Ensconced in a top secret bunker somewhere in the idyllic countryside of the county of Cheshire are a squad of ace code crackers, listening for code words over a rusty radio set from the other side of the iron curtain. With just a few careless uttered words our team will crack the code and end the Cold War before things turn hot!
Decrytpo is a game of deduction and subterfuge as players attempt to guess 3 digit codes set by the opposing team. If either team successfully intercepts two code correctly they win, while any team that fails to get their code to their fellow team mates twice automatically loses.
48 Code Cards
110 Keyword Cards
4 Interception Tokens
4 Miscommunication Tokens
50 Note Sheets
30 Second Sand Timer
The presentation of Decrypto is really nice. Each team has a screen to conceal their codewords behind with red filters to allow them to secretly reveal their words in the most "Junior Book of Spies" way possible. While entirely unnecessary, this does provide a joyful sense of nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the 80's & 90's, where a piece of red plastic was the height of hi-tech espionage gear.
Every card in the game has four code words for a total of 440 possible words. The words are occasionally a little American-centric but that doesn't really affect gameplay as the actual words are less important than their definition. The words can also be surprising long, with words like Refrigeration almost not fitting in the viewing window.
The game comes with plenty of sheets on the pads for players to track information and these are nicely laid out with lots of places to track the clues from the opposing team. And everything fits back in the box with room for the expansion too.
A Quick Overview
In Decrypto players divide themselves into teams. Each team receives a screen, a scoresheet and four code word cards. Slotting the cards into the screen will reveal your secret code words. Each word will correspond with a numbered slot, 1 through 4.
Each team shuffles up their deck of code cards and chooses one player to be the code giver for the round. They secretly look at the top card of the code deck and then write down three clues on their score sheet, Each clue should relate to one of the words on the screen with the aim being that the other players on your team can work out the 3 digit code on your card based on the clues you've given.
The clues are then revealed and your team attempts to guess the code. There is no reward for a correct guess but an incorrect one will earn you a miscommunication token, get two of these and your team loses. Correct or not the real code is then revealed for both teams to see. Then the other team does the same thing.
From round 2 onwards the opposing team gets the chance to guess your code before your own team does. They use the information from previous clues to attempt to deduce what your code words might be and which number they are associated with. If the opposing team successfully guesses the code they are rewarded with an intercept token, if any team has two intercept tokens they win the game.
Decrypto is often compared to Codenames for its more thought provoking party game play style, its head to head gameplay and espionage theme, but honestly the games are nothing alike. Decrypto is first and foremost a deduction game and it's a pretty good one, its fast paced and keeps all players involved at all times as turns take place simultaneously so there is no waiting around for the other team to take their turn. The game even includes a timer if you really want keep play moving forward.
As I mentioned recently I love word association as a mechanism in games like Just One and So Clover and Decrytpo, for me, sits in that category, while filling a different niche being a head to head competitive game instead. If Decrypto has a downside, it is that we're not good enough at it yet. While the game can technically be played over 8 rounds, our games have yet to go beyond the fourth. However as we continue to play and develop new and cunning strategies I can see Decrypto challenging So Clover for the crown as my favourite party game.
While other word games grapple with what is and what is not a legal clue, Decrypto is a bit more free form. Your clues must relate to the meaning of the word, but beyond that you can use whatever form you like, be it words, a whole sentence or a short novella, the rules even permit miming and dance or even drawing your clues.
Decrypto probably isn't a party game for everyone and all situations. Its lighter than Codenames, but it still requires a level of thoughtfulness that wouldn't pair well with jello shots and jager bombs. While the word association part will appeal more to players with an interest in languages, trivia or pop culture.
While the box states that the game can be played 3-8 I wouldn't recommend the 3 player variant which just has one player playing one half of the game while the others play normally.
Let's Talk About The Expansion
After just one play of Decrypto I knew I liked it and I was intrigued to know what the Laserdrive expansion brought to the table. In essence this is a deck of topic cards that will change the way you have to give clues. Each round a Laserdrive card is drawn, giving a topic which at least one of your clues must conform to. For example, A City or a Movie Title. If all your clues meet the category chosen then you get a laserdrive token. Two of these can be spent to guess an opponents word, earning you an intercept token if successful.
I really like what this expansion brings to the base game as it forces you to think about your clues in a different way, rather than just simply coming up with synonyms for your words, for example. Laserdrive then gives a deeper, more satisfying, gamified experience which is a plus for me. However if your looking for something lighter then you should probably stick with just the base game.
What Did Others Think?
Ian - "My gut feeling is the game will get deeper/more interesting with more plays. Also It's not big or clever to try and cheat the system" ~ For clarity Ian tried to throw off the other team by giving clues at random, this did not pan out for us!
Dave - "Fun game, quite challenging getting the balance of getting the clues obscure enough to hide from the opposing team while still cluing in your team mate."
If you're looking for a party game that combines teamwork, deduction and word play then you can't go wrong with Decrypto. While the flow of the game may be difficult to describe, Decrypto is easy to teach and play and delivers a fun, crunchy experience with very little downtime in around twenty minutes. Decrypto will reward repeat plays with the same group and still leave you wanting more.
Coiled Spring Games provided a copy of Decrytpo for review.