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How to Play Codenames Duet

Check out the essential How to play Codenames Duet Rules in simple steps.
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Players: 2 to 8 | Game duration from: 10 mins | Game Complexity: EASY How to play Codenames rules in simple steps Codenames rules pdf / rulebook | Play Codenames Online Link 1

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How Do You Play Codenames Duet?

Codenames Duet is a 2 player cooperative game where players provide clues to one another to guess each other’s words before time runs out.

What is different about Codenames Duet?

Codenames Duet is a cooperative game where you win only if you and your partner correctly guess your set of words.

What Are The Rules to COdeNames DUET?

Codenames Duet is a cooperative 2-player game. Key cards provide 9 words which you attempt to give clues to your partner to guess and 3 words that your partner must avoid. You can only give one word as a clue, but it can point to multiple words you want your partner to guess. Your partner also gives you clues about the words you need to locate. Both of you win if you find all the words before you run out of turns.

SeTTing Up Your CodeNames DUET Game

Your partner and you sit across the table from each other.
Shuffle and deal 25 word cards at random into a 5 by 5 grid, as shown.
Place Assassin and green agent cards where you can easily access them.
Form the time bank by stacking 9 timer tokens bystander side up next to the word grid, Only nine tokens are used in the standard game and the rest are put in the box. The game can be made a little easier by adding a 10th or 11th blue tokens. Set the plastic stand beside the word grid. Shuffle the deck of key cards and draw one at random and place it in the plastic stand. Either wide edge can be on top.

Codenames DUET 1

Duet Key Cards

In each game, you have one key card. The green words are the ones you want your partner to guess. The black words are 3 assassins. You both lose the game if your partner guesses one of these words. Other words are innocent bystanders – people who get in the way. Your partner also sees 9 green words and 3 black words, but they are mostly different ones. The words that are green on the side of the card that you cannot see will be clued by your partner

Codenames DUET 2


Start the game by looking for a clue that will lead to two or more green words. Your partner
will also be looking for a clue for words that are marked green on the other side of the card.

Give a Clue

Clues are composed of one word and one number. The number tells how many words on the table relate to the word in the clue. The word in your clue cannot be one or part of the words on the table


STORM AND RAINBOW are on the table.
2 and weather would be a good clue.
2 and storm would be invalid as the word is already on the table.
2 and rain would be invalid as rain is part of the word RAINBOW.

Giving THe First Clue

Either player may give the first clue. If both of you are thinking, one of you can offer to give the first clue.

Codenames Duet Rules for making a guess

Your partner makes guesses when you give a clue. To make a guess, touch any word on the table.

Guessing a green word

A correct guess is when your partner touches a word that you see as green. Cover it with a green agent card. Your partner is in touch with one of your agents and you’re in the game. Regardless of whether or not the word you meant was a green one, you should cover it with a green agent card. Do not let your partner know you didn’t mean it.

Guessing a Black Word

If your partner touches a black word, that’s an assassin. You lose the game. Your partner was looking for a contact and was caught by the assassins.

Guessing a Tan Word

Place a token (bystander side up) on the word card with the arrow pointing from you to your partner if your partner touches a word you see as tan.
It means that when you gave your partner a clue, the word was guessed and run into an innocent bystander. Don’t cover the word. Your partner might still want you to guess this word.

Guess again if your guess is correct

Your partner makes another guess if the first guess is correct. (You do not provide another clue.) The second guess follows the same rules as your first. In the case of a correct guess, your partner can guess again. And again. Ideally, your partner will find all your clues.

End of Turn

The turn ends when you guess an Innocent Bystander. After one or more correct guesses, your partner may end their turn by taking a timer token. The token is kept checkmark side up in front of them. A turn expends a timer token. Turns (and clues) are measured by the timer tokens left in the time bank. Once your partner guesses the number of words your clue indicates, they will stop. Your partner may also choose to quit early.

The Next Turn

If you give a clue first, your partner gives a clue for the next turn. When you are guessing, only your partner’s key card side matters. You should focus on the words and ignore the key card. Words covered by green agent cards do not need to be guessed anymore. If you guess a word that is green from both sides of the card, your partner covers it, and neither of you will give clues for it anymore. (If this happens, do not tell your partner you were also giving clues for that word.)

Using Earlier Turn Clues

Perhaps you didn’t find all the words related to your partner’s first clue. You may have been wrong, or perhaps you ended your turn early to avoid running into an assassin. Don’t forget previous clues when it’s your turn to guess. You don’t have to guess words related to the current clue. You can guess words related to any clue you’ve already received. In some cases, you might want to guess the words you are most confident of first. It might not be necessary to give another clue for a word your partner missed on your first clue when you think of clues.

Guessing the last word

If all 9 words that you see as green have been covered by agent cards, tell your partner that there are no more words left to guess; your partner will now provide clues on all remaining turns.

Ending the Game


When all green words from both card sides have been guessed, the game ends and both of you win.


The game ends when you guess an Assassin. You lose.

Sudden Death

The sudden death turn begins when you have used up your last timer token. You have no more time. You have no more clues. The sudden death turn gives you one last chance to win.

If only one player has words left to guess, that player is the guesser. If you both have words left, you are both guessers. You can make your guesses in any order, and you do not have to take turns, but you are not allowed to discuss a guessing strategy.

Guesses should be made one at a time and marked in the usual way. For example, when your partner touches a word, your side of the key card determines whether the guess is correct or not.

In sudden death, a wrong guess ends the game – both players lose.

If all your guesses are correct and you find the last green agent, you both win!

Rules for clues

  • The information you share should be limited to what you can deduce from each other’s clues.
  • Your clue must be about the meaning of the words.
  • Letters and numbers are valid clues, as long as they refer to meanings.
  • You can’t say any form of a visible word on the table
  • You can’t say part of a compound word on the table
  • You are allowed to spell your clue.
  • Accents, vocal inflections, and singing are not allowed.


How to play Codenames Duet in quick steps. Codenames Duet is a cooperative 2-player game. Key cards provide 9 words that you give clues to your partner to guess and 3 words that they must avoid. You can only give one word as a clue. Your partner also gives clues about the words you need to locate. Both of you win if you find all the words before you run out of turns.

Total Time: 30 minutes

Give a Clue

Either you or your partner gives a clue comprising 1 word and 1 number based on your and their side of the key card.

Guess The Word

Guess a word by touching a card on the table. A green word is a correct guess. A black word is an Assassin card and results in the game ending and both of you losing. A tan word is also an incorrect guess but is an Innocent Bystander card and only results in your partner’s turn ending.

Guess Again If Correct Guess is Made

Guess again if you make a correct guess. (Another clue is not needed.) The next guess follows the same rules as the first.

End of Turn

After one or more correct guesses, you may end your turn by taking a timer token. Stop when you guess the number of words indicated by the clue. You may also choose to stop early by taking a timer token. It is now your partner’s turn to give a clue based on their side of the key card.

Guessing the Last word

If all your 9 green words have been covered by agent cards, your partner provides the remaining clues.

Ending the Game

There are 3 ways Codenames Duet ends. Lose when anyone guesses an Assassin word card (black). Win when green words from both sides of the key card have been guessed correctly. Play a sudden death turn when the last timer token has been used. If one or both of you have words left to guess, you have one last chance to guess them all. Lose if any one of you makes a wrong guess.

Official Codenames Duet Rules PDF

Official Codenames Web Site

Play Codenames Online

How to play Codenames

How to Play Codenames and Review Videos

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