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- For 2-8+ Players
- 15 minute playing time
- Ages 14 and up
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. The game works very well with 4 players if you prefer to guess without help. Or you can add more players if you prefer lively discussion. There is also a cooperative variant where a single team tries to achieve the highest score they can by playing against the game itself.
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|Are Batteries Required||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Item Dimensions||6.3 x 2.8 x 9 in||8.6 x 12 x 1.7 in||8 x 10 x 2 in||6.3 x 1.97 x 9.06 in||1.75 x 8 x 6 in||11.75 x 11.75 x 3 in|
|Item Weight||1.25 lbs||2.3 lbs||2.03 lbs||1.08 lbs||0.65 lb||2.8 lbs|
Top customer reviews
What this game IS, however, is a very solid word game with a little bit of deduction, press your luck, and "party" thrown in.
In short, the game plays like this: two teams, each with a clue-giver (spymaster) and one or more guessers. On the table are 25 random words. Each spymaster is trying to give their team one-word clues that help them relate one or more of the words on the table together (without saying the actual words, of course) so that the guessers can figure out which of the random words are affiliated with their team (only the spymasters know this information). The spymaster hopes their team will pick the words that they intended based on their clue without picking cards affiliated with the enemy team, neutral words, or the "spy" word, which immediately ends the game. Whichever team can identify all their words first wins.
As an example, a clue of "animal" might be great if you're trying to get your team to guess "cat" and "dog", but horrible if the opposing team also controls the "lion" card. On the other hand, maybe the word "pet" gives just enough information about a cat and a dog without also implicating lion. Should you risk it?
A little tricky to explain in one paragraph, maybe, but takes about 2 minutes to teach to a group in person.
Personally, I think this game works best with 4 or 6 players, where each team has a spymaster and 1-2 guessers. We tried playing it with 8 and in my opinion having that many guessers on each team does nothing to enhance the experience of the game. Instead, it felt to me like a lot of people sat and waited around while each of the spymasters tried to come up with good clues, then argued more than was necessary about which cards to guess.
Despite the fact that this game appears "meh" based on the concept, it's a lot of fun to play. Spymasters will agonize over what clue can safely implicate their own cards on the table without overlapping (and therefore helping) those of the opposing team. Teams will struggle to come up with the logic that the spymaster *must* have used, some wrong guesses will be made, hilarity (and frustration) will likely ensue.
There is some downtime when the spymasters take a while to come up with their clues, so be prepared for that. Otherwise this game is a blast and easily one of the best in my collection under the $20 price point. I have no doubt I'll be able to pull this out with any type of group (gaming, friends, family, work, etc.) and have a great time. It is a must buy at retail price ($20) or less.
(***Note: This review is for the original Codenames, and NOT Codenames: Pictures. Amazon combined the listings after I wrote this review***)
Although the theme is spies, the game play is all about word associations and knowing your team. The code master is allowed 1 word followed by a number. Example turn would be code master says "Tree:3" for Apple, Leaf, Paper. Multiple worded clues are allowed if it is a proper noun (New York).
The game is a blast. You use 25 (5x5) cards each time, each card is double sided. The good thing is even if you reuse words in future games, a quick shuffle/flip sides makes the card association unique each play through giving this game huge replay-ability. Although this game can be tough and some code masters may have a hard time getting 3 or even 2 associations, I highly recommend this game.
Since this is a Vine review, I want to explain that I bought both of these games before the holidays and later was offered a free copy of the Pictures version through Vine after we had played it a few nights. I decided to get the second set since it was a hit so I could share with the family that loved it so much. This was our successful winter holiday 2016 game and I'll take it to the beach for our next family gathering this summer.
This game is great for medium to large groups of people and for all types of preferences:
Group Size: We often have 10-20 people over, and it was hard to find a game that could accommodate everyone at once. Codenames is great for that! I would say that you need at least 6-8 people ideally to get the most fun out of it.
Personal Preferences: We've had some friends who don't like strategy or competitive games like Settlers or Ticket to Ride as well as those who don't like steep learning curves. All those friends love Codenames! It's very easy to teach and you don't have to feel like you really have to strategize too much. The team captains do have a little more pressure on them to give good clues, but in large groups there are always people up to that task.
Codenames definitely staying in my collection of board games!