PAX Unplugged: CODENAMES: Harry Potter

CODENAMES: Harry Potter
Pax Unplugged
December 1, 2018

At this year’s PAX Unplugged, we had the opportunity to play a lot of the newest tabletop, board, and card games on the market. Some impressed more than others. Some, we fell in love with.  CODENAMES: Harry Potter; from USAopoly, Inc. was one of those games … 

My favorite game from USAopoly that I played during (and have continued to play since) PAXUnplugged is CODENAMES: Harry Potter. Based on the 2015 game, Codenames (designed by Vlaada Chvátil and published by Czech Games), CODENAMES: Harry Potter is one of the several licensed spinoffs of the popular card game (USAopoly also distributes CODENAMES: Disney Family Edition and CODENAMES: Marvel).

Find 15 members of the Order of the Phoenix before it’s too late! 

In CODENAMES: Harry Potter, you and your teammate (the game is 2+ players but I’ve only played with my ten year old thus far) work for the Order of the Phoenix and you must give each other clues to try and locate 15 members of the Order on a grid of 25 cards before running into a Death Eater or a Ministry of Magic official. 

If you pick a square where a Ministry of Magic official is located, your turn is over.
If you or your partner picks are square where a Death Eater is located, the game is over.

The game structure is simple and the rules are very easy to pick up.  Without getting into the minutiae, you are your partner must find all 15 members of the Order of the Phoenix in ten turns or less. On each turn, a player gives his teammate a 1 one word clue and a number. The clue refers to cards(s) on the board where your code key indicates a member is hiding (your partner cannot see your code key) and the number represents how many cards on the board the 1 word clue refers to.  Obviously, you want to maximize clues per Order members per turn. 

Your code key – the red squares are where the Order Members are located … these are where you are trying to direct your partner to guess cards on the grid. Your partner has their own Code Key and trying to do the same to you.

Your partner, after hearing your clue, points to a card on the grid that they think you’re referring to. If it matches a red square on your code key, Hooray, you found an Order Member. They can keep guessing or pass. If they guess a square which matches an empty gray slot on your code key, their turn is over. If they guess a square that matches a star on your code key (there are 3 such squares on each code key), they’ve found a Death Eater and the game is over. *Sad trombones*

As a big, BIG Harry Potter fan, I LOVE this game and the way it challenges you to think of clever references that will maximize the chance of your partner making good guesses. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this game is the ULTIMATE in fun and showing off your knowledge. 

An example of the Mission Log gameplay variations! 

Once you’ve got the basic game play down, CODENAMES: Harry Potter  also comes with a “Mission Log.” This is a sheet of game variations you can incorporate into the game play to change up the rules and make the game even more challenging.  Together with the basic game play which is a tremendous amount of fun on its own, CODENAMES: Harry Potter provides hours of non repetitive entertainment. 

CODENAMES: Harry Potter retails for $24.95 and everything you need to play comes in the box: 200 Code Cards; 100 double-sided Key Cards; 15 Order of the Phoenix Cards; 1 Death Eater cover card; 12 Time-Turner tokens; 1 pad of Mission Logs; 1 card stand; and the Instructions. 

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