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Parents' Guide to

Codenames Online

By Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Know the rules before diving into this online card game.

Codenames Online Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this website.

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The basic goal is the same in the digital and board versions of this game: to find cards featuring your team's agents, using clues your team spymaster provides that relate to codenames listed on the cards. In Codenames Online, players click on a button to create a room and then share the URL with friends to invite them, so the playing environment should be secure and safe. But it's not overly dynamic. Cards are revealed when you click on them, but a brief flash is the only real visual effect you'll see, and there's no sound or other bells and whistles.

Spymasters can enter the number of cards that players should try to guess for a particular clue because hints could, in some instances, apply to more than one card. A clue like the word "color," for example, could correspond to both the "olive" and "ivory" cards on the board. But having the spymaster select a number of intended guesses seems somewhat unnecessary, since players can often pick a second card, even if their spymaster indicates they should try to guess only once. If they happen to choose a card featuring one of their agents on the second try, the team gets credit for it. The site design makes the next steps in the game pretty clear: Players will see whose turn it is and how many agents each team has left to uncover. The spymaster doesn't identify which cards he or she intends clues to correspond to, though, and kids have no way of knowing where any cards might be on the board, so it really ends up being a random guessing game. The site is still in beta, so some tweaks may be made in the future. Until then, players could be confused, since there are virtually no instructions given when you start. It isn't even initially clear how many people you need to play. Four seems to be the minimum. Technically, you can set up a game with just two, but players will find they can't get far without at least one designated spymaster and operative on each team. But to fully enjoy Codenames Online, players will need to already know how to play the board game version -- or visit a separate site and watch a video to learn.

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