10 Best Board Games About Guessing Words (2022 Guide)

If you are looking for a board game about guessing words, there are quite a few great options, but with the popularity of a few key games (I’m looking at you Codenames and Just One), there are lots of great games that end up getting overlooked.

That’s a shame because word games are a great way to get your brain working and improve your lateral thinking skills because they force you to think differently than other board games.

If you are playing with kids, they are also great to help get them interested in learning new words and reading, as well as improving their spelling, vocabulary, and grammar skills.

Here is our list of the best board games about guessing words for you to check out.

Best Board Games About Guessing Words – Quick Comparison

RankName# PlayersTimeComplexityGood For
#1Codenames2-815 minsEasyLateral thinking
#2Just One3-720 minsEasyFun party game
#3Decrypto3-815 – 45 minsEasyApproachable and interactive

1. Best Lateral Thinking: Codenames

Codenames is a game for 2 – 8 players that takes about 15 minutes and is very easy, taking only a couple of minutes to teach.

In Codenames, you are split into two teams. Each team has a spymaster, who gives the clues about the words to guess, and a team of field operatives, who need to guess the clues. There is a 5-by-5 grid of 25 spies (represented by words) on the table, and the spymaster is given a grid to say which people are spies and which people are assassins. They have to give one-word clues to their team to guess the spies without guessing any assassins, and they have to do it faster than the other team.

There are so many good moments packed into a game of Codenames. Sometimes you all click and get the clues, but sometimes there’s that sinking feeling when you realize what the spymaster meant but you just didn’t get it. Being a quick game, it makes it to the table a lot and is just a lot of fun.

For those who can’t read yet, there is also Codenames: Pictures, which is very similar but with pictures.  I find in a way this adds more to the game as pictures have a lot more elements you can describe and connect together than words sometimes do.

Pros

  • Team-based
  • Very easy to teach
  • It exercises lateral thinking
  • Quick and fun

Cons

  • Lots of pressure on the clue giver
  • It requires a basic knowledge of English

2. Most Fun: Just One

Just One is a cooperative word game for 3 – 7 players that takes about 20 minutes. It’s a very light, fun party game that also makes an excellent family board game.

In Just One, you pick a bunch of cards out of a huge deck to be your guessing words for the game. As a group, you aim to guess the word cooperatively. You go around the table, taking turns. On your turn, you pick a card with a word on it that you don’t get to look at, and everyone else has to write down clues for you to guess that word.

The part that makes this fun is that if two people give a duplicate clue, that clue is eliminated and you don’t get the word. This means when you pick a clue, it has to be good enough to be related to the word, but obscure enough that no one else will pick it.

This game is just a lot of fun every time it comes to the table, and because it takes about 2 minutes to teach, it makes it to the table a lot.

Pros

  • There are always many funny moments in the game
  • It’s very easy to teach and quick to play
  • It uses lateral thinking
  • Transportable
  • It’s a team game – you’re all working together

Cons

  • Very light
  • Not much strategy
  • It requires a basic knowledge of English

3. Most Approachable: Decrypto

Decrypto is another lightweight game for 3 – 8 players that can take around 15 – 45 minutes.

In this game, there are 2 teams, and each team is given 4 words, something along the lines of:

  1. Path
  2. Spear
  3. Soap
  4. Cheese

One person on the team then picks up a decoder card that has 3 numbers on it, and they need to give clues related to the numbers on the card, so let’s say the decryption card says 1-3-4, they may give the clues walk (for path), wash (for soap), and dairy (for cheese). Both the opposing team and the players’ team need to guess the numbers on the decryption card. If the opposing team guesses correctly, they get a point, or if your team guesses incorrectly, you lose a point.

Because your team knows the words, you are at a distinct advantage for your clues, but you need to give clues that are obscure enough that as the game progresses, the opposing team doesn’t have too much information to guess the order and win.

It’s a very approachable game, and I find it takes a little more thinking and teamwork than Codenames or Just One, making it a great game for a group that wants something a bit deeper.  The interactivity in this game makes it one of my gaming group’s favorite word games.

Pros

  • Easy to teach
  • Lots of fun
  • Very interactive
  • Some strategic thinking when giving clues

Cons

  • Very competitive
  • It needs a lot of players
  • It requires a basic knowledge of English

4. Best 2 Player Game: Codenames: Duet

Codenames: Duet is very similar to Codenames, except it’s designed as a two-player cooperative version.

