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5 Sneaky Games Like Codenames

5 Sneaky Games Like Codenames

Codenames is one of the best party games you can buy. So what makes this game so special? The answer to this question will help you find the best board games like Codenames to share with your friends and family!

Here are a few of our favorite things about Codenames:

  • Plays well at higher player counts
  • Team-based gameplay
  • Limited communication
  • Easy to learn and teach
  • Straightforward gameplay
  • Quick, bite-sized game sessions
  • Great for a wide range of players (young to old)

Each of our top picks for the best board games like Codenames feature a unique combination of a few of the above elements. We’ve also included a few recommendations for the best games like Codenames: Duet, another fantastic version of the original game, in our round-up of honorable mentions- read on below for more! 

Our Top Games Like Codenames

Board Games like Codenames: Decrypto

Best Overall Game Like Codenames: Decrypto

Are you the best codebreaker? Intercept and decipher encrypted messages in this lovely retro world. If you love the idea of intercepting another team’s clues and working together to figure out what they’re all about, you’ll be on par with Alan Turing! 

Board Games like Codenames: The Resistance Avalon

Best Game Like Codenames for Large Groups: The Resistance: Avalon

A classic “gamer’s party game,” The Resistance: Avalon is a fun strategic party game featuring more layers of complexity than most party games and bluffing and hidden roles.

Board Games like Codenames: Mysterium

Best Spooky Game Like Codenames: Mysterium

Mediums assemble! You’ll communicate with each other via images in this spooky G-rated murder-mystery game. 

Board Games like Codenames: Just One

Best Word Game Like Codenames: Just One

Just One is a cooperative word game for large groups. Despite its simplicity, the beauty lies in the game’s ability to bring an extremely wide range of players together.

Board Games like Codenames: Dixit

Most Hilarious Game Like Codenames: Dixit

Exercise your imagination in this game of creative storytelling full of gorgeous artwork. You may find yourself laughing to the point of crying at some of the wild concepts your fellow gamers come up with!

5 Games like Codenames


Board Games like Codenames: Decrypto

Intercept enemy spy messages in this tale of espionage

Players: 4-8 // Game time: 15-45 minutes // Age: 10+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: iello / le Scorpion Masque

In Decrypto, you and your team members are part of a spy agency in a lovely retro world. So what’s your mission in this incredible thematic social deduction game, should you choose to accept it? 

Intercept and decipher the other team’s encrypted messages, while transmitting codes to your teammates without the other team intercepting your messages!

Decrypto requires you to walk a fine line. Since all of your communications will be visible to everyone in the game, you need to communicate clearly enough so that your team “gets it.” On the flip side, you also need to be vague enough to keep your opponents guessing! 

Here’s how a typical game of Decrypto goes:

  1. Split up into two teams (white and black) and pass along one screen, one Code Deck and one note sheet per team. The sand timer, interception tokens and miscommunication tokens go in the middle of the table.
  2. Each team draws 4 keyword cards and secretively places them into their themed code cracking player screen.
  3. The round begins! Each team selects an Encryptor, who draws a Code card and keeps it hidden from their teammates. They write three clues, read these clues aloud and then pass the sheet to their teammates. 
  4. Each team writes down their guesses. If they’re wrong, they receive a miscommunication token. 
  5. A new round begins. The cards are shuffled back into their respective decks and new Encryptors are selected. Go through Steps 1 through 5 again.
  6. From the second round onward, each team takes turns attempting to intercept the other team’s codes by matching the other team’s Encryptor code. If they succeed, they receive an interception token, which means they only need one more interception token to win the game! 

A game of Decrypto ends when one team has either a) correctly decrypted the other team’s codes twice; or b) has failed to decrypt their Encryptor’s code twice.

We know. Your eyes may be glazing over already. It is a little more complicated to explain to new players compared to Codenames, especially to casual gamers. In a nutshell, Decrypto uses a combination of keywords, clues, numbers and codes. This makes the game hard to describe, but Decrypto is actually pretty straightforward (and a whole lot of fun) to play once you get through a round or two! 

Why This is a Game Like Codenames

Decrypto is a team-based word game for large groups that features communication limits. Players are part of a team of spy agencies working against the other team, just like Codenames. On paper, these games seem similar. However, Decrypto is different enough for you to have room for both in your collection.

Who This Game is For

Gamers looking for a game like Codenames with a step up in complexity will love Decrypto. This game can also be fun for non-gamers, but it can be a little hard to explain the rules. In our experience, learning as you go is a great approach. With some effort, it’s entirely possible for players of all levels to pick it up and have a blast within one to two rounds.

