In Codenames, players split up into two teams of similar size and skill, One team is blue, the other is red. Each team must choose one player to be their spymaster, these players take turns giving there team mates one word clues corrresponding with words in a 5x5 grid. The first team to make contact with all of their field opperatives is the winner, all the while trying to avoid picking innocent bystanders, opposition opperatives and most importantly the Assasin.



The game doesn't have a traditional sense of luck in it, the game relies on the knowledge and thought processes of the people playing it. For example the spy master may think of the word Hospital for Code (as in Code Blue), however this may not be the first thing your team mates think of when they hear hospital. This is where the risk of linking words together too vaugely comes into play.



Codenames is at its best when players are able to string together a number of words into one clue. If you are able to think outside the box and leaveage on your knowledge of the people you are playing with and how they think you can strategize accordingly.



There are a few more complex tactics know as 'expert clues' that can lead to some spectacular finishes, for example you could say cruising 0 so indicate that none of your remaining clues have a connection to the word cruising, allowing your team mates to guess, but more often than not a game can be successfully completed without the use of these.


Replay Value:

The game includes 200 double sided code name cards, Along with the 40 key cards that can each be orientated 4 different ways so you will be hard pressed to find yourself bored with the amount of combinations. The game is also what I like to call a Pringles game, once you pop you can't stop. You can very easily loose track of time playing this game.



The components are simple but nice, the agent cards used to cover the words are made of a nice thick card board making it easy to pick up and place, which is good seeing as though that is what you will be doing most of the game. The key and stand work fine but I would definitely suggest the smart phone companion app which includes some very clever features.


Learning Curve:

This has got to be one of the easiest games i have ever had to explain to new players. Esentially anyone can pick it up within the first round of the game but the spymasters do have certain rules they need to stick to so picking someone that knows this is probably a good idea if teaching new people. 


Final Thoughts:

All in all Codenames is a fantastic party game that I would recommend for players from casual to avid. The game is quick to play, easy to learn and with near limitless replay value this has to be my top game of 2015.


Brent is the founder of OzBoardGamer, he has a passion for the hobby and especially loves games for 2 to 5 players

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