In Codenames, you get to play a spy or a spymaster. It's interesting in that it's both a challenging word game and sort of a party game.
You can play with lots of people, which definitely has a party feel. But a lot of the time you'll be staring at a grid of words in silence, desperately trying to figure out what your spymaster is trying to tell you.
But if you're not normally into word games, don't let this one scare you. That's where the party comes in.
If you'd rather not deal with my sense of humor and you just want a quick overview of the gameplay, you can check out my written review of Codenames at News for Shoppers.
OTHER REVIEWERS' OPINIONS
Shut Up & Sit Down checked out Codenames at the UK Games Expo. They don't have a review up yet, but Quinns described it as "perfect" and "all my friends wanted to talk about."
Derek Thompson at MeepleTown called it "fast," "deep," "tense," and "awesome."
Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower said, "If you like any kind of thinky, thoughtful party game, I would check it out." (We agree!)
If there are other reviews you think I should link, please let me know. This one is brand new, so there's not much out, but I expect it will be a hit at Gen Con.
I don't have much. The rules are really clear.
Two things, though:
1. Decide on house rules about what are and are not valid clues before you start playing. The rulebook will take you through this.
2. Make sure the spymasters know that they have to check the validity of a clue with each other without the operatives hearing (because otherwise it will give the clue they want to use away. Which is known as cheating.).
Otherwise, have fun.
Codenames is technically for ages 14 and up.
I have no idea why. There's not even any tiny parts.
The game does take some higher order thinking skills to make connections between words. So the age at which a kid could play with any success would vary a lot. Since there's a two-player version, you could try it out with your kid before inflicting an awkward situation on your friends. Because if your kid doesn't get the game for whatever reason, it won't be fun.
Even so, I could see teachers making up their own cards to review vocabulary and concepts very effectively.
There is the opportunity for dirty jokes. But if you play games with people who wouldn't clean it up around kids, don't play this with them and kids.
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