is to win, and you win by being the first team to contact all of their secret agents. 

Codenames game how to play

The codenames game is played on a 5 by 5 grid of words, representing the codenames of secret agents such as “Jack”, “Moscow”, & “Diamond”. 

Each team has one Spymaster, with the rest of the team playing as Operatives. 

At the beginning of the codenames game, the two spymasters draw ONE key card to share.

 This card is for spymasters’ eyes only,and shows them which codenames on the grid belong to which teams. 

The team whose color borders the key card goes first, but has one more agent to contact than the other team. 

So, 8 of these agents belong to one team,9 belong to the other team, 1 is the deadly assassin, and the rest are innocent bystanders. 

As an operative, your goal is to contact agents based on the clues your spymaster gives you. 

Each turn, your spymaster can say one word and one number: the clue and the number of codenames on the board that clue applies to.

 So, if your spymaster says “Animal: 3”,he might be trying to clue you into “Buffalo”, “Spider”, and “Dog”. 

Once they have the spymaster’s clue, the field operatives may discuss what they think the clue means, & take a guess by touching the card. 

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That agent is now revealed, placing its identity card on top of the word.

 If you touched one of your team’s agents,you may continue guessing, up to the number stated by your spymaster plus one, or you may pass. 

If your spymaster said “0” or “infinite” as the number, you have unlimited guesses. But beware, if you touch a card that doesn’t belong to your team, that card is revealed, and your turn is over.

 If it’s an innocent bystander, nothing happens, but you could accidentally give a point to the other team, or worse: If you touch the assassin, your team instantly loses! 

Teams alternate turns until every card belonging to one team is revealed, or the assassin is revealed.

There are a few simple ground rules for spymasters. Do not communicate anything except your clues during the game. 

Put on your best poker face. Do not use words that appear on unrevealed cards: for instance, don’t say “horse” to clue in “Horse” & “Horseshoe”.

 Finally, your clue must relate to the meaning of the words you are trying to clue, not their structure.

 So don’t use “B” to clue in “Block”and “Board, or “Well” to clue in “Bell” and “Cell”. You are now ready to play Codenames. 

Draw 25 codenames and arrange them in a 5-by-5grid. Decide on teams, choose your spymasters, & have your spymasters draw a Key Card and look at it together. 

The team whose color borders the key card goes first. If you liked Codenames, you might also like it’s Pictures variant, which uses pictures instead of words. 

Codenames game

Codenames Game Rules: How to Play The Codenames Board Game?

Codenames Game Rules 

Spies, codes, and secrets. Your goal is to be the primary team to contact all of their agents without running into an assassin using the clues given by a spymaster.

  • Game type: Cooperative, Teams, Verbal
  • Number of players: 4+ with the choice for two or 3 players
  • Suggested age: 12+

Game Pieces

Pregame Setup

Divide the players up into two equal teams. Each team then chooses a spymaster.

The spymaster for every team sit next to every other, but across the table from their own team. Every other player is an agent for his or her team.

Shuffle the codenames tiles and place 25 of them (face up) during a 5 by 5 square.

Shuffle the “key” cards & place one among the cards into the square “key” secretly from all of the agents within the game.

 this is often the “secret key” that reveals the identities behind the codenames. The agents may never view the key key.

Blue squares represent blue agents that the blue team must contact.

Red squares represent red agents that the red team must contact.

White or Neutral squares represent bystanders.

Black square represents the assassin.

The lights round the square key code show which team goes first.

The team going first takes their 8 agent cards and therefore the spy & is placed ahead of that team’s spymaster.

The other 8 agent cards attend the second team and attend that team’s spymaster.

The remaining bystander cards, & assassin, are placed between the 2 spymasters.

More specific rules

exceptions for correct names and homonyms & compound words & abbreviations or acronyms, and rhymes should be decided upon before the sport starts.


Penalties and Word Rules

The following are the “base line” rules that ought to be followed, but try to not be too strict;

 it’s generally up to the opposite spymaster to call out invalid rules. If they permit it then its allowed.

There are tons of rule variations for what’s an allowable clue and what’s actually invalid. 

Invalidclues are penalized by automatically revealing an opponents agent and ending your turn.

 Invalid rules must be caught and called out at the time that they’re given alternatively they become valid.

Invalid clues include the spymaster giving visual communication or signals to their agents.

 Spymasters aren’t allowed to offer anything quite 1 clue and 1 number.

Your clue about the “meaning” of the word. 

Can’t provides a clue towards its spelling or letter arrangements.

You may not use the amount as a part of the clue.

You may not use a far-off language to spot the word unless it’s a commonly used/accepted word within the language getting used for the sport.

may be not use a word that’s a lively codename in any of your clues. 

you’ll regain the utilization of that word if the codename is revealed. 

you’ll spell out your clue if it’ll help avoid confusion between two words that sound an equivalent or if you don’t want to plan to a selected pronunciation of a word that has quite one meaning. 

Another player can also request a clue spelled out.


Playing the Codenames Game online

Each team takes turns trying to guess the key identities of their own agents working off of one word clue from their spymaster.

The Spy master may only utter one word as a clue and variety . the amount that they’ll say is that the number of cards on the board that this clue applies to. 

If there are codenames that say “pig” & “farm” then the Spy master might say “live-stock:2”.

Spymaster must keep a facial expression & provides no other clues.

The spymaster may use 0 to point that “none of our words use this clue”. during this case the agents are allowed unlimited guesses.

The spymaster can also indicate “unlimited” as their number. This also allows unlimited guesses. 

The disadvantage is that the agents won’t skills many words relate to the clue that was just given.

Agents plan to guess which codename(s) correspond to this or previous clue(s) given.

 Once the agents of that team choose one tile & the agents tap it with their finger & then the spymaster checks their answer against the key & places the corresponding card (agent, assassin, bystander) over the highest of the codename (and leaves it there).

If your own agent is revealed, then your team has guessed correctly and should guess again, but not receive another clue. 

they’ll guess up to the limit imposed by the spymaster but may always add one extra guess. 

The agents can also decide to not pick a card and pass the turn.

If agents contact the incorrect color, then the turn passes and therefore the agent is revealed for the opposite team.

If a bystander is revealed then the turn is passed.

the assassin is revealed then that team loses instantly. the sport is over.


Two or Three Player games

two-player games include a “simulated” opponent and a 3 player game are often all 3 on one team against a simulated opponent, or two spymasters sharing an agent.

Your team always goes first during a two player game and your opponents always pick one among their own agents then end their turn. 

you’ll pick which agent is revealed strategically if you would like , or simply leave it up to random.

Winning the sport 

You win the sport by successfully contacting all of your agents.

 it’s possible to win on your opponents turn if they contact your last agent for you.