Project CIA: The Secret Formula

Project CIA: The Secret Formula

A Spy Training Game

House of Games - 1973
3 - 4 Players; Ages 8 - Adult


In Project CIA the players are enemy agents who are attempting to steal a secret formula and escape with it. The play starts with 17 wooden tiles being shuffled and placed on marked locations on the board. Sixteen of the tiles are blank on the reverse side and the seventeenth shows the "Secret Formula". The tiles represent "envelopes". The "guard" is then placed on the guard tower and play begins.

Each player enters by a separate gate. They move according to the roll of two dice and must move that many squares horizontally or vertically (not diagonally). They may only enter buildings or other areas of the board through doors or gates.

If a player moves across a square containing an envelope, they are allowed to take the envelope and look at it. They place the envelopes they have taken face down on the table in front of them.

Players can steal envelopes from each other. When one player lands on or passes though a square occupied by another player, the first player is "knocked out". The second player gets all of the first player's envelopes and the first player misses a turn.

The guard moves in several ways. First, after all players have taken their turn the guard is moved to the next location along its "rounds". The locations are marked on the board. Also, whenever a player rolls doubles for movement they have "set off the alarm". The player does not move and the guard is moved to the location they are in.

If at any time a player finds themselves in the same room or area as the guard they must attempt to escape from the room. This is done by rolling two dice. If the number is high enough for them to leave the room or area then they escape. Otherwise they are caught by the guard and thrown out of the compound. They must re-enter on the next turn through one of the gates. Any envelopes they were carrying are left in the square they were in when caught by the guard. These envelopes can be picked up by any player passing through the square.

The first player to get off of the board while carrying the secret formula is the winner.


An interesting game but not one of my favorites either. It is in many ways just another race game but one without a "track"; the players are free to move in any direction they wish. The movements of the guard and the interactions with the other players make it a bit more complex as well. ("Can I get through this room before the guard arrives?" "Should I go for the envelope in the next room or steal the envelopes from the player in the hall?") However, a bit of luck on the part of one player with their die rolls and with the location of the secret formula can make it an easy win for them without the other players being able to do much about it. Interesting, but more for the theme than for its actual play mechanics.

Project CIA also has a companion game called Project KGB and the two games can be linked into a single larger game.

3 comments on Project CIA: The Secret Formula:

courtney at January 10, 2012 07:59 said:
quite cool
Ty at January 22, 2011 10:56 said:
Hi, I just found this game (less the dice) in my friends basement. We were wondering if was a collectors item. The board is in excellent shape. The box has the usual ripped corner but thats about it. Thanks in advance.
Tiffany at July 11, 2008 18:45 said:
Thanks for the info on this game. I was playing it with my sons, but we didn't have the directions and I couldn't remember what happened when the guard came in the room or how things worked when you rolled doubles. You've definitely helped us out for our next round. :)

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