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Let’s Play: Codenames Pictures


Codenames Pictures

In today's Let's Play blog entry we go undercover as agents in the world of Codenames Pictures! This is the brand-new version of the successful card game Codenames, by Czech Games Edition, with the key difference being the use of images rather than words.

This game is a party game for up to eight players, with a typical game lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. This will vary depending on the people playing the game, as Codenames Pictures is all about abstract thinking and clue-giving.

The Components 

Codenames Pictures, like the original game, comes with sets of double-sided Agents Cards. These are split into two teams, with seven blue cards and seven red cards. The agents are similar in style to the first game and show 'undercover agents' dressed in different outfits such as suits, dresses and casual clothing.

There is also one Double Agent Card. This card is double-sided but each side has a different body colour - with the agent wearing a jacket of the opposite colour on each side. This card has no special function during the game as it is simply given to the team that starts the game, but I will go into this later.

Alongside the Agent Cards, there are four Innocent Bystander Cards. These cards have a beige background and feature common characters that are classed as regular citizens like me and you. There's a child with cool shades, a mother who looks worried, a socked father and a grumpy granddad.

Finally in this deck we have the deadly Assassin Card. This dark, shady character is one that you need to avoid whilst playing as he can end your game in an instant. The artwork on all of these cards is really nice and I love the style that Czech Games Edition have gone for here. Like the original we also have the Key Cards which can be seen by each team's Spymaster. These Key Cards show each Spymaster where their agents are hidden on the grid and therefore where they must guide their team. These are nice and simple cards and I do like the red and blue light effect at either end of the grid which indicates which team goes first.

Last but certainly not least we have those all important picture cards. The pictures on these cards are something to behold as they are fun, crazy and really get the mind working. Examples include a Bath with wooden wheels, an Ancient Egyptian with a computer, a folding mirror with an image of the International Space Station and a Magic 8-Ball ice-cream cone.

The pictures are the whole point of this game and you can tell that a lot of effort has gone into the design. They are so random and weird that you are going to have to think really hard to find a connection.

Setting Up

At the start of the game players are split into two teams, with at least four players needed for a game. Each team must pick one player to become the Spymaster and those two players then sit together for the game - opposite their teams.

Next you need to randomly select 20 Picture Cards and place them onto the table, creating a 5x4 grid in the process. Each picture card has a mark in the upper left corner which indicates the top of the card. The Spymasters then randomly select a Key Card which must be kept hidden from their teammates.

The lights on either side of the grid on the key card indicates which team goes first. The starting team will have eight pictures to guess with the other team needing to find seven. Each Spymaster will also have their team's agent cards in front of them, along with the innocent bystanders and deadly assassin.

Playing the game

A game of Codenames Pictures works in the same way as the original game. The aim is for each team is to locate their agents on the grid, using one-word clues given to them by their Spymaster. The first team to locate all of their agents wins the game. It sounds quick and easy but here's a more in depth look at a general turn in Codenames Pictures.

Once the set-up is complete the Spymaster with the most agents to locate will give his team their first clue. The aim is for the Spymaster to give clues that he thinks his team can connect to the pictures on the grid. It's up to the Spymaster how many cards he wants to link the clue to. For example if he, or she, says "weather 2," this means that there are two cards on the grid which are both linked to the weather.

The other team members, otherwise known as Field Operatives, will then work together and select the pictures that they believe the Spymaster is talking about. During the game the Spymaster is not aloud to give any hints or tips and must avoid any awkward eye contact that could give the clue away.

Once the team believe that they have the answer they must touch their chosen cards. Be careful though as once you have touched the card you cannot change your mind..... Brutal I know!!

Should they select the wrong picture then a number of things could happen. They could be fortunate enough to land on another one of their pictures, in which case the the Spymaster would place on of their Agent Cards onto the grid. Alternatively they could end up selecting a picture belonging to the rival team, which would allow one of their agent cards to be placed on to the grid. If the picture chosen is an innocent bystander then nobody loses out and one of those beige cards will be placed.

Of course the one picture you want to avoid is the one belonging to that deadly assassin I mentioned earlier. If you select this image then that's it.. GAME OVER! You lose and the other team will be crowned champions!

Each turn ends once the team has guessed a picture that didn't belong to them, choose to stop guessing or if they find all of their pictures linked to the clue. The other team will then take their turn and try to out-guess you if they can.

Spymasters do have be quite careful when they are giving clues as cards belonging to both tewams could have links to one another. As Spymaster you really do need to not only understand how your teammates think, but you also need to ensure that your team are not going to select your rival's cards with your clue.

Once the game is finished simply flip the picture cards over, draw a new key card and, if needed, swap around the Spymasters - it's always good to have new people giving the clues.

Final Thoughts

Codenames Pictures is easy to learn and quick to play, which are the two fundamental features a party game should have. In my opinion the new pictures make the game more exciting and accessible compared to the old word version, thanks to their crazy and abstract appearance.

You are never going to get the same game twice as there are 280 pictures in total, with different combinations appearing on the grid each time that you play. Each time we play the game here at Zatu there are fun new clues given by the Spymaster and we generally don't know who will win until the very end.

Some might say that the Assassin Card is a little harsh and that ending the game early is pointless, however I believe this deadly card simply means that more time and skill is needed when giving clues to your team. Plus that's how Pool works and nobody complains about that right?

I believe that this is a must buy if you're looking for a short, easy and exciting game to play with your friends and family. Hopefully Czech Games Edition will release a Pictures expansion in the future so that we can add more unique images to the game.

Buy Codenames Pictures Today

You've read what we think here at Zatu, now it's time for you to find out what the fuss is all about with Codenames Pictures. The top-selling game is available on our online store right now, so head over there and buy yourself a copy.... below they sell-out!!