Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-4
Amount of time to play: 15-30 min
Age requirements: 11+
Set-up time: minimal
Codenames Duet changes up the play of the popular party game. This version allows you to play with fewer people or smaller teams.
Codenames Duet follows many of the same rules as regular Codenames. If you are unfamiliar with how the series plays you can read my review and overview here.
There are some changes in this version though. First the key cards are double-sided and they have three assassins. Only one of the assassins lines up on both sides of the card. But you only need to worry about the side you see. If the other player or team guesses a card that is an assassin on the key card you are looking at, you lose.
Both sides of the key card have nine green spots to represent your agents. Three of your agents overlap with the other player’s agents. So between the two (or four) of you, you need to find fifteen total agents.
This is a cooperative game, but you must beat the game in nine rounds. There are timer tokens that are taken at the end of each turn. If you use them all you can get one turn to guess (possibly wildly) but if you hit a bystander or assassin, you lose.
Codenames Duet takes an excellent party game and makes it a fun cooperative game. The box says two to four players but Duet works well with two to six players. It gives you a very similar experience to the original but for a smaller group.
The components for this game are nice and exactly what you’d expect. Everything is durable. The rules are easy to read, follow and teach.
I like that the timer tokens let you adjust difficulty of the game. If you want to make it harder you can use less of them. Need the game to be easier then add a couple tokens.
There is a Mission Map that offers a variant way to play the game too. Each mission requires you to finish with a set number of timer tokens but only allows a certain number of mistakes. Making mistakes beyond the allowed number uses two tokens for a turn. This variant is a nice way to switch up the game. Especially if you are consistently playing with the same person.
You can use with Codenames Pictures with Duet. In fact you can even mix all the cards from Duet with those from the base game. Or play a mixed Pictures and words game with Duet rules. Duets add to the flexibility of the entire series.
Playing this version of Codenames with four or more players helps with downtime as more minds work on coming up with clues. But it is a bit annoying when you have to whisper clues back and forth.
I really love Codenames and Duet is a nice implementation of it for two. I am not so sure I like it with larger teams as much as I like the original. But with the amount of flexibility it adds it is worth it. Duet is obviously great for couples that enjoy Codenames. If that is you, just buy this.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 3 out of 6
Luck 3 out of 6
Player Interaction 6 out of 6
Replay Value 6 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 6 out of 6
Overall 6 out of 6