How to Play Codenames on Zoom

During the Worldwide pandemic, we are forced to distance ourselves to slow the spread of the virus. And for that, we are seeking alternatives to keep playing games and socializing but with the “new normal.”

We cannot get together and enjoy playing board games, but we can take advantage of the benefits of the 21-st century. That means that we can still have a lot of fun playing board games on our computers. And sometimes, a change is what we need. If you have time to spare, almost any board game can be played via video-conference. Codenames is one of them, so if you are a fan of this game, keep reading.

How to Setup Codenames

Codenames is a guessing game, and it requires creativity. To be able to play it during the pandemic, you need to be extra creative. One of the most popular ways of doing this is with Zoom. The setup takes slightly longer than it usually would.

  1. First, the person who owns the game should place the cards on a table.
  2. Set the phone on a holder with the camera on and ensure that the cards can be seen without any blur.
  3. Choose who will be the “spymaster” for each team and send the “key” photo to them via text message, e-mail, or any application that you are using.  
  4. Keep in mind, that the one setting up the game will not be able to play, because he will know the keys for all teams.

How to Setup the Zoom Meeting

Now it is time to set up the Zoom meeting on your other Zoom device such as laptop, desktop, or tablet and invite those who will play along with you. Don’t forget to turn on the audio and video.

You should also add a separate account for your phone so that everyone can see the cards. Check for the invite on the phone and connect to the Zoom meeting. This time mute the audio and change the camera view to face the cards.

On your second device, tell the players to click on the three dots in the upper right corner and choose the “pin video” setting. That way, you can all see the card video on the big screen, and you will be the little squares on the side. You are now ready to start playing.

How to Play Codenames

The rule is to guess all the cards on your team before the other team. Every card has a word written on it. Only the two spymasters can see the key, which shows which cards are for the blue team, the red team, the neutral cards, and the death card which causes you to automatically lose the game.

The lights around the key card decide which team starts the game. That means that team one has nine total words to guess and team two has one word less. The red cards should be placed in front of the red spymaster and the blues cards in front of the blues spymaster. The double agent card is given to the team that goes first since they have more words to guess.

The neutral cards and the death card should be placed in the middle, easily reachable by both spymasters. Only the spymasters are familiar with the identities of the twenty-five agents. The other players recognize the agents only by their codenames.

Here is an example of the agents Codenames

The spymasters give one-word clues that can help their team to guess the words they need to. You should then say a number so that you can help your teammates know how many codenames are connected to your clue.

You are not allowed to use more than one word for your clue, and it can’t be any of the codenames on the table. As the game progresses, some codenames will be covered, so they can be used as a clue since it is not visible.

When the teammates try to guess the word, they can consult with each other, but the spymaster should keep a straight face. When the team decides which will be their final guess, one should touch the codenames on the table.

After the spymaster says the one-word clue, her or his team should start guessing. If they guess a word of their team’s color, they can proceed with another guess and so on. If they guess wrong, the turn ends, and the other team starts with the guessing.

Of course, if you want, you can stop guessing at any time, but it’s in the team’s best interest to guess as much as they can. The more you guess, the better the chances of winning.

If the spymaster gives a clue that is not valid, the turn ends right away, and the opposite spymaster can cover one of his/her words before saying the next one-word clue. But, if no one is aware that the clue is not valid, then the game goes on, and the clue counts to be valid.

The team that has all of the words covered is the winning team. The game can also be very short if one of the field operatives makes contact with the death card (assassin). That means that his/her team loses the game. But you can always set up for a new game.

Final Thoughts

So, if you are a big board game lover, this is the perfect way to spend your spare time at home, stay safe and healthy, and have fun and socialize. It also helps to forget for a moment the situation that we are facing. Also, now that Christmas and New Year’s Eve are around the corner, this is the perfect way to spend time with your friends. Maybe it’s not the same, but it’s a lot more challenging and interesting to do that in front of the camera. So, online classes in the morning and online board games in the afternoon? Yes, please. If you need other ideas for something to play, check out some of our other game overviews: