Codenames Rules as the name suggest, is a board game where players have to correctly guess all the codes of your team on the board before the opposite team does so. The one team which guesses incorrectly loses while other team wins.
The spymaster of each team gives clues with numbers and letters to help you find the codename.
It is a 4-8 player card game designed by Vlaada Chvátil in 2015 and released by Czech Game Edition. It is played between two different teams where each one has a “spymaster” whose role is to provide clues to the players that suggests words present on the codenames board. The other players in the team try to guess the words of their team by avoiding the words of other teams. In the 2 to 3 player variant, the team’s spymaster gives one word clues to other players or multiple players.
There are actually many versions of the codenames, just like Monopoly, this includes suits based on popular franchises such as The Simpsons or Marvel. There are also some versions that can adjust the traditional game rules of Codenames. However, if this is your first time of codenames, we would like to advise you to stick to the original game.
So, If you are someone who likes finding codenames and make interpretations using clues, this game might interest you. Keep reading further to know how to play this game, codename rules and more about the game.
- Codenames Objective – To be the team to guess all their clue first.
- Number of Players – 4-8 Players (Team)
- Game Material – 8 Blue and 8 red agent cards, one double agent card that is blue and red, 1 assassin card that is black, 7 civilian cards that are white, double-sided codename cards and key cards.
- Game Type – Verbal cooperative party game
- Game Audience – For adults and children 14+
Codenames is a 8 players party game, you can use it to try to make people more interested in board games. People who have a hard time enjoying such games and even the children will love this game. This game is played between two teams i.e. red and blue, each team has one leader.
Here is the list of components it comes with:
- 16 Agent cards in two different colors
- 7 innocent bystander cards
- 1 Double agent card
- 1 Assassin card
- 1 rulebook
- 140 cards with 280 picture
- 1 card stand
- 40 key cards
How To Setup The Codenames Game
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As you might have understood by now, Codenames is played in teams. So, you will have to first make 2 teams. One team will be getting Blue agent cards and the other will get Red agent cards.
Both the teams will be required to name one spymaster who will be the clue giver of the game.
These Spymasters will then shuffle and deal 25 Codename cards and arrange these in 5×5 grid layout randomly. Now draw a key card after shuffling which will be hidden from all except the 2 spymasters. However, the key card need to approved by both team’s spymasters.
The agent cards are placed in front of the corresponding spy master. Innocent bystander and assassin cards are placed between the two spymasters.
- Blue Squares – Blue team
- Red Squares – Red team
- White Squares – Civilians
- Black Square – Assassin
- Pale Square – Innocent Bystander
The “Blue squares” represent the blue team’s agents that the blue team must contact. The “Red squares” represent the red team’s agents that the red one must contact. The white or neutral squares represent the audience. The “Black square” represents the Assassin. The lights around the square key code decides which team goes first. A red light means that the red team is going first, and the blue team is the opposite. However, the first team will need to find additional team’s agents.
So, this is how you setup the codenames.
Related keywords: 5 by 5 grid, assassin card 40 key, codenames
How to Play Codenames Board Game
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When the cards are laid out and the spymasters are all set with their clues, the game can begin. Spymaster starts the game by giving a one word clue to their team. Then the players’ job is to guess the word from the clue.
The one team that plays first is show on the keyboard with their color running along the border.
The task of giving clues if done only by the team’s Spymasters and the players have to guess. Giving word clues is the only time when the Spymasters can talk during the game.
It has to be noted that team’s spymasters cannot give any extra information to their team mates while giving the clue, not even non-verbal kind. The team’s turn ends if the spymaster gives an invalid clue.
The clues include single word and number. The word on the clue indicates the actual clue and the number shows how many cards the clue alludes to. This number is used by the team’s Spymaster gives an idea to tell the players how many code words this clue refers to.
This word should be a clue to your team’s agent card. This number will be related to the number of cards this track applies to. Using this information and similar clues throughout the game, your team will try to explain the spymaster clues and guess each password.
