Codenames: Duet - Written Game Review

Codenames Duet is the latest released Codenames game from Czech Games Edition (with more to come). If you’ve not played one of the other titles in the Codenames series, it’s a word based game in which one word clues are given and that clue relates to words on the table. Cover the correct words and you win, cover the assassin word and you’re done. It’s loosely based on the spy genre with players playing spies, trying to uncover other spies.

Where Codenames Duet differs from the regular Codenames games is that it’s a game made specifically for only two players. The regular Codenames games are made for teams of people, the more people - generally speaking - the more fun, it never really worked with just two, until now.

In Codenames Duet, you’re still spies trying to uncover your sleeper agents and bring them to safety. You need to uncover 15 agents, without uncovering that pesky assassin. Thing is it’s not that straight forward however. There’s also spaces on your now double-sided code card that show each player 3 assassins, despite there only being one true assassin (that matches the same space on both sides of the reference card). Each player will see one of the assassins as a safe word, so once that is out, the other player will realise that assassin was a decoy. It’s a clever little mechanic that keeps things slightly fraught with danger.

Another rule change in Codenames Duet is time being of the essence. After each round being passed by a player a time token is taken and there’s only 9 in the game (with two spare if you want to make it easier, so 11 all up). That means you need to find 15 agents in a maximum of 9 rounds. That can be tough stuff if the words aren’t multi-clue friendly. To make things more difficult those time tokens are innocent bystanders on the other side, so fluff a clue, choose one of those and it’s placed on the word pointing to the player who guessed it. Another of your 9 tokens gone!

Codenames Duet also comes with a campaign pad, where you can mark off missions in particular cities and travel to any city adjoining it. It’s a cute add-on, but it really serves little purpose other than tweaking the difficulty of the game, with each city carrying with it particular restrictions you need to adhere to in order to complete it.

Being a CGE title Codenames Duet is good quality. It comes in the same sized box as the other Codenames titles, meaning it sits on your shelf nicely. Good card stock, nice tiles and some amusing artwork that harkens to famous faces (I’ll list at the bottom for you in case you’re wondering). The only negative - and it’s slight - is that the arrows on the innocent bystander chits is very faint and hard to see, but you can see what way up the bystander is, so it’s of little consequence to the gameplay.

Codenames Duet becomes a must have brain burner for two-player gamers

Overall my time with Codenames Duet has been great. I never get to play Codenames as much as I want to because a lot of my midweek gaming is just myself and my partner. As mentioned regular Codenames never worked well with us, we just know each other too well, so it was a bore. The additional rules of a double sided agent card, featuring three assassins per side is extremely clever. Add to that the time tokens and innocent bystanders and Codenames Duet becomes a must have brain burner for two-player gamers.


Famous ‘spies’ of Codenames Duet: Who are those faces reminiscent of exactly? Well there appears to be the following, at least I think so:

Olivia Wilde from Tron
Tom Selleck from Magnum PI / Blue Bloods
Sandra Bullock from Miss Congeniality
Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Jamie Lee Curtis from True Lies.
Charlize Theron from Atomic Blonde (maybe?)
Ruby Rose from xXx and John Wick 2
Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible
Piper Perabo / Annie Walker from Covert Affairs
Will Smith from MIB
Vanessa Ferlito from Graceland
Jason Statham from Spy

Feel free to hit us up on Twitter or Facebook if you know who the others are!