Tabletop Tuesday: Great for Two (part 3)

It’s Tuesday! Last week we featured a chess-like, portable two-player game called Hive. This week, we continue the theme of two-player games, but use more creativity than strategy in Codenames: Duet.

This is the two-player cooperative version of the popular party game, Codenames. Rather than teams competing against each other, two players work together to find all the agents on the board.

How does it work?

25 cards, each containing one word, are laid out in a 5×5 grid on the table. A special double-sided key card is drawn at random and placed upright between the players using the nifty plastic holder. Each player should only see one side of it. Both sides contain a 5×5 grid representing the one on the table. It indicates which word cards on the table are agents that must be unmasked, innocent bystanders or assassins. In total, 15 agents need to be identified without revealing an assassin.

Front and back of the same card, as seen by each player.
The same amount of spies (green), bystanders (beige), assassins (black).

The clue given should be in the form of a single word, followed by a number. The number lets the other player know how many words you want them to identify. In the scenario above, the clue “fighters, 2” can be given. This should lead the other player to point to the associated words “musketeer” and “cowboy”.

If they correctly point to the first word, they get to continue guessing. Point to an innocent bystander, and the round ends. Point to an assassin…game over! There are only a limited number of rounds, 9 or 11, in which to identify all 15 agents. Thus, it is essential to give clues that relate to more than one word on the table.

Challenge accepted!

If you want some added difficulty and more variety, you can decide to use the world map missions included in the box. These missions adjust the difficulty by providing different “time: allowed mistake” ratios that you need to meet in order to succeed.

Each city varies from very easy to very hard. You begin in Prague which allows 9 guessing rounds and 9 mistakes (9:9). If you and your partner manage to succeed, you move on to one of the connected cities and their challenge. How many cities can you complete without failing?


If you are not a big fan of intense strategy or number games, Codenames: Duet is the perfect substitute. It targets a whole different side of your brain. You need to be a little creative, good with words and have an open mind. It also helps if the person on the other side of the table knows you well enough to understand what you are suggesting.

It really is not an easy game. Because the rounds are limited, you need to think of clues that link to two or even three words. Otherwise, you don’t stand a chance. It fosters creativity in an interesting and challenging way. And don’t think you’ll have the words memorised after a while. The box includes hundreds of word and key cards. Replayability to the max!

Games, sports, music, series, reading. I think I have too many hobbies.

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