top of page


Updated: Mar 7, 2019

What a morning.

Tom’s been away working in London for the last couple of days which means that the boys’ good behaviour benchmark has gone downwards. Apparently the wrath of one dad is less of a threat than the wrath of two.

So, we’ve had low-level irritating squabbles a-plenty this morning; poking each other’s ribs, violent cushion fights that are on the wrong side of the fun/fight border and farting in faces including one very potent one from Richard right into my mouth when I was on the settee having a lovely yawn this morning – not one of my life’s highlights.

Despite the larking around, we were ready for school with teeth brushed and hair styled in good time this morning. But around five minutes before the school run I suddenly remembered that it was a charity non-uniform day, so we left in an enormous panic, five minutes late after a mad dash around the house looking for two £1 coins and a semi-stylish outfit each to wear.

On arrival at school, I was relieved to find that almost every other parent looked equally as harassed by the whole ordeal, never-the-less all the children were full of excitement, bouncing around in their class-queues in their bright, non-uniform outfits. I’m glad that’s over.



Once a month, the marvellous people at Board Game Club send us a new game to play and review. It’s such a refreshing change to receive anything other than a tax reminder or junk from the AA in the post – we all get a lovely excited feeling when the monthly game delivery arrives.

This week we’ve been playing an exciting new wordy board game called CODENAMES (all one word – my spellchecker is overheating here). The packaging suggests that CODENAMES is a ‘top secret’ party game and to get the boys into a top secret party mood, we all don our shades so that we look like a family of inconspicuous spies/holiday-makers.

What’s inside the box?

Inside the box is an egg-timer and two stacks of word cards, each featuring a simple word on either side. There’s a stack of square cards containing coloured grids and a set of heavier cards each featuring either a red spy, a blue spy or a stressed-out looking civilian (looking a little bit like the harassed parents on this morning’s non-uniform day school run).

As with previous Board Game Club games, Tom and I were very impressed with the quality of the colourful, heavy duty cards; they’re robust and well designed.


The family is split into two teams; me and Lyall vs Dad and Richard. Lyall’s an extraordinary whizz-kid at anything wordy so I always try to get him on my side.

Inspired by The Apprentice, we spent a good minute or two deciding what to call our teams. Lyall called our team “Nacho Cheese” and Richard called their team “Justin Beiber” (not sure that Richard quite understands the concept of team names just yet but we love the Beib in this family so what the hell, we’ll go with it).

Teams are arranged opposite one another, so essentially Dad and I are on one side of the table, Richard and Lyall on the other. In this arrangement, the adults are “Spymasters” and the children on the other side of the table are “Field Operatives”. Keep reading, this will hopefully make sense in a moment.

A grid of 25 completely random word cards are set out in a neat 5×5 grid as pictured below – please excuse the felt tip stains all over our once beautiful M&S dining table. Grrrrr.

Each team chooses either red or blue spy cards – I chose red, Dad chose blue.

A square grid card is positioned upright in a little plastic holder so that only the Spymasters (Dad and I) can see the colourful grid on it. The grid on the card is also 5×5 and has blue and red squares on it (and beige ones but for the sake of keeping this simple we’ll ignore those just now). This grid tells the Spymasters which corresponding cards in the grid of word cards belong to my red and Dad’s blue spy cards.

To start, I look at the red squares on the grid card to locate the corresponding word cards. Then, I (as red Spymaster) provide a one-word clue that could be associated with our word cards, in order for my Field Operative (Lyall) to guess which word cards belong to our team.

So, in the image below, if you look carefully you’ll can see that four of the word cards that correspond with the red squares in the grid are

  • Screen

  • Dinosaur

  • Park

  • Hollywood

I have to provide a one-word clue to draw Lyall to those words.

So I say “Jurassic” and I tell him that there are four words to find. Lyall then studies the words in the grid of cards and points to four that could relate to my clue.

When Lyall correctly guesses the four words relating to “Jurassic” by pointing at them, I place four red spy cards over them.

Our turn continues until Lyall gets a word wrong, in which case the corresponding blue or civilian card is placed and it’s the other team’s turn.

Lyall and I grasped the rules fairly quickly, while Tom and Richard took a little longer to understand what we were trying to achieve. Once we’d played a couple of practise rounds we found ourselves getting very competitive.

How do you win?

The aim of the game is for my Field Operative (Lyall) to guess correctly which word cards should belong to my red spy cards, and Richard to guess correctly the location of Dad’s blue ones. The first team to have correctly located all of their corresponding word cards wins.

It’s a bit like a fun, wordy version of Battleships or Guess Who.


So, marks out of 10…


Dad – 7/10 Daddy – 7/10 Lyall – 7/10 Richard – 7/10

Colourful, robust cards. Neat little box. The boys pointed out that the design could be improved by including a board to lay out the word cards onto.


Dad – 8/10 Daddy – 9/10 Lyall – 7/10 Richard – 5/10

The rules were challenging for everybody to understand but eventually we all ‘clicked’ and CODENAMES is very moreish!

Value for money

Dad – 8/10 Daddy – 8/10 Lyall – 10/10 Richard – 10/10

Overall: 7/10

Before I forget, I must mention that CODENAMES was provided free of charge by the Blogger Board Game Club in return for our impartial, candid review.


bottom of page