There are different games for different occasions; groups, time commitments, level of strategy, the complexity of gameplay, financial investment and more. I recommend the games I love and will be gauging them by the ease of learning, fun and ‘replayability’, and benefit to your life.
1) Ease of learning. I want all games I buy, and recommend to you to have relative ease of learning, so you’re not spending half of your night learning a game as a group, or having someone new to the game stumbling through it completely lost in strategy or points.
2) Fun and replayability. If you are making the investment in a game, I want you to be able to play again and again, for years to come. I’ll try to focus on games that hopefully won’t get too dusty on the shelf.
3) Benefit to your life. It’s important to ask the question, what value does this game offer? Maybe it’s just sheer ridiculous fun, escaping into a strange world of building empires, acquiring treasure, or going on an adventure. Or perhaps there are deeper lessons that connect to life, faith, leadership, family, or any of the amazing people you may be playing that game with. Lastly, it may build skills your kids can learn, building fun into your relationships, or helping to give a reason to gather people.
Codenames is made by Czech Games Edition (CGE). If you are at all familiar with games, or have visited a tabletop café or browsed a game store, you’ll probably know this game.
Codenames is one of my go-to games, that usually comes with me to family gatherings, and is highly versatile for lots of settings, especially small groups, or party gatherings. It’s simple, but once you play it for the first time, you’ll want to play it again, and especially taking a turn as the ‘Spymaster’. I fully recommend this quick, relatively cheap (or free!) game to you!
Ease of Learning:
9/10 – The game itself can be highly cognitive, deceptively simple, but stressful for the ‘Spymaster’, especially if you’re not too familiar with the game. As far as learning goes, it’s straightforward. The ‘Spymaster’ gives a one-word clue, followed by the number of tiles it applies to. Then, their team guesses and hopes not to select the ‘innocent bystanders’ or end the game by selecting the ‘assassin’. It’s a race to complete your team’s clues. Like with any game, if you haven’t played before, give the rules a quick read and I always love to search the game on YouTube to find a quick tutorial.
Fun and Replayability:
9.5/10 – One of the greatest parts about this game is that CGE has released a completely free online version. You can easily play for free, anytime, anywhere in the world (and in multiple languages), simply Google ‘Codenames online’ and it should be your first click. It is simple to set up and play!
I do prefer the physical game for gameplay and real-life dynamics. The games always change, and playing with different people brings a different spice to keep the game interesting. I’d highly recommend purchasing it, especially if you try out the free version online first and like it!
Benefit to Your Life:
6.5/10 – Codenames is a great game to gather people, regardless if it’s in the same room or across the globe. It’s easy to invite some friends and family, build that sense of community together, online or in person. I think that this game can help us deepen the connections with those we’re playing with by discovering how teammates think, how they operate, and their perspectives. It’s fun to laugh and review the different clues after the game is completed. Finally, this is a team game that can foster healthy competition and hone in on a collective goal as a unified group.
There are tons of different editions of codenames. My current favorite for variety is Codenames: Duet for a 2-player version, or interesting cooperative variation that is my current preferred style to play. I like to play with 4-6 people, where teams don’t talk but use pen and paper to create clues together and you play against the board.
Depending on where we’re at with the pandemic, try out Codenames Online for a free version to connect with people, or I hope you can be inspired to try a physical board game and gather people to connect and have some laughs!
You can buy Codenames easily at amazon.ca or in any local board game store!