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Mar 20

Monday Night Gaming: Codenames Pictures

This week’s Monday Night Gaming / MNG: Codenames Pictures


Codenames Pictures GamePublisher: Czech Games Edition

# of Players: 4-8 players

Best with: 6-8 players

Playing Time:  15-30 minutes

We had the opportunity to play this game recently. We’ve never played the base Codenames game, so this review will be based solely on the game Codenames: Pictures.

Setup:  Players split into two teams and decide who will be their “spymaster.” The spymasters will sit on the same side of the table. (They’re the only ones who can see the keys.) The other players sit across from the spymasters and serve as “field operatives.” 20 pictures are chosen at random and placed on the table in 5×4 grid. Each card as a marking to show which way the card goes orientation wise.

General Mechanics: In each game, there is a key that shows which cards belong to which side or team. Like the pictures, the key card is chosen at random and should be kept between both spymasters where no one else can see it. Blue squares belong to the blue team and red squares with the red team. There is also a set of grey or neutral squares serving as innocent bystanders (there are four of these) and a black square assassin. Who starts first is determined by the key card, which indicates the starting color. Whoever starts has 8 pictures to guess while the other team has 7.

The spymasters will take turns giving one-word clues to help their teams guess which picture cards belong to them. After the one-word clue, the spymaster will also give a number. The team then tries to guess their team’s cards by touching the picture card. The spymaster will then reveal if they were correct. The guessing continues until they either guess wrong, pass the turn, or guess one more guess than the correct number of answers given in the clue. For example, if the spymaster says Flying 3, there are three correct answers. The team can then make 3 correct guesses + 1 more guess. This becomes helpful in later rounds when a team may use extra guesses to try and go back and correct mistaken guesses.

The manual has a great example of how this works. See picture below:

Codenames Pictures Clues

During the game, spymasters must keep a straight face at all times. No giving away clues via body language, facial expressions, etc.

How to Win/Lose: The first team to guess all their correct picture cards wins the game. If either team accidentally guesses the assassin, they lose the game.

What I Liked: The creativity in this game is amazing! It reminds me a lot of Dixit in its ability to force a player to think outside the box. I’m really excited to play this game again.

What I Didn’t Like: Nothing really. Okay, maybe playing it the day Daylight Savings Time began and thus, I hadn’t had shit for sleep was a bad idea. I don’t think creatively very well when I’m tired.

Overall Rating/Impression: 9.5/10. I really loved this game. Loads of fun!


Monday Night Gaming is a bi-weekly series reviewing tabletop and video games. Articles are posted on the 1st & 3rd Monday.

Read other game reviews in the Monday Night Gaming series by clicking here.

About the author

Raven Oak

Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood, Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays.

She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on, enjoying cartography, or staring at the ocean.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

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