Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance
4 - 8
12 - 199
InteractionComponents & Design

[pullshow/]I’ve been talking about this game every time we mentioned word games recently. It’s about time I told you more about it. I’m talking about Decrypto, a word game by Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance. It sounds like a regular word game like many others at first. One player gives hints about words, other players on his team try to guess the words. We’ve seen it before. So what makes Decrypto stand out? Allow me to introduce it!

Expressions and Espionage – How to play Decrypto

In Decrypto all players on the team know the secret words already. During setup each team draws four secret word cards and puts them in the four slots of their viewing screen for all team members to see. Okay, that’s it, game over.

Not quite. You don’t actually have to guess those words. You have to guess three numbers each round while not letting the opposing team guess your words. It sounds a tad convoluted – at least one person complains whenever I explain Decrypto to new people – but just hear me out, it’s actually super simple.

You play over a maximum of eight rounds. Each round both teams pick one of their players as the Encoder. The Encoder draws a code card that will show three numbers from one to four. This is the secret they must transmit to the rest of his team. To encode it they first convert it to words using the word cards. The number one becomes the word on the first card in your team’s viewing screen, and you can probably guess the rest.

Just saying those words still wouldn’t be super useful, the other team would know enough of the code to guess the number on round two. In the second step of encoding the Encoder comes up with a hint for each of the words. The hint doesn’t have to be specific enough for anyone to guess the word from nothing, it just has to be good enough for their own team to know which of the four words is meant.

Let’s have an example. Team Black has the words Pasta – Submarine – Envelope – Boot and the number 3 – 4 – 1. Step one of the encoding gives us Envelope – Boot – Pasta. The Encoder thinks for a bit and comes up with encoding step two: Stamp – Ground – Italy. He could have used whole sentences as hints, but this Encoder was in the moods for single words. You’ll agree none of these hints are enough to guess the words without additional information. Knowing the original words, though? Not all that hard. Also notice the clever thing he did with Stamp and Ground. Stamp could be a hint for Boot just as easily as it is for Envelope, but since nothing else goes with Ground and we know that digits don’t repeat in one secret number the Boot has to go with Ground and Stamp with Envelope.

Now the opposing team gets a chance to guess the number. If they get it right they earn a white Intercept Marker, two of which win the game for their team. Then the home team tries to guess the number. If they somehow get it wrong they earn a black Misunderstand Marker, two of which also win the game – for their opponents. What, did you think incompetence would be rewarded in a world of codes and spies?

For just one round, the opposing team would have no chance to crack the code. Not a chance in hell. But a game lasts eight rounds, and they don’t have to guess your words to win. They just have to guess your numbers twice. If you uses Ocean and Water as hints for Submarine already and then the best you come up with is Boat then they have a good chance to guess that the number is Two.

All the while, taking turns with them, you try to do the same with your opponents’ code.

What’s so great about word guessing suddenly? Our Verdict

Word guessing games are a dime a dozen, but Decrypto has a few things going for it that the others don’t. It not only needs word skills but some admittedly simple but nevertheless fun deduction skills. You know digits don’t repeat in one number, you know each team’s secret card pile only has one copy of every number. Sure, it’s not much, but it feels so good when remembering these simple facts helps you figure out your opponents’ hints.

More than other word games Decrypto rewards out of the box thinking . Obvious hints will quickly lose the game. More importantly, giving similar hints will quickly lose you the game. Never forget that your opponents will have multiple rounds to figure out your code. If your first hint for Submarine is Periscope you’re not doing your team any favors.

I think that’s actually the greatest thing about Decrypto, the thing that most other word games lack: development. It’s not just guessing a word and you’re done, it’s putting together clues from all the previous rounds, trying to form clusters, seeing where the new clues might fit in. On the other side of the game, when you give your own hints for your team you dance around the hints already given. You want a completely new approach to the word in question.

In the end, both sides of Decrypto are extremely satisfying. Get the information to your own people. Intercept and decode the opposition’s communication. With every message you send they get closer to you, with every one of their messages you get closer to them. [pullthis]If there ever was a word game that will have you on the edge of your seat, this is it[/pullthis].

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