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I see there are several rooms hosted on Puzzling on chat.SE that have strange, one-word titles, like:

What are these rooms for?

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They're for playing puzzley games in real time.

Each of them has a pinned message to explain the rules of the game. Anyone is welcome to take part, and the room owners tend to be people who are particularly active players of the game (or, sometimes, bots whose automatic pinning powers are necessary for playing the game).

Contact

Codenames

Spyfall

Zendo

Strupremum


General notes

  • External research is not allowed in any of the games. This includes, for instance, if you are the defender in Contact or the SpyMaster in Codenames. No Googling, Wikipedia, etc.

  • Some users have adopted a "waving" convention in the rooms to signal readiness to play. Sending O/ (capital O) means you're able to play and willing to take the "leader" role in the game - such as defending in Contact, SpyMaster in Codenames, etc. 0/ (zero) means you could do the same as O/ but would prefer to be a normal player. o/ (lowercase o) means you can play as a normal player but not take on the "leader" role.

  • You can always ask if anyone's up for a game, but it's best not to start pinging people to come and play unless you have three or more (or one below the minimum) people around and ready to play.

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Spyfall

Overview

Spyfall is best played with 4 or more players.

All players are in some location. This could be a circus tent, a space station, a theater, etc. Each player is also assigned a role for the location; this might be an acrobat for the circus tent, an alien for the space station, an actor for the theater, etc. However, one player is told nothing, except that they are the spy.

The goal of the game is for the non-spies to correctly and unanimously accuse the spy, or for the spy to either correctly guess the location or get someone else accused of being the spy.

Gameplay

The location and roles are determined at the start of each game. We use an external site to generate the location/roles (the link to this site is also in the chatroom's description). To use it, one player will create a room on the site. They will receive a 6-letter access code to the room which other players can use to join. When the game starts, you will see the location and your role (or that you're the spy) at the top of the page.

You are not the spy!

There will also be a list of the players and possible locations. One player will have "1st" beside their name, indicating that they ask the first question.

Once the location and roles are determined, the non-spies will attempt to identify the spy, and the spy will attempt to determine the location. They do this by taking turns asking each other questions. The questions can be pretty much anything; common questions include:

  • How did you get here?
  • Are you here for business or pleasure?
  • Are there a lot of people here?
  • How long do you plan to stay here?
  • etc.

If you get asked a question, you must provide an answer. This answer should fit your role and the location (it doesn't have to, but if it seems suspicious or inaccurate, you will probably be accused of being the spy). After answering, you ask another player a question. The only restriction is that you can't ask the player who just asked you.

Stopping play

At any point (if the game is not already stopped), a player may stop the game by saying STOP (in bold). At this point the player can do one of two things: accuse another player of being the spy; or guess the location, if the player is the spy (the spy is also allowed to accuse).

If someone is accused, then all players except the accuser and the accusee vote on whether they agree with the accusation. If the vote is unanimous (EVERYONE votes yes), then the game ends. The non-spies win if the spy was accused, the spy wins if a non-spy was accused. If the vote is not unanimous, play continues as normal.

If the spy guesses the location, the game ends. They win if they are right, they lose if they are wrong.

General tips

  • Questions and answers should ideally be worded in a way that only those who know the location will understand the meaning. This way, the spy can't gain much information from them, but non-spies won't be suspicious of you.
  • The same question can be asked more than once, but there isn't often a point in doing so.
  • If someone joins (on the external site) in the middle of the game, they will be assigned a role for the location, and are guaranteed to not be the spy. Thus there is no point to joining halfway through or to ask questions to those that do.
  • On the external site, you can click on usernames and locations to cross them out. This is useful to keep track of which options you've eliminated.
  • You don't need to make a new room on the site for every game, you can just start a new game from the same room.
  • This game is hard, especially when you're the spy! It takes a lot of practice, so don't get discouraged if you aren't good right away.

