So, recently (and I say recently but by that I mean within the past six months) I had one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that first?” moments and it was all because of a certain spy game that is currently taking the gaming world by storm.
Yes, I’m talking about Codenames.
I just saw that Geek & Sundry nominated it for the coveted Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) and I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear that because it truly deserves the attention. I haven’t been able to stop raving this game and recommending it to everyone since playing it, and on a recent visit my in-laws (who are not game people) absolutely loved this.
But what’s not to love?
The basic concept behind Codenames is to work in teams to make contact with secret agents by giving clues to help uncover their ‘codenames’ before the other team is able to. Beware of the assassin, who is hiding among the agents and bystanders. Uncovering him will mean automatic loss to your team. But I’m getting ahead of myself a little.
Codenames is composed of tiles that are laid out much like one would lay out the tiles for the game Memory, making a grid on the table. The tiles are two sided, and each side contains a word that ranges from a place (Greece, Rome, Beach, etc.) to a thing (Parachute, Marble, Horse, etc.) to a person (Conductor, Giant, Pirate, etc.) to those things in-between that could mean multiple things, like Sub (sub sandwich or submarine?), Lap (the one you sit on, or the one you make in the pool?), Play (in a park or on a stage?), etc. There is another set of tiles which have grids outlining which tiles in play are to be guessed by each team (there is a red and a blue team).
And here is where the beauty of this game comes into full bloom.
Because of the amount of codename cards (there are 200 double sided cards, meaning 400 total codenames) and the amount of grids (there are 40) the possible combinations of codenames is practically endless (it’s not exactly endless, but I’m not a math genius and you get the drift…it’s a lot) and the fun of combining codenames and clues in order to get your team to guess correctly first is as exhilarating as it is challenging.
You try linking Hook, Dinosaur, Pirate and Tooth using one word. Can you do it?
Every time I play I’m just as in awe as I was the first time at how fun and how different every game is, and for that alone Codenames deserves to be on every game shelf.
You know what other spy related game should be on your shelf? Stolen Treasures! Check out our Stolen Treasures page and grab a copy.