If you are the spymaster, can you use the row as a clue? For example, can I say "Top 3" for the field operator to guess the top row?

2 Answers 2


No. First entry under "Firm Rules"

Your clue must be about the meaning of the words. You can't use your clue to talk about the letters in a word or its position on the table.

I agree with a comment on another answer to keep the firm rule in place; as position clues can be used on every board, the game will become repetitive if they're allowed.


From the Codenames rule book:

Your clue must be about the meaning of the words. You can't use your clue to talk about the letters in a word or its position on the table.

This rule is in place to keep the game interesting.

I would recommend keeping close to the game rules, but if the spymaster thinks they've got the perfect clue (Maybe there are two words relating to 'top' and one unrevealed card in the top row) the other spymaster can authorise a clue:

If the opposing spymaster allows it, the clue is valid. If you aren't sure, ask your opponent. (Quietly, so the others can't hear.)

The only times I've asked the other spymaster have been words that are open compound words, such as 'pet food', which represent a single concept but don't have a single word name.

  • 15
    I would strongly advise you to keep that rule in place (do not relax it). That rule exists to keep things interesting. The game has tons of replay value since there are 400 words in the box and hundreds of thousands of interesting connections you can make between them, but because every grid of words has a top row etc, if you allow position clues then your games can get boring and repetitive. Jul 15, 2020 at 3:11
  • 3
    "You can use house rules" is always true. Adding house rules should generally come after having an understanding of the official rules, and the question indicates that that is not yet the case. The golden rule is, in Codenames, intended to cover gray areas, not to alter the hard-and-fast rules. (But you can house rule that away, too, of course). Jul 15, 2020 at 11:45
  • If you allow clues based on card positions, all the following hints are going to be coordinates stacked together in one monster-word. (okay, that's probably easier in languages like Finnish where compound words are more of a thing, but anyway.) Sure, you could invent ways to pack numbers into words as a puzzle, but it would be something different than Codenames, or even Codenames-with-house-rules.
    – ilkkachu
    Jul 15, 2020 at 13:55
  • Where it gets really problematic, in my opinion, is that every card can be identified by its row combined with its column. While being guaranteed a card every two turns is much lower than the usual pace, I don't like the idea of it being an option. And there are cases where it might be strategic, but not sporting, such as one team has only one word left, and the other has five. Jul 16, 2020 at 5:54

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