Codenames swept the board gaming world in 2015, rapidly climbing into BoardGameGeek’s top 20 games as the highest ranked party game on the site (widely considered to be the Internet’s de facto authority on board gaming). Now publisher Czech Games Edition is bringing this excellent word game to mobile platforms, just as it has previously done with its also-fantastic Galaxy Trucker. Designer Vlaada Chvátil told Pocket Tactics about the port in a recent interview, sharing the game’s first screenshot (above).
In Codenames, two teams of spies compete to correctly identify their respective assets in a crowded party. This is represented as a five-by-five grid of random words, which are secretly assigned to either the red team, the blue team, neutral, or to one black “assassin” word.
Each team has a spymaster who knows which words are which, and in alternating turns must give a one-word clue followed by a number, indicating how many of the words they intended the clue to suggest. Their team guesses one at a time, hoping to properly identify all of their words before the other team does. Choosing a neutral word or a word for the opposing team ends their turn immediately, and choosing the assassin word ends the game immediately as a loss. Gameplay is fast, fun, and easy to learn, and the randomized selection of words for every game keeps the puzzle fresh and engaging. We’ve had a blast playing over the last few months, and are not surprised to see that so many other people have as well.
According to Chvátil, publisher CGE has opted to expand its small digital team in order to capitalize on the game’s breakout success with a mobile port. Although the core game was very easy to rapidly implement, plenty of work remains on menus, tutorials, and developing infrastructure to support matchmaking, ranking, and all of the expected features for an online multiplayer game. Apparently the team considered a free-to-play model, given the game’s broad appeal, but opted instead to focus on making a top-notch paid implementation for their dedicated fans: “There are devoted gamers who do not mind paying a few bucks for their fun, so we’re going to concentrate on making a great app instead of implementing monetization tricks.”
Vlaada Chvátil is best known for — besides confusing English speakers as to how is name is pronounced — designing some of the most beloved board games of the last decade, including Space Alert, Galaxy Trucker, Dungeon Petz, and Mage Knight. The sheer breadth of ideas and wildly different types of gameplay in his work has more than earned him a position as one of the most respected auteur designers of the 2000s board gaming renaissance. CGE is also working on a mobile port of Chvátil’s Through the Ages, an epic game of clashing civilizations.
There is no word yet on a release date for Codenames.