Covert is a game where players take on the roles of spies working covertly to accomplish missions.
Over several rounds, players will collect the equipment needed and deploy their agents all across Europe in an effort to complete these missions. Utilize your assets. Make your move. Don't let anyone stand in your way.
- 1 Board
- 20 Dice
- 12 Agent Pawns
- 60 Intel Cubes
- 48 Agency Cards
- 60 Mission Cards
- 6 Character Cards
- 4 Player Screens
- 4 Turn Order Tokens
- 4 Reroll Tokens
- 12 Cipher Tokens
- 40 Code Cards
- 16 Special Operations Tokens
- 1 Bag
Place the board in the middle of the table.
Each player is dealt a random Character Card (or players can choose if they all agree). This shows the leader of their group of spies, and will give each player a special ability that only they possess. Each player takes a Player Screen, and the following in their chosen color: 5 Dice, 3 Agent pawns, 1 Reroll Token, and 15 Intel Cubes.
Shuffle the Agency Cards. Each player, in turn, will draw three cards and place an Agent in the matching city. This is their starting position.
Two-player Game Only: Take six Intel Cubes of each of the unused colors. Next, draw 12 Agency Cards, one at a time, and place one of these cubes in the matching city, alternating colors.
Once all players have placed their Agents, reshuffle all of the Agency Cards together and deal each player two cards (which they keep secret in their hands).
Deal six face-up Agency Cards, one at a time, in the Region Spaces along the edge of the board. Place the remainder of the deck face-down near these six cards as a draw deck.
Shuffle and deal each player three Mission Cards. Each player chooses two of these, places them behind his screen, and returns the remaining card to the bottom of the deck. Place the deck face-down near the board. Flip the top three cards face-up next to the draw deck.
Shuffle the Code Cards and deal two to each player. Split the remaining cards into two decks of approximately equal size, and place them face-down (Equipment side up) near the board. Players keep their Code Cards hidden behind their screen (Code side up).
Shuffle the Cipher Tokens and randomly place them in two lines of six tiles each.
Place the Turn Order Tokens next to the board. You will need one for each player in the game (i.e., in a three player game, use numbers one through three). Return the remaining tokens to the box. Stack the tokens in numerical order, so that the number 1 is on top of the stack.
Put all of the Special Operations Tokens into the bag. Place the bag on the table, near the Special Operations folder shown on the board.
To determine the start player, all players roll their dice in front of them, and the player who rolled the most dice of a single number goes first. If there is a tie, the tied player with the highest total value of dice goes first. Alternatively, the player who says "I am a super secret super spy" in the best Sean Connery voice goes first.
Note: If this is your first time playing Covert, you should read the entire rulebook, but you can ignore the attached white notes on each page.
These attached white notes are a summary of the game rules and are meant to help refresh your memory on the rules and as an aid when teaching the game to new players.
In Covert, you control a team of spies. You will earn points by completing Missions and breaking Codes.
The game is played over multiple rounds, and each round is played in the following order:
- Roll and Place Dice
- Break Codes
- Dice Resolution
I. Roll and Place Dice
All players simultaneously roll their dice in their play area, and place them so they are visible to all players. (It is helpful for each player to then line up their dice in numerical order).
Note: Each player has one Reroll Token that can be used at any time during the game.
To use it, the player discards the token from the game and rerolls as many of their dice as they would like.
Starting with the player who was last in turn order the previous round (or the start player in the first round), and continuing clockwise around the table, each player will place one die at a time onto the board.
Dice are placed on the spaces on the four Action Circles, the Special Operations folder, or on the Decoder.
If placing on one of the four Action Circles, a die must be placed on an open space and the face of the die must match the space where it is placed. If there is already a die on that Action Circle, then any new dice placed must be adjacent to a die already on the circle.
Example: Sam wants to move his y"- Agents this round, so he needs to place a die on the Movement Action Circle. Since a 2 has already been placed here, he would need to place a 1 or a 3.
Any die can be placed on the Special Operations folder. The number on the die does not matter, and any number of dice can be placed on this space.
When a player places a die on the Special Operations folder, they immediately draw one Special Operations Token from the bag and place it behind their screen.
The player will be able to activate its special ability on a future turn.
When used, return the token to the bag. See Special Operations for more information.
Dice placed on the Decoder will be used in order to break a Code. See Break Codes for more information.
When it is a player's turn to place a die, if they have no dice to place or do not wish to place any more dice, then they instead take the Turn Order Token with the lowest number available.
This will be their position in turn order for the Break Codes phase and the Dice Resolution phase. Once a player takes a Turn Order Token, they can no longer place dice this round.
