There are several games that are considered staples of any tabletop get-together, and Czech Games Edition's Codenames series is definitely a part of that elite group. The franchise continues to expand with unique licenses and gameplay variants, and one of the best examples of this is Codenames: Duet XXL. As the name suggests, Codenames gives the game a more cooperative flair rather than team vs. team focus of the original, and coupled with the larger size of the components, it delivers one of the most entertaining and easy to learn versions of this hit franchise so far.
For those unfamiliar with Codenames, the game has players giving clues to their team in the form of a word and a number. The word is a hint about one or several of the cards lying on the board, and the number tells the team how many cards the clue refers to. You're doing this according to a codex only you can see, and you're attempting to guide the player towards the secret agents and away from the Assassin.
The original version is team-based, but Duet makes the game a completely cooperative affair, and the game is a much more relaxing experience that's no less engaging. Both you and the other player have your own codex, and three of your Agents will overlap. You each have your own assassin as well, and you will need to give clues that steer your teammate away from them or wrong guesses since you only have so many turns to complete the game in.
This version also benefits from the XXL designation, which makes each card much larger. This might seem like a small thing, but anyone who has tried to squint for a few hours at smaller text will appreciate the larger Word Cards.
That said, this also means that the real estate on your tabletop increases as well, as you'll need to accommodate 25 large cards. Compared to other games it is still relatively small, but it's still worth noting,
While you might play this game for a few hours, the individual sessions themselves won't last too long at all. In an hour or two, you can get in several games, and there are enough Word Cards and Keys to keep things lively for several playthroughs. The inclusion of a campaign mode is also appreciated for those who want a longer experience.
The real magic here is in the cooperative play and an almost non-existent learning curve. Codenames Duet XXL is perfect for people who don't have as much experience with board games, as after one or two quick turns they'll more than likely have a firm grasp on how things work. The addictive "let's play one more round" style gameplay will have longtime players itching for more, so regardless of the audience, you really can't go wrong with Codenames.
You're going to love pretty much any version of Codenames, but the cooperative focus and larger components easily make this my preferred version, and odds are you'll love it, too.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Published By: Czech Games Edition
Designed By: Vlaada Chvátil and Scot Eaton
Art By: Tomáš Kučerovský