If you have two words left to link as spymaster, but they are extremely related to an opponent's word, what should you do?

In about 10% or more of my games, I find myself in a tricky dilemma, where it seems almost impossible to link two words without hitting an opponent's card or a black card. I don't know if using a two hint clue or a one hint clue would be wiser here.

Wall, brush are my words left. Their other words are picture and one other irrelevant word left. The hints I can think of are "mural 2" or "graffiti 2", but both have high risk of hitting picture.

In this scenario, should I use a one word or two word clue? What are advantages/disadvantages of each. Perhaps there's a way to link those two without hitting picture, but assuming there is none for the sake of this question, what are the pros and cons of each play?

• Have you considered using a "zero" clue? Jun 26, 2020 at 21:58
• @TheChaz2.0 Wouldn’t that use up a turn, and it would take 2 turns to win like a zero clue and then a 2 word clue? I could simply do 1 word each time like “barrier 1” and “broom 1” to win in 2 turns. Or do “photo 0” and then “mural 2”, but it would end up with the same result as 2 turns. Also it has the risk of the opponent picking the card where you put “photo 0” so you may end up helping your opponent. Jun 26, 2020 at 22:01

1. anticipate. Try to get those clues in other sets in previous turns.
2. give a clue that fits all three but makes your spies wonder which of the three they should exclude. The goal is to have them think along the lines of "if it was brush and picture, he would have said painting; if it was picture and wall, he would have said hang." Here, you could say "decorating." This only works with experienced players.
3. think laterally. Try to find connections in a very different domain from the other team's word. E.g. plastering, scrape, fire.

The rules mention an optional Expert rule: "0" clues.

"You are allowed to use 0 as the number part of your clue. For example, feathers: 0 means, "None of our words relate to feathers." If 0 is the number, the usual limit on guesses does not apply. Field operatives can guess as many words as they want. They still must guess at least one word."

In this case, if you say "photo, 0" they will know "picture" is NOT one of your cards. You may want to leave this until the end of the game when there are only few cards left, otherwise it doesn't narrow it down much.

You should agree at the start of the game that this is allowed and what it means.

The most important thing to consider is not how many cards each team still needs to win, but how many turns they need. You should be more willing to take risks in cases where success will decrease the number of turns you need while failure will not decrease the number of turns your opponent needs. For example, assume for a moment that other than the current turn, a team can always get 2 cards per turn, and on the current turn you can either get 1 safely or 2 with a high chance of giving your opponent 1. Then if you each have 4 cards left, you should take the risk (your opponent needs 2 turns no matter what you do, but you'll need 3 turns if you don't take the risk), while if you each have 5 left then you should not take the risk (you need 3 turns no matter what you do, but your opponent will only need 2 if you give them a card).

Now in reality, it's not as simple as getting 2 cards per turn - if you and your opponent are at similar skill levels then I suggest actually pretending you are in your opponent's chair and try to figure out clues for their team as well in order to tell how many turns they need.

(For your specific example, it sounds like you need 2 turns no matter what because by assumption any two-word clue you give will run your team into 'painting'. If you give your opponent 'painting' then they definitely need only 1 turn while if you play it safe then they may need 2 turns, so you should play it safe.)