Buy Decrypto on Amazon

If you love Decrypto and have mastered the game, Decrypto Expansion 1: Laser Drive is a great addition. The expansion adds an extra layer to the base game through the addition of one Laser Drive category card per round. This adds a new way of scoring, by way of guessing the other team’s keyword!

The Resistance: Avalon

Board Games like Codenames: The Resistance Avalon

Advance the interests of the evil-or-good forces in this Arthurian adventure

Players: 4-8 or more // Game time: 15 minutes // Age: 10+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: Czech Games

The Resistance: Avalon is a social deduction game set in King Arthur’s kingdom. It’s a game of bluffing and secret roles. No one is who they appear to be in the age of the Round Table! 

The fate of Britain lies in your hands. Are you an evil Minion of Mordred, or are you a Loyal Servant of Arthur? 

Only you can decide where your loyalties lie…

Only the evil agents and Merlin know who the Minions of Mordred are. Merlin is forced to keep his identity a secret, because if the evil Assassin learns who he is, all is lost.

All players are randomly dealt a card at the beginning of each game of The Resistance: Avalon that dictates their role. You may end up as a generic evil minion, a run-of-the-mill agent of good, Merlin himself or the cunning Assassin. You also have the option to assign additional special roles to players- that’s up to you! 

The Resistance: Avalon revolves around its missions. Each round, the current king picks a team to go on to the next quest. If a majority of players approve, the mission goes ahead.

If a mission moves forward, players chosen for the mission choose either a “success” or “fail” card. The good folks, including Merlin, have to select a “success” card. The agents of evil, in their journey of subterfuge, can opt to choose either option on a mission. If there is a “fail” card, you know there was an agent of evil on the mission! The question is who?

If the evil minions are able to prevent the good guys from winning three out of five missions, they win! If the Loyal Servants of Arthur, with Merlin’s help, are able to win at least three of the five missions, they’re one step closer to victory. 

However… at this point, the Assassin can now accuse someone of being Merlin, that do-gooder! If they guess correctly, Merlin is now vulnerable and, well, game over

That’s The Resistance: Avalon in a nutshell. There is a lot more to this game than we can explain in just a few paragraphs – this playthrough is hilarious and gives you a good idea of how fun it is to play this game.

Why This is a Game Like Codenames

Like Codenames, The Resistance: Avalon is a great game of deduction for large groups. There’s a similar premise to Codenames’ secret agents, only The Resistance: Avalon takes this to another level with bluffing and hidden roles.

Who This Game is For

Folks looking for a fun strategic party game for up to 10 players will love The Resistance: Avalon. Just keep in mind that this is more complex than Codenames and is often referred to as a gamer’s party game. We’ve been able to introduce this game successfully to some casual gamers, but others took longer to pick it up. In addition, the bluffing / traitor aspect of the game isn’t for everyone. The Resistance: Avalon isn’t a nice and friendly game (like Codenames). For all of the above reasons, it’s important to pick the right group. When you do, you’re in for a rollicking good time!

Buy The Resistance: Avalon on Amazon


Board Games like Codenames: Mysterium

Piece together clues to solve a spooky mystery

Players: 3-7 // Game time: 40 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: Libellud / Asmodee

Transport yourself to an elegant mansion in the middle of 1920s Scotland. You know, one of those spooky manors in Murder, She Wrote. Run your fingers across the bricks and inhale that musty air…

Open your eyes. Wait! 

You detect a supernatural presence, something just beyond your reach. You can sense it! There’s a spirit who desperately needs your help in solving their murder! As experts in the supernatural, you gather together for an epic sèance to solve the crime! 

There’s a catch, though. But of course.

The ghost can’t talk, and communicates with the mediums through visions (illustrated cards). Mediums need to work together to crack the case, but have limited ways to communicate with each other. 

Welcome to Mysterium, a spooky G-rated sèance full of mysterious goings-on!

The clock is already ticking- you have only seven hours to successfully make contact with the spirit and interpret clues to unlock this spooky mystery in Mysterium. Get busy, because you need to deduce who the suspect is, the location of the crime and finally, the murder weapon. Each hour represents one turn in the game! 

One player will take on the role of the ghost, and everyone else is a medium. The ghost will randomly assign suspect, location and murder weapon cards in secret to a medium. With the help of the mediums, the ghost will start by recalling all of the suspects who were present the night of the murder. 

If even one medium is unsuccessful at solving the ghost’s murder before your seven hours are up, the ghost dissipates before your very eyes and the mystery is forever unsolved.

