Codenames is back and this time it has pictures! Not too long ago we reviewed Codenames – the team based word guessing game. Well, now the hugely popular game has been re-imagined with pictures instead of words.
The rules have very much stayed the same. But if you aren’t aware of the original version here’s a quick run through oh how it works!
Two teams must face off against each other to contact their field operatives by uncovering the code name of their location, but you must avoid enemy spies at all costs!
The picture cards are shuffled and then dealt out in a 4X5 grid on the table. You must then nominate a spy leader within the teams. The leaders of both the blue and red team will then sit on one side of a table; they will take control of their spy cards, the innocent bystander cards and the assassin card. They will then pick a key card from the deck and place it, facing them, in the stand. This key card shows you who will go first – indicated by the coloured ‘light’ around the edge, the players going first then takes the additional spy card that’s both red on one side and blue on other – the ‘double agent card’. The key card shows the location of all the characters, so you’ll want to give clues that relate to your spies.
In order to win you’ll need to give your team mates a single word clue relating to your spy cards in the hopes that they will be able to identify them on the board. You can try to combine a clue with more than one card, so maybe two pictures have something in common and you think your team will be able to guess them both. You can then give the single word clue and say “two” to indicate that there are two cards that relate to the clue. If you’re team makes a successful guess you can then place one of your spy cards over the picture and then take another guess. Be careful though because you might accidentally give a clue that could relate to the opposite teams spies and should your team mates guess that card the other team will get to cover that card. If you manage to pick the assassin card the game immediately ends and you lose. Guessing an image that is one of the bystander cards just ends your turn.
One thing we noticed is that it seems a lot easier to play than the original Codenames. It seems like you can say the exact word that relates to the image i.e. if there is a picture of a dog you can say dog. I thought that this might be wrong, but I couldn’t find anything in the rules that said otherwise and it specifically says ‘All word play is allowed’ so uhh, I guess it’s fine… But just keeping things as simple as that is probably not going to win you many games, so it’s worthwhile to try and link images together and most images have a few ‘themes’ to them so you can usually find something in common on more than one card.
Codenames has popped up in a lot of lists for people favourite games in the last year or so and I can see people enjoying this version just as much. Another great thing is that you can combine both versions to play with both the pictures and words. With the game already featuring 140 of cards – totaling 280 pictures and the possibility to combine both games, it really makes the replay-ability for Codenames Pictures huge!
The overall quality of the game is good, with the all the cards being made to a decent standard. The only slight problem is that when they’re in the box, there is nothing really keeping them in place apart from the bags, so they will rattle around a fair bit.
I think that Codenames is pretty close to being the perfect party game. It’s fun, simple and with its focus on groups playing it involves everyone at once which keeps gameplay fast and furious with a lot of laughs. You can choose to use a timer when giving clues and guessing if you want to add a little more of a competitive edge but if you’d like to keep things slightly more causal then you can do that too!
It’s possible to play the game with just two or three players, but in all honesty the game shines when playing with at least four people and I think this is where you’ll get the most enjoyment from it.
Whether you have Codenames or not, Codenames Pictures would be an excellent addition to your gaming collection for all occasions!
You can track down your copy here.