In Codenames: Duet, there are 25 cards in a grid, each with a word on them, and you are looking for agents without guessing any of the assassins, but you are working together. Each player is given an answer key card with some of the agents and assassins revealed on it, and you are giving clues to each other so that you can together guess all 15 agents on the board without guessing any of the assassins before the timer runs out.

I do really like this game, as when you are working together to guess the agents it adds a lot of interactivity that I find the original codenames doesn’t have. It works fantastically as 2 players, but you can play it with more just by splitting into teams (though you don’t want them to be too big or not everyone will get to be involved in the decision).

Pros

  • A 2-player game
  • Uses lateral thinking
  • Cooperative

Cons

  • Timer-based (I prefer natural end conditions)
  • Pressure to give good clues

5. Best Strategic: Letter Jam

Letter Jam is a game for 2 – 6 players that takes around 45 minutes. It’s an easy game in comparison to most board games, but with most word-guessing games being party games, this is probably the heaviest game on this list.

In this game, each player is given a set of letter cards that make up a word, but they don’t get to see the letters (a bit like Hanabi if you’ve played that before), they have to put them face up for others to see.

The clue giver then has to give a clue with the letters from other people’s words by giving each player a token with a number that is the position of the letter in their word. So let’s say the clue giver gives the word “CAT”. They may give the first player a 1 token as they have a C, and the second player a 2 token as they have the letter A. Each player then needs to look around and take a guess at what their letter is.

This is a very challenging game that will make you think. You can make it easier or harder by using longer or shorter words. If you are looking for a word guessing game that feels heavier than a party game, this is it.

Pros

  • A challenging game with lots of thinking
  • Easy to teach – lots of familiar mechanics to other games
  • Game moves quickly
  • It works well with a lower or higher number of players
  • Cooperative

Cons

  • Not as fun and exciting as others on this list
  • It is very difficult if you are not good at the type of thinking involved in word games

6. Best Cooperative: So Clover!

This is a cooperative party game for 3 – 6 players that takes around half an hour to play and is quite easy to learn. It’s made by the same company that made “Just One” and has a pretty similar feel, but it is different enough that if you like word guessing games it would be a worthwhile pickup.

In So Clover! each player has a board with 4 clovers, and you put a card with a word on it in each spot of the 2 x 2 grid. This leaves you with 2 different words on each edge, and you have to put a clue that associates these two words together on that edge. Then the word cards are removed and, using the clues on the 4 edges the other players have to guess where each of the word cards go.

I like this game because it is engaging and you get some clever word associations. While it’s a party game and super easy to teach and quick to play, I find it hits the spot for thinking a bit more than some of the others on this list.

Pros

  • No downtime (everyone takes their turn at once)
  • Quick to teach
  • It uses lateral thinking
  • It supports a large group
  • Engaging

Cons

  • Possibly a bit too similar to Codenames and Just One
  • Scoring is a bit simplistic

7. Most Unique: When I Dream

This is an easy game for 4 – 10 players that takes around 20 – 40 minutes.

In each round of When I Dream, one player wears a mask as they are asleep, and the other players have the objective of either making them guess their dream word correctly, incorrectly, or half and half, and then they give the dreamer clues to try help them guess the word. The dreamer also gets points if at the end of the round they can correctly remember the cards from their dream (which is harder than it sounds as you are paying attention to who’s lying that you don’t remember the cards that well).

It’s fun and unique, it doesn’t feel like any other game you have played and therefore carves out an easy spot on a gaming shelf among other word-guessing and social deduction games which can tend to have a lot of crossover in mechanics.

Pros

  • Beautiful artwork
  • Very unique gameplay – does not feel like other games
  • You need to think to give subtle enough clues to not get caught in your objective
  • Quick and easy to teach

Cons

  • Everyone felt awkward when it was their turn to wear the mask
  • The game can be slightly unbalanced for the fairies (the ones trying to make the guess correct)

8. Best Social Deduction: Werewords

Werewords is an easy game for 4 – 10 players that takes only 10 minutes to play.

In this game, people in the group have 4 roles:

  • The Mayor – who knows the magic word to vanquish werewolves from the village but can’t speak
  • The Seer – who knows the word but can’t let the werewolf find out who they are
  • The Werewolf – knows the word and wants people to guess it wrong by asking misleading questions
  • The Villagers – who ask the mayor questions to try to guess the word correctly.

