Recommend
135 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Codenames» Forums » Reviews

Subject: My name is Bond, Vlaada Bond rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmb
In my reviews I concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, and a look at both the quantity and quality.

Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.


This time I am going to be looking at Codenames. It's a game designed by Vlaada Chvatil and published by Czech Games Edition.

Vlaada really does design so many different games in so many different genres. One of the players I played this with exclaimed in surprise, ‘This is by the guy who designed Mage Knight?’ Yes it is and you could not get a much more different game. I have seen some people refer to it as a party game. I don’t know that I would call it that but it is certainly at the lighter end of any game scale.

The box it comes in is I would say medium sized, it’s bigger than most card game boxes but smaller than a big box game. It has a fairly plain cover with a female and male silhouette looking very much like sharp spies. The minimal words on the cover also sum up the game well. With the female saying Top Secret and the male saying Word Game. It is indeed a spy themed word game.



So what is in the box?

A fairly small rulebook, it’s not the most complex game. It’s fairly easy to follow with diagrams, examples and plenty of ideas for variants or as it calls them, expert rules. It also has rules for two or three player games. I can’t comment on these as I did not try them. It’s a game you could quite easily open and be playing five minutes later.

The game itself is played between two teams, the Red team and the Blue team. Each team has a leader, the spymaster and the rest of the players are the field operatives. The spymasters sit on one side of the table, the operatives on the other side.



There is no board as such, instead the players use cards to build a five by five grid. These cards are the codenames. Each card just has a single word on it. There is a huge variety in the words, some examples being Field, Gold, Telescope, Train and Berlin. From this grid the players will try to identify their other agents. The cards on the grid represent agents from both teams, innocent bystanders and an assassin.

The spymasters draw a key card and slot it into a stand and put it in front of them. This is why they sit opposite the other players, they can now see the layout of the grid and the locations of all of the characters. The key card will also show if red or blue start the game. Each spymaster has eight tiles of their own colour, that are just a little larger than the cards in the grid. They play these onto the grid as the players try to identify who is who on the grid. There are also seven bystander tiles, one assassin tile and one double agent tile. The double agent tile is red on one side and blue on the other. Whichever team starts gets the double agent their side up and have to find nine agents to win, the team that goes second needs to find eight agents to win.



The spymasters take it in turns to give clues to their team, to try to find their agents. The clues are in the format of one word and a number. In certain circumstances two words can be used, for instance place names like New York and if agreed beforehand peoples full names like Barack Obama. The number refers to how many cards this clue is for. The higher the number the more agents can potentially be found.

So after receiving the clue, the agents discuss what cards they think the spymaster if referring too. They then touch the cards one at a time (If they are going for more than one). If they are right the spymaster places an agent tile of their colour over the card and they can continue. If they choose an enemy card, one of the other teams agent tiles are placed over the card and their turn is over. If they choose a bystander, a bystander tile is placed over the card and their turn is over. Finally if they have the misfortune to pick the assassin, the game is over and the other team win.
If they are successful in getting all the clues right, the agents can guess at one more card.
The first team to identify all of their agents wins the game.

So what do I think of it?

It’s the most in demand game I have at the moment and although part of that is because it’s not generally available yet, it’s also because people who have played it want to play it again. It’s very much one of those games that you won’t just play once. And the publishers have been very thoughtful in that all the codenames cards are double sided, so all you need to do to play again is flip them over.

The game reminds me in a way of Mysterium in that a lot depends on the Spymaster (or Ghost). A good spymaster will win his team a lot of games. Firstly he needs to be good at spotting links between a wide variety of cards. It’s pretty easy to give clues that point to a single card, but you are not going to win many games that way. To do well you need to give clues that fit multiple cards, and that is harder than you might think. Everyone who takes on the spymaster role has commented on how hard it is, and everyone takes a while trying to decide what clue to give The game does include a timer just in case people are taking to long to come up with clues. I have not had to use it so far, but I have had to threaten with it a couple of times.

A mistake that it is very easy to do as a rookie spymaster is to not consider all of the cards and to just concentrate on your own teams cards. The danger here is that you might give clues that point to some of the cards you don’t want picked. In one of the games I played the spymaster gave a clue that referred to two of his teams cards but failed to realise it also applied to three other cards in the grid. It did not end well.

You might also be wondering what use it is to be able to choose another card after you have found all the cards the spymaster gave you clues for, surely it’s quite dangerous? Well suppose the turn before the agents got one wrong, they might have an idea which one they missed, so it gives them a chance to try again. Of course it’s always a risk.

I have played with six and with eight and I think these are probably the best numbers to play with. It does play with four and there are special rules for two or three players. Certainly at the moment I am having no trouble finding at least six players, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you regularly play with low player counts.

