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  • 2 Screens
  • 110 Keyword cards (440 words)
  • 4 Interception Tokens
  • 4 Miscommunication Tokens
  • 48 Code cards
  • 50 Note Sheets
  • 1 Sand Timer
  • 1 Rulebook

A Word About Keyword Cards

Do not look at or shuffle the Keyword cards before playing. These cards have a color key to differentiate the front side from the back side. This way, you can play with all the blue keywords before flipping the cards, and avoid playing with the same keyword twice.

Also note that the scrambling effect on the words makes sure you don't accidentally read the other words on the card when you set up your screen.


In DECRYPTO, two teams of 2 to 4 players each compete against one another to see who the best codemasters are. Your goal is to transmit codes to your teammates without letting the opposing team intercept them.

Therefore, your communications should be clear enough for your team to understand, but vague enough to confound your opponents. You are also attempting to intercept your opponents' codes.


You are on the White Team with Alice and Bob. Bob is the first "Encryptor". He is trying to transmit the 3-digit code on the random card he drew. To do so, he comes up with 3 clues, one for each digit: "Mexico", "Insect", "Horror".

To figure out what Bob's three clues mean, your team must use your 4 secret keywords (visible only to your team). Your keywords for this game are:

1 black 2 dragonfly 3 cocktail 4 sombrero

Which three digits is Bob trying to make you guess?

The "Mexico" clue probably refers to the keyword 4: "sombrero". The "insect" clue obviously relates to the keyword 2: "dragonfly". Finally, the "horror" clue points to the keyword 1: "black".

Bob's code is most likely 4.2.1.

Since the clues are given aloud, and keywords do not change throughout the entire game, each team will gradually reveal information about their keywords to the opposing team. This will potentially allow your opponents to intercept the codes you're trying to transmit.

In the previous example, after the first round, the opposing team knows that your fourth keyword is connected to "Mexico". If, later in the game, you use the clue "amigos", your opponents could easily associate it with Mexico and thus guess that you were once again referencing the fourth keyword.


  1. Split up into two teams as evenly as possible.

  2. All members of a team sit on the same side of the table. All members of the opposing team sit on the opposite side of the table.

  3. Each team takes 1 Screen, then draws 4 Keyword cards and places them in the appropriate spaces of their Screen WITHOUT SHOWING them to the opposing team.

  4. Each team takes the Code Deck that is the same color as their Screen (black or white).

  5. Each team takes 1 Note Sheet. You will be able to record your clues and those you hear from the opposing team on your Note Sheet. Choose a name for your team and write it in the space provided.

    The Note Sheet is double sided. Keep in mind that one side is for your team and the other side is for the opposing team. The edges of the Note Sheet match the colors of the Screens!

  6. Place the Sand Timer, Interception tokens, and Miscommunication tokens in the center of the table.

Object of the Game

Your team wins the game if you collect 2 Interception tokens. You collect 1 Interception token each time you successfully intercept the opposing team's code.

Your team loses the game if you collect 2 Miscommunication tokens. You receive 1 Miscommunication token each time your team does not successfully decrypt your Encryptor's code.


Each round, the Encryptor must come up with new clues. You must follow these guidelines when creating your clues:

  • You can choose the form your clues take, whether that's a single word or complete sentence. If your team wants, you can even hum, dance, or mime it!

  • Be sure to separate each of your 3 clues. There can be no confusion between what constitutes your first, second, and third clue.

  • The Clues must refer to the meaning of the Keywords. The Clues must never refer to the spelling ("C" to hint at "Cursed"), the number of letters ("8" or "8 letters" to hint at "Scorpion"), the position on the Screen ("musketeers" to hint at the word in the third position), or pronunciation ("face" to make your team guess "Place").

  • The Clues must be based on information that is publicly available. You can certainly refer to obscure Croatian poets of the 17th Century-it's risky, but allowed! However, you may never refer to "private" items, like what you ate for lunch or little sweet nothings between you and your spouse.

  • If you are asked, you must spell out your clues.

  • Any information you give to your team as an Encryptor must be given to the opposing team as well.

