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Subject: Best party game out there! Seriously. rss

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Braden K
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We have played over 20 rounds of Codenames in the last few weeks, no joke. Enough said. =-) We've played with family, with friends, with kids, with elderly folk, with single people, with married couples, with liberals, with conservatives, and a bunch of combinations of each. This game is such a blast and engages everyone. Party games often instill varying levels of engagement based on interest, age, type of game, education level, etc. Not so with Codenames. This type of variety actually enhances Codenames and increases the level of fun.

Essentially, you have two teams: red and blue. You have one Spy Master for each team. The goal of the Spy Master is to get her team to guess each of her team's spies for the victory. There is a grid of random, single-word noun cards on the table, visible to everyone. The Spy Masters then have a secret corresponding "code" grid which tells them which cards are associated with which team's spies. Then the guessing begins. Without any hints or insinuations (that's actually really hard!), the Spy Master gives a single word clue with a number (to tell how many word cards she is associating with that clue). One at a time, the team then guesses the words. If they guess right, mark it down and keep guessing. If they guess the other team's spy, the other team gets the benefit and the turn is over. If they guess an innocent bystander, nothing happens, but the turn is over. If they guess the assassin, game over!

Being Spy Master is actually a lot harder than it seems but is so fun! You need to concoct a single word that would lead your team to guess as many code words as possible. Seems easy, but you need to be very aware of your opponent's code words and especially aware of the assassin. You'll find more conservative, risk-averse players will got for only one or two code words per turn (slow and steady). I'm very reward-sensitive, so I say "go big or go home!" But I've also been burned by that strategy. =-)

When you're on the team and not the Spy Master, be sure to listen to everyone's opinions. So often the loudest or pushiest player would convince the team to go one way when the quiet, 10-year-old kid would be spot on. You also need to be very conscientious of a clue's intended meaning. Does the clue "duck" refer to ducking one's head or an actual duck (the animal)? Does "cool" mean chilly or awesome? Or, if the Spy Master is really good, does it refer to both meanings?

I hope Czech Games comes out with an expansion to the first version soon because at our rate, we're going to hit 50 games in no time at all. =-) I dub this as my highest-rated party game at 9.5. It's virtually flawless. The only downside plays into how awesome of a game it is: there are a lot of code word cards included (which can, of course, be shuffled and mixed up), but with how much we want to play, we have blown through the cards quickly.
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Jerry Martin
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Loveland
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A couple things of note.


I am at over 100 plays and you can go through all the cards MANY times and still have a lot of play.

There is already an adult version expansion called Deep Undercover. From my understanding it doesn't have anything obscene included like Cards Against Humanity, but alludes to things like High, Lick, Uranus, Knockers.

The other thing I would say is that though I agree this is one of the most accessible games in terms who you can play with; I think that kids are at a disadvantage (especially as a clue giver). I also think that people with more education/big readers have an advantage. (again, especially as clue giver.)

As with ALL games, the people you play with make a difference. I have had mostly good experiences, but I have had a couple particularly bad games where a person was the clue giver and could never come up with anything more than a one word clue. This has happened on 3 different occasions.

I have also played with children a bunch of times. And if you spread the kids out on both sides if it fine, but to give an extreme example it wouldn't be a game to put a 10 year old against an English Master. But if you had two kids as clue givers it would be fine.

Last note, I think this game is great and I have played with at least 40 different people and I would say it worked really well with over 35 of them. But it isn't for everyone. It is quite stressful to be the clue giver and for some it isn't fun at all. Thankfully those people can just play on the guessing side, but even then I know at least a couple people who wouldn't play it again.
 
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The Compulsive Completist
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Indiana
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I love Codenames and consider it a great party game. I would say it kind of takes the "party" out of party game with long periods of silence, downtime and lack of laughter. None of these are bad things but it doesn't have much action for a party game.
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Kirk Monsen
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Syvanis wrote:

I also think that people with more education/big readers have an advantage. (again, especially as clue giver.)


It can also be a disadvantage, if you give a clue and no one understands it ... or if you read too much into a clue

It is a better advantage to be in sync with your teammates.

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Jerry Martin
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I agree, knowing your partners will make a huge difference, but we aren't talking about playing with strangers. At least, I don't typically play with people I don't know.

The OP literally says it is the best party game ever and then goes on to describe how it works for everyone. I just don't think that is true. I am trying to make clear what works.

Hypothetical situation. I come to a codenames tourney. I get to choose what team I am on. (And I want to win) There is a group of middle schoolers that need an extra and a group of Doctors that need an extra. I am going with the doctors and we are going to win.
 
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Parker McParker
United Kingdom
Bath
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Hockey Mask wrote:
I love Codenames and consider it a great party game. I would say it kind of takes the "party" out of party game with long periods of silence, downtime and lack of laughter. None of these are bad things but it doesn't have much action for a party game.


Agree completely. This is not for a regular party. Snake Oil, Liar's Dice and Loopin' Louie all work better due to their generally more raucous nature. By "party" I think it's more a group of people who want to sit and chat - a family gathering or a group of gamers - where splitting into smaller groups would spoil the fun.

 
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Tony C
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Holly Springs
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Agreed :) It's the least "party" party game I've played. It's still very fun. Party here is "group of people" not "loud raucous laughing". It is, or tends to be, a very thinky party game.
It's a great game but I don't think it's good for all environments.
 
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Patrick C.
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Milford
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MunchWolf wrote:
Syvanis wrote:

I also think that people with more education/big readers have an advantage. (again, especially as clue giver.)


It can also be a disadvantage, if you give a clue and no one understands it ... or if you read too much into a clue

It is a better advantage to be in sync with your teammates.



This. Not sure if it's being a nonfiction reader, my personality type or what - but I don't have a PhD or anything like that. In the group I played it with I always saw more cards that were possible than what the clue giver gave. It's why I loathed playing it and have no intention of doing so again.

Far more important to winning - enjoying it as far as I'm concerned - is being in sync with other players, not your level of experience or education. I consider this game extremely group dependent.
 
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mfl134
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Havertown
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Syvanis wrote:

There is already an adult version expansion called Deep Undercover. From my understanding it doesn't have anything obscene included like Cards Against Humanity, but alludes to things like High, Lick, Uranus, Knockers.


It does go as far as words like queef, but agreed that not nearly as far as CAH.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Syvanis wrote:
Hypothetical situation. I come to a codenames tourney. I get to choose what team I am on. (And I want to win) There is a group of middle schoolers that need an extra and a group of Doctors that need an extra. I am going with the doctors and we are going to win.


I wouldn't count the middle-schoolers out - they're likely to share a pretty good reference pool that's going to overlap with the word lists. The Doctors will also have a shared reference pool, but theirs is going to be considerably more specialised...
 
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Jerry Martin
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My point is the game isn't universal.

I have played with kids and there are a number of words in the game that kids don't have experience with such as Czech. A set of doctors will have the background knowledge to know every word in the game. They are educated people that are going to have a much better handle on language than a group of kids will.

Look, I am not trying to convince anyone the game isn't awesome. It is.

I am just saying the OP makes it seems as if it is simple and everyone can play without reservation. I am just trying to clarify that isn't true and it will work for some and it won't work for others.
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Grant
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Cuyahoga Falls
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I want to hear more about this epic game of Kids vs. Doctors.

I think the salient point that nobody has bothered to address yet is whether they are the kids of doctors, or just some completely random group of kids? And if random, how did they end up in this game with doctors in the first place??
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