Codenames board game box cover
Codenames game pieces
Codenames board game spy token red male spy
Codenames board game token blue team female spy
Codenames board game setup and components


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Quick Takes:  2+ players    15 minutes   Ages 14+ Ace of hearts playing card Level 1 (easy to learn, easy to play, and FUN!)

About the game:

No! The octopus is the assassin!

Don't know what we're talking about? Then you haven't played Codenames yet. This is a smash hit in the game world, selling more than 5 million copies to date. Try it for your next party! It works well on Zoom to an extent, but be prepared to spend as much time syncing the game board across players as playing the game.

In Codenames, two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their code names. To win the game, your team will need to contact all of your agents in the field before the other team finds their own agents. And watch out for the assassin – meet him in the field and your team is done! (The assassin is randomly assigned and different for every game, so don't worry, we didn't just give you a massive spoiler. It's hardly ever the octopus.)

The game is played with word cards that signify the agents in the field. The spymaster must come up with one-word clues that allow his/her team to guess the right agents in the field. It's easier said than done. You might be tempted as spymaster to go for a big clue that ties many agents together, but the broader you make the clue, the easier it is to misinterpret. The word cards are riddled with homonyms (words that have multiple meanings for the same spelling), and complex clues are likely to be misinterpreted. It's all part of the fun.

Codenames is simple to explain and easy to understand, with no limit to size of the teams – you can play with four people as well as with twelve! It's a favorite in the Board's Edge Games households, although we prefer Codenames Duet for two players.

Why we chose this game for Board's Edge:
  • Easy setup - no need to set aside an hour of rule reading ahead of time
  • Fast play - great for a game night nightcap or warm-up
  • This game has started more inside jokes in our game group than any game since Scattergories
  • Oscar winner - winner of the Board Game Oscars (Spiel des Jahres)

Selected Awards and Honors: 

Want to learn more? Read our review:
Codenames review at Board's Edge Games