Style guide

  • Pretty much any text related to the gameplay should be in bold (surround by **): questions, answers, and "STOP"
  • Questions are asked by writing a message which pings the person you're asking (@+username), and the question in bold
  • Answers do not have to ping, but should still be bold

An example question would be: @Rubio **How long have you been here?**, while an example answer would be **I've been here since the early morning.**

Example game

Taken from the official rulebook

Anne, Juan, Maria, and Isaac find themselves in the crusader army. However, Anne isn’t aware of this because she got the spy card. Juan gets the Knight, Maria the Squire, and Isaac the Archer. They all play their parts and try to identify the spy. Anne’s goal is to identify the location without blowing her cover. Maria the Squire asks the first question: “Isaac, do you remember which sea we took a dip in yesterday?“ Isaac the Archer naturally names the Mediterranean, and Anne the spy takes notice: the location could be the beach or the pirate ship. Isaac can’t ask Maria, so he asks Juan, “Juan, when do we get paid — is it at the beginning of the month, or the end?“ All the other players are on the alert, since the question might identify Isaac as the spy. However, Isaac is just sounding out his fellow players. Since Juan is a knight and not a spy, he answers the question easily: “Who knows? We’ll get paid whenever the commander feels like paying us.“ Anna the spy is thoroughly confused — now she suspects the location might be the military base or the submarine. Juan asks her next question: “Hey Anne, what did they serve for dinner yesterday? I couldn’t make it.“ Anne is evasive: “Oh, you know, the usual stuff — potatoes, nothing special.“ This is where other players start to suspect her of being the spy — as crusaders, they’re well aware that Columbus won’t be bringing that particular plant back from the New World for another three hundred years or so...

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Codenames

Overview

Codenames has an espionage setting, in which players in teams try to identify their own team's secret agents, based on their agents' code names. Codenames is a game of guessing which code names (words) in a set are related to a hint-word given by another player.

--Wikipedia

Setting

The game's espionage setting explains some of the odd terms we'll be using in this guide, so let's explain some of them quickly before diving in.

The "Spymaster", often shortened to simply "SM", is your team leader. They as a spymaster know the identity (colors) of the "agents", which are the words in the board (we'll get into that in a moment).
Each word on the board represents an agent in the field, with that word being their "codename" (hence the name).

Game setup

To start off with, we have the board. The board is comprised of a 5x5 grid of 25 words.

Grid of words

As explained above, every word in this board represents an agent. Each agent is either a red agent, a blue agent, a yellow innocent bystander, or the black assassin.

Your goal as a team member is to correctly guess which of the words on the board are your team's color. So if you are playing on the red team, your goal is to identify all of the red words on the board.

Each team has a "Spymaster" (SM). The SMs are the only ones who are able to see the entire board, and which words are what color. This is what a SM would see:

colored grid

We have a bot that helps out with running the actual game (more on that below!), so we'll skip the actual setup and get straight into the gameplay.

Gameplay

One team will always have 8 words to guess, and the other 9. Whichever team has more words (in the above case, team blue) goes first. The teams take turns.

A turn consists of 3 basic steps.

  1. The SM gives a clue.

    A clue takes the form of Color: **Clue (<number>)**. In the above example board, the blue SM could give a clue such as "Blue: Legged (5)". The objective of a clue is to make your team think of as many words as possible that are your color. In this case, the intended words would be BUFFALO, HORSESHOE, KNIGHT, DANCE, and AGENT, however tenuous those connections to "legged" may be. (See below for what the rules are for a valid clue.)

  2. The team guesses words based on that clue.

    After the SM has given a clue, it is now up to the other, regular members of the team to figure out what the clue is referring to. The team looks at the board, discusses with each other, and attempts to guess what the SM was thinking of. They are allowed to use all information on hand, including the opposite team's clues, but external research is forbidden.
    After the team has arrived at a word that they feel confident in guessing, they guess by sending that word, in bold, in a chat message (with no other content). For instance, **BUFFALO** as its own message.
    The team gets N+1 guesses each turn, where N is equal to the number of words that the SM has indicated this clue is related to. In the above example of "Blue: Legged (5)", the blue team would have 6 guesses that turn. You are required to make a minimum of 1 guess per turn.

  3. The turn ends.

    The turn can end one of three ways.

    Your turn ends if you guess any word that is not your color. If blue guesses a red word, their turn is immediately over. The same for if they guess a yellow word.

    The turn also ends when the team is out of guesses. As mentioned, you get N+1 guesses, where N is the number of words that the CM was cluing (so 5+1 in the above example). If the team makes 6 guesses that turn (bearing in mind that your turn ends whenever you guess a word that is not your color), the turn ends.

