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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Codenames (2015) is a team communication game where you play two competing spy networks. One player in each team gives clues to help them find the cards that are their agents without hitting the assassin. It's a novel combination of push-your-luck, clue-giving and instinct that works for all ages.

You first lay out the five-by-five grid of Agent cards and the two Spymasters draw a shared Keycard that only they see. Each turn your team's Spymaster gives a one-word and one-number clue. You then try and identify each matching card until you hit one that's not your Agent. If you accidentally hit the assassin you lose and if you find all your agents you lose.

It's a simple game with a few twists that extend the fun. You are allowed to keep guessing one more time that your Spymaster's number clue. The team that goes first is indicated on the Keycard but they have one more agent to find.

The result is a team game that requires both clever clues and intelligent guessing. It gets really competitive as both teams get close to winning, particularly if you accidentally reveal an agent from the opposing team's colour.

Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Codenames 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 11 weeks ago.
Too complex for your family? There are lots of games similar to Codenames. Here are some easier younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Communication and Push-Your-Luck game with Collecting elements. You can play with 2 to 12 players in the same room. Best played with 6 or 8 players.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Learn to Play: This takes 15 minutes to learn. It's simple to learn how it works, although takes a bit longer to understand how to be the Spymaster giving clues.

Before you start, the following is useful to do:
  • Go through an example board with suggested Spymaster clues.
  • Highlight that you can't use any words on the cards, or sounds like clues.
  • Highlight how a good Spymaster (who can see both friendly and enemy agent positions) offers clues that not only direct towards friendly agents but avoid possible enemy agent guesses/associations.

Play Time: This game will take between 15 minutes and 20 minutes to complete.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Skill Level

10+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Younger players can enjoy this game provided they are able to give and guess clues. Playing with very young children can work as long as they aren't the Spymaster.

Content Rating

We rate this suitable for 3+ years-olds.


There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.
There are different versions of Codenames you can purchase:
  • Codenames: Pictures (2016) - Pictures version of Codenames.
  • Codenames: Pictures XXL (2016) - Codenames Pictures with large cards.
  • Codenames: Deep Undercover (2016) - Adult/sexy version of Codenames.
  • Codenames: Duet (2017) - Adds a timed cooperative game mode.
  • Codenames: Disney (2017) - Mixed Codenames version with both pictures and words.
  • Codenames: Marvel (2017) - Marvel superhero version of Codenames.
  • Codenames: The Simpsons (2019) - Picture version of Codenames in the Simpsons world.
  • Codenames: Harry Potter (2018) - Set in the J. K. Rowling’s universe. 

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 01/01/2015

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Players: 2-12

Genres: Communication, Push-Your-Luck and Collecting

Accessibility: 0 features documented

Components: Cards

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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