Game review: Codenames

The game Codenames as the box boast is the “Number 1 Party Game on BoardGameGeek” and there is a reason why. It is a social word game that has surprisingly simple rules which can be taught in less than five minutes. But with a deep and challenging game play at the same time. Best of all it provides hours of laughter and entertainment when the players give hilariously silly answers. A major requisite for a fantastic party game.

Codenames is a fun and competitive party game for a team of 2 to 8 players preferably ages 14 and above. The wordplay game set includes 16 agent cards divided in two colors, 1 double agent card, 7 innocent bystander cards, 1 assassin card, 40 key cards, 1 rulebook, 1 card stand, two hundred cards with 400 codenames, and a timer. This sand timer can be flipped whenever a player is taking too long which elicits pressure and adding more excitement to the game.

This game can be played by a large range of people perfect for family gatherings or a party with friends. The premise is simple. First, you draw out 25 words which represent the codenames of secret agents and arrange them in a 5 by 5 grid. Then players will be divided into two teams either red or blue team and will be playing as operatives with each team choosing a team leader or the spymaster. The team leaders will go on to choose a key card at the beginning of the game and the team whose color borders the key card will go first. The key card can only by seen by the team leader’s and shows them which codenames on the grid belong to which team.

Members of the team play as part of two rival spy networks communicating in codes to contact their secret agents while avoiding the deadly assassin. The team leader will provide one word and one number as clues which can lead to multiple words on the board. The team members then try to guess words and must be of the right color. Aside from the red and blue card for each team, there is also a beige card representing the innocent bystander.  When a player, unfortunately, picked the bystander they will have to stop guessing and it will now be the other team’s turn. Players also have to avoid the deadly assassin because once they picked the assassin, the game is now over. The first team to be able to contact all of their secret agents based on the clues the team leader gives will win.

Codenames is an exciting and challenging game that is easy to play with a few simple rules. It is tense and silly at the same time and a great way to bond and socialize.