We recently received Codenames as part of the Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club and when I had some friends round for dinner recently, we put our spymaster skills to the test.
The game is designed to be played by 2-8 players aged over 14 years of age. Although having now played the game, I think my 8 year old would be able to play with me fairly easily. There’s no board with Codenames, it’s more of a card game but you will need space to lay out a gird of 5×5 cards. The game comes with 16 agent cards in blue and red, 1 double agent card, 7 innocent bystander cards, 1 assassin card, 40 key cards, key card stand, timer and 200 double-sided codename cards.
The game also comes with 5 plastic ziplock style bags, I think they might be to store the cards in when you’re not using the game, but I’m not sure.
Ideally you should play Codenames in teams, ideally with a minimum of four people, but there are games instructions for a two and three player game included too. It’s rare for me to have more people around so we’ve only managed to play the three player game as yet.
The idea of the game is that two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. The Spymasters give one word clues that can point to one or more words on the board and their team has to guess the word of the right coloured agents, whilst avoiding those of the opposing team and innocent bystanders.
When playing Codenames as a 3 player game, you have a Red and a Blue Spymaster, and the third player ends up playing for both teams in turn.
The Spymasters can see The Key which shows which team goes first and where each coloured agents are placed on the board. The field operatives cannot see this key.
As the operative guesses they placed a hand on the codename they believe the spymaster is referring to and if correct the codenames are replaced by the relevant coloured agents.
Play continues until one team have found all of their agents.
I’m not entirely sure that Codenames works very well as a 3 player game, and it certainly hasn’t enthused those of us who have played it as yet. We know each other well, so were on the same wave length and guessed the agents easily. Maybe if you were playing with teams who didn’t know each other so well, the game would last longer and be more of a challenge. With more players perhaps it would also work better. For us, it wasn’t as much fun as I’d hoped, but I’ll be interested to see what my son and his friends think of it in future. I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t a game for children really.
If you fancy trying it for yourselves I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link below for your reference. If you’ve tried it and liked it, please let me know.
disclosure: we were sent the game mentioned as part of the Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club. My comments remain my own honest opinions