Using Codenames and reading the Elder Signs: A gaming experience

It scares me just how many games there are in the entire world and how different they are from each other. I am not that well versed in tabletop games, my experience is only limited to popular board games like Monopoly and Scrabble. Having played more niche and unique games in the past four weeks, this blog post will recount how my feelings towards the game progressed and changed as I played through them. Each experience was eye-opening and interesting to myself.

The first game was ‘Codenames’, a tabletop game. The basic premise is two teams play two different sides. One person gives a one-word clue to the other person, who must successfully interpret the clue and use it to find spies on their own side. At first, this game concept was really to understand for my group, as the multiple pieces required in the game were hard to initially understand. Several cards, like the one below, were baffling to understand without an explanation.

It took time to figure out what was going on, using multiple readings of the booklet and just playing the game to get into the flow and enjoy it fully. There are plenty of rules that were hard to understand the first time around. For example, the image above is a board where all the code names are presented. The spymasters can see this board, and try to give hints that relate to their team. I.E, the red spymaster will try to give hints to red code names. What they have to avoid is the black cross, the assassin, that instantly ends the game.

Giving hints was either extremely gratifying or frustrating, as you have to really know your team member so the hints make sense to them so you can get the most matches per go. Hints that make perfect sense to yourself may not make as much sense to your teammate. This mechanic is really addicting and exciting for me, and leads to some laughs but also some annoying moments when your teammate didn’t get the clue. Here is a guide to play the game with a strategy.

Another game that I experienced was The Botch, a simple game about a botched robbery and a gang of criminals collecting diamonds. To win, the criminals must either collect 10 diamonds or be the last one alive. Players choose a character and an item, and take turns to either swap an item, do an action or look at their item. Swapping the item was extremely captivating, as it introduces chaos and was really exciting to see the other players get annoyed when their plan didn’t work.

In the one play-through I had, I came second place and I enjoyed the experience. The art style was really cool and helped invest myself in the world the game created. Here is a link to more information about the game.

The next week was a mobile game called Elder Sign: Omens. At first, I was really intrigued by the multiple enemies to fight and the variety of heroes to choose from, and their abilities. For example, Amanda Sharpe can complete any number of tasks in a single turn.

The game works in turn-based combat, where certain runes or symbols need to be used to defeat enemies. The heroes must collect 14 elder signs before 12 doom counters are revealed. You use a team of 4 heroes. It sounds really interesting, and I really enjoyed the aesthetic of a doomy, scary atmosphere the game created. It helped get myself immersed in the world, and really like the atmosphere. The cut scenes peaked my interest, the art style of the characters and the map is really investing.

It is really frustrating to lose, particularly because I lost a lot when I played. I found it irritating that there were no hints or direction to help progress through the game. Also frustrated because there is no tutorial level to help understand game mechanics and how to beat specific opponents. The turn based combat works by using specific runes against an enemy, pictured below. If you do not have the right runes to defeat the enemy, one of the runes must be sacrificed and a new set of runes are summoned.

While the game play is simple and addicting at first, the element of luck required to defeat enemies is too frustrating. I lost a lot playing this game and this experience was entirely too negative for me to enjoy it.

The next week another board game experience was the table top game Galaxy Trucker. It involves placing tiles on a schematic for a spaceship, with items like shields, batteries and guns. Building the ships are the most enjoyable part of the entire game, as it requires lots of strategy and thought in order to get the right build. It was frustrating when the tiles couldn’t connect to others. It was also annoying when a certain event occurred that your ship couldn’t protect because you didn’t have the right build. For example, a meteorite threat could come from below and if there are no shields or shield without batteries, there is no protection.

It was really interesting and exciting before a threat is revealed, but I was disappointed there weren’t any more threats to deal with. Also, with no definitive winner or loser, I wasn’t too satisfied and happy with the ending. The threats also felt too weak and inconsistent and left me disappointed. While there was plenty of enjoyable elements to this game and left me happy and content with the experience, some disappointing elements brought my personal experience down in terms of enjoyment.

Photo links and References:

Code names feature image:

Code names Spymaster board:

Elder Sign: Omens:

Galaxy Truckers Tile board:

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