Board Game Review: Codenames – “A fantastic social party game for everyone”


We hosted a game night over the weekend, which required me to dig into my collection of games and pull out some that would be perfect for the crowd we had over. One game I knew would be an instant hit, Codenames.

It’s a social deduction game made for 2-8 players and can be played in roughly 15 minutes.

Here’s the product description for the game:

Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. The game works very well with 4 players if you prefer to guess without help. Or you can add more players if you prefer lively discussion. There is also a cooperative variant where a single team tries to achieve the highest score they can by playing against the game itself.

For starters, the game features a portable wheel with 20 letters.

The game is simple.

  • 25 cards are placed in a grid (5×5). Each card has a word on it that you try to get your teammates to guess.
  • There’s a main grid card that lets you and your opponent know what they need to try to get their teammates to guess. There’s also one word that, if anybody chooses, the game is over.
  • So for example, if there are words that say, “Unleaded” and “Diesel”, you may give the clue of “Gasoline” and your partner will then try to guess those cards.


This 3-minute video does a great job of explaining how to play.

The group enjoyed it so much, we played this game six different times.

If you think giving clues is easy, think again. When you give a clue, your partner then overanalyzes the clue and starts to guess entirely different words.

There are also different versions that replace words with pictures, there are also ones with Disney characters. I purchased my version at Target, but it’s also available on Amazon.

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