Editorials Tabletop Game

It’s Tabletop Time! – Codenames

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In It’s Tabletop Time!, we delve into new and interesting tabletop games for your amusement and information. We cover all games; small, large, or just out-right ridiculously popular.

For those who aren’t very interested in the complicated tabletop world of role playing, fantasy, or deck building, Codenames is perfect for you. Combining logic, teamwork, and simplicity, this game is addictive and easy for everyone to pick up— yes, even grandparents!

Codenames was published by Czech Games Edition (CGE) and designed by Vlaada Chvatil. Other CGE games include Alchemists, Tash Kalar, Dungeon Petz, and other countless titles. Codenames can be played by 2-8 people and each game takes up to 15 minutes.

In this simple, yet intricate party game, players are able to use their wits, poker faces, and keen strategy to prevail over other players. The goal is simple: reveal the secret identities of the cards on the table. This is accomplished through back-and-forth exchanges between the spymaster and their teammates.


Here are the basics:

If you are playing with two teams, one team will have blue secret agent cards and other team will have red secret agent cards.

On the board, there are 25 words such as police, hawk, contract, and many others (as seen above).

There will be one spymaster per team. These two spymasters will sit side-by-side. Only the spymasters will know where their red or blue agents are on the board (according to the checkered card being held in the hand of the person above).

Since the secret agent cards correspond with the word cards, the spymaster is allowed ONE word to tell their teammates so that they can guess which card on the board it corresponds to. For example, if the word the spymaster needs is BEACH, the spymaster can say “OCEAN.” After their turn is over and the teammate selects ocean (or selects the wrong one), the other team will go next.

Since it is rather simple to select card-by-card, the game encourages spymasters to link together more than one card so that they can extract all of their secret agent cards faster than the other team. For example, if the spymaster needs their teammate to select STICK and GAME, the spymaster can say “BASEBALL. TWO.” Meaning, there are two cards that they need to select and they both are related to the word BASEBALL.

The first team to reveal all of their secret agent cards, wins!

Codenames is a lot of fun. Rarely do games allow players to use their brains, work together, and hide their poker faces from the other team. In my own game box, I included two pairs of sunglasses for the spymasters to wear. This added to the spy themed ambiance and made it much more difficult for teammates to read the expressions of their spymaster.

BE WARNED. Things will get very heated in Codenames, and victory is insanely addicting. Enjoy!

Buy Codenames on Amazon for only $20.

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