Mike Goodrick
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Arizona
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Games such as Pictionary, Charades, Catch Phrase, and the hot new app "Heads Up" all have something in common other than the fact they are party games you can find at your local Target. These games are all about a person getting their teammate(s) to guess a word.

These types of games have taken all shapes and sizes over the years.
From Community's obscure "The Ears Have It"


To the classic "Guess Who?"


games have been trying to get us to guess things from other people for a long time. For some reason games have been fascinated with the idea of giving some sort of clues and trying to guess a particular thing from those clues.


So when all the hype came out about a new game from CGE, designed by
Vlaada Chvatil
Czech Republic
Brno
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a designer who is one his way to designing a game in every genre, I was a little hesitant.


Once I played it though, all hesitation was thrown to the wind as my team flipped over the cards hurriedly to start another round. We couldn't get enough of Codenames.

The Game

If you haven't had the opportunity to play it, Codenames is a game for two teams. It plays from 4-8 players and is all about word association. A 5x5 grid of cards with a single word on them is laid on the table as 2 team leaders are assigned. These team leaders will receive a card that tells them which words belong to their team, which belong to the other team, which words are "innocent bystanders", and which word will be the ultimate demise of the team who guesses it. The card will look like this...
(this is image is from the handy Codenames companion app, which I highly recommend.)

Then each team leader will take turns giving their team one word and one number as a clue. If the blue team says "Vegetable 2" that means they want their team to guess 2 words on the table that somehow relate to the word vegetable. Coming up with the right clue can take awhile so the game includes a small timer that anyone can flip whenever they think someone is taking too long. It's a fun little tool to ensure the game doesn't drag. (Because it took me forever to think of the word "ballistics" when I was trying to get my team to guess "pistol" and "science" at the same time)

Then the brain burning, arguing, and questioning begins among the team members as the team leader anguishes in silence, making no facial expression at all. He watches his team deliberate as to what he could have meant by vegetable. Could he have meant carrot and tomato? Is tomato a vegetable or a fruit? Or what if he meant carrot and juice?

The team makes their final guesses as their team leader places cards on top of the words to reveal whether they've guessed correctly, earning their team a point, or guessed incorrectly, placing an innocent bystander or gaining the other team a point, both of which stop that teams turn. When your turn is over you cannot guess anymore and often times this leaves some of your words "unguessed".

These "unguessed" words are my favorite part of the game. When my team is on round 4 and we haven't gotten any words right this means there are multiple words out there we have clues for that we haven't guessed. This also means the other team, having most likely gotten at least a few right, is settling into what they think is going to be a win for them. I love being able to collect all those previous clues in my mind, get together with my team, and guess 5 or 6 of our words in one round.

My Thoughts

I absolutely love this game. Although I just started gaming this year, and I didn't get my copy of this game until October, it is currently my 2nd most played game.
This is mostly because I have never played just one game of Codenames. Every time I've gotten a group of people to play this game, gamers and non gamers alike, we have immediately flipped over the cards in the grid (there are additional words on the backs of each card) and played again.
This game destroys all the other guessing games that I could play and I will also always revert to this game in any sort of "party" scenario. It works great with 4 players but I recommend at least six as then the teams have people to converse with about the leaders clues. You'd be surprised how different people think of completely different words when given the same clue.

You should definitely buy this game unless of course you would like to play other games in your collection ever again. Too many nights that were supposed to be "Game Nights" have turned into just simply Codenames nights. I have plenty of other great games in my collection but after playing this, especially with non gamers, my friends only ever want to play this.

This game get's a 9.5 from me.

I can't wait to get it to the table again and I hope that by the time we get through all of the cards in the game we will have forgotten the clues for the cards we used in game one.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you thought, I'd love to keep writing reviews and would love to know how I can improve!


Edited for grammar as well as some additional thoughts. Thanks for the feedback
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Grant
United States
Cuyahoga Falls
Ohio
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Nice review, but I'm not sure I see how you're tying in the "...or maybe they shouldn't" part of your title. Are you saying that because Codenames destroys all the other guessing games? Or because you want to play it over and over again to the exclusion of other activities? It's not very clear.
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Ted Magdzinski
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Matthews
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grant5 wrote:
Nice review, but I'm not sure I see how you're tying in the "...or maybe they shouldn't" part of your title. Are you saying that because Codenames destroys all the other guessing games? Or because you want to play it over and over again to the exclusion of other activities? It's not very clear.


