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Codenames

Call your agents back from the field the fastest

PLAYERS

Min:

2

Max:

8

Ideal:

6

EXPERIENCE

Game / Round Time:

30

/

10

Physical / Virtual:

Yes

/

Yes

COMPLEXITY

To Play:

Easy

To Facilitate:

Easy

To Customize:

Medium

MATRIX

Instinct:

Think

Intent:

What

CLASS

Genre:

Party, Thematic, Tabletop, Mental

Mechanics:

Area Management, Asymmetry, Deduction, Limited Action, Memory, Observation, Turn-based, Wordplay,

Dynamics:

Attention, Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Cultural Intelligence, Decision Making, Goal Setting, Listening, Organization, Strategy Development,

BONDING

Materials

VIRTUAL SETUP

+ agent cards

+ word cards

+ answer keys


The official game is also available for purchase.

Physical Setup

First, shuffle the word cards and deal 25 of them onto the table in a 5x5 grid.

Next, determine the 2 teams and select a spymaster for each.

Finally, the spymasters are given an answer key to share that determines where their agents are in the grid.

Virtual Setup

There are several online versions. Try this link to play. Hosts will create a link to share with everyone else.

Gameplay

First Turn: With any answer key, one team will have 9 agents to guess, and the other team will have 8. Whichever team has 9 goes first.

Giving Clues: The spymasters alternate saying 1 word + 1 number that will help their teammates identify which word cards to guess. The number after the word indicates how many cards are relevant to the clue (i.e. Blue 2 means there are 2 cards that are related to Blue)

Guessing: Teammates announce word cards 1 at a time. If they are correct, the spymaster places an agent card atop the card and the team may keep guessing. If they are incorrect, they place the corresponding agent card from the answer key and their turn ends. Assassin: There is 1 word card in every setup that represents an assassin. If either team guesses it, they immediately lose.

Endgame: When all of one team's agents have been guessed correctly, that team wins.

Variations

There are several other vesions of the game, most notably one with pictures instead of words.


Custom Words: create new words for the grid

Grid Change: play a 4x4 (easier) or 6x6 (harder) setup grid instead, and create new answer keys to match the size

Third Team: Instead of the neutral bystander cards, turn them into another team and introduce another spymaster for clue giving

Pulse Check

Q. Does everyone seem open to keep playing? Are the disengaged able to be more engaged?

Q. Are people having fun — smiling, laughing, in deep thought?

Q. Do you hear productive strategizing about how to improve round-to-round?

BUILDING

Think

Position the reflection around rational planning and communication methods:


  • Did this game illuminate any patterns in how you give and receive information?

  • How might it be helpful to know the preferences and tendencies of your colleagues?

  • Could your team benefit from additional or more diverse perspectives?

What

Position the reflection around goals and metrics, as well as the skills and roles to succeed:


  • What is one thing about you that would help your team members work with you better?

  • Did this game give you ideas about how to better advocate for yourself?

  • What strengths and talents did you witness, and how could the team better leverage them?

DEVELOPMENT

Please reach out to us for support around positioning this game for deeper learning programs and longer engagements. We often find that lighter game sessions can help set up team assessments and heavier reflections that lead to growth.

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