Codenames Rule

Codenames is a card game on the theme of espionage. It is played between 4 and 8 players divided into two teams: red team and blue team. Each team is headed by a master spy whose objective is to lead his teammates to victory

Contents of the game: 

  • 200 Code Name cards (words to be guessed), 
  • 40 key cards (cards with diagrams of the words to be guessed), 
  • 25 identity tiles (cards to show the cards already guessed, red or blue for the team that guessed, white for the neutral cards or black for the forbidden word), 
  • 1 hourglass to determine the time of a turn, 
  • 1 holder for the key cards, 
  • 1 rule book

The use of the different cards: 

  • The Code Name, a card on which a word is written, visible to all, and behind which a character is hidden. It is this word that the spymaster will try to make his agents guess by using a clue (Code name: horse, Clue: animal). 
  • The key card, visible only to the spymasters, reveals to them the identity of the characters hidden behind the 25 Code Names (Behind the Code Name “horse” is hidden an Informant from the red team). 
  • The blue and red boxes on the key card indicate the location of the informants that the blue and red agents must find. 
  • The black box indicates the Assassin not to be revealed and the white boxes indicate the Witnesses. 
  • The 25 identity tiles: these can be 8 or 9 red ones to be guessed by the red team, 8 or 9 blue tiles to be guessed by the blue team, the murderer (revealing the identity ends the game), and witnesses (cards and white squares) revealing the identity ends a round.

How to set up the game? 

  • Divide the players into two equal teams: red team and blue team. 
  • Each team must appoint a spymaster. 
  • The rest of the players will be Agents. 
  • The two spymasters stand on the same side of the table. 
  • The agents stand on the other side, facing their respective spymasters. Shuffle the Code Name cards (the words to be guessed) and select 25 at random. 
  • Place the 25 Code Name cards on the table in a grid of 5 columns and 5 rows. 
  • The two spymasters who will guess the words choose a Key Card at random. 
  • This is placed on the rack between the two spymasters, out of sight of the other players.

The objective of the game: 

The winning team is the first one whose 8 words have been guessed by both their team and the opposing team. 

A team loses the game if its agents reveal the identity of the assassin.

How do you play? 

  • The color of the 4 sides of the key card determines which team starts the game. 
  • At each turn, the spymaster gives a word (the clue) and a number (Example: animal, 2). 
  • The number given by the spymaster determines the number of cards to be revealed for that clue (2 informants are hidden behind a Code Name “animal”). 
  • Based on these clues, the players must consult each other and choose a Code Name card to reveal. 
  • They must give the words 1 by 1. 
  • If the team guesses correctly, the corresponding identity tile is placed on the Code Name card, and the team can continue guessing. 
  • Once the team manages to reveal all the correct cards during the turn, they have the right to reveal one last Code Name or they can skip their turn. 
  • If the team comes across an informer from the opposing team, the informer is revealed, and the turn is over. 
  • The opponent gains one point. 
  • If the team finds a witness, a witness tile is placed on the Code Name card, and the turn is over. 
  • If the team finds the murderer, they lose the game immediately.

Some rules to be respected: 

  • Spymasters must remain neutral. 
  • The use of an invalid clue may result in the team concerned being penalized. 
  • A clue is invalid when: It is a translation of the Code Name, 
  • Part of the Code Name is used, 
  • The Code Name is used, It is too close to the Code Name.