Published by: Czech Games Edition
# of Players: 2-8
Codenames is a team game that can accommodate 2 to 8 people and takes about 20 minutes to play. Codenames is recommended for players at least 14 years old but I think someone a few years younger could handle this game fine. Codenames was designed by veteran designer Vlaada Chvatil.
Codenames uses only cards and an occasional hourglass. So component quality is not really much of an issue. The cards are just what you would expect, which is fine. The hourglass is cheap plastic. The art is cute and reminded me of the animated TV show "Archer".
Codenames is a social game for almost everyone. The two teams take turns trying to accomplish similar objectives. The entire team participates each time and feels very much like playing "Balderdash", "Pictionary" or "Charades" type games.
The 25 "Codenames" are randomly selected (there are hundreds in the deck) and laid out on the table in a 5x5 grid. A "Spymaster" is selected to represent each team. The two Spymasters know which codenames goes to which sides agents. Some will be blue team, some will be red and some are not agents at all(By-standers).
In addition to all this, each round there is one assassin card on the table. The Spymasters know, of course, which one it is and will make pains to avoid giving clues that could result in his team picking that card. This is because picking the assassin causes your team to instantly lose the round.
Codenames is a social game for almost everyone. It is easy to learn. You can play it all night or for 15 minutes. Your enjoyment of it has little to do with how much of a "gamer" you are but rather the interactions you have while playing. My wife joined in a game and had fun. (She doesn’t play games very much unless I ask nicely.)
As I said, It feels very much like playing "Balderdash", "Pictionary" or "Charades". You will laugh, argue and get to know each other just a little bit better. I liked the fact that Codenames came with so many cards with words on the front and back. This allows for each game to really feel different even with the same people playing. Codenames is a great game for parties and look forward playing more with lots of beer and friends.
+Nice game to pull out for non-gamers and parties
+No real time commitment
+Hundreds of cards that make each game different
-Not a game for people who do not like social games