The cynic in me says it's to get people to click and read the review (worked on me).

But more than likely he's saying it's sometimes hard to get other games to the table when this game gets introduced, which is something I absolutely would agree with and have experience with. Sometimes this is all I have played in a given night.
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Mike Goodrick
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ScubaSteveKzoo wrote:
grant5 wrote:
Nice review, but I'm not sure I see how you're tying in the "...or maybe they shouldn't" part of your title. Are you saying that because Codenames destroys all the other guessing games? Or because you want to play it over and over again to the exclusion of other activities? It's not very clear.


The cynic in me says it's to get people to click and read the review (worked on me).

But more than likely he's saying it's sometimes hard to get other games to the table when this game gets introduced, which is something I absolutely would agree with and have experience with. Sometimes this is all I have played in a given night.


This is exactly it Ted. I have had what I thought were gonna be game nights just turn into hours of playing Codenames. I realize now after reading through my review again that that part was not made clear. I really appreciate the feedback on my first review and I will definitely make a point to be better in my proofread as well as my selection of points to make.

As a reference do you know what the protocol is on editing your posts here? Cause I would gladly edit this but I know, it certain circumstances, that editing your post is frowned upon.
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Jerbear
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I don't think there is anything wrong with editing to make it better.
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Grant
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mikegoodrick wrote:
ScubaSteveKzoo wrote:
grant5 wrote:
Nice review, but I'm not sure I see how you're tying in the "...or maybe they shouldn't" part of your title. Are you saying that because Codenames destroys all the other guessing games? Or because you want to play it over and over again to the exclusion of other activities? It's not very clear.


The cynic in me says it's to get people to click and read the review (worked on me).

But more than likely he's saying it's sometimes hard to get other games to the table when this game gets introduced, which is something I absolutely would agree with and have experience with. Sometimes this is all I have played in a given night.


This is exactly it Ted. I have had what I thought were gonna be game nights just turn into hours of playing Codenames. I realize now after reading through my review again that that part was not made clear. I really appreciate the feedback on my first review and I will definitely make a point to be better in my proofread as well as my selection of points to make.

As a reference do you know what the protocol is on editing your posts here? Cause I would gladly edit this but I know, it certain circumstances, that editing your post is frowned upon.

Edits are fine.
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Phil Christiansen
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I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
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Just an observation: you have 3 pictures, and only one is actually code names.
 
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tom tom
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How do you get to guess 5 or 6 words in one round? I thought after a correct guess, you can guess 1 more word.
 
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Mike Goodrick
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1qwerty wrote:
How do you get to guess 5 or 6 words in one round? I thought after a correct guess, you can guess 1 more word.


Tom we have always played that you can guess as many words as you want. But once you get a word wrong your turn stops. The risk is just that you would guess another teams word, getting them closer to winning, or guess the one word that makes your team lose automatically.
 
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Ali Cali
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mikegoodrick wrote:
1qwerty wrote:
How do you get to guess 5 or 6 words in one round? I thought after a correct guess, you can guess 1 more word.


Tom we have always played that you can guess as many words as you want. But once you get a word wrong your turn stops. The risk is just that you would guess another teams word, getting them closer to winning, or guess the one word that makes your team lose automatically.

When giving a clue, you have three choices:

1. Give a number. Your teammates can guess up to that number plus one.

2. Say "unlimited." You are not telling your teammates how many relate to the clue, but they can guess as many as they want.

3. Say "zero." You are telling your teammates that word(s) related to the clue is/are NOT your word(s), but they have unlimited guesses.

In all three cases, the turn ends if your teammates guess a word that is not your team.
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Grant
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mikegoodrick wrote:
1qwerty wrote:
How do you get to guess 5 or 6 words in one round? I thought after a correct guess, you can guess 1 more word.


Tom we have always played that you can guess as many words as you want. But once you get a word wrong your turn stops. The risk is just that you would guess another teams word, getting them closer to winning, or guess the one word that makes your team lose automatically.

You should probably be more clear when you tell people this that you play with a house rule and not the actual rules that limit your guesses to the number stated plus 1.
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