52 Family Game Nights – Codenames

Did you think I’d forgotten our Family Game Night series? I promise that I haven’t. Life has been busy – including throwing a big Board Game Party for Philip’s birthday (yes, our resident game expert wanted to play games for his birthday, which surprised absolutely no one).

Family Game Night #25: Codenames

family game night codenames
This quickly became a favorite for our family of word lovers. But you don’t have to love word play to love this game.
codenames spy cards

Basics of Codenames

The set up for Codenames looks a little complicated. You have a grid of 25 word cards. Players divide into two teams. One person from each team will give clues, the other teammates will guess.

The clue givers have a grid card that tells them which words they’re trying to get their teammates to guess. There’s also a card that you DON’T want anyone to guess or you’ll lose the game.

The trick comes in trying to think of clues that will tie your cards together, without leading your teammates into guessing one of the other team’s cards or the “assassin” card.
codenames cards

Playing Codenames

The game “spymasters” (people giving the clues) will need to know how to read, but occasionally a non-reader might sit in on a game and make some good guesses as a “field operative” (what the guessers are called).

Spymasters may only give one word clues and they give a number for how many of their target words would fit that clue. The Field Operatives can discuss their choices with each other. Once you touch a card, that’s your selection. A right choice means you could keep guessing, a wrong choice means that your turn is over. If you touch the assassin, the game is over.

Codenames Variations

There are flexible rules in the back of the rule book concerning compound words, proper names, acronyms and abbreviations, homonyms, and rhymes.

The rules include suggestions for two-player and three-player variations. Otherwise, you will need at least four players.

Summary of Codenames

Number of Players: 4+

Recommended Ages: The box says 14+, but frankly, if a child can read, they can probably play. (Although younger children may not enjoy it.)

Reading required: yes

Codenames currently costs less than $20. This will be a standby in your family game nights and get togethers for years to come.

family game night codenames pin

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