Codenames Duet XXL – Board Game Review
Follow Genre: Party
Players: 2
Age: 11+
Duration: +- 15 minutes
Distributor: Czech Games Edition

Codenames Duet XXL – Board Game Review

Site Score
7.8
Good: Design, Gameplay
Bad: Pretty much the same as the original version
User Score
9.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Czech Games Edition has given us many fun titles to try out over the years, with the Codenames series being one of them. We originally tried out the first Codenames and afterward the Pictures edition, which both proved to be very similar, yet entertaining. CGE then started with a rerelease of the franchise in an XXL fashion, offering bigger cards and tokens, with nice looking artwork. We tried out the XXL edition of the original game, and this one proved to be just as entertaining as the smaller version, but it came at a higher price tag, so it was somewhat a matter of personal preference and wanting to spend a bit more cash on a fancier edition. Today we will be taking a closer look at the XXL edition of Codenames Duet, which is a Codenames experience directed solely towards cooperative play for two players.

Contents

  • Rulebook
  • 15 green agents cards
  • 100 duet key cards
  • 11 timer tokens
  • 1 assassin card
  • 1 pad of mission maps
  • 1 card stand
  • 200 cards with 400 words (can also be used in the normal Codenames XXL)

Again, we get treated to the content of the original Codenames Duet, albeit in a bigger size. You have good looking artwork on all the cards, ranging from the agent cards and the tokens to the dreaded assassin card. Everything looks spiffy in its larger size, and so do the word cards. You’ll need a lot more space to play now, but everything is more clearly visible when playing. The only thing that looks a bit cheap is the pad of mission maps, which feels like something the developers slapped in the box to add a few goals to keep the game interesting. The purpose of the mission pad will be explained below.

Mechanics

The game works a lot like the original Codenames, but in the Duet version, you’ll have to work together to find your fifteen operatives in the field. This happens by alternating between giving tips and guessing. The key cards are now double-sided, which means that each of the two players has their own playing field in which their operatives hide. Each of the sides shows the location of nine operatives, this means that three operative spaces will overlap to make the game manageable. There’s also a time restraint for this title, as you’ll have to guess the location of all your operatives within nine turns (you can lower the difficulty by using all eleven timer tokens). You can, however, lose timer tokens by guessing the wrong word, which can result in hitting a civilian, marking that word with a timer token, ending the turn instantly. If you guess the word, or words, that are being hinted at correctly, you still use a timer token to mark the end of the turn. Marking a card with a timer token does not mean that it cannot be an operative for the other player, hence the card isn’t fully covered.

While the game suggests it’s a two-player party, you can also opt to place more people on each side of the board, allowing you to guess and give tips as a team, or consult your teammates (on the same side) when guessing. That being said, this game is best enjoyed with a total of two players.

When involving the mission pad in the gameplay, you’ll start out in Prague, where it states ‘9-9’. This means you cleared the game in nine turns with a maximum of nine mistakes. From there on out you can go and uncover operatives in other major cities, with other requirements. Sometimes you get more turns, but you can make fewer mistakes and so on. Overall the concept is cool, but it didn’t really need an entire mission pad to do so, or it would have been nice if the mission pad wasn’t so blandly designed.

Luck or Strategy?

Once again there’s a proper balance between luck and strategy, but it also depends on how the words are scattered across the board, and how well you know your fellow player(s). You can try to plan as much as you like, but it all depends on if the other guessers understand your hints, and if you can combine multiple words at once. The game takes a bit of practice for you to play on the same level as your allies, but overall it’s a bit of luck of the draw and your finesse at giving tips and guessing.

It’s best to avoid eye contact when the other player is devising a tip to give you, as (s)he will be scanning the playing field in order to come up with a tip. This can lead to you thinking there’s an operative at a spot where his/her gaze was locked upon for a while, especially when it coincides with the tip. The latter would spoil the fun and make the game a lot duller.

Conclusion

Codenames Duet XXL is pretty much the same as the normal edition of Duet, albeit with bigger and more impressive artwork. Once again we don’t see why, if you have the original version of Duet, to upgrade to the XXL version, but for those wanting a sturdy edition of the game the XXL edition is worth checking out. Keep in mind that with the XXL edition comes a steeper price tag, but we have to be honest and state that the XXL edition looks slightly better. If you’re looking for a two-player game, then Duet will provide you with a better experience than the other two Codenames games.

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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Codenames Duet XXL – Board Game Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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