Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames!In Codenames: Deep Undercover, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin because if you land on his area of the board it's game over for you and your team!
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a spy out in the field? Who can you trust? Where are your fellow agents? Your spymaster dishes out vague (and bafflingly inappropriate or erotic) clues pointing you in the right direction to make contact. But what if that pesky assassin on your tail is a true master of disguise? His unassuming identity merging with the crowd? What of the innocent everyday folk at risk of getting caught up in all this?
It’s dirty work in this world of espionage.
So, What’s it About?
Codenames: Deep Undercover is a party word game based on deduction with elements of memory and push your luck mechanisms. Players have been tasked with making contact with their fellow espionage agents under the limited guidance of their spymasters. It's a dangerous vocation, and players must be wary of bringing innocent bystanders into harm's way or making themselves known to sneaky assassins. You never know who you can truly trust so you better watch what you say!
How Does it Play?
Each round of Codenames: Deep Undercover will pit two rival spy teams against each other. A grid made up of 25 rude or mildly suggestive words is placed between the teams and the spymasters, whilst the two spymasters are given a coded diagram key indicating the exact location of each of their agents. One spymaster must guide their teammates towards the words highlighted in blue as dictated by the key, whilst the other guides theirs towards the red. The catch is that the spymaster may only speak a single word as a clue for their team (not one of the 25 displayed) and a number indicating how many agents that word relates to.
Teammates must figure out between themselves which words their spymaster is leading them to. Once they are sure, one player must clearly point to a word on the table. If their choice was correct a card of their colour is placed on the word and they may keep guessing words until they reach the number stated by their spymaster. If all words in a turn were correctly identified then players may have one extra guess (perhaps relating to a previous turn’s clue).
But, if at anytime players point to a word indicated as being either an innocent bystander, the assassin, or belong to the opposing team then their turn immediately ends. In the case of the assassin, if chosen then the game immediately ends! Any words of the opposing team chosen have their team’s colour card placed on them effectively giving them free points! The first team to cover all of their words wins.
Why Should I Play it?
The original Codenames (now available in XXL!), released in 2015 is a staple of the modern board gaming scene. Regularly seen at conventions, games nights, as well as being used as a gateway game to entice newcomers to the hobby, Vlaada Chvatil’s espionage word game classic has since spawned several iterations, with Deep Undercover being its first.
So, how does Codenames Deep Undercover stack up to its older sibling? Well, with the rules functioning in exactly the same manner as the original Codenames, Deep Undercover can be seen as giving players the familiar laugh out loud mayhem wrought with tension and hilarious misunderstandings that Chvatil’s word game excels at. Obviously, where Deep Undercover differs is in its choice of words, with the dirty and suggestive additions seen here catering well to a mature audience. With this in mind, Deep Undercover could be seen as a worthy step up from a game such as Cards Against Humanity, where its more adult and darkly humorous content acts as a means of getting typically non gamer types to join in on the fun. Of course, similar to Cards Against Humanity some potentially offensive subjects may crop up depending on who you play with, so bare that in mind!
Final Thoughts on Codenames: Deep Undercover
Despite the rollicking humour on tap with Codenames: Deep Undercover it most be noted that its more adult design arguably limits the types of words used and ultimately the kinds of clues given. In some cases this may make the game notably difficult for the Spymasters when compared to the original game. Of course, with enough creativity this can usually be avoided!
Perhaps, to owners of the original game, Deep Undercover could be used as a large expansion to add a more adult tinge to the gameplay without necessarily diluting the amount of potential clues.
Either way, Codenames: Deep Undercover functions as a worthy successor to its hugely successful sibling, maintaining the laughs and accessibility that made the game such a hit.