In the world of cool, savvy, secretive spies, your goal is to differentiate between your compatriots and your enemies. That’s because your Spymaster needs you to deliver a message to your fellow agents without the message getting into the wrong hands. But how do you know which ones are yours? Well, your Spymaster will tell you by giving a hint as to what code names your fellow agents have.

So with that, Codenames is a 2-N player game where N is preferably some even number though odd numbers are OK too. In Codenames you start out with an initial card placements with words like Mail, Glass, Check, and Ice on them. Each turn, the Spymaster will try to identify an agent by giving out a one-word clue followed by a number. Everyone else then gets a chance to figure out which of those cards correspond to their fellow agents.

But beware the assassin! For lurking within the cards is an assassin who will literally shoot the messenger, so your Spymaster must avoid clues related to the assassin lest the messenger be killed outright. On top of that, the Spymaster should not help out the other team by giving clues related to the other team’s agents. After all, it’s easy to link several words together only to find that the words cover a huge spectrum of possibilities and that those possibilities include enemy agents or worse… the assassin!

Core Mechanics: Wordplay, Puns.

Victory Condition: Easy enough: identify the agents belonging to your team or somehow getting the opponent to pick the assassin. Strike that balance between being ambitious and linking several words together and cautious and picking clues with limited word links.

Ease of learning: Very easy to learn. You tell people to give a one-word clue followed by a number for those people to try figuring out what the mystery allied agent codenames might be. Really, the hardest part of the game is coming up with the clues, and that’s more a function of being creative than anything having to do with the game mechanics being inherently hard.

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Basic Codenames Strategy Guide
Codenames Review
Codenames Video Guide

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