  • You cannot change, modify, or improve a clue once you have finished reading it aloud.

  • You may never use the same clue more than once per game.

  • You may never read out the code on the Code card or use the Keywords as clues (or their translation in another language), not even as a clue for a different Keyword.

Note Sheet

Game Play

The game takes place over a series of rounds (usually between 4 to 6 rounds). At the beginning of each round, each team selects a player to be their Encryptor. This role rotates, moving from team member to team member.

During each round, both Encryptors will give clues for their codes, then both teams will try to guess both codes, starting with the White Team's code and followed by the Black Team's code.

Each round is divided into the following steps. The order is very (very!) important:

  1. Each team's Encryptor draws one Code card from their team's deck and reads it quietly while keeping it hidden from all the other players. Their goal is to get their teammates to say this code.

  2. Using the Note Sheet, each team's Encryptor writes three clues on the three lines for the current round. Write the clue for the first digit of the code on the top line, and so on. Use the side of the Note Sheet that corresponds to your team's color.

    To keep the game from dragging, try limiting the time as follows: As soon as either Encryptor has finished writing their clues, they turn over the Sand Timer. The opposing Encryptor must finish writing their clues before the Sand Timer runs out; otherwise, they won't have three complete clues to give!

  3. The White Team's Encryptor reads their three clues aloud, then hands the sheet to their teammates. The Black Team writes down the three clues on the white side of their sheet (in the current round's section).

  4. Both teams discuss the clues, trying to decipher the code. When a team thinks they have solved it, they write the number they think corres- ponds to each clue at the end of each line (in the first of the two columns of the Note Sheet).

    Of course, the Encryptor who has just read their clues does not participate in the discussion! They must not make any reaction to their teammates' conversation.

  5. Once both teams have written down their numbers, the Black Team attempts to intercept: they read the 3-digit code that they wrote down, hoping to match the White Team Encryptor's code.

    Important: During the first round, neither team tries to intercept the other team's code. In any case, they have no clues to help them intercept it.

  6. The White Team now attempts to decipher the code: they read the 3-digit code they wrote down, hoping to match their Encryptor's code.

  7. Finally, the White Team's Encryptor reveals their Code card.

If the Black Team is correct (i.e., they wrote the correct numbers in the correct order), they intercept the code and receive an Interception token. They do not receive any penalty if their code DOES NOT match.

If the White Team is incorrect, they misinterpreted the code and receive a Miscommunication token. They do not receive any reward if their code DOES match.

Therefore, it is possible that one team receives a Miscommunication token (because they misinterpreted their Encryptor's clues), while the opposing team receives an Interception token (because they successfully intercepted their opponents' code) in the same round.

Use the second column at the end of each clue on the Note Sheet to enter the correct code.

At the bottom of your sheet, record the clues for this round in the section corresponding to their number. This way, you will be able to see the clues that relate to each number at a glance!

Repeat steps 3 through 7 by reversing the teams: the Black Team's Encryptor now reads their three clues aloud, players on both teams try to decipher the code, etc.

End of the Round

After both teams have revealed their codes, the round ends. Check to see if one of the teams has won or lost the game:

  • If a team has 2 Interception tokens, they win the game.
  • If a team has 2 Miscommunication tokens, they lose the game.
    If at least one of these two conditions is met, the game ends. Otherwise, start a new round.

Put both Code cards used this round back into their respective decks and shuffle. It is possible to draw the same code from one round to the next. Then, choose a new Encryptor for each team.


  • If a team has 2 Interception tokens and 2 Miscommunication tokens at the end of a round (winning and losing at the same time);
  • OR, if both teams collect their second Interception token in the same round;
  • OR, if both teams collect their second Miscommunication token in the same round;
  • OR, if neither team has won or lost by the end of the eighth round;

Here is how to determine the winning team:

Count the points. An Interception token is worth +1 point and a Miscommunication token is worth -1 point. The team with the most points wins.

If there is still a tie, each team tries to guess their opposing team's four Keywords. The team with the most correct answers prevails. In case of another tie, both teams share the victory!

