Each round, the game gives a clue word and a number. This gives the number of words that are safe. The safe words are ones that can be prepended or appended to the clue to get a valid word. For example, a clue of "house" is valid for "cat" (housecat) and "dog" (doghouse). Not all valid Scrabble word concatenations are included, because many were considered too obscure.
Players that aren’t on safe words fall down and are eliminated from the round. The goal is to get at least one player past Round 15.
|Round||Number Safe||Time (s)|
As with other Playmate games, the best strategy is by playing with more teammates! Splitting up the screen so that each person looks at a different quadrant is usually effective.
If your team isn't sure what word is correct and is running out of time, it's worth splitting up in hopes you get lucky.
It's usually not worth resetting if you lose ponies early - once you get to round 11, it's all-or-nothing, and having multiple lives is less helpful.
Codemanes will forever live in our memories as the fastest 2am brain-dump ever materialized. The entire ideation-to-implementation process took less than a day. We were running behind on Playmate game ideas, and had come up with a backup plan of a Concentration game. One person misunderstood this as the Fall Guys minigame, and then someone noted that a grid of safe squares paired well with Codenames.
The core mechanics were implemented very quickly, and playtesters quickly rated it their favorite-- the main tuning was just going through the word list to verify valid clues.
We had many differing opinions when debating which words were "real" enough. Since players were certain to disagree with us, we knew any game playing would inevitably require memorizing some clues, so we decided to keep the word list on the short side.