Codenames pictures – learn how to play with

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor


Welcome to Codenames: Pictures, a fun deduction game where two teams go head-to-head, using clever one-word clues to guess all their agent cards. If you’ve played the original Codenames, this version follows a similar concept, but with pictures instead of words. It’s a fresh twist!

Each team will have a player who acts as the clue giver, being able to see the correct answers for both teams on the board. It’s their job to come up with hints that will lead their team to victory. Talk about pressure!

Whether you’re playing with two or three players, the game is versatile and adaptable. Make sure to check out the VARIATIONS tab below for the specific rules.


So here’s how the game works: we’re going to split into two teams. If there are an odd number of players, one team will have an extra person. Then, we’ll each pick someone to be the spymaster for our team. The spymasters are the ones who will set up the board for us to play.

Hey there! Let’s talk about a fun game that involves pictures and answering questions. First, we need to mix up all the picture and answer key cards. Once they’re shuffled, set up a grid that’s 4 rows by 5 columns for the picture cards. You should have a total of 20 picture cards, and make sure the grid matches the layout of any of the answer keys. Now we’re ready to play!

Codenames pictures - learn how to play with

So, here’s how it goes. First, the spymasters, who are these sneaky little fellas, pick one of the answer keys. They have to be super careful not to let anyone else see it – only the spymasters get to peek. They stick it in this special cardholder thingy right in front of them so they can keep an eye on it.

Once that’s done, the spymasters have a little chat and decide which row is gonna be the top and which one’s gonna be the bottom. They want to be sure they know where their team’s answers are hiding. Gotta keep those secrets, you know?

Then, each team takes their agent cards. Now, this is where it gets interesting. The card they choose for the double agent depends on the color on that answer card they just picked. That team, the one with the double agent card, starts the round.

Oh, and here’s another twist. All those random bystander tiles and the assassin tile, they go in this common area. Kinda like a central spot for the spymasters to keep an eye on everything.

Codenames pictures - learn how to play with

Once we’ve set up the board and familiarized ourselves with it, it’s time for the first spymaster to give their clue.

Let the Game Begin

Here’s where the real fun begins! The first spymaster will give a clue, using just one word. But here’s the twist – they also have to say a number, indicating how many pictures are linked to that clue. If you’re uncertain about what makes a clue valid, you can refer to the rule book for a section on valid and invalid clues.

Codenames pictures - learn how to play with

So here’s how it works: I’ll give you clues, and you have to guess the pictures based on those clues. You can guess one more than the number I give, or you can keep guessing until you get one wrong – whichever happens first.

While you’re trying to figure it out, everyone on the team can talk and discuss the clues. But remember, I can’t give anything away with my facial expressions or speak at all. Once you touch a picture to give your answer, that answer is final. If you were right and it was our spy, we can keep going. But if you were wrong, our turn is over.

Codenames pictures - learn how to play with

So here’s the deal, folks. Spymasters, who are like super secret agents, take turns giving hints to their teammates. The goal is to figure out the identity of all the spies without accidentally guessing the identity of the assassin. It’s a really intense game, let me tell you.

Codenames pictures - learn how to play with

Different Game Modes

When playing with only two players or in games where everyone wants to be on the same team, there will be just one spymaster. The setup remains the same, but this time, your opponent is the clock. The rules are still the same: the spymaster provides clues, and the other players try to guess. However, there is a twist. After each turn, the spymaster will place one of the opposing team’s agents on the board. The game can end in two ways. If you guess the assassin, you lose. If all the agents of the other teams are revealed, you also lose. However, if you manage to correctly guess all your own agents before any of those scenarios occur, you win! You can find more details about scoring in the rule book.

In three-player games, you have a couple of options. You can still play with the same rules mentioned above, or you can choose to have two spymasters and one guesser. In this case, both spymasters will provide clues, and the single guesser will try to guess for both teams. The first spymaster who successfully has all their agents guessed wins the game.

The Final Countdown

There are three ways that the game can end. One way is if my team guesses all of our spies correctly and we win the game. Another way is if the other team guesses all of their spies and they win. The last way is if someone guesses the assassin, and then the game automatically ends and the other team wins by default.

Now, I know you must be on the edge of your seat, wondering what happens if the assassin is guessed. Well, let me tell you, my friend. If the assassin is guessed, the game is over! No questions asked. And the other team gets to claim victory. It’s a tough pill to swallow, I know.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Now, you might have a few burning questions about how this game works. Don’t worry—I’ve got you covered.

First off, how do you set up the Codenames: Pictures board game?

It’s pretty simple, really. Once teams are formed and spymasters are chosen, it’s time to set up the board. There are 25 cards in a 5×5 grid. That’s it! You’re ready to play.

But what happens if you choose an innocent bystander?

Ah, the innocent bystanders. They can really throw a wrench in your plans. If one of your field operatives chooses a word that’s an innocent bystander, your turn ends right then and there. It’s a real bummer, but hey, that’s how the game goes sometimes.

Now, can you talk during Codenames: Pictures?

Absolutely! Communication is key in this game. You and your team can chat, strategize, and decode those picture clues to your heart’s content. Just remember to be sneaky about it!

When we play the game of Codenames: Pictures, my team and I can chat with each other and exchange ideas. However, the spymaster, the person in charge of giving clues, is not allowed to say anything.

Can we use proper nouns in Codenames: Pictures?

Yes, we can use proper nouns in the game. It’s up to our group to decide if we allow proper nouns that have multiple words. For example, we can use the name “Daniel” as a clue, but it’s up to us to decide if we consider “Daniel Radcliffe” as a single clue.

Leave a Comment