Codenames is a team-based word association game for two or more players wherein the teams must work together to beat the other team. You have at least one person as the spymaster and the others as the field operatives. Each round is set up with word cards and the spymasters must use the key to give their field operatives clues to guess only the words on their side.
The spymaster is only allowed to give one-word clues plus a number to let their teammate know how many words there are that go along with that clue. For example, if the words are “crown, queen, and castle,” you can give the clue, “royal, 3.” The clue word can not be any of the words that are on the board.
If the field operatives guess a word successfully, the word gets covered with your team’s respective color cards. If the field operatives guess a neutral word — one that isn’t for either team — the word is covered with a civilian card. There’s also a black X spot on the key, which is the assassin space. If a field operative guesses the assassin word, the team automatically loses.
There are a ton of cards and blue and red squares that can be used to play a million different games. No two games are ever alike – even if you use the same words. Also, mixing and matching teams is an option as well. There is also a double agent card – one side if red and the other side is blue – because the squares are uneven. Sometimes there are eight words for one team to guess and nine words for the other team to guess. We always let the team with the extra word go first, though I don’t know if that’s the actual rule for the turn order.
I actually think it is an actual rule. There’s also a timer that comes with the game but we honestly have never used it. There’s also different variations of Codenames, such as Disney, Marvel, Harry Potter, and even a version that’s not completely safe for the kids. We’ve always had a great time playing Codenames with our friends and family, finding it amusing how well we know (or don’t know) how each other thinks.
Codenames is one of our go-to games when we go away for summer vacation with the rest of the family. We mix and match teams but, honestly, there are certain teams we tend to stick with because we work so well together. It’s a great family game and fun for all.
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