I Spy a Spy - A Review of Codenames: Pictures

Codenames: Pictures

Hot off the success of Codenames is the standalone sequel Codenames: Pictures. But is it as good as its predecessor?

Gameplay

Twenty cards are laid out on the table. On each card is an illustration which tends to blend several things together such as a platypus with a bone and collar or a dragon next to a tipi.

There are two teams: blue team and red team. On each team, one player is selected to be spymaster. A key card is drawn at random, which shows the spymasters which pictures belong to each team, which pictures are neutral, and which one is the assassin.

On his turn, a spymaster gives clues to help his team guess which pictures belong to them. A clue consists of one word and a number. The number is how many pictures the clue applies to, and the word is anything that the spymaster feels connects those pictures. For instance ‘Deadly – 2’ could include both a dragon and a scythe. As long as a team guesses their pictures correctly, they can keep guessing until they choose to stop or until they have guessed one more than the number listed in the clue. It is then the other team’s turn.

The game continues until a team has correctly guessed all of their pictures. If a team guesses the assassin, they automatically lose.

Codenames: Pictures Components

Review

Gameplay is exactly the same as in the original Codenames. Also like the original, Pictures is a fun party game that’s very versatile for a wide number of players. Being either the spymaster or one of the guessers is equally fun, and the game is short enough that everyone can probably have a chance to try giving the clues. Personally, we found pictures slightly easier to give clues for than words, but this is likely to vary from player to player.

The pictures are all creative and fun — different components are cleverly blended together to create a unique mishmash of objects. A lot of thought and creativity clearly went into them and they’re a delight. They can also be open to some out-of-the-box clue giving, as pictures are subject to a lot more interpretation than words.

Several variations are also listed in the rulebook, such as the idea of mixing Pictures in with the original game, which shows just how versatile the idea behind Codenames really is.

Codenames: Pictures doesn’t really change anything. If you want something different or new added to the original game, Pictures doesn’t really do that. But if you want you want is even more Codenames this is the game for you. It may not be a necessary addition to your collection if you already have the first, but it is still just as fun.

Pros: Great gameplay, creative illustrations

Cons: Nothing new is added to the game

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.