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Official Codenames Game Rules

Codenames is a word-based party game that challenges players to use creativity and deduction to uncover secret agents. Here are the basic rules:

Game Components:

  • Word Cards: A deck of word cards, each containing a word.

  • Key Card: A grid that shows the locations of secret agents, bystanders, and assassins.

  • Agent Cards: Cards representing secret agents, bystanders, and assassins.

  • Markers: Markers to indicate which words have been guessed correctly.

  • Timer: A timer to set the duration of each round.

Setup:

  1. Create Teams: Divide players into two teams. Each team selects a spymaster.

  2. Prepare Key Card: The spymasters secretly look at the key card, which shows the locations of the secret agents, bystanders, and assassins on the grid.

  3. Word Grid: Lay out the word cards in a grid formation on the table.

  4. Marker Placement: Each spymaster places their team's marker on the edge of the table to indicate their team's color.

Objective:

  • The goal of Codenames is for each team to correctly guess the words associated with their secret agents while avoiding the assassin.

Gameplay:

  1. Spymaster Clue: The spymasters take turns giving clues to their teammates to help them guess the words associated with their secret agents.

  2. Clue Giving: On their turn, a spymaster gives a one-word clue followed by a number indicating how many words on the grid relate to the clue.

  3. Guessing: The team members discuss the clue and try to guess which words on the grid match the clue given by their spymaster. They may guess one word at a time, but they must be cautious not to guess a word associated with the opposing team or the assassin.

  4. Marker Placement: When a word is correctly guessed, the spymaster places their team's marker on the word card. If the word card corresponds to a secret agent, the team may continue guessing. If the word card corresponds to a bystander or the opposing team's word, the turn ends. If the word card corresponds to the assassin, the game ends immediately, and the opposing team wins.

  5. End of Turn: The turn ends when the team either guesses all the words associated with their secret agents, guesses a bystander or the opposing team's word, or accidentally reveals the assassin.

  6. Switch Teams: After a turn ends, the teams switch roles, and the other spymaster gives a clue to their teammates.

End of Game:

  • The game ends when one team correctly guesses all the words associated with their secret agents or when one team uncovers the assassin.

Variations:

  • Duet Mode: A cooperative mode where two players work together as spymasters to give clues.

  • Pictures: A version of Codenames using pictures instead of words.

Strategy:

  • Clue Association: Spymasters should give clues that relate to multiple words on the grid to maximize the team's chances of guessing correctly.

  • Risk Assessment: Players must carefully consider the potential meanings of the clue and assess the risks associated with each guess.

  • Communication: Team members should communicate effectively to discuss potential associations and make informed guesses.

Codenames is a challenging and engaging game that encourages teamwork, communication, and strategic thinking. With its simple rules and dynamic gameplay, it's perfect for game nights and gatherings with friends and family.

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