The cards are good quality, the tiles are thick and sturdy. Overall everything in the box is very suitable for its function.

All in all a light fun game that plays in around 20 minutes and tends to leave players wanting to play more. I think it’s a hit.


  • [+] Dice rolls
Rafael Fuentes
United States
Hialeah
FL
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
At this point this game is a must buy for me. I have great expectations. And Vlaada never lets me down. Excellent write up John.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Mullet
United Kingdom
Exeter
Devon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review! Having played a prototype I can confirm this game is ace. One of my favourite party games- and I love party games!
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Grogan
United Kingdom
Cullompton
Devon
flag msg tools
designer
Check out all my instructional How to Play videos at youtube.com/GamingRulesVideos
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Good write up John. I don't normally like 'party' games, but I've had a lot of fun with this. Even though I'm terrible with words and make a hopeless spymaster, it doesn't stop the game being enjoyable to play.

Had some hilarious moments whilst demoing this at various UK events, and also Gen Con this weekend.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rafael Hannula
Finland
Tampere
flag msg tools
The probabilistic nature of being
badge
Truthful speech, proper understanding, unselfish action
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
How many "word"-cards the game has?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmb
rayffis wrote:
How many "word"-cards the game has?


200 cards, so 400 hundred words
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmb
PaulGrogan wrote:
Good write up John. I don't normally like 'party' games, but I've had a lot of fun with this. Even though I'm terrible with words and make a hopeless spymaster, it doesn't stop the game being enjoyable to play.

Had some hilarious moments whilst demoing this at various UK events, and also Gen Con this weekend.


I've managed 100% success so far as the spymaster. (So that has cursed that now). I have scored a couple of three clues, but so far no fours. And one game were the assassin was found.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian B.
Denmark
Frederiksberg C
flag msg tools
I don't design games, I play them!
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JohnBandettini wrote:
rayffis wrote:
How many "word"-cards the game has?


200 cards, so 400 hundred words


Woah, 400 hundred = nearly endless replayability!


Thanks for the review - the game was already on my wish list, and your review ensured me that it's a close to a must buy.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J Young
United States
Springfield
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Definitely on my "to buy" list, but I'm wondering if it will be available at retail after GenCon. Sounds like they sold out at the convention. Anyone know?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Grogan
United Kingdom
Cullompton
Devon
flag msg tools
designer
Check out all my instructional How to Play videos at youtube.com/GamingRulesVideos
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Only in about 6 weeks time, when the shipment arrives
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Somerton
Australia
North Ryde - Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
Duplicitous!
badge
I don't play to win - I play for enjoyment and social interaction.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I mocked-up my own PnP copy yesterday and played it with my local gaming group. We played eight games in succession with 4-7 players, and after each game, someone said "Let's play again!" or "I want to be the spymaster this time".

An absolute winner that generated much laughter, banter and groans throughout and loads of discussion afterward.

I thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity and accessibility of the game and the short timeframe. I particularly like the anxiety of being spymaster and trying to make connections for disparate words using a simple one-word clue, and trying to connect multiple words together while avoiding opposition cards and the Assassin.

As a spy or as part of a team, you are constantly trying to interpret various meanings for the clues, knowing one wrong guess can put you behind or knock you out of the game. The team play was often hilarious as different members made different interpretations and the opposition trying to hinder you with incorrect advice.

This is a definite must-buy for me when it is released.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M Van Der Werf
Netherlands
Leiden
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I'm wondering if it wouldn't be easy for something like this to be created in a phone app.

I like the idea of this game but as a party game it's something I would like to play with non-boardgamers and then I don't tend to have a game with me.

I was wondering if you can't just write an app for this. Very simple, let the app create a random grid of 5x5 like the keycard. Also generate some code that the other spymaster can enter for his phone to get the same key, or just pass the phone. Then just use paper and pen to write out 25 notes, if there is a lack of imagination you can let the app blurt out some objects/places/etc.
Then as you play you simply collect the note if you got it right, first to 9 (or 8) wins.

Seems like a fun game you can pull out like charades but on a phone you'd always have it with you. Writing own names and things can make it more fun too even with inside jokes and references I guess.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Turner
Australia
Melbourne
VIC
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
How are the words ? Pretty generic ? Or tied to some sort of local knowledge ?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmb
Phantomwhale wrote:
How are the words ? Pretty generic ? Or tied to some sort of local knowledge ?


Some examples, Telescope, Drop, Canada, Mole, Jupiter, Stick, Water and many more.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Phantomwhale wrote:
How are the words ? Pretty generic ? Or tied to some sort of local knowledge ?
Good questions! We were just having this discussion here and here:
Re: Codenames PBF #6
Re: Word list for future moderators of Codenames games
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.