Example Of Play

Let's continue with the example from the "Overview". It's time for the second round. Alice will encrypt for the White Team and Eve for the Black Team. They each draw a Code card and simultaneously write their clues on their Note Sheets.

Alice has drawn the code 3.4.2. She must convey these three digits, in that specific order, to Bob.

The White Team's Keywords are still: 1 black 2 dragonfly 3 cocktail 4 sombrero.

She knows that Mallory and Eve may attempt an inter- ception once she reads her clues out loud. They already have some information, since during the first round, Bob came up with the clues "Mexico", " Insect", and "Horror" for code 4 (sombrero), 2 (dragonfly), 1 (black). Alice needs to confuse the other players.

  • To communicate the keyword number 3 to Bob, she writes down the clue "evening with friends" on the first line.
  • For the keyword number 4, she writes "parasol", since sombreros are used to protect against the sun.
  • For the keyword number 2, she writes "Odonata", the order of animals that dragonflies belong to.

Alice reads her clues aloud and passes the Note Sheet to Bob. Eve and Mallory write down Alice's clues on the white side of their sheet. Both teams use the white side because the clues were given by the White Team's Encryptor.

Bob understands the connection between "evening with friends" and "cocktail" very well; the same with "parasol" and "sombrero". It's too easy!

However, he has no idea what his teammate Alice wants to tell him with the "Odonata" clue. He doesn't know this word. He guesses 1.

Therefore, he writes 3.4.1 in the first column.

On their side of the table, Eve and Mallory think about the clues. They believe that the clue "evening with friends" is tied to the keyword 1, thinking that "horror" is related to "horror films", which is a typical evening activity for teenagers.

They believe that "parasol" relates to the keyword 4, since Mexico (a clue from the first round) is a sunny country. The keyword 4 might be Sun...

They have no idea whatsoever what "Odonata" refers to and think it might be related to the keyword 3 since they have no previous clues.

Therefore, they write 1.4.3 in the first column.

The Black Team reads their guesses aloud, 1.4.3. Then Bob does likewise, 3.4.1.

Alice, satisfied that she confused the other players but disappointed that Bob didn't understand her, reveals to everyone that the actual code was 3.4.2.

The Black Team doesn't collect a token, since they failed to intercept the code.

The White Team collects a Miscommunication Token, since communication between the teammates broke down.

Both teams write down the correct numbers for each clue in the second column. Then they note the clues in the boxes at the bottom of the sheet, grouping together all of the clues related to each Keyword number.

On the other side of the table, Eve drew the code 2.3.4.

The Black Team's Keywords are:

1 antiquity 2 bone 3 morning 4 nightmare.

During the previous round, Mallory had drawn the code 4.3.2, giving the clues "Night", "Dawn", and "Dog". Eve understood clearly and responded 4.3.2.

Eve now has to find new clues for the code 2.3.4. She comes up with:

  • "skeleton"
  • "rise"
  • and "Freddy", referring to the movie "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in which the character of Freddy attacks his victims in their nightmares.

Mallory understands Eve's references perfectly and writes 2.3.4 in the first column.

Bob and Alice consider their options. They associate "skeleton" with "dog", since dogs eat bones. They associate "rise" with "dawn" since the Sun rises at dawn.

They start to think that the Keyword 3 is Sun. Finally, they know that Freddy strikes at night. They write down their attempted interception in the first column: 2.3.4.

Eve is satisfied that her teammate Mallory understood, but disappointed that the White Team successfully intercepted. Maybe it was too easy?

The White Team collects an Interception Token. The Black Team doesn't collect any tokens: there is no reward for understanding your teammates' code, just a lack of punishment...

Now the second round is over. The Black Team doesn't have any tokens, and the White Team has 1 Miscommunication token and 1 Interception token.

The next time the White Team intercepts a code, they win the game, but the next time they miss a code, they lose!

Both teams record the clues in the boxes at the bottom of the Note Sheet.

A new round begins. Both teams return their Code card to their respective decks and shuffle.

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