Codenames XXL – Board Game Review
Follow Genre: Party
Players: 2-8
Age: 10+
Duration: +- 15 minutes
Distributor: Czech Games Edition

Codenames XXL – Board Game Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Looks very nice
Bad: Doesn't have anything extra compared to the original
User Score
8.8
(5 votes)
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Rating: 8.8/10 (5 votes cast)

Spy movies have always been interesting with the James Bond franchise being one of the most important and memorable series. There’s something exciting about the life of a spy (at least in movies) and their dangerous exploits. More than often these handsome spies have a lovely lady on each hand, a fast car to boast with and of course lethal skills to take out their enemies. We all realize that in real life things are slightly different but still we tend to be enamored by the general idea. This time we take a look at the spy game of Codenames XXL, the bigger and fancier edition of the original Codenames that we have reviewed in the past. There was also a Codenames: Pictures, that was basically the same as the original but instead of a game grid with words, you had a game grid with pictures.

Contents

  • Rules
  • 25 character cards (red, blue, innocent bystanders, double agent and assassin)
  • 40 key cards
  • 200 cards with 400 codenames
  • 1 timer
  • 1 card stand

The contents of this box are pretty much the same as the contents of the original Codenames, but everything is simply a few sizes bigger. The character cards still look fancy in their own comical sense, and the word cards are still clear and easy to work with. The key cards are also simple enough to indicate how the game works. The hour glass is still not that much to look at, but we doubt that it will be of that much use during your play sessions.

Mechanics

Codenames XXL doesn’t really alter the rules of the original game, which means that you’ll have to work together to uncover your team of field operatives first out of a grid of 25 codenames. These codenames are just random words that are laid out on the field, and the spymaster, will give hints which words correspond with your agents. Of course, the spymaster can’t directly tell you which words are important, but you’ll be able to receive hints that have something to do with the word in question. For example, when the words engine and battery are on the field, and both these words are important for your team, the spymaster can simply say a one word clue in the sense of ‘car’ and ‘two words’ to aid you in your search. Of course, if the spymaster doesn’t pay attention, and you also have the word ‘limousine’ on the field, it might end up poorly for your team. Uncovering other agents or civilians will cause you to lose your ongoing turn, uncovering the assassin will cause you to lose the game. The spymaster’s assumptions are based on the key card that is drawn at the start of the game. This keycard shows you a 5 x 5 grid, with the places of both team’s operatives, the civilians and the assassin.

The game is best played with four players, to ensure that every team has a spymaster and an operative but the game has special rules for two players. You can simply have a spymaster and operative combo and play against a fictive player. When you opt for this playstyle, you will be playing against an opponent that gets one correct guess per turn. Luckily the spymaster can choose which tile is uncovered for the so called ‘AI’ opponent, thus (s)he can eliminate tiles that can be linked to hints that have to do with the tiles your team has to uncover. While playing with more players is always more fun, we feel that it’s certainly an admirable feat that special rules were added to the game for those having trouble scoring a full house to play games, or those that simply want to play a small game with a good friend or their partner.

Luck or strategy

Just like was the case with the original release of Codenames and Codenames: Pictures luck is in the eye of the beholder. You have to make guesses depending on the hints given, so if you are on the same level, you might be able to guess every word associated with the clue, but if the one giving the hints isn’t clear, or makes a mistake in terms of what words can be linked together, the one guessing can make mistakes or can even cause them the game. It also depends on the words that are revealed on the table. It’s possible words can be linked, but at other times it’s also possible that only one word can be guessed per hint, which gives you slow but steady progress.

Like we stated in the original review, it’s best to avoid eye contact with the spymaster, as (s)he will most certainly have to scan the field on what hint (s)he will have to give. More than often the spymaster’s eyes will wander off to the tiles that correspond with your team, so it’s best to look away, or simply at the playing field to keep things fun.

Conclusion

In all honestly, if you already have the original edition of Codenames, we see no reason as to why you would consider upgrading to the XXL version. If you wish to add the Pictures edition of Codenames to the party, then you will still be stuck with the smaller edition of both games. We feel that the XXL edition should have come with the Pictures content, and that it should have been a large bundled edition. All this negativity aside, the XXL edition is still worth considering if you play with a larger group of people as the cards are more clear, the playing field will be better visible etc. We can advise this game as a whole, because Codenames in itself is a very fun and great game, but the XXL edition feels somewhat as a missed opportunity for a bundle edition or an edition that spiced things up, rather than enlarge existing content at a higher price tag.

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Rating: 8.8/10 (5 votes cast)
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Codenames XXL - Board Game Review, 8.8 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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