    The turn can also end if the team decides to pass. Passing means that your team decides to end your turn without using all available guesses. This can be used if you are not sure of all the words that were intended and don't want to risk guessing when you're not sure. Remember, though, that you must make at least one guess per turn.
    You pass with the syntax **[pass]** on its own line.


Here's an example transcript to illustrate some of the examples.

SM: Blue: Legged (5)

[Team members discuss options, and arrive at guessing the words BUFFALO, HORSESHOE, and TABLE.]

Team member: BUFFALO

Bot: BUFFALO is blue.

Team member: HORSESHOE

Bot: HORSESHOE is blue.

Team member: TABLE

Bot: TABLE is yellow.

Since blue has now guessed a word that is not their color, their turn is over. It is now red's turn.

Now the board that everybody sees would look like this:

partway board

Ending the game

The game ends in one of two ways.

Your team wins if you manage to guess all of your words before the other team gets all of theirs.

Also, your team immediately loses and the other team wins if at any point in the game, the "assassin" word is guessed. What's the assassin? If you look back at the full board, you'll notice one gray-colored word (in this case, MUG). This is the assassin. You want to avoid guessing the assassin at all costs, since guessing it results in an immediate loss.


Other rules

  • You are not allowed to clue based on position or spelling
  • Your clues may not contain an unguessed word on the board, but may contain a word on the board after the word has been guessed
  • Clues are either
    • A word
    • A dictionary phrase
    • A place, name of a movie... 'An actual name of an actual thing' as Rubio put it
  • A clue number can also be 0 or Unlimited, both of which give your team unlimited guesses. The difference? 0 means none of the words of your colour are related to the clue whereas unlimited means guess whatever you want, but the clue is actually related.

There's a convention for SMs to keep a private log during the game, where they write down their thoughts on potential clues, their though process behind the clues, as well as any commentary on the game, and then provide the log after the game is over to the room. This is recommended, especially as SMs are strongly recommended not to speak during the game, so as to avoid accidentally giving away information.


Using the bot

We have a bot named Shiro, kindly run by ffao. Here's how to use the bot for gameplay. Note: Using the bot requires that you be on a whitelist (except for guessing and passing). Ping ffao or any moderator active in the room to be able to use the bot.

  • Starting the game

    To start the game, write the message 'newgame' beginning with an exclamation point, followed by the list of people playing, separated by commas. Put the names of the two SMs first in the list. As an example, if Rubio and Deusovi were the spymasters, you would write !newgame Rubio, Deusovi, n_palum, GentlePurpleRain, Business Cat, ffao, Mithrandir, Forklift. Then Shiro takes the first two names (Rubio & Deusovi), assigns them to be Spymasters, and randomly assigns the other players to teams.

    !newgame

  • Joining

    If you were accidentally left out, or arrived later, you can write !join and the bot will assign you to a team, depending on the number of players in each team. You can also write !join Sconibulus and it'll add Sconibulus to the list of players.

    You can also choose to join a specific team - write either !joinred or joinblue and it will assign you to that team. You can also write !joinred dcfyj and it will assign dcfyj to team red.

    !joinred Apple

  • Leaving

    To leave the game, write !leave. This will prompt the bot to write a new message stating the list of players, without you. This also works to leave a specific user, e.g. !leave Gareth McCaughan. You can not leave if you are the Spymaster; nor can you !leave Sp3000 to remove the Symaster.

    !leave L

  • Getting the board

    To get the board, write !board. Additionally, writing **[pass]** or **[passing]** will end your turn and generate the board.

    **[passing]**

    At the end of the game, you can write !finalboard to get the board as the SMs saw it. This will work in the middle of a game, so be careful not to write it before the game ends.

    !finalboard

  • Flipping a coin

    You can get Shiro to choose randomly between red and blue by typing !flipcoin. Shiro will say either 'Red' or 'Blue'.

    !flipcoin

  • Recalling

    If you're the Spymaster and you somehow lost the board that you were working on, you can type !recall and Shiro will give you a new onetimesecret with the seed.

    !recall

  • Recalling the teams

    If for some reason the list of who is on which team gets lost, you can write !teams to get the list of who is on each team.

