MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

I was introduced to Codenames my first year at Stanford, and it has become one of my favorite games.


  • There are 2 teams split evenly, and each team designates one of their players to be their team’s “spy master”.
  • The Spy Masters get 5 minutes to view the game board and try to brainstorm clues that can be given to help their team guess words.
  • The team that has more words to guess gets to go first.
  • Spy Masters take turns giving one word clues that are aimed at helping their team make connections between the different words on the board that need  to be guessed. Additionally, they give a number that corresponds to the number of words the clue given relates to.
  • Teams get to guess up to one more card than the number given by their Spy Master. The guessing stops when they guess a card wrong or hit +1 for the number given.
  • On the gameboard,  there are words belonging to each team, neutral words, and one kill word.
  • The game ends when the kill word is selected or when one of the teams guesses all of their words, whichever comes first.



  • One of the core dynamics for this game is teamwork and collaboration amongst the team members.
  • There is also a great sense of urgency as there is a time limit and each guess counts! This definitely releases adrenaline and gets your heart pumping.
  • Additionally there is a disproportionate amount of pressure on the Spy Masters as they are responsible for giving good clues.



  • The main aesthetic is “spy”. The cards and theme revolve around this aesthetic.


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