After all players have taken a Turn Order Marker, then move to the Break Codes phase.
II. Break Codes
Starting with the player with the #1 Turn Order Token, and continuing in turn order, each player tries to break the codes shown on their Code Cards.
Each player has two Code Cards, each with a series of numbers on them. In order to break a code, the player needs to get the Cipher Tiles into the correct order.
In turn order, each player will attempt to break their codes in the following way:
They may swap the position of two adjacent Cipher Tiles one time. Tiles are adjacent if they are next to each other in the same row, or if they are directly above and below each other in separate rows.
The numbers on the ends of each row can also be swapped (i.e., the 6 and 1 in the top row of the below example could be swapped). Although the numbers on the ends of rows can be swapped, they are not considered adjacent for the purpose of breaking a code.
If they had placed any dice on the Decoder, they may place them on top of Cipher Tiles, thus changing the number to whatever the die shows.
If they were able to break a Code, they place the completed Code Card (Equipment side up) next to their Character Card.
Whether they were able to break any Codes or not, any dice placed here are taken back into their play area for use in the next round.
Note: Each die can only be used to break a single code.
Lastly, they draw new Code Cards to replace any that were complet- ed and place them behind their screen. When drawing new Code Cards, they may choose from either of the decks.
Example: Carrie has a Code Card showing 164. During the Roll and Place Dice phase she had placed a die showing a 1 on the Decoder.
The Cipher Tokens currently show the following:
On her turn, she swaps the positions of the 5 in the top row and the 6 in the bottom row.
She then places her 1 die that she had placed on the Decoder on top of the leftmost 4 in the top row, thus changing it to a 1.
She now has 1 6 4 in order and breaks her Code Card as described above.
After all players have had a chance to Break Codes, move to the Dice Resolution phase.
III. Dice Resolution
Starting with the player with the #1 Turn Order Token, and continuing in turn order, each player performs one Action on their turn. Dice can be resolved in any order. To track Actions, simply remove your dice from the Action Circle as you take an action.
Actions can be a single die, or multiple dice, depending on where they were placed. This continues until all players have resolved all of their dice.
The Action Circles
A player can complete one Mission Card for each die they have on this Action Circle. To complete a Mission Card, the player must satisfy all conditions on the card:
If the Mission requires certain Equipment, the player must discard the needed Agency Card(s).
If the Mission shows a city name, then the player must have an Agent in that city.
If the Mission shows a Region symbol, then the player must have an Agent in any city in that Region.
If the Mission shows an Agency Card icon, then the player must discard any Agency Card.
Example: Nick is completing the Mission Card shown, To do so, he shows that he has an Agent in the city of Venice, an Agent in a city in the orange Region, and he discards an Agency Card with a Recording Device on it.
Action: Completing a single Mission is considered an Action.
A player may take one face-up or face-down Mission Card for each die they have in this Action Circle.
Mission Cards are kept hidden behind the player's screen. A player can have three Mission Cards at any one time. If a player draws a new Mission Card when they already have three, then they must discard one of their Mission Cards.
Action: Drawing a single Mission Card is considered an action.
For each die in the Agency Card Circle, a player can take one face-up Agency Card. In order to take an Agency Card, the player must have an Agent in a city matching the Region Space where the card is.
Example: Sam has one die in the Agency Card Circle. He has agents in London, Bonn, and Rome, so he could draw the card from either the Purple or Green Region Spaces.
A player may instead choose to use two dice on the Agency Card Circle in order to draw any one face-up Agency Card, or one from the face- down draw deck.
Action: Drawing a single card is considered an Action. Based on which card is drawn, the Action could use either one or two dice, as described above.
After drawing a card, immediately replace it with the top card from the draw deck. If the draw deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and form a new draw deck.
Agency Cards taken are kept secret in a player's hand. Players have a hand limit of seven Agency Cards, and must discard down to seven at any time that they exceed the limit.
Agency Cards show three different pieces of information: a piece of Equipment, a flight tag for a specific city, and a Special Ability. Each Agency Card can be used as one of these things.
Whichever way an Agency Card is used, it is discarded immediately. Fly- ing to a city and the Special Operations are done on a player's turn, and are in addition to their normal turn of placing or resolving dice. There is no limit to the number of Special Operations and Fly Actions that can be performed.
For each die on the Movement Action Circle, a player can move each of their Agents one space (connected city). When an Agent leaves a city, they place one of their Intel Cubes in that city.
If a player does not have any Intel Cubes left, then they do not place any cubes at this time. NOTE: There can never be more than one Intel Cube of a color in the same city.
