By Scott Schweinfurth

Type of game: Party Game
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 hands

Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES. In Codenames, two 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 board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

The Codenames box

Codenames is a fantastic word game where players divide into teams and decide on a spymaster. Cards with a single word each are placed into a 5 by 5 grid. Each team determines a “Spy Master” who then look at a card that shows which of the cards belong to which team. Spy masters will then take turns trying to get their team to say the words on the cards belonging to their team by saying a single word and the number of words on the grid that that word applies to. Once the spy master says their word, it’s up to the rest of his team to decide which words on the grid it might apply to (and the spy master can not say anything else). If they guess correctly, they can continue to guess. If they guess incorrectly, that team’s turn is over. The first team to find all of their words on the grid is the winner. The challenge comes from trying to find a word to link as many of your team’s words together without linking to the other team’s.

Codenames is a fun party game. It’s recommended for 4 players (2 teams of a spymaster and a guesser) but you can have as many as you are comfortable with. After the game is over, there’s always a big discussion about exactly what the spymaster was trying to say vs what the guessers were thinking, and that is usually followed up by everyone demanding to play again!