    !teams

  • What to do when you get an image not found

    Sometimes when you request a board, Shiro will give an image not found:

    !board > image not found

    What you have to do is change where Shiro is uploading the picture. You write !imagehost, and then, depending on if it was uploading to imgur or puush, you will write either !imagehost puush or !imagehost imgur, and it will change the image host to whichever you specified:

    !imagehost imgur

There are a few commands that only a super user (like ffao) can use. These are !whitelist <Sid's chat ID>, which will allow Sid to use the bot, and !shutdown, which will stop the bot, and require either rebooting by ffao or switching to using Kuro, our backup bot, run by n_palum.

!flipcoin Kuro

All moderators on the Stack Exchange network are automatically super users.

Pinging

We have implemented a pinging function into Shiro. We have several commands related to the pings:

  • !pingable

    There are two ways to be added to the pinglist. You can either have a super user (such as all mods) add you:

    !pingable Example

    This also works for removing a user from the pinglist:

    !notpingable Example

    You can also add yourself and take yourself off of the list if you have been !whitelisted:

    !pingable

    !notpingable

  • !pinglist

    If you want to see the list of people who will be pinged by a !ping, you (as a trusted user) can do !pinglist:

    !pinglist

  • !ping

    Finally, we have the !ping command itself. This is a super user command only at the moment, which means that only moderators and ffao can do !ping. There's been talk of letting room owners be allowed as well, but that is still just discussion.

    !ping

You can find the source code for the bot on GitHub.


Finally, if you didn't understand, feel free to ask in the Codenames room or read the Wikipedia article.

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Contact

Overview

Contact requires at least three people, one person to create a word and at least two people to guess it. The word creator thinks of a word and gives the guessers the first letter. The guessers' objective at any stage is to get the word creator to give them the next letter of the word. They do this by coming up with words which they can (collectively) guess but the creator can't.

-- Quora (slightly edited)

Gameplay

One person is chosen to be the defender, and the rest are attackers.

The defender starts the game by thinking of a secret word and revealing only its first letter with an announcement in the following format, which is immediately pinned:

Deusovi defending: A

The attackers then think of words which start with this letter, and give clues to the words they're thinking of. These clues could be anything from vague descriptions to crossword cryptics to out-of-game references. The clues are generally expected not to be "unfair", something that the defender couldn't possibly guess. These clues are given in bold text, starred, and associated with a number. Numbers should only be reused once the original clue with that number has been solved - in other words, a given number should only be associated with one active clue at a time. There is no requirement for numbers to be in order.

The defender gets as many shots as they like at solving the clue. At any time, any other attacker (not the one who made the clue) can say "contact [number]" to indicate that they know the solution. If the defender gives up on a particular clue, then all attackers who have "contacted" it get a single chance (each) at guessing it. If they're all wrong, the correct answer is revealed. If they're right, the defender has to reveal another letter. Their announcement of the new letter is pinned and their last announcement unpinned. All clues which are no longer valid are discarded - those which begin with the correct two letters remain - and play continues as before.

Example:

D: [Defender] defending: A

A1: 1: ancient counting machine

A2: contact 1

A3: 2: succeed first advanced cosmology exam (3)

D: 1 is ABACUS

A1: correct

A4: 17: Scottish county

A1: contact 2

D: 2 is AIL

A3: nope

A3: 1: no symmetry

D: pass on 2

A1: 2 is ACE

A3: correct

D: [Defender] defending AS

A4: 17 dies, it was ANGUS

A3: 1 survives

The game ends, of course, when the defender's original word is fully revealed. This could happen by the defender actually giving the final letter (which I'm not sure I've ever seen happen), or by someone guessing the correct word. If this happens, the defender will usually pass - so that they don't end the game early in case that attacker is actually cluing a different word - and allow someone else to contact. The person who clued the right word is then the defender in the next game.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've probably forgotten something here. Feel free to edit or comment if so. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jun 13 '17 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ Unless I'm misremembering, the game doesn't end when the final letter is revealed, because e.g. if you've seen REGIMEN it's still possible that the word will turn out to be REGIMENT. Usually the game doesn't last long beyond that point, though, and often an attacker will post something like "1. That" to point at the letters-so-far. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 13 '17 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ There's a subtlety in the rules about which attacker wins; the winning attacker is the first one to post a clue whose intended answer is the defender's word -- even if another attacker's clue for the same word is contacted, passed, and solved first. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jun 13 '17 at 19:43

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