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‘Codenames’ Might Be the Best Party Game, And It’s Almost Half Off Right Now

3 Minute Read
Feb 6 2023

If you have a board gamer friend, they know and love Codenames. And after playing it once, it’s not hard to see why.

Invariably, anytime I am going to a game night with a new group, I bring Codenames. It’s simple to learn and requires just enough brain power that you can play it even with a few drinks. It’s the perfect party game.

How to Play Codenames

Each game of Codenames is two teams going head to head, the red team and the blue team. A series of word cards are placed in a 5 by 5 grid. There are tons of these word cards and they are mostly nouns but not really related or themed in any way.

For each game, each team elects a Spymaster. The Spymasters sit across from the rest of their team and are the only ones who can see the decoder key card. The decoder card shows a grid of red, blue, white, and black squares that corresponds to the grid of word cards. The key card shows which words belong to which team, as though they were laying over top of the grid.

The goal of the Spymasters is to get their team to guess their teams’ words, usually in groups. The Spymaster reviews their words and tries to find a single word that connects several of their words together, then how many of the word cards are connected.

For example, from the picture above, your Spymaster might say “Pharaoh, 2”. It would be up to you to try to deduce which of the two words of those above connects to the clue you were given. As words are guessed correctly, they are covered with a colored tile. But watch out for the assassin! Guessing the word marked with a black square on the key card means your team automatically loses!

Why Codenames is Great

Codenames is one of the few games that actually teaches better by just playing a round. It sounds confusing to explain, but once you see it in action, you won’t want to stop playing. I’ve been to game nights where we spent the whole night just on Codenames.

It’s got just enough puzzling to keep players engaged. But, players will still have time to socialize between turns; an important aspect of any good party game. Plus, when your turn starts, it takes only a second to catch up with the distracted and tipsy friend since they only need to know the clue word and the number.

Codenames nails every aspect of a great party game perfectly and it’s an ideal addition to any collection.


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