Robert Ludlam's Game of Counter Espionage


Counter Espionage is a spy game designed in cooperation with espionage thriller author Robert Ludlum (who wrote The Icarus Agenda, The Bourne Identity, The Holcroft Covenant and many others.)

A multi-national intelligence group known as "The Club" has been formed containing agents from the spy organizations of many nations with the goal of reducing the threat of nuclear war. The existence of The Club is to be kept top secret, even from the governments of the agencies involved. Now, a double agent is leaking information about The Club and must be stopped.

Each player represents both a Field Agent and a Section Chief from one of the offices of The Club. At the start of the game Identity Cards are given to all of the players. The players then fill out a "Top Secret" sheet containing information from their Identity Cards. The Top Secret sheets are then placed in the Top Secret Folder so that the information from the sheets will show through the holes in the front of the folder. The holes are initially all covered except for the sheet number. One die is rolled and the number shown is the ID number of the player who is the Double Agent. The other sheets are removed from the folder.

The players must now determine who is the Double Agent. They do this by moving around a map of Europe or North America (there are two maps). When two agents are in the same city, one may attempt to gain information from the other. They do this by comparing the Survellience and Counter-Survellience values of the two agents. These values can be modified by playing Supply Cards. If the Survellience is successful, the defending agent must give one piece of information from their information card to the attacking agent. The attacking agent may also remove one of the discs covering a hole in the Top Secret Folder.

When a player thinks they know who the Double Agent is they must move their Station Chief to the location of the suspected agent and play the "De-Activate Double Agent" Supply Card then make an attack on the agent. If the attack is successful the defending agent must reveal their ID number. If the defender is revealed to be the double agent then the player who accused them is the winner. Otherwise they are out of the game.

Play continues until either the Double Agent is identified or until 15 turns have passed, at which point the Double Agent is the winner.


While having many similarities to Clue, Counter Espionage is actually a far more interesting game. Once again players have to slowly uncover the key pieces of information that will allow them to determine the identity of the Double Agent but the amount of information in this game is much larger than that in other games, making this one more difficult. The Supply Cards (things like Sonic Microphones or Low Frequency Jammers) add much to the flavor of the game and make any information gathering attempt a risky proposition. (Do you use the card now or wait till later? Does the opposing agent have the counter for this card?) The game has a good flavor to it and the players get a good feel of being spies on clandestine missions.

There are some minor problems; the Top Secret Folder is a little awkward and if the players aren't careful it might be possible to recognize the Agent by their handwriting on the Top Secret Sheet but overall this is an interesting and fun game.

1 comment on Counter Espionage:

Anonymous at November 6, 2008 20:41 said:
If this game doesn't get you looking over your shoulder nothing will!

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