Guide to Playing Codenames Online and Offline

Are you and your family fond of playing spy games? If yes, Codenames is the ideal game for a thrilling gaming night! The objective of the game is to unleash the identity of your secret agents in the field. Since it is more challenging, it is best to play with teens and above, four players or more. Then, work together to complete your mission before the opposing organization, and deadly assassin does!

How To Play

Game Requirements

  • Codenames board game, which includes:
  • 200 cards with 400 codenames
  • 40 key cards
  • 16 agent cards in two colors
  • 1 double agent card
  • 1 assassin card
  • 7 innocent bystander cards
  • 1 assassin card
  • 1 rulebook
  • 1 timer
  • 1 card stand



Divide the participants into two teams with an equal number of members, the red, and the blue team. Have each group appoint a member as their Spymaster. The remaining members would then act as field operatives, situated at the opposite side of the assigned Spymasters.

Set up the bystander, assassin, and agents close to the Spymasters for easier access. Then, shuffle the cards and lay them out in a 5×5 grid on the table.

The assigned Spymaster will take a random key card, which would tell which codename are for which team, and the location of the assassin and the bystanders. The Spymaster will place the key card standing upright in front of them to serve as their cue, hiding it from both team’s field operatives.

One team would have nine field operatives to discover, while the other only has eight. Now, it’s time to unleash the identity of the agents!

Where to Buy
Czech Games Codenames

Taking Turns and Giving Clues

Each term will have their turn to discover their secret agents on the field. The Spymaster of each team will provide single word cues and a number to help his team locate their agents.

The word is linked to the agent’s codenames on the table while the number denotes how many agents are associated with the given word. For instance, if the codenames needed to be uncovered are “fish” and “seal,” the Spymaster can state “water, two” as both animals are aquatic of origin. No other words, gestures, body movements are allowed. Violating any of these forfeits the turn, passing it to the opposing group.

Uncovering Secret Agents

The remaining team members must try to decode the clues provided by their Spymasters. Once a member has decided, he or she can take a guess by touching one of the cards. If the member has found a codename, it must be covered with one of the agents cards. Only one guess is allowed per turn.

If the team picks another team’s agent or a bystander, the turn is over. Cover it with the agent card. Then, it would be the other group’s Spymaster to provide a clue to his team.

Winning The Game

A team can win in two ways. First, if the team is able to find all their secret agents. Or, the other team falls into the trap and accidentally uncovers the deadly assassin, winning the other team the game!

Word Rules and Penalties

Codenames is a social word game that relies on clues in winning the game. Some friendly cheaters may try to outwit others in the process. With that, basic rules must be obeyed to keep the gameplay on track. It is the Spymasters’ duty to call out prohibited practices. All violations must be called out immediately, or else they can no longer be penalized retroactively.

Here are some rules to keep in mind:

  • Spymasters are only allowed to give one word and one number clue.
  • Other gestures, signals, or body movements are prohibited.
  • The clue must only pertain to the essence of the word and nothing relating to its letter arrangement or spelling.
  • No foreign language is allowed.
  • Spelling out clues is accepted to avoid confusion on words that may sound the same.

How To Play Remotely

Your playing with spies and agents, so expect that setting up the game may need some time and effort. Nevertheless, all the shots will pay off with the thrill the game offers.

Here’s how you can play it with various video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom.

1) Lay out the Codenames cards in a 5×5 grid like you would for a typical game.

2) Find a phone and a flex-arm holder. Set it up in a way that the camera would be able to capture a clear view of the cards.

3) Begin a meeting on your second device, which you’ll be using to interact with others.

4) Share the unique meeting ID to participants (including the phone that will be used on the cards), so they could hop into the video call.

5) Once everyone is in, divide the participants into two teams and decide who would be the Spymasters.

6) Allow both Spymasters to choose a key card and send it to them via a private message.

7) Once done, you can now start playing the game as usual!

Where To Buy

If you don’t have the Codenames board game, don’t miss out on the thrill and fun! You can quickly purchase your own online and start enjoying it with your friends and family.