Mysterium was one of our picks for the best board games for 5 players – check out our round-up for more information on this great game.

Why This is a Game Like Codenames

Like Codenames, Mysterium is a team-based game of deduction for large groups that features communication limits. Instead of words, players communicate via images (not unlike the pictures used in Codenames). 

Who This Game is For

Anyone looking for a fun G-rated, family-friendly game like Codenames! Mysterium is a particularly good pick around Halloween. Dim the lights, put on some spooky music and get your favorite people together for a game-centered sèance!

Buy Mysterium on Amazon

Just One

Board Games like Codenames: Just One

Guess simple words based on not-so-simple one-word hints

Players: 4-6 // Game time: 20 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: Repos Production

This ultra simple and quick cooperative party game is ready to bring you tons of fun, whether you want a lighter game to start and close game nights, a fun party game for your next get-together or some good fun at a holiday gathering with extended family members!

Despite its simplicity, the beauty of Just One is the game’s ability to bring an extremely wide range of players together. It can be hilarious with the right group, since you are all writing your own words down – you’ll find there are some wacky clues!

You can get Just One to the table in just a few minutes, including an explanation of the game for any new players. 

You’ll complete a round in just a few steps:

  1. Draw 13 cards and place face down, pass out an easel and marker (both are included in the game) and select the first active player.
  2. Round 1 begins! The active player draws the top card of the deck (don’t peek!) and reveals it to the other players. The player picks a number between one and five to determine which of the five words on the card are in play.
  3. Everyone else writes one single-word clue on their easel that will allow other players to guess their “official” word on the card itself. No discussions are allowed! To keep the game challenging, you can’t pick a clue that sounds the same as the word on the card, write the clue in a foreign language and so on.
  4. The active player closes their eyes while the other players compare their clues. Any identical or invalid clues are erased, so you have to make your clues unique!
  5. The active player can open their eyes and take a look at the clues. They can skip their turn or take a guess. If they’re wrong, reset and start a new round with the player on the left. Rinse and repeat until you run out of cards in your deck! 

Just One is so straightforward that we find we can play it (and have tons of fun) with a much wider range of people than Codenames. Our favorite octogenarians? Check. Our 10 year old niece? Check. Our 30-something friend who’s a self-proclaimed board game hater? Checkkk! 

Why This is a Game Like Codenames 

A game like Codenames, Just One is a cooperative word game for large groups, and features communication limits. This game is one of a handful of fun party games you can buy that are truly accessible for a wide range of players. In fact, we’d argue that Just One captures an even wider audience than Codenames due to its inherent simplicity. 

Who This Game is For

Gamers and non-gamers. We mean it. The game’s streamlined rules means we can teach the game to anyone in just a few minutes (usually less). We believe a lot of casual players will enjoy Just One for just this reason.

Buy Just One on Amazon


Board Games like Codenames: Dixit

Tell stories through imaginative cards

Players: 4-6 // Game time: 30 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Easy

Publisher: Libellud / Asmodee

At its heart, Dixit is a game of creative storytelling that is facilitated by cards with gorgeous artwork. You’ll pick this game up for its’ great aesthetics but stay for it’s irresistible play. You take turns being a storyteller, telling fantastical stories to your enraptured watchers and/or listeners.

Dixit is a fun game to introduce to a range of people. When you play with a group of close friends, it’s fun to see how well you know each other. Playing with kids is a lot of fun – it’s so interesting to see how they think and what they come up with. Playing Dixit with strangers or people you don’t know well is a great way to get to know people better.

The game plays out through a few simple steps:

  1. Each player draws 6 cards.
  2. Round 1 begins. The first storyteller chooses one of their cards and says a word or phrase that matches this card, while keeping the card hidden from the other players.
  3. Every non-storyteller player chooses one of their cards and says a word or phrase to match this card.
  4. The storyteller shuffles the cards and places them in the middle of the playing area.
  5. Each non-storyteller player takes turns selecting a card the storyteller has placed. This takes place through voting. The goal is to correctly guess which card the storyteller picked at the beginning of the round. Based on who guessed correctly, players are allocated points! 
  6. Round 2 begins, and so on. The game ends once the last card has been drawn. The person with the most points wins. 

Although there are points and an official winner in Dixit, it feels like everyone wins. Each person has at least one clever moment in the game, and you may find yourself laughing until you’re crying at some of the concepts your fellow gamers come up with.