Example: Carrie has two dice on the Movement Action Circle. When she chooses to move, she will be able to move all of her Agents up to two spaces on the board. She moves her first Agent from Berlin to Prague and then Viennac, placing an Intel Cube in both Berlin and Prague.
Action: A player can resolve any number of dice as a single Action. For example, if Kallen had three dice on the Movement Action Circle, on his turn he could move all of his Agents up to three spaces, or move them one or two spaces and resolve the remaining dice on a future turn.
Note: Any number of Agents can be in the same city at the same time. These are big cities, and I trust that you can keep yourself hidden.
When a player moves into a city with any Intel Cubes that are not their own, they pick them up and place them on their Character Card. (Players never pick up Intel Cubes of their own color).
If a player collects their second Intel Cube of the same color, they immediately return those two cubes to the appropriate player (or discard them in a two-player game if they do not belong to their opponent), and take the Agency Card from the Region Space matching the city where they are, or draw one random Agency Card from the draw deck.
Example: Nick already has one green Intel Cube on his Character Card. On his turn, he moves one of his agents to Kiev and picks up a green Intel Cube. He returns these cubes to the green player and can now take one free Agency Card.
He can choose to either take the card in the red Region Space (since she is in Kiev), or take a face-down Agency Card.
Completed Missions and Codes
Completed Mission Cards are placed face-up and tucked partially beneath the player's Character Card and previously completed Missions, and will score points at the end of the game. They may also provide an in-game benefit (shown at the bottom of the card).
If a completed Mission Card shows a piece of Equipment at the bottom of the card, then this piece of Equipment can be used to satisfy future Mission Cards instead of discarding an Agency Card.
If a completed Mission Card shows a Region icon at the bottom of the card, then this Region icon can be used to satisfy needing an Agent in a matching city or Region on future Mission Cards.
Completed Code Cards are placed Equipment side up to the left of the player's Character Card. Completed Code Cards show a piece of Equipment that, like completed Mission Cards, can be used to complete future Missions.
However, if Equipment from a completed Code Card is used to complete a Mission, it is discarded and shuffled back into the Code Card draw deck, and is therefore a one-time benefit.
Instead of using a completed Code Card to complete a future Mission, a player can instead keep the Code Card in their play area, and this will be worth two points at the end of the game.
Note: If a Mission Card shows the icon requiring any Agency Card, the player must discard an Agency Card and cannot use symbols from completed Missions and Codes to satisfy that condition.
Agency Cards and Special Operations Tokens can be discarded in order to activate their Special Abilities. Special Abilities can only be activated on a player's turn, either when placing or resolving dice (exceptions: Espionage and First).
Activating a Special Ability is in addition to a player's normal turn. There is no limit to the number of Special Abilities a player can activate on their turn.
+1: Add one pip to a die when placing dice on the Action Circles or the Decoder. (6+1 = 1)
-1: Subtract one pip from a die when placing dice on the Action Circles or the Decoder. (1-1 = 6)
Move x3: Up to three movement points to be used between one or more of your Agents.
Espionage: When any player (including yourself) uses an Agency Card for any reason (complete a Mission, fly to a city, or Special Ability), you may take one of the used Agency Cards into your hand.
Sneak Attack: You may place two dice this turn instead of one.
First: This allows a player to resolve a single Action before the normal turn order begins in Dice Resolution, or to Break Codes first.
If multiple players want to activate this ability, the player closest to first in turn order is the player who gets to activate the ability first. If, after that player does his action, the other player(s) still want to use the ability, they may.
Code Breaker: One additional Cipher Tile swap during the Break Codes phase.
Search: Draw the top three cards from the Agency Card or Mission Card deck. Keep one and put the other two on the bottom of the deck.
After all players have activated all of their Actions for the round (i.e., they have all of their dice back), player return their Turn Order Tokens, and a new round begins with all players rolling their dice.
The player who was last in turn order the previous round will place a die first in the next round, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table. This process continues for the remainder of the game.
End of the Game
When a player completes their sixth Mission, finish the current round. After the final round, each player has the opportunity to complete one last Mission Card if they are able.
No other Actions are taken, and dice are not placed, but Special Abilities from Agency Cards and Special Operations Tokens may be activated.
These final Missions are completed in the same turn order as the final round. After the final Missions have been completed, the game ends.
Note: When completing the final Missions, character abilities cannot be used. Players score points as follows:
- Points on Completed Missions
- Two points per Code Card they completed and still have in their play area
The player with the most points is the winner.
In the case of a tie, the tied player who completed the most Mission Cards is the winner. If there is still a tie, the tied player who completed the single highest value Mission Card is the winner.