Codenames is an excellent party game. It’s convenient to set up and learn and plays quickly. This social game is all about word associations and playing to your audience.
In Codenames, two teams battle it out to guess a set of words. To start, simply create a 5×5 grid with vocabulary cards. A keycard determines your team’s target words. Cluemasters on each side give one-word clues and a designated number of guesses each turn.
Every card your team guesses correctly puts you one step closer to winning. But be careful with those clues! Avoiding your opponent’s target words – and the death card is more challenging than you think.
Codenames has strong replayability with 200 double-sided cards. But it’s not the only game that gets the party going and your guests bonding! If you’re looking to diversify your game collection, check out these 5 games like Codenames.
5 Games Like Codenames
Playing time: 15-45 minutes
Can you crack this cryptic code?
Decrypto is another word association game played in teams of two. Teams get 4 vocabulary cards for all their members to view. Taking turns, each player receives a numbered code. Giving simple word clues, get your teammates to guess the correct order. If words are “fire-bed-coffee-rainbow” and your code is 4-2-1, you might provide the clues “colorful-sleep-hot.”
The game requires clever thinking and carefully crafted clues. If the other team guesses your words – it’s game over!
This game is a lighthearted way to bring groups together. While it plays fast, it’s still a bit longer than Codenames. They are both deduction games, with Codenames being about narrowing down words and Decrypto focusing on order placement.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Playing time: 20 minutes
There’s been a murder in Hong Kong! You and your detectives must solve the case– or cover up the crime as the conniving culprit.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a role-playing deduction game. Players take on roles such as Forensic Scientists and Investigators on one side or Accomplices and Murderers on the other. Pieces of evidence are revealed slowly. Some players try to interpret these, while others may secretly throw the group off track. Think Werewolf, but with more clues and details about the crime.
Like Codenames, you’ll need to get into the players’ minds. Can you determine who the guilty party is? Or are they cunning enough to get away with murder?
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is also about solving a puzzle with clues, but with more complexity and a murder-mystery theme.
Playing time: 15 minutes
Spyfall 2 is a semi-collaborative game where all players know a hidden location. At the same time, one of you is a secret spy. The Spy must piece together information to uncover the mystery site before being identified.
Ask cleverly worded questions to reveal the location or spot the Spy. What’s your purpose for coming here? How long do you think you’ll stay? Maybe it’s a library. Perhaps it’s a bus. Be as vague or specific as you’d like, but both come with risks!
Spyfall 2 and Codenames both require creating thinking and deliberate use of language. However, Spyfall 2 involves more open discussion and bluffing. It’s a good choice for those wanting a less structured deduction game.
Playing time: 20-30 minutes
Crosstalk is unique in the world of word-guessing games. Most games have teams playing separately with different targets, but Crosstalk has two teams racing to uncover the same word.
Like Codenames, there is a cluemaster and guessers. However, the first (and only private) clue is crucial to your team’s success. The rest of the clues are public — so make sure they can play off the first and not reveal too much to your opponents. The first team to guess 5 words correctly wins.
Codenames plays differently because each hint is related to a new set of words while Crosstalk builds upon itself. Because both parties aim for the same answer, more player interaction and debate are required.
A Fake Artist Goes to New York
Playing time: 20 minutes
This game is for you if you want an artistic version of Codenames! In A Fake Artist Goes to New York, the clues come from doodles rather than words. It’s essentially Mafia meets Pictionary.
A codemaster writes one word and distributes it to all players except one. That player receives an X and does their best to bluff. One stroke at a time, players begin to draw the item and reveal it to the group. Each stroke will take them one step closer to the masterpiece.
Like Codenames, this game requires strong deduction skills and reading the room. Can you spot the fake artists in your midst? And if you have the X, can your poker face extend to those drawing skills? Play to find out!
We hope you enjoyed our list of 5 games like Codenames! This party game is tons of fun and changes each time you play. If you’ve mastered all of the challenges in Codenames, however, it may be time to spice things up.
If you liked any of these games, we just know you’ll love these titles too: Dixit, Love Letter, Codenames: Duet, Hanabi, Coup, and Sheriff of Nottingham. Drop a comment below and let us know what you think about these games! We’d love to hear from you.
Cheryl is a teacher, writer, and board game fan. She likes incorporating games into all areas of her life, from classrooms and family nights to lively parties with friends. While she’s played too many to count, her favorites have always been classics like Codenames and chess.