Duration: +- 15 minutes
Distributor: Czech Games Edition, White Goblin Games
Codenames: Pictures – Board Game Review
It has been since last summer that we were able to don our secret identities, albeit in the form of a board game by giving one word clues to our fellow compatriots in order to find our allied operatives. ‘Codenames’ proved to be simple, addicting and fun for the entire family, even though sometimes you’d have to put your brain to the test. Now, roughly a year later, Czech Games Edition gives a new coat to the known formula of the first game, but replaces the original format of one word operative cards with picture cards, which feel pleasantly familiar but brand-new at the same time. Those who already own the original title and want to spice up their first edition again might also want to consider to keep reading, as both games can be combined.
- 20 character cards (Red, Blue, Double agent, Assassin and Innocent bystanders)
- 60 key cards (double sided)
- Card stand
- 140 picture cards (double sided – 280 different possibilities)
Even though the original Codenames was already rather visually pleasing, despite its rather simplistic looking package, the second installment, Pictures, has amped up its appearance quite a bit. The Character cards have gone up in size, as they will have to cover the picture cards, which have some nifty artwork on them. The drawings on both the character cards and the picture cards are top notch and combine the best of two worlds, namely the secret agent theme, and a riddle/quiz-like game.
It’s once again time to pick out our finest suit, equip our deadliest gadgets and get into our pimped out car, in order to save the world. In Codenames: Pictures you’ll have to be the first (team) to discover your field operatives in a grid of 20 pictures, each with their own snazzy drawing on them. Just like in the original game, you’ll have to guess where your operatives are thanks to one word clues given to you by the spymaster, making the game very easy to get the hang off, at least if the spymaster can give you proper hints. The game remains pretty much the same even if you decide to play with only two players, seeing you’ll just play against an imaginary opponent who uncovers one operative per turn, while the two players work on the same team.
The game doesn’t require that much preparation, as you’ll simply need to divide the piles of operatives, innocent bystanders and the assassin properly, to gain a proper overview. Then you’ll have to pick one of the key cards, which will serve as the map of where the operatives find themselves on the playing field, thus only the spymaster(s) are allowed to see them, because otherwise the game would be over in a minute (The bordering color will also determine which team is allowed to start, and also that they will have to guess one more operative). Last but not least, 20 picture cards have to be laid out in a 4 x 5 grid, which will serve as the playing field, as well as the pictures on which the spymasters will have to base their clues on.
To start guessing, the players will receive a hint from the spymaster, closely followed by a number. This means that if the playing field has two pictures that indicate something robotic, and these tiles correspond with the spots in which your teammate can find your team’s operatives, you could give the hint: ‘technology; 2’. This allows the guessing player to guess three times in total, one more than the initial number, if he uncovers one of your operatives at each of his guesses. If he uncovers a bystander or an enemy agent the turn ends and goes to the opposing team. If the player uncovers the assassin, the match will end immediately.
Those who own the original game, can spice things up by combining the original word cards with the new picture tiles in either the 5 x 5 or 4 x 5 grid layout. Thanks to this you can come up with even more combinations and make it more fun to come up with proper hints.
Luck or Strategy?
While it’s certainly possible as the spymaster to try and give clues which can help you find more than one operative, it’s pretty much dependant on what the playing field looks like. If you’re lucky and the ‘cards’ are dealt in a proper way, you’ll be able to devise a certain strategy that allows your teammate to find a lot of agents at once, if not, you’ll just have to work with clues that allow you to find one of your characters per turn. Nonetheless, the game proves to be a healthy mix of both worlds, even though the overall mechanics prove to be rather simple.
Codenames: Pictures is a fun variation of the original title, and in many ways the game feels a bit more amusing thanks to the use of the pictures, but overall when it comes to the mechanics things remain the same. Players who loved the first game will equally love this one, and those who already own the first game can spice things up by combining both titles into one bigger game that amps up the variation once again. Certainly a great title for young and old, and even those who don’t have that much experience playing elaborate board games just yet.