Why This is a Game Like Codenames

Dixit is a game like Codenames, because it’s a cooperative guessing game for large groups. Similarly, like Codenames, Dixit is a great game to play with any player, young to old. Dixit bears more resemblance to Codenames: Pictures, which uses images within the gameplay system devised for Codenames.

Who This Game is For

Dixit is perfect for the avid board gamer who wants a fun, interactive game to play with a variety of people, particularly kids and folks new to board games. The visual nature of the game is attractive to very young kids, and you may be surprised at how well they can play, with a little bit of help. In addition, anyone looking for a short, hilarious game to play with all sorts of groups will love Dixit.

Buy Dixit on Amazon

Dixit has been a classic since the moment it hit the shelves in 2010.That being said, its longevity means that there are a LOT of expansions. These expansions add a ton of replayability, so we highly recommend picking up at least one if you love the game. Here are some of our favorites:

Dixit Daydreams – The cards in this expansion are beautiful, strange and abstract. This leads to some really great Dixit gaming sessions!

Dixit Revelations – This expansion seems inspired by ancient Greece and is more thematically cohesive than most, creating new challenges in gameplay. 

Dixit Memories – In our opinion, this expansion wins the beauty pageant compared to the rest of the expansions. The straightforward nature of the cards, though, make this expansion less useful for folks who want a tougher game.

Dixit Mirrors – This one brings a completely different aesthetic, with more straightforward cards. 

Dixit 3: JourneyThis expansion is similar to Daydreams in that it brings a new set of beautiful, abstract cards.

Dixit: OdysseyThis expansion features yet more gorgeous, colorful cards that lean towards the abstract and add yet more variety.

Dixit: Origins – There is a lot going on in each card in this set. It adds fun variety, but becomes a little scary if you use the cards from this expansion exclusively.

That’s a Wrap!

Codenames is a classic party / family game that continues to be a mainstay in people’s collections. We gave you our favorite game recommendations for the best games like Codenames above, but there are so many great games out there!

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention a few honorable mentions. These honorable mentions are all games like Codenames, are good at larger player counts and simple enough to play with players of all abilities:

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Concept

Concept is a great party game that plays well with up to 12 players. The premise is simple but oh-so-fun: select icons to help your team guess the right word/ phrase.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Hues and Cues

Hues and Cues is a gorgeous game all about… You guessed it, color! Players get only 1-2 clues to correctly identify the right shade, out of a whopping 480 shades.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: A Fake Artist Goes to New York

In A Fake Artist Goes to New York, players get a clue and then attempt to draw the word. The catch is one player doesn’t get the clue and has to fake it. Can you find the fake artist?

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Sushi Go Party

Sushi Go Party! is not a social deduction game. The fun is in drafting cards with up to 8 players, as you create a smorgasbord of delicious sushi.

If you enjoy the hidden communication aspect of Codenames but don’t need to play at higher player counts, these honorable mentions are a great choice:

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Hanabi

Hanabi is a cooperative deductive game for 2-5 players. Players hold out their fireworks cards so they’re visible only to the other players. You need to work together to identify and play each card.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: The Crew The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a strategic cooperative trick-taking campaign game for 2-5 players (think bridge fully cooperative). Communication is surprisingly difficult in space as you work together to accomplish each mission.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Deception Murder in Hong Kong

If you love the addition of hidden roles and deception, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a lot of fun as you take on the role of investigators trying to solve a murder. The catch is that one of the investigators is the killer.

If you’re looking for a good game like Codenames: Duet, a few of our honorable mentions we mention above work well at the two player count:

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Sushi Go Party

Though you can opt to buy Sushi Go!, Sushi Go! Party has everything you need to play with two players, but the versatility to play with up to eight.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Hanabi

Hanabi has more layers but is still fun when playing with two players, compared to higher player counts.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: The Crew The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a fun game for two players if you don’t mind using a game rule that introduces a dummy player (often called an “automa”). 

Here are a few more picks for the best games like Codenames: Duet that are great for two players:

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Mysterium Park

Unlike Mysterium, Mysterium Park plays well with two players (yay!). This streamlined version places you smack-dab in the middle of a 1950’s U.S. fairground for your next sèance.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Spicy

In Spicy, “big cats and hot bluffing” is the name of the game (Really. According to the publisher). This card game is absolutely gorgeous and plays well at the two player count.

Honorable Mention Games like Codenames: Dixit

Dixit technically is not designed for a two player game. However, we’ve had fun at this player count with this unofficial variant.

There you have it – plenty of options for your next party as you reach beyond Codenames!

Photo Credit: Thanks, Czech Games! cc

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