Codenames – The Board Game

Hello again all.

Hey there!

Being the avid board game player that I am, I felt like writing about one this week.

Can you guess which game that is?

Well, we did read the title.

Smart (alec), as always.

The game is Codenames.

Codenames is a word deduction game, for 2 to 8 players (best with 4, 6 or 8 players in my opinion), created by Vlaada Chvatil.

The players are divided into two teams. Both teams square off against one another, trying to find their own team’s hidden words before the other team does.

In each team, one player is assigned the “Master Spy” title, and all other players in that team are assigned the “Spy” title. The master spy sits across the table from his teammates (the spies in his team); both master spies sit on the same side of the table, whereas both team’s spies sit on the opposite side of the table.

25 words are placed in the center of table, in a 5×5 grid. The master spies have a plastic stand in which they place one of the many “Word Assigning” cards, facing them. This card must only be visible to them; the spies must have the backside of the card facing them, so that they cannot see where the words have been assigning.

This card assigns the 25 words on the table as follows: 9 words are assigned to one team (let’s say blue), 8 words are assigned to the other team (let’s say red), 7 words are assigned to no team (neutral words), and 1 word is assigned as the assassin (your team loses if you pick this word at any point during the game).

Below is the grid of 25 words, the assigning card standing up (bottom left, directly in front of the hourglass), and the coloured rectangle markers (bottom right)—which I will explain shortly—:

CodenamesSetUp.jpg

The team with 9 words begins the game (they have one more word than the other team to guess seeing as they have the advantage of playing first).

So, how does the master spy give hints to his spies to help them guess the words?

Great question:

On his/her turn, the master spy is allowed to say only 1 word, followed by one number. The word is meant to orient his/her teammates to some of their words on the table; the number is meant to indicate how many cards on the table relate to the previously said word.

For example, if your team has the words TENNIS, BASKETBALL, and SOCCER, your hint could be as follows:

SPORT – 3.

This tells your teammates that there are 3 words of the 25 words on the table that you must guess that are related to SPORTS.

The spies discuss openly, deducting which words they think are the 3 that the master spy is alluding to. Once they have decided, one player touches the first card they would like to guess—normally the one your team is the most certain of. The master spy then puts a corresponding coloured rectangle marker (blue if it’s a blue team’s word, red if it’s a red team’s word, white if it is a neutral word, black if it is the assassin) over the chosen word. If the team guessed correctly, they now attempt to guess the second word; however, if the team guesses incorrectly, at any point, their turn is over, and they cannot guess any more words this turn. The turn then passes to the other team’s master spy, who must give one word and one number, hinting in the same fashion as described above.

Play continues like this until one team has covered all of their team’s words on the table, in which case they win, or if one team guesses the assassin, in which case they lose.

You mentioned an hourglass?

You don’t miss anything, do you?

Explain!

The 1-minute hourglass is turned over whenever a player feels that a decision is taking too long to be made. The team/player targeted by the hourglass must make his decision before the sand runs out.

Happy?

Grand.

Codenames is one of my favourite, easy-going—yet challenging—social games, and I got to play 7 times last night during the weekly game night that I host at my house. We had a blast, laughed like crazy, and I got beat in almost every time—but it was still a highly enjoyable experience.

If you like games such as Scrabble, Bananagrams, or any other word game, I strongly suggest you get this game; it is loads of fun, for families or friends, of all ages.

Have you ever played Codenames? If so, what did you think of it? If not, what is your favourite word game?

Foot-side: Codename hint for you : SUBSCRIBE – 1.

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