Board Game Battle Table Top

Board Game Battles: Codenames vs Codenames Pictures

It’s been a while, but we have a feud going on between two popular party games from the same family. It’s sibling versus sibling in a battle that is going to get messy. Which one will stand tall at the end of this board game battle, you’ll have to see.

Both Games:
In both games you are divided into two teams. There’s one person who is the leader of each team who is going to be giving clues. These clues are going to correspond to words or pictures on cards on the table. The goal of the game is to get your team to get all your words or pictures first by giving a one word clue and how many words that relates to. But beware that you don’t get them to guess their opponents or an innocent bystanders card as that will end your turn guessing. And if you get the assassin, that’ll cause your team to lose.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Let’s meet the two competitors:

This is the original, older, version of the game. You play with a slightly larger grid of words in this game so each team has more words to guess. The other mechanics are going to be the same, but as the original it’s the one that more people have heard of. All the words are the cards are single word per card, there are some fun things that you can do with using multiple meanings of the same word to try and get people to get two seemingly separate words, but that can be a limit to base Codenames.

Codenames: Pictures
This one is played on a slightly smaller grid, though if you have the cards from original code names, for what is supposed to be guessed for each team, you can use cards either direction. On the cards are going to be weird images, it would be something like a spaceship flying through the hole of a doughnut. The guessing is very similar, but each picture has more than one concept built into it from the start.


When we’re looking at which one is more popular, and looking around the crowd, there’s clearly more shirts for Codenames in there than there is for Codenames Pictures which might be the motivation for this fight. It starts out with them mirroring the moves of each other, which you’d expect from siblings who play basically the same way. As the fight goes on though, Codenames Picutres is starting to show off some more creative moves. They’ve managed to combo together several moves. Codenames is struggling to keep up with the moves. It’s slower plodding offense is not getting through to Codenames Pictures. Codenames looks like it has more endurance though and is able to kickout from an early finisher by Codenames Pictures. But using a move from it’s siblings playbook, Codenames Pictures is able to hit a big move and end it.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Winner: Codenames Pictures

When it comes down to it, what Codenames lacks in excitement, Codenames Pictures can make up for. Codenames can take a while if the words and the card just don’t chain together well, but in Codenames Pictures, because the pictures are more abstract you’re able to create more interesting one word clues that allow for cool moments of getting several cards at once instead of maybe two. That makes the game feel more like a party game and something that can be pulled out with any group. It’s also not language dependent like Codenames is, so if you have a group of people who might not know all the words in English on the cards but can understand well enough, they can join in on a game of Codenames Pictures.

I think that Codenames is okay but as I’ve played the two different games, I don’t know that I really care to play Codenames again if Codenames Pictures is an option. There’s certainly no reason to have both in your collection, and Pictures just feels like more of a party game and more of a fun time which is what a light game like both of them is really meant to feel like.

Which of these two do you prefer? Do you agree with my choice for winner or do you prefer regular Codenames, if so, why?

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