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Decrypto: 5th Anniversary Edition Game Review

Same Great Flavor

Decrypto’s 5th anniversary brings cause for celebration and rejuvenation in this Meeple Mountain review.

I would have told you that Decrypto had been out for way longer than five years. Like Just One, Decrypto arrived in 2018, out of the blue, and immediately established itself as a go-to word game. To think there was a year in which we received Decrypto and Just One. The heart quickens. We had no idea how good we had it.

To celebrate five years of success, Scorpion Masqué has released a 5th anniversary edition, spicing up the classic—board gaming has a short memory—with 440 new words. Does it change the game in any appreciable way? No, this is still very much the Decrypto people know and love. It does freshen things up a bit, though, for those who’ve put their copy of the original release through its paces.

It takes a round or two to get used to Decrypto’s structure, and it’s difficult to describe in absence of the game in front of you. What I’m trying to tell you is, what I describe may not sound fun. I assure you, it is.

The players are divided into two teams, each of which has four secret words that everyone on the team can see. Each round, one player on each team (the “Encryptor”) has a secret three digit code that they need their teammates to guess. The digits in the code correspond to the four words, like this:

One of the two team boards, set up with cards containing the words Pepper, Threat, Relief, and Waiting Room.

Let’s say the secret code is “3, 1, 4.” I need to give my teammates a set of one-word clues that will direct them to the correct choices. As I’m writing those down, the Encryptor for the other team is busy doing the same for their code and their words.

Once that’s done, and it can take a minute, the White Team’s Encryptor reads out their clues for all to hear. The Black Team takes note of the White Team’s clues on the backside of their clue sheet, then both teams attempt a guess at the White Team’s secret code. After both teams have shared a guess out loud, the Encryptor for the White Team reads the correct code out loud.

If the Black Team was right about the other team’s code, they get an Intercept token. Collect two of those, and your team wins. If the White Team is wrong about their own code, they get a Miscommunication token. Collect two of those, and your team loses.

Now, do exactly the same thing with the Black Team. That’s it. That’s Decrypto.

The beauty in all of this is that the keywords don’t change. That encourages you to be creative about how you guide your teammates. You can’t be obvious, but you also can’t be obtuse. If I give “Ringo” as the clue for one digit, and later a teammate gives the clue “Paul” for that same digit, the other team is probably going to have a pretty good idea of the general clue. That’ll make it harder to reference in the future without the opponent knowing. On the other hand, your words can’t be too hard to connect, or your team will lose before your opponent has an opportunity to win. It’s a high-wire act.

It’s interesting to me that Decrypto and Just One came out in the same year. Both are party games that rely on the tension around coming up with a clue that’s clear without being obvious. Things in Decrypto can go wrong, and they can go wrong quickly. It’s rarely a long game. But it is always, and I cannot stress this enough, fun.

  • Perfect - Will play every chance I get.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

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