What: A party word game that’s simple to learn and full of tension and laughs
Players: 2+ (I would never play it with less than two, six to ten is best)
Time: 15-20 minutes
People: Pretty much anyone
Available: Get it here UK or here US

The Gist

Why we recommend it

“Man. Three”. That’s all he says. It’s all he can say. Now he must watch in silence.

That one word relates to three of these words in this grid.

Duncan Codenames grid

Seven of these words are your teams. The rest, they’re either the other team’s or no one’s – or worst yet: the assassin.

Which three is he trying to refer to?

What if I told you the man saying that word was Duncan Fyfe. A man who asks “why do dogs commit suicide?” “Who killed hitchbot?” And tells you to dress for the job you want.

I’m not sure that makes it any easier for you, but it might give you some idea that this clue might not be as straightforward as you’d hope. As soon as you guess all seven, you win. If the other team do it before you, (or you hit the assassin) you lose. Only Duncan knows which words those are. He’s giving you a huge clue to try and get three of them at once … but which ones are they?

Codenames Playing Red

Codenames is great. Really great.

I know that isn’t a particular helpful way to recommend something but it just needs to be said.

It’s probably why it just won board game of the year. It’s a game in which friendships matter. You might think you are just trying to match words to a clue but really you are looking your friend in the eyes and saying, I know you, I get you.

Codenames overhead

The clues are personal, or at least they can be. They can relate to you, the connections you’ve forged.

When Joel plays with his brother he gave the clue “Alcoholic. Two”. One of the related words was belt and they got it right. When the game was over I looked at them “Belt?”. They looked at each other and then to me. “Ya know, like, an abusive drunken parent”. No, I don’t know, actually. Some dark abusive past, perhaps. But only those two could possibly have got that one.

As the clue-giver you sit in silence with your insides twisting, as you watch your friends debate all the different wrong words it could be. “ITS THAT ONE YOU GUYS COME ON. ITS OBVIOUS!” you scream on the inside.

close up red female spy

Those moments though, oh those moments.

You’ll spot them once you play it. You give a clue and a number. Maybe quite a big number.

“Alternative. Four”.

Your friends, they know you. They get you, and with minimal conversation they point them out one by one. BOOM.

You want to feel that good right? That everyone gets you and you get them.

Back to that grid. It was “Man. Three”, if you remember.

Duncan Codenames grid

“Ray Wind-Stone” my friend laughed, we all did. “No but seriously, what could it be?” We went with Washington. It wasn’t.

bet365 Ray Winstone

After we lost, Duncan was able to break his silence. “What was it?” We asked.

“You had it. It was the man RAY WIND – STONE.”

RAY WIND STONE. Man. Three. The obvious connection.

If you want to support Best Play and get this must have in your collection.  You can get it here UK or here US