What are these strange symbols on the map? They are code for locations where spies must contact secret agents! Codenames Pictures is the much-anticipated sequel to the hugely popularÂ Codenames, a game of secret identities and espionage!
Two rival spymasters know the agent in each location. They deliver coded messages telling their field operatives where to go for clandestine meetings. Operatives must be clever. A decoding mistake could lead to an unpleasant encounter with an enemy agent â€“ or worse, with the assassin! Both teams race to contact all their agents, but only one team can win.
Codenames: Pictures differs from the original Codenames in that the agents are no longer represented by a single word, but by an image that contains multiple elements. Win or lose, it’s fun to figure out the clues.
- Ages 10+
- 2-8 Players
- 10-20 Minute Playing Time
A follow up to 2015â€™s successful Codenames, Codenames Pictures is exactly what it sounds like. The mechanics are identical to those of the first game. One player from each team is selected to be a â€˜Spymasterâ€™, a name slightly less cool than each of its constituent parts.
Cards are laid out in a grid on the table, and the rival spymasters are given a shared map showing them to what each card corresponds: their own agents; their opponentsâ€™ agents; innocent civilians; the assassin. They must then give their team a clue, a single word followed by a number, like â€˜Winter 3â€™, indicating that, of the cards that conceal their agents, three have some tangential relationship with winter.
Their team then selects cards based on the clue and prays that what they uncover is one of their agents and not some guyâ€™s dad or, worse, a murderer in a sweet hat. The number of cards they can choose each turn is dictated by the number in the clue. If the number said is three, the team may make four guesses; if two, three guesses and so on. Accidentally choosing a civilian ends your turn. Accidentally choosing the assassin loses you the game outright. The first team to locate all their agents wins.
The difference, as the more observant may have guessed, is that Codenames Pictures replaces Codenamesâ€™ word cards with a series of images. Weâ€™re not talking simple, categorical images of â€˜a seabassâ€™ or â€˜envyâ€™ either; weâ€™re talking more abstract, interpretable ones like â€˜a dog in a frockâ€™ or â€˜a clothes iron gently steaming down an empty motorway.â€™
Playing the game Â
I played Codenames Pictures with four Zatu Games co-workers: Simon, Kerrie, Liv and Josh. Teams comprised a two and a three: myself and Simon versus Kerrie, Liv and Josh. Two games. One win. One loss. An emotional rollercoaster.
We got off to a slow start. Simon seemed to be struggling with the difference between red and blue, which is tough to be fair. Apparently, like a playground game of Power Rangers, both sides were the red one, and he gave points to red every turn (he and I were blue). It was all very lovely and inclusive. Tad difficult to maintain any kind of competitive momentum though, so we consulted the rule book at length and switched to opposing colours.
Essentially, Codenames Pictures relies on the excuse comedians use when theyâ€™re accused of stealing jokes: parallel thinking. As spymaster, giving your clue is taking a gamble; a gamble that your team will be inclined to make the same links, and with the same logic, that you do.
Obviously the simplest way to get a hit is to give a clue like â€˜Boat 1â€™ when thereâ€™s a single boat-related card in view, but doing that will move you forward in increments. A risk that pays off will move you forward in satisfying chunks.
The involvement of multiple minds makes it unpredictable on both ends. The spymaster may give a clue that seems specific, then realise with horror that it is more widely applicable than first thought. I, for example, gave the clue â€˜Floral 3â€™, as three of our agents were hidden on flower-related squares. Then I sat back, pleased with myself. Another quick look at the board and I realised there were actually six images with flowers, making me a lot less pleased with myself, and leaving Simon to try desperately to work out which flowers I meant.
It actually raises some pretty existential questions, questions like â€˜Which flower is more obvious, the one sticking out of a tank or the one being sniffed by a flying snowman?â€™ The answer is yes.
Following on from our Codenames Pictures reviewÂ last week, we now present our unboxing of this popular card game. As you will see when you read our review, we a huge fans of Codenames Pictures here at Zatu and actually believe that it is better than the original game.
In our Codenames Pictures unboxing you will find out exactly what you get inside the box – including a look at those all important picture cards!
Watch the video on our YouTube channel here to see more of Codenames Pictures.
Positive comments from our review of Codenames Pictures, written by Andreas, Â include:
1 – An interesting mix between using your mind and predicting others’
2 – Effective, simple and abstract artwork
3 – A quick, non-strenuous part game
4 – “It’s better than the original” (My thoughts)
Impressed by Codenames Pictures after watching the video or reading our review? Then what are you waiting for! This highly-rated card game is available to order from our online store right now!
You can buy Codenames Pictures now! That’s great value for a game that can bring you and your friends hours of fun!
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.
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.
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 5×4 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.
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!!
We’re big fans of Codenames Pictures here at Zatu Games so we thought we would ask the members of the Reddit Board Game topic group to share their thoughts on Czech Games Edition’s latest release.
It turns out that this topic didn’t gain as much interest as our other ‘What the gamers are saying’ blog posts so we’re just going to share what everybody said about the game. Maybe its not popular enough for people to comment on or maybe people are just too busy playing it – we’ll never know!
Anyway, here’s what some Reddit board gamers had to say about Codenames Pictures:
Its a Fine Game
“It’s fine. It’s basically exactly the same as Codenames.”
“Yeah it’s fine. Initial spymaster analysis paralysis on ‘howtf can i link these together’ was quite evident but became easier”
The original Codenames is better
“It’s for a slightly different group than regular Codenames I think. In Codenames, we’d try to find metaphors and associations between the meaning of the words, so it’s great for abstract thinkers. In Pictures otoh, most of the time the clue giver would just describe which visual features the cards had in common, almost feeling like a “begins with M”-clue that’s expressively forbidden in normal Codenames.
“Maybe it’s better for visual thinkers or people that like to keep their ideas direct and tangible. I’ll stick with words.”
Positive and negative?Â
“I didn’t play Pictures personally, but I demoed it quite a few time in a gaming pub. Now they’re might be a lot of reason, but it seems groups play longer with the original than with Pictures.
“Whenever I teach the original, if the group likes it they play close to one hour. Conversely, I’ve never seen a table playing Pictures for more than a few rounds. Of course, maybe these tables wouldn’t play with the original much either.
“I’ve also found that it’s definitely harder to grasp for non-gamers. They easily get the idea of word association, but the idea of picture-word association is just one step above for some reason.
“I like the unique spy cardboard cards though.”
More Codenames Pictures Coverage
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