Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting popular games you may not have tried! If you’ve already got Carcasonne, Dominion and Love Letter (the staples!), we’re here to showcase what you should try next!

Since the launch of the original Codenames in 2015, the game has spread through tabletop circles the world over, particularly after it won the coveted Spiel Des Jahres award in 2016.

Codenames works best in a party or family setting – you’ll need to split into groups, and face off against one another using a combination of extrapolation, description, intuition and just a little bit of inside joking in order to best the opposing team.

So, how does it work?

codenames playOnce broken into two teams, one representative from each team becomes the ‘spymaster.’

The two spymasters assemble a grid made up of randomised cards, all of which have a single, different word on them. The grid can be viewed by all the players, and the modular/random nature of its generation lends to the replayability of the game.

Once assembled, the spymasters draw a card which shows them which words on the grid are for their team, and which single word on the grid is the assassin, which – if guessed – will result in an instant lose for that team.

What the spymasters have to do is think of a description word that relates to one (or more) of the words on the grid for their team. The aim of the game is to be the first team to find all their words, so ideally, the spymaster will need to find a description word that is broad enough to cover more than one word at a time, all without accidentally revealing their opponents words or the dreaded assassin word!

For example, the spymaster may say “Hot: 2”, and then their team will have to search the grid for two words related to the word “Hot”. The fun comes because the spymaster can otherwise not communicate at all with their team, leaving the remaining players to discuss the possibilities.

Clever spymasters will find good words that relate in an indirect way – such as a reference to an inside joke, or something only someone on their team will understand.

Of course, the other team can see and overhear everything that is happening – so by helping your own team, you’re also narrowing down the options for your enemy!

It is this delicate balance that makes every game of codenames and wondrous stroll along a knife edge. The game is fast and allows you to rotate often, either to mix up teams, or to give everyone the chance to try their hand as the spymaster.

While the game has spawned several different versions, from the adults only “Deep Undercover”, to “Pictures” which is more suited for younger players Codenames continues to grow and expand, allowing you to engage with some of your favourite properties – like Disney, Marvel or Harry Potter-, all while getting the essential Codenames experience.

Playing with the kids using the Simpsons version of Codenames will allow for them to engage on a different level than just building synonyms from randomly assorted words.

If Codenames sounds like a blast, but you’re unable to get a group together, Codenames Duet allows you to play the game in a cooperative mode with just one other player.


Check out our online store for Codenames today, and get free shipping Australia wide when you spend $100 or more!