Just a few years ago Code names took the board game universe by storm with its elegantly simple, clue-based gameplay. If your gaming group is looking for a new variant of the formula, DecryptThe ingenious combination of code cracking and misleading hints could be just the thing. We played it on the latest episode of Overboard with special guest Alanah Pearce in the video and had an absolute blast (and we hardly have two brain cells to rub against each other).
Decrypt, to like Code names before that, it’s about giving clues to your teammates. A good hint needs to be precise enough for them to know what the hell you’re talking about, but also vague enough so that the opposing team doesn’t crack the code instead. This is how it is played.
At the beginning of the game, both teams are assigned four “keywords”. These are never communicated to the opposing team, so players must be careful not to say them out loud and instead refer to the number assigned to them. Then one player in each team takes on the role of the “encryptor” and gives hints for three of these four key words. As soon as the clues are ready, the rest of the players try to match them without further help from their encryptor. If they miscalculate just one of these clues, your team will receive a miscommunication token. Any team that receives two of these tokens loses the game.
The game gets interesting because these clues are public information. After the first round, both teams have the opportunity to use this information to try to intercept the other team’s code. This is difficult the first time as there are few clues on the board. As the game progresses and clues accumulate, patterns can emerge. For example, if any of the red team’s keywords contains the clues “boat,” “ocean”, and “seaman,” then the blue team can likely assume that the next nautical clue they see is the clue Likewise for this keyword. If a team succeeds in correctly identifying all three clues during an interception round, it will receive an interception token. A team only needs two interception tokens to win the game!
What makes it difficult to intercept is that the encryption player can intentionally create misleading clues. In the example above, the hint “wave” may be another nautical hint, or the red team has the keyword “GREETING” and knows that a hint like “wave” only confuses the blue team. Encrypt ors still have to be careful not to get too smart or their own team may not understand the clues!
Decrypt is not as easy as Code namesbut the added complexity is well worth it. Clues can be much more open-ended (full sentences are allowed), and the encryption role changes each round, giving all players a chance at the clue to create a hot seat. Check out our Let’s Play video above for a more detailed explanation of the rules and see how fun the game can be, even when you barely have two brain cells to rub against each other. We played the game through Zoom, which worked out finebut is not ideal. We strongly recommend playing the super stylish physical board game whenever possible.
If you like the video then you should check out them all past episodes of Overboard over on ours Youtube channel. We’ve played tons of excellent board games on the show, and you can find many more excellent board game recommendations here on Polygon!