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Codenames is a very accessible deduction game, where players guess words based on one clue from the Spy Master. A lot of people have been in the situation where a game is already in progress, but someone shows up and wants to join in - with Codenames this isn't a problem. A player can easily join a team and take part in the debates for the correct guess. There is no plot, and no intricate mechanic that needs to be explained to people before they can play. You could even switch the players after every turn, and it wouldn't change the gameplay. See More
This wouldn't be the best game to play with people with a limited vocabulary, such as children or non-native speakers. The whole game is based on guessing various words, so players need to be able to understand the words and create associations in order to play. See More
With an official player count of 2-10 players, there really isn't an upper limit to the number of players that can play Codenames together, which makes Codenames a perfect game for big parties or other events with a lot of people. To play, players divide into two teams with each team having 1 Spy Master who gives clues to the rest of the team. This means that adding more players doesn't change the way the game is played, merely how many people the Spy Masters are giving clues to. See More
The game really starts to shine from 4 players and more, which can quite often be difficult to assemble. Anything under that doesn't really work. There's a variation for two players that basically makes you work together against an enemy that gets one agent every turn, but this takes away a lot of what makes the game fun in the first place - the competition between teams, the debating, the strategy, etc. Furthermore, the three-player variation is either the same as the two-player variant, albeit a little better because of the debating, or a competition between Spy Masters on who can give the best clues to the operative, which can give that player quite a lot of strain. See More
You will almost never play the exact same game twice. You could play this game for years and you'll still have to stop and think of clues to give your operatives or ways to interpret what's been said to you. Codenames comes with 200 double-sided codename cards, of which you use 25 per game. Moreover, there are 40 key cards showing the layout of the agents that can each be orientated in 4 different ways. See More
There are a lot of nuances in the rulebook regarding the responsibilities of the Spy Masters - what kind of clues you can give, how you react, what you say, etc. Of course, there are some variables and flexible rules, but the main gist stays the same. The Spy Master can't show reactions to guesses, be it a nod, a reply, or anything else because this might mislead the operatives or, on the contrary, reveal too much. This can get very difficult in more intense situations, so it's important for the opponents to be on the look out. See More
The game can lead to some hilarious moments when either guessing the answer or debating to find it. The key is to understand the Spy Master's thought process, but this is a harder task than it might seem at the start. Since the Spy Master can't speak, the team often miscommunicates, which results in laughter for the other team and some frustration for the guessers, more often than not accompanied with a comment about how bad the Spy Master is. The debating process can be quite funny as well - the operatives might argue about who's right and what the Spy Master might've thought, or be completely confident in their guess and still fail. No matter the outcome, when the game ends the Spy Master can finally vent all of his built-up frustration, which can result in some good laughs too. See More
This is a game that promotes casual conversation during gameplay. You can haggle for resources with other players. You can create drama by intervening in your opponents plans, for example, by breaking their chain of roads, or building a town in their way to the port. You can also make alliances with other players and then betray them when a better offer comes along. See More
This game allows you to try different, rewarding strategies. For example, you can create a monopoly over one resource, use the ports to trade with the bank for cheaper or try to buy the majority of victory points using the special abilities cards. There are a lot of options, and you can adapt and switch things up as the game goes on. You also have to think ahead and pay attention to what your opponents are up to. For example, if you've decided to go for the 2 victory points for having built the longest road, you have to watch if anyone else is doing the same thing, because there can only be one longest road. See More
One of the more prominent characteristics of Settlers of Catan is haggling, which can get tiresome if you're not into that sort of thing. You can expect to be bargaining for resources throughout the whole game, since your placement of villages does not guarantee getting a constant supply of a particular resource. See More
There are expansions for Catan such as Explorers & Pirates, Cities & Knights, Seafarers, and many more. Each one expands on the base game by adding extra mechanics. For example, the expansion Cities & Knights introduces city improvements that give various benefits to the player, and knights that protect them from invading barbarians. Expansion packs usually add game length and tactical complexity, which in turn greatly improves replayability. See More
Due to the game's popularity, there have been quite a lot of expansions over the years. While you can combine some of them easily, others not so much. It can be quite messy to figure it all out by yourself. There is a guide on the Catan website containing rules for combining expansions. See More
This game teaches how to bargain, the meaning of scarcity, and how free markets work by forcing players to experience these firsthand. You can play without bargaining, but it is more fun to embrace the economy aspect of this game as it's a great learning tool. See More
There are distinct stages in the game (early, middle and end-game), which have different strategies. For example, when the game has just started out, you won't have much other options except rolling the dice to gather more resources. In contrast, the end-game is a lot more alert, because multiple players at a time can be just 1 or 2 points away from victory. The game changes between these stages fluidly, and you have to be present and engaged at all times to stay ahead. See More
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