Cards Against Humanity was so 2015. Uplevel your friend’s party game selection, give them a copy of Codenames. It’s Cold War espionage meets word association.

the story

Released in 2015, Codenames is a party board game where players try to guess the name of secret-agent operatives through single word clues. It’s like word association, but with spies.

Last year, Codenames won the award for German Game of the Year, (or Spiel des Jahres). Apparently, the award is a big deal in gaming circles and propelled the game’s creator, Vlaada Chvátil, into geekdom glory. Well deserved Vlaada.

why we like it

We liked how unique Codenames is compared to other party games out there. The mechanics are easy to pick up and the gameplay is actually challenging. Most importantly, you can replay the game again and again without it feeling stale.

Also, since the game was originally released in 2015 there’s a bunch of expansion packs you can pick up. For example, Codenames: Deep Undercover earned a “parental advisory sticker” from Target. Use that information however you please.

the competition

Compared to other popular games, Codenames is relatively tame and great for most groups people. You could opt for the tried and true Cards Against Humanity, but Granny’s old heart can only take so much.

Plus, we really liked Codenames replayability. If you’ve played Cards Against Humanity more than once, you’ve probably realized how fast incest jokes get tired — and when you’re sitting across from in-laws, it’s very fast.

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