The game board consists of 25 randomly generated words. There are two teams: red and blue. Of the 25 words, nine belong to the team randomly selected to go first and eight belong to the other team. There are also seven neutral words and a bomb word. Each team has a spymaster that knows exactly which words belong to their team and the opposing team, which words are neutral, and which is the bomb. The objective of the game is for the spymasters to send clues to their field operatives (the other players on their team) to help them decode all of their team's words without uncovering the bomb. The team that decodes all of their words first wins; if a team uncovers the bomb, the other team wins.
creating a game
To create a game, navigate to codewordsgame.com and make sure "create game" is selected. Enter your name and the name of the room you wish to create. Click the "create game" button, invite other players to join your game by sharing with them the room name or URL for the room, and enjoy! Remember, the creator of the room is the host of the game. The host is responsible for assigning teams before the game starts and in between rounds.
joining a game
To join a game that has already been created, navigate to codewordsgame.com and make sure "join game" is selected. Enter your name (which must be unique among the players in the room) and the name of the room you wish to join. Click the "join game" button and enjoy! You can also join a room by navigating to the URL corresponding to that room. This will autopopulate the "room name" field with the name of the room you are trying to join so that you only need to enter your name. Any players currently in the room can easily share the URL with new players. If you join a game in progress, you can still spectate the game and chat with other players. After the round ends, the host can assign you to a team.
As players join the game for the first time and in between rounds, the host must assign players to teams. To do so, the host should drag each player's name to either the red or blue side. The first person listed on each side will be the spymaster for that team and the rest of the players on that side will be field operatives. Any players who are not playing in a round can be left unassigned. Note that if there are more than four players on a team or left unassigned, you may have to scroll to see all of them. After all players have joined the game and been assigned to teams, the host can start the round. Note that there must be at least two players on each team.
Spymasters can always see which words belong to each of the above categories. This is what the red spymaster sees when the blue spymaster is sending a clue at the beginning of a round. Spymasters can always use the button above the game board to peek at the field operatives' view.
When it is the spymaster's turn, they must send a clue using the form below the game board to their field operatives to help the field operatives identify their team's words. Each clue consists of a single word or a proper noun (which can be longer than one word) and a number between 0 and 9, inclusive. Spymasters should make sure to pay attention to which words have already been guessed, which are indicated by the black checkmarks.
The word portion of a clue must be either a single word or a proper noun (which can be longer than one word). The clue word must be based on the meaning of one or more words on the board, usually words belonging to your team. This means that a homonym or similar sounding word with an unrelated meaning cannot be used as a clue word for a given word (e.g. "made" is not a valid clue word for "maid"). Keep in mind, however, that a word might have multiple meanings with the same spelling - this can often be critical to sending a clue encompassing multiple words in a single turn. There are some further restrictions on the clue word. It must be in English and cannot be any form of a word that is on the game board and has not yet been guessed. That is, if the word "drive" is on the board and has not yet been guessed, you cannot use "drive", "driving", "driven", "driveby", "driver", etc. as your clue word. After the word "drive" has been guessed, all of these may become valid clue words. Similarly, you cannot use as your clue word part of a compound word that has not yet been guessed (e.g. "light" or "house" would be invalid clue words if "lighthouse" is on the board and has not yet been guessed). If you are unsure of whether your clue is valid, send a message to the opposing spymaster using the spymaster chat and ask them if your clue is valid. There is no need to be too strict regarding what clue words are valid and you should feel free to set your own restrictions to make the game more challenging. If an invalid clue is sent, the field operatives for that team should end their turn as a penalty.
The number given with each clue generally represents the number of words to which the clue word applies. Note that the clue number cannot be indicative of which words belong to your team. That is, it is not valid to send the number "8" to indicate that "octopus" is a word belonging to your team. The clue number is important because the field operatives can guess up to that number plus one words in their turn. However, they can only continue guessing as long as they correctly guess words that are theirs. If at any point they guess a word belonging to the other team or that is neutral, their turn ends. If they ever uncover the bomb, the game ends and the team that uncovered the bomb loses. The field operatives can end their turn at any point and keep in mind any unused information for later. The clue number can also be zero, which perhaps could be used to send information about which words are not yours. If the clue number is zero, the field operatives can guess an unlimited number of times, as long as they continue to guess words that belong to their team.
Field operatives can see all the words on the game board but can only see the categories for the words that have already been guessed. At the beginning of a round, when no words have been guessed yet, this is what a field operative sees.
When it is the field operatives' turn, they must use the given clue, which can be found below the game board, to guess which words belong to them. To make a guess, they should click on a word that does not yet have a color. Everyone can see the result of their guess. If their guess is correct, they can continue guessing if they have guesses remaining and they have not yet found all of their words. If their guess is incorrect, the game continues with the opposing spymaster's turn. Of course, if the field operatives uncover the bomb or the last word for either team, the game ends. The game ends when all of one team's words are discovered, in which case that team wins, or the bomb is uncovered, in which case the team that uncovered the bomb loses.