It’s time to feature another fun game that’s perfect for family game night, groups and of course, parties! Let’s dive right in with my Codenames Party Game Review 🙂
What I love about this game is that its super accessible, easy to follow and anyone can get into it. Although it can be played with 4 players, it’s perfect for groups of 6 or more!
Concept of Codenames Board Game
Codenames is deduction/word game, where two captains or spymasters attempt to communicate with their teammates by only using one word clues each turn to try and uncover their agents in the field.
The Game Set Up
- Take the code name cards and shuffle them. Randomly take 25 cards and put away the rest.
- Each card is double sided, so choose any side you’d like to use.
- Place the 25 cards in the middle of the table in a 5×5 grid.
- Select which two people will be the captains/spymasters. Have them sit next to each other on one side of the table
- Split your group evenly (Team Red / Team Blue) and have the teammates sit on the opposite side of the table.
- Take the key cards, shuffle them, then draw one card from the top and place it in the stand (any orientation) facing the spymasters ensuring the rest of the team cannot see the card.
- Take the Blue agent cards and the red agent cards and place them in two separate piles.
- Now take the bystander cards and the assassin card and place them on the table.
- Around the key card, there will be 4 red or blue lights. That tells you which team goes first. The team that’s going first will take the extra spy card. This is the double agent card.
- If the blue team goes first, be sure add the blue agent wearing the red glasses and add it to the blue deck. The same card is used when the red team goes first, just flip the card over. This is done so each spymaster has an equal amount of words to the number of agents they need to find.
Double Red Agent
Double Blue Agent
Codenames Game Rules & How To Play
The key card shows which words on the grid are assigned to each team. Blue Squares are for the blue team and Red squares are words for the red team. The X signifies the assassin location. The Pale squares are innocent bystanders.
Each spymaster will first see which words belong to their team. Then they must think of a word to say that will have the team choose the right cards.
The word that the spymaster uses can be used for multiple words on the grid. As an example, if one word can be used to describe 3 cards. The spymaster can say the word “Sky” and “3”
Spymasters are not allowed to say the same word as one of the key cards. Only once that word has been covered up, then that word may be used.
When the clue is given, the team may begin discussing what the spymaster is trying to say.
Once a word is chosen, the team will then point to the word on the grid. If they correct, the spymaster will place the corresponding colored agent on top of the card.
After successfully guessing a card, the team may continue guessing to uncover more agents, up to the number the spymaster gave plus 1. So, in our example of Sky 3, the agents may choose to guess a total of 4 cards during their turn. Keep in mind that teams must make at least 1 guess per turn and do not have to continue making guesses if they’re unsure of what the spymaster is trying to say.
However, if a card is chosen and the word uncovers the other team’s agent, then their turn ends, and the other team gets to place their agent card on the board and begins their turn.
If an innocent bystander is chosen, then that teams turn automatically ends.
If the assassin is chosen, the game ends and the team that chose the assassin card loses the game!
The team that uncovers all their agents, wins the game, even if the last agent is uncovered accidentally by the opposing team.
Etiquette & Tips for Codenames
- Teammates should not be staring at where the spymaster is looking to prematurely guess which word to choose. Spymaster shouldn’t react to anything that’s being said or react to the clues that they’re giving.
- Spymasters is not allowed to lead their teammates. As an example, Spymasters are not allowed to describe how difficult or how easy the next clue is going to be or express any emotion or react in any way during the discussion phase.
- Additionally, if a word is being chosen by the group, right or wrong, no reaction must be given.
- Clues must be centered around the meaning of the word and not use clues that helps spell the word. An example; for the word Table to say the clue “tablet” or “Garden” for Dragon.
- A correct strategy as an example for the word Octopus and Ball, the spymaster can say 8 followed by a 2.
- Also, Spymasters are not allowed to use the number as a clue for a card. An example would be Chivalry 8, for the words Knight and Octopus.
- If a team violates a rule then that team loses a turn, then the opposing team may place one of their agents on the board and begin their turn.
- The sand timer is a good way to control the pace of the game.
My Codenames Party Game Review
Drumroll please! And now it’s time for my Codenames Party Game Review!
This is a fantastic must have party game! The feeling of being able to decipher a clue that a spymaster gives can be so gratifying especially if the clue in question happens to be so abstract 🙂
Like the other games I’ve reviewed, I enjoy the games that makes you try to think how others in think; in this case, how the spymaster thinks.
The charm of the game really comes to life when the spymaster is able to link multiple words at once. It takes so much creativity not only to think of a relatable word but to also stay within the confines of the rules and etiquette.
Another fun moment that you will undoubtedly experience is when a word is incorrectly guessed, but then later on, players will slowly understand what word the clue is pointing to as the board gets smaller and smaller and it most cases…the missing word ends up being the game winner. 😉
It’s a super creative game and is very reminiscent of the game Mysterium. Like the ghost, the spymaster is not allowed to react to the clues that have been given or react to any of the conversations being had.
If you enjoy this game, I highly recommend trying the plethora of versions from Czech Games available right now!
Codenames Game Editions
Over and above the original version, these are stand alone games just different themes to try out.
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