The players in Codenames are split into two teams: red and blue. One spymaster for each team sit at the same side of a table, with the rest of the team sitting at the other side of the table. Twenty-five cards with words on them are laid out in a five-by-five grid on the table. These cards have the same word facing two directions, so the word can be read by the spymasters and teammates on opposite sides of a table. (The cards also have different words on their back, so after a game the cards can be flipped over for a new game instead of immediately being discarded.)
Each turn, the spymaster gives a clue to their team to identify their agents. The clue is a single word (which cannot match a word on the cable) and a number (matching the possible cards the clue relates to). So if a team's agents include bark, oak, and branch, a spymaster could give the clue "tree-3."
After the spymaster gives the clue, their team gets to guess, choosing a word they all agree matches the clue. If they pick one of their agents, the spymaster covers the word with their agent card and the team can guess again (up to the number the spymaster selected, plus one; after that, their turn ends). If they pick an innocent bystander, their team's turn ends and the other spymaster goes. And if they pick the assassin, their team immediately loses. If the assassin isn't selected, the first team to identify all their agents wins!
Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch