Codenames is a popular word association board game designed by Vlaada Chvátil. It is a social deduction game that challenges players to communicate and guess words based on limited clues. It requires creativity, strategic thinking, and teamwork. The game can be played by a minimum of four players but is best enjoyed with larger groups.
The objective of Codenames is for two competing teams, the red team and the blue team, to correctly identify all of their assigned words on the game board before the opposing team does. The game board consists of a grid of 25 word cards, each displaying a single word.
Each team appoints a Spymaster, who provides one-word clues to guide their team members in identifying the relevant words. The challenge lies in giving clues that connect multiple words on the board without accidentally leading the team to choose the words belonging to the opposing team or the "assassin" card, which results in instant loss.
The Spymaster gives a clue that relates to the meaning or connection between the words their team needs to guess. The clue must consist of a single word followed by a number, indicating how many words on the board are related to the given clue. For example, if the clue is "fruit: 3," the Spymaster intends for their team to guess three words related to fruit.
After receiving the clue, the team members discuss and attempt to guess the correct words by pointing them out on the board. They can make a guess equal to the number mentioned in the clue plus one additional guess. If they correctly guess a word, they cover it with their team's color card, indicating that it has been identified.
However, if they choose a word belonging to the opposing team or the assassin card, they cover it with the opposing team's color card, effectively giving the advantage to the opposing team. The game continues with alternating Spymasters until one team successfully identifies all of their words or until a team selects the assassin card, resulting in an immediate loss.
Codenames encourages players to think creatively, interpret clues, and make educated guesses. It tests the ability to communicate effectively with limited information while avoiding potential pitfalls. The game's replayability is high due to the ever-changing word combinations on the game board, providing a fresh and challenging experience with each playthrough.
Codenames has received critical acclaim for its engaging gameplay and its ability to entertain and captivate players of all ages. It has become a favorite party game and is often praised for fostering communication, teamwork, and lively discussions. With its simple rules and endless possibilities, Codenames has become a staple in the board game community.