Easy to learn
Fun to play
Fast-paced and engaging
A tad advanced for younger players
Box could be improved for better storage
Codenames: Duet is a cooperative game in which players work together, rather than against one another, in order to win. Intended for two or more players and recommended for ages 11 and up, this is a strategic word game that revolves around a secret mission. Assessing aspects like design, versatility, and replay potential, we put Codenames: Duet to the test to see how well it could keep us entertained. Read on to hear our final verdict.
Gameplay: Engaging, versatile, and easy to play
To play the game, 25 word cards are laid out on the table in a 5 x 5 grid. A double-sided Duet key card is placed between the two players. On each side of the card, nine words are indicated in green. You will give clues to your partner so they can attempt to guess these words. A clue consists of one word and one number. The number indicates how many words are relevant to the clue provided. The biggest challenge is to provide one clue that applies to multiple words, which is often hard to do. Otherwise, you will likely run out of time as each turn uses up a timer token. Beware of the three assassin cards marked in black. If you or your partner guess one of those words, you lose the game immediately.
Since each round only takes about 15 minutes, the game is fast-paced and engaging.
Your partner also sees a grid on their side of the Duet card, but the positioning of the grid and some of the words are different. In turn, your partner will give clues so you can guess the words marked in green on their side. Whenever a player guesses a word correctly, it is covered with a green agent card. To win the game, you must reveal all fifteen agents—without encountering an assassin—before you run out of turns. To make things even more challenging, you can use the mission map to create variations of the game, alternating the number of turns and the amount of acceptable mistakes allowed.
One minor complaint about the design: We wished the box was better constructed. Five resealable plastic bags are provided to contain all of the cards and loose pieces, but they’re pretty flimsy. We would have preferred a tray with slots to better store the components.
Entertainment Value: Fast-paced and fun for all
Don’t worry if the rules sound complicated—they’re really not! We caught on quickly and thought the game was really fun to play. We played the first four games as a two-person team. Since each round only takes about 15 minutes, the game is fast-paced and engaging. We liked the cooperative aspect of Codenames: Duet—players work together, rather than against one another, to win the game. With 200 double-sided word cards (400 words in total), the game has great replayability. As two word-lovers in our thirties and forties, this game was right up our alley.
As two word-lovers in our thirties and forties, this game was right up our alley.
Since we enjoyed the game so much, we played with a few more friends later that night, splitting up into two teams of two people. We had just as much fun playing as a group. Three of us have been friends since childhood, so we peppered our clues with inside jokes and local references, which added a lot of laughter to the mix.
Age Range: 11 and up
There is a small amount of historical references that might be too advanced for your average 11-year-old. Joan of Arc, Sphinx, and crusader are a few examples. Aside from that, most words are simple enough that almost anyone can play.
Price: More than worth it
Retailing for about $20, Codenames: Duet packs a wallop of entertainment into a modest price tag. A budget-friendly game that provides hours of fun is without a doubt worth buying.
Competition: Plenty of cooperative games to choose from
Forbidden Island: Retailing for $18, Forbidden Island is a cooperative game that is well-loved by children and adults. It’s recommended for ages 10 and up and can be played with two to four people. The object of the game is to recover four sacred treasures from the sinking island. Forbidden Island will put your strategic thinking and problem solving skills to the test.
Pandemic: Pandemic is another cooperative game to consider—but only if you love a challenge. Players are on a mission to save the world by containing and curing a widespread disease outbreak. This game is extremely difficult because certain factors are beyond your control and there are multiple ways in which you can lose. Priced around $35, Pandemic is one of the more expensive games on the market but it’s highly replayable.
- Product Name Codenames: Duet
- Product Brand Czech Games
- MPN 00040CGE
- Price $19.95
- Weight 1 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 6.4 x 2.1 x 9.1 in.
- Recommended Age Range 10 and up
- Number of Players 2 (or more)
- What’s Included 15 green agent cards, 100 Duet key cards, 11 timer tokens, 1 assassin card, 1 pad of mission maps, 1 card stand, 1 rulebook, 200 word cards