If there’s one thing life has taught me it’s this: Spies get all the ladies. If there’s two things life has taught me, the second one is that I’m not cut out to be a spy. Can’t keep a secret, can’t leap out of a helicopter armed only with a parachute disguised as a steering wheel, look awful in a suit. But if there’s three things that life has taught me, it’s that when I suck at something — sword fighting, sports, finding gainful employment — I can always make a game where I pretend I don’t.

What You Need: A 54 card deck (The standard one, with two jokers). We also recommend printing out this reminder sheet.

Number of Players: 3-5

Object: Use your agents to complete your secret agenda — or just expose everyone else’s secret agenda, rendering them hopelessly compromised and headed into hiding.

The Setup: Remove all Kings and Aces from the deck, except the Ace of Spades. Shuffle the remaining deck, and deal everyone four face-down agents.

Your Mission: The removed Kings and Aces are secret agendas. Shuffle them up and have each player draw one. If you’re playing with only three players, take the Ace of Hearts and the King of Diamonds out before you do this — those agendas aren’t used in the three player game.

Keep the Agenda you’ve drawn off to the side and hidden. This determines your goal for the game. At the end of any of your turns, if the conditions are met, you win the game. Well, except your first turn. You can’t win on your first turn. ‘Cause really, what fun would that be?

  • King of Clubs – All of your cards are clubs, and no clubs are face up
  • Ace of Clubs – Be the only player with cards in the field
  • King of Spades – There are only X total cards in play, where X is twice the number of players
  • Ace of Diamonds – Control one face up card of each suit
  • King of Hearts – There are X cards face up, where X is twice the number of players
  • King of Diamonds* – All players have the same number of cards in play, which is not the same as the starting number
  • Ace of Hearts* – Expose one opponent.

*Don’t use these missions in a 3-player game.

If those seem hard to remember, download our reminder sheet.

You’ll want to try to complete this goal, but be careful not to let other players guess what you’re up to. If you think you know what an opponent’s agenda is, you can attempt to expose them. If you’re right, they’re out of the game. If not, they show you their agenda card to prove it to you, and you’re out instead – so don’t guess if you’re not sure.

At Base and In the Field:

Each player begins the game with four cards face down in front of him. These are your starting agents, and they’re what you’ll use to complete your mission. As with everything else in this game you’ll generally want to keep their identities secret — they’re usually more capable when they’re undercover.

Your agents start out at base — that’s in front of you. The other place agents can be is in the field. Agents in the field can use their abilities and attack, but are generally more vulnerable than agents at base.

Determine who goes first randomly. On his turn each player may do one of the following actions before passing the turn to the player on his left.

  •  Draft an Agent or Sleeper Agent
  •  Move any number of your agents from base to the field, or from the field to base
  • Use an agent’s ability
  • Attack an opposing agent
  • Attempt to expose another player.

Self explanatory? Didn’t think so. Well, here we go…

Draft an Agent: As an action, you can draft the top agent of the deck. Look at it, and then decide if you want it to be part of your team. If you do, put it face down in your base.

If you don’t want this particular agent’s services, you can instead make him a Sleeper Agent by putting him into play face down in any opponent’s base. That opponent gets complete control over that agent. This is sometimes useful if your secret mission involves the number of agents another player has — or if you suspect one of your opponents’ does.

Move Agents: Move any number of your agents from the base to the field, or from the field to base. You can only move agents one way or the other in a turn, you can’t switch them out.

The field is the area of play that’s not home. You can delineate it any way you want, but probably just pushing the cards toward the middle of the table will do the trick.

Use An Agent’s Ability: Why go to all the trouble to move your boys into the field? Because only in the field can they use their special talents. Each agent has a special ability based on its suit as follows:

  • Heart (Charm): Reveal any agent (turn him face up).
  • Spade (Assassin): Kill any face up agent (Put it in the discard pile)
  • Club (Subterfuge): Turn any face up agent face down.
  • Diamond (Intrigue): Trade any two agents between two players, as long as they are both in the field or both at home (For example, give an opponent one of your cards in the field, and take one of his of your choice).

To use an agent’s ability, just point to the agent in the field you want to use, and declare that you are using that agent’s ability, and which card(s) you’re using it on.

“But wait a second,” you might be thinking, “what if my agent’s nice and face down? What’s to stop me from saying he’s a different suit than he is?” And the answer is, “nothing really.” You’re free to lie. But, whenever you use a face down agent to perform a suit action, any of your opponents can accuse you of lying about it. If they do, turn the agent face up. If you were lying, the action is voided, and your agent is discarded. But if you weren’t lying you get to use the agent’s ability twice.

Example: Agent Double-Oh Steven points to his face down card and says, “This spade will kill your face up heart.” The owner of said heart accuses Steve of lying, so he turns over the agent. It is in fact a Spade, so he now gets to kill two face up cards.

Attacking Other Agents

On your turn you may have any of your face down agents in the field attack any opposing agent in the field. Turn both attacker and target face up. If the attacker is higher, the target is killed, otherwise the attacker is killed.

Special Agents

Some agents have additional or different abilities.

Jokers: Jokers can pretend to be any suit. If accused of lying, reveal the Joker, and then use all four of the suit abilities, or at least any of the four that you want. Then discard the Joker. If a joker is ever revealed, discard it.

Jacks: Whenever one of your cards is revealed, you may reveal a face down Jack instead. If the agent was being attacked, the Jack fights in its place.

Queens: Queens have an additional ability, which is used like a suit ability. Queens may move any two agents to or from the field. Like other suit abilities, you can pretend to have a Queen even if you don’t.

Ace of Spades: Last but not least, the Ace of Spades is the ultimate secret agent. His ability, which like the Queen’s works like a suit ability, can be used to kill any agent in play, at home or in the base, face up or face down. Nobody does it like him.

Taking the Bullet

All face down agents have the additional ability to sacrifice themselves for the good of the mission. Whenever any of your agents is going to die, you may have one of your face down agents in the field die instead.

Exposing Other Players:

Savvy operators might guess the intentions of their opponents. If you’re smart enough to divine your opponent’s mission, you can out them, but at great personal risk to yourself. To expose another player, on your turn announce that you are accusing the individual in question of having the agenda you think he has. He shows you his card. If you were right, he’s out of the game. If you were wrong, you are. If all players except you are eliminated, you win the game.

As you can see, completing your mission requires cunning, guile, and lots of shaken martinis. Bonus points for the first guy who bags the Queen of Spades.

Interested in reading about how we designed Spycard? Check out our Designer Diary.

Print Friendly