So, if two of your single word clues are pet animals such as dog and pig, a spymaster can say ‘pets, 2’. Just note that the number and the clue are different things and the number cannot be used to indicate the clue in any way.
Making a Guess – Everything To Know
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How making guesses work in codenames? Once the spymaster is done giving the clue to the teammates, the guessers have to make one guess about that clue. The teammates are allowed to discuss in themselves what the clue can mean.
When they are sure, they can lock their guesses. But note that you cannot make any changes once a card has been touched.
While making a guess, you can guess words at least once. After one guess, you can choose to decide when to stop guessing. The players of each team are allowed to guess the number of times equal to 1 more than the number given by the Spymaster. The guessing phase ends when your team guesses all the clues and wins the game.
In case a team guesses a clue incorrectly, there can be a few repercussions. When a civilian is guessed, spymaster will cover that card using a Civilian tile.
When a team guesses clues of the other team, then the spymaster will have to cover that clue with a clue of their own. And if a team guesses the assassin, the game is over right there are the guessing team loses the game. If the selected card is one of the innocent bystanders, the spymaster gives an innocent bystander card at the top of the word. Hitting a bystander card means that their current turn ends and the game is passed to another team.
The team can make as many guesses as possible, that is, the number given by the spymaster as part of the clue plus one.
Related keywords: Guesses, word clue, innocent bystanders, spymaster
Codename Rules To Follow
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Given below are a few other codename rules you must have a look at before starting the Codenames board game –
1. The game has to be played in English. Thats the first & most important game rule.
2. A clue has to be about the meaning of the words and should not allude to letters in the word or the position on the table. For example: STAN will not be a valid clue for the word Pakistan. Because it will violate the rule & spirit of the game. And the clue can have only a single word which has to be given by spymaster
3. The Numbers and Letters are valid clues in codenames only if they refer to the meaning of the words. For instance, you can use X: 1 as a clue to RAY. You can use 8:3 as clues for BALL, Figure, and OCTOPUS.
4. Number after the clue is not a part of the clue. A Spymaster must always remember this rule.
5. The codenames game must be played in English languagae. Foregin words are only allowed if the other players/teammates actually use that word in sentences they usually say.
6. No player can say the words visible on the table. Assuming the word ACT is covered by a card, you will not be allowed to say behavior, behavior, or action.
7. No player from any team can say the parts of compound words on the table. English language has a lot of homonyms and homophones but they can’t be used in this game. The word “Write” sounds like “Right” but both have a different meaning.
8. The words having the same spelling are considered the same. Even if such words have different pronunciations & meanings, they can’t be considered as different. For example, BAT is something with which you play the game of Cricket or Baseball. Also, it is an animal which has black colour. Even the pronunciation for these words with different meanings is the same.
9. You can spell out your clue while playing this game. So, if you are giving a clue to your teammates about the word Except then you are allowed to spell A-c-c-e-p-t without pronouncing it. However, you can’t use T-h-e-a-t-r-e for the word THEATER as these two are different forms of the same word.
10. You are allowed to spell out your clues if your teammates(s) ask you so. In case you aren’t sure about the spelling of a word, you can ask for help from the opposing team’s spymaster. This rule can be very useful when the room is noisy or teammates speak in different accents.
These are the 10 game rules for the codenames game which must be followed by all the teams.
Who Wins Codename Game?
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What about winning the game? Any one team wins Codenames when they have all of their team’s clues covered before the other team. Or the other team could win if your team is successful in guessing the assassin. That’s how the other team loses.
Also, if another team accidentally contacted the last agent for you, or another team accidentally chose an Assassin card, you can finally win the round and the opposite team loses. Once the team has made all the guesses without picking the word that matches agent cards, the game stops.
That was it all about Codenames. If you are looking for quick refreshment by playing a game then codenames is the best option as codenames hardly takes 15 minutes to finish.
I hope you have all found the article of use and could easily understand how to play codenames and codenames game rules.
In case you have any doubts about the game, feel free to ask us in the comment section below. We will get back to you as soon as possible.