If you’ve never heard of the massively popular and very fun Codenames from Czech Games, then you’re missing out. It’s a favorite of mine for its simplicity but also endless possibilities when it comes to the content of the gameplay. And if you’re looking for a diverting and entertaining game to play with your partner or roommate, this is a fantastic option.
In particular, we recommend Codenames Duet. Unlike most two-person games, Codenames Duet doesn’t pit the players against each other. Rather, it’s a cooperative game designed to be played with two people.
That makes it the perfect quarantine game, especially if you’re stuck inside with your significant other.
How Do Codenames & Codenames Duet Work?
Each and every game is different, complete with a 5×5 board game of words or “codenames” that correspond to each team’s secret agents. The board also includes innocent bystanders and assassins that you want to avoid guessing. Your goal, as a collective team, is to guess all of your team’s secret agents without guessing any assassins before the other team does. Each team has a spymaster that gives one word and number clues that correspond to a number of cards on the board that are joined by that descriptor. You work together to identify and guess all of your secret agents in the least number of turns.
Okay, that’s the regular Codenames — they have a few different versions you can explore, but if you’re quarantining with two people I recommend trying Codenames Duet. It holds all of the classic tropes of Codenames dear while making it easier and more interesting to play with two people.
Instead of being on two different teams, both of you are on the same team and you’re trying to collectively guess all of your secret agents quickly against the clock.
You go back and forth, each acting as the spymaster and teammate and switching off between turns, trying to guess your secret agents and avoid the bystanders and three assassins. This marks a key — instead of just one assassin, there are now three you’re trying to avoid.
Another key difference is that as you’re guessing, if you keep getting secret agents right, you can keep guessing — as opposed to the regular game where you only get one additional turn beyond the original number of cards the Spymaster identified. This massively helps you in getting all of the secret agents before the time runs out.
If you enjoy wordplay, guessing and spy games — you should definitely check out Codenames Duet to spice up your time in quarantine with your S.O. You’ll be on the same team for once, which should help the post-game household mood.