Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of Codenames Duet by Czech Games Edition

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Review of Codenames Duet by Czech Games Edition
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Title: Diet Codenames Duet
Designed by: Vlada Chvatil, Scot Eaton
Publisher: Czech Games Edition 
Year Published: 2017
MSRP: $20
2-4p | 15-30 min | 11+

I really enjoy the original Codenames, but it's often difficult to get the game to the table, at least with my game group.  We generally gravitate toward more strategic games.  However, there are plenty of times at home when my wife and I would like to play something, but with three rambunctious boys in the house short games are the easiest for my wife and I to get to the table.  When I heard that my friend Scot was working on a two-player variant of  Codenames, one of my wife's favorite games, I was intrigued.  When I heard that the folks at Czech Games Edition were going to publish his version I was excited.   It's been available for a few years now, but I'm thrilled to finally be able to share my review of Codenames Duet with you.

Blooms are the game's highlights and features.  Elements that are exceptional.
  • Keeps the feel of the original game, but with only 2 players.
  • The new tiles are just as high quality as the original game.
  • If you're familiar with the base game you'll be playing this one in no time - there are only a few differences.  If you're new to Codenames it's still an easy learn.
Buds are interesting parts of the game I would like to explore more. 
  • Can be played with more than 2 players.
  • Can be played with different versions of Codenames.
  • "Missions" change the game up to keep things interesting.  
Thorns are a game's shortcomings and any issues I feel are noteworthy.
  • Like the original, it can be challenging playing with kids who may not have as much worldly experience to make connections between multiple words. 
Final Thoughts:
When I have the itch to play Codenames, now I can pull out Codenames Duet and my wife and I can get a game knocked out in just 15 minutes!  You still have the same experience of wracking your brain to figure out the perfect clue to string together multiple words, then the exhilaration when your partner guesses them all, or the frustration when they make a connection you didn't think about, and it all works with just two players.

I found the distribution of spies, bystanders, and assassins to be ingenious.  Each player sees a different side of an identifier card that identifies nine spies and three assassins, however between both players there will be 15 spies to connect with.  That means there are three spies that we have in common.  And of the three assassins that I know of, one is an assassin, one a spy, and one a bystander for your partner.  This makes it so you can't quite use your own identifier card to figure out what your partner sees.  That gives the game a slightly different twist from the original, but still keeps the same tension.

Overall, I was very impressed with Codenames Duet.  It stays true to the original while still providing a unique experience.  I really like the missions that present you with additional challenges and variations of play to keep the game interesting.  I also really love that you can mix this version with any of the other versions of Codenames.  If you enjoy Codenames, but want to play with just two players, or if you like two-player games, then Codenames Duet is just the game for you!  Codenames Duet is definitely a Bloom game that would be a great addition to anyone's collection. 

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns Rating:
Bloom!  This game is great and worth
adding to your collection!  It should be
on just about every gamer's shelf. 


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GJJ Games Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some were provided by a publisher or designer for my honest feedback and evaluation.  I make every attempt to be both honest and constructively critical in my reviews, and they are all my opinions.  There are four types of reviews on GJJ Games: Full Reviews feature critical reviews based on a rubric and games receive a rating from 0 to 100.  Quick Reviews and Kickstarter Previews are either shorter reviews of published games or detailed preview reviews of crowdfunding games that will receive a rating from 0 to 10 based on my impressions of the game.  Buds, Blooms,and Thorns reviews are shorter reviews of either published or upcoming games that highlight three aspects of a game: Buds are parts of a game I look forward to exploring more, Blooms are outstanding features of a game, and Thorns are shortcomings of a game.  Each BBT review game will receive an overall rating of Thorn, Bud, or Bloom.

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