August Game of the Month – Codenames

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our libraries at Ravenwood Castle and The Malted Meeple. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

Game: Codenames

Good morning, Spymaster. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make contact with agents known only by their code names. There are 25 code names in your ledger, but only 8 or so of them are your agents. Some of them belong to a rival spymaster, some of them are just innocent bystanders, and one code name is a deadly assassin. Avoid him at all costs… This blog will now self-destruct…

Codenames! In this award-winning party game by Vlaada Chvatl, two rival spymasters are trying to make contact with all of their agents before their opponents. Codenames is the winner of the prestigious Spiel des Jahres, several Golden Geek awards, and has earned its place as our Game of the Month!

So what is it about this espionage themed party game that makes it a cut above the rest? Well Spymaster, let’s jump right in to the machinations and find out!

To begin a game of Codenames, 25 code name cards are drawn randomly and placed in a 5×5 grid on the table.  Next, players will split into two teams of roughly the same size and skill. Each team then chooses one player to be the Spymaster for their team.  The Spymasters from both teams sit on the same side of the table facing their team members. This way both Spymasters can view the “key” without the other players accidentally seeing it. (Spies are sneaky that way!)

During a team’s turn, the Spymaster can give a one-word clue that relates to one or more of the words your team is trying to guess. This clue can be followed by a number informing your team of how many words in the grid relate to the clue. For example, if the clue were “Malted: 3” your team would know that there are three words in the grid that are related to the word “Malted.”

After the Spymaster gives the clue, the rest of the team tries to decipher it. They then attempt to make contact with the agents by touching one card they think is related to the clue. If they guessed correctly, the Spymaster places their agent card on the word, covering it. They may then continue to guess if they wish. If their guess was incorrect, then the proper card is placed in that location – even if it belongs to the other team! To make matters worse, the team’s turn ends and play passes to the other team!

Play continues until one team has placed all of their agent cards on the board. That team is declared the winner. If any player makes contact with the assassin at any time, their entire team loses the game!

Codenames is a crowd-pleaser for almost any age and sees play often. Your next mission is to visit The Malted Meeple or Ravenwood Castle, grab a cold beverage, and make contact with some friends! See you soon, Spymaster!

++Transmission ended++

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.