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- Mechanics: words Association, deduction, team play
- Theme: spies, agents, revealing secret identities
- 2 to 8 or more players, ages 14 and up
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From the manufacturer
- Author: Vlaada Chvátil
- Year: 2016 (August)
- Players: 2–8+ (competitive: 4–8+)
- Age: 10+
- Theme: spies, agents
- Mechanics: team play, clue giving, picture association, deduction
What are these strange symbols on the map? They code for locations where spies must contact secret agents!
Two rival spymasters know the agent in each location. They deliver coded messages telling their field operatives where to go for clandestine meetings. Operatives must be clever. A decoding mistake could lead to an unpleasant encounter with an enemy agent – or worse, with the assassin!
Both teams race to contact all their agents, but only one team can win.
Codenames: Pictures differs from the original Codenames - Pictures in that the agents are no longer represented by a single word, but by an image that contains multiple elements.
-14 agent cards in two colors
-1 double agent card
-4 innocent bystander cards
-1 assassin card
-60 key cards
-1 card stand
-140 cards with 280 pictures
The two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 Agents. Their teammates know the Agents only by their code names. 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 pictures on the board. Their teammates try to guess the pictures of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. Code names pictures: win or lose, it's fun to figure out the clues.
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***)
After playing one round, we jumped on the website to order it.
Each team is split into two parts.
One person on each team has access to the knowledge telling you what "Secret Agents" are placed where on the board.
The board is set up with a bunch of cards that have random words on them.
The person with access to the spies has to think of a single word that can clue the rest of the team in to finding out where their agents are.
You have to be careful how you phrase the word, it could lead to discovery for the other team.
The game is over when one team finds all of their spies, or if a player finds the assassin.
This game is fun for groups with all sorts of sensibilities, but requires a minimum of 4 people to play, unless you are using house rules.
The only negative I can think about this game is you need at least 3 people (1 person giving clues for each team plus 1 person guessing (for both teams). But really, you at least need 4 people for this game, code word giver / guesser for one team and code word giver / guesser for the other team.
We haven't use the sand clock to keep time as making word associations is hard enough as it is. That could make the game way harder. It's tough enough as it is with some word combinations to get a clue together for 2 words.
Speaking of the number of players above, I guess there is a two player variant. Sounds like I know what I'm doing tonight!