This game is won by the villagers if they guess the word without the werewolf guessing the seer, or if they don’t guess the word but can guess the werewolf, which makes for some interesting strategy as your goal isn’t always to guess the word as quickly as possible.

This game is kind of like 20 questions meets a social deduction game. For those who read my recommendations a lot, you’ll know I don’t particularly enjoy social deduction games, but I think this one works well because the social deduction is a lot more subtle than in other games.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to teach
  • Enjoyable game
  • It plays well with a larger gaming group
  • More subtle social deduction game
  • The App provides a huge variety of words

Cons

  • It doesn’t work for easy words, as the word can be guessed too early
  • You need to pay lots of attention
  • The addition of a words mechanic may not warrant purchasing this game if you already have a “Werewolf” social deduction game

9. Twist on a Classic: Trapwords

Trapwords is an easy game for 4 – 8 players that takes about 30 – 45 minutes.

If you’ve ever played the classic word board game Taboo before, it’s like that, but with a bit more to the game.

You play in two teams, and each team has a clue giver who is given a word and has to give clues to make their team guess the word correctly. The catch is that the other team picks the trap words, that is the words the clue giver is not allowed to say or they lose. But the clue giver doesn’t know what these words are, so they have to work around that and give some weird and wonderful clues that they hope don’t use the trap words the other team has chosen.

There is a secondary element to this game where you are romping through a dungeon and the words trigger traps. It’s fairly light and easy, and it’s great for people who want a more gamified experience, but I think it takes away from the essence of the game a little.

Pros

  • Fun game
  • It encourages lateral thinking with the need for clever clues
  • Team-based

Cons

  • The fantasy dungeon crawling aspect is unnecessary
  • It does not get as many laughs as other games on the list
  • Pretty luck based on what words the other team chooses

10. Best Mind Reading: Medium

Medium is a super light and easy game for 2 – 8 players that takes approximately 30 – 45 minutes to play.

In Medium, you are trying to be a medium and read each other’s minds. In pairs, players are given two cards, and they have to try to guess the same word that connects the words on the two cards together (they get 3 tries) to score points.

This is the kind of game that shines based on the players. If you have players with big personalities that like to laugh, then you’ll get some really weird connections between words. But if you have a quieter gaming group, then this game may fall a bit flat.

Pros

  • Hilarious game with the right group
  • Encourages very clever word association
  • It is good to encourage learning about how other people think

Cons

  • Weak win conditions, you play more for the activity and experience than for winning and losing
  • It is very frustrating if you think on different wavelengths
  • Can fall flat with more serious gaming groups

Honorable Mentions

There aren’t actually that many word guessing games, but there are a few more worth mentioning that just didn’t make the cut for the top 10.

Some other great games don’t exactly fit the criteria of guessing words but give a very similar feeling when you play.

  • Wavelength – This is almost the opposite of a word guessing game. The player whose turn it is is given a category and a rating, and they have to give a word so the other players correctly guess the rating. For example, I might get the category food and 50%, so I pick sandwiches, as they’re good, but not necessarily great. This is one of my favorite board games, as it just brings everyone together to discuss ideas really well.
  • Cross Clues – this is another one that is similar to Just One, Codenames, and So Clover, where you have a grid of clues and are working to give a clue that crosses over between the two clues so that the other players choose the right spot in the grid to fill the grid up. It’s also a great game, I just didn’t want too many with the same mechanics in the top 10.
  • Detective Club – This is a social deduction game, where the clue giver lets everyone know a word except one person, and then everyone has to play cards that relate to that word. The clue giver then says the word and everyone has to justify why their cards are related to that word (with one player completely bluffing) and the other players have to figure out who’s bluffing. It’s a very fun game involving words, but since you aren’t guessing a word it didn’t make the list.
  • Master Words – This is like the traditional game Mastermind, but with words. So there is a person that knows the word you are trying to guess, and the other players give 4 words each round, with the guide then telling them how many clues they guessed that relate to the word. It can be a bit subjective on what the guide thinks is related, but as Mastermind was one of my favorite games as a kid, I just can’t help but like this game.

Conclusion

There are quite a few good word-guessing games out there. The most popular by far are Codenames, Codenames: Duet, and Just One, which are all fantastic games. But if you are looking for something similar but that has its own unique twist (maybe someone in your gaming group already owns these games or you’ve played them to death), then So Clover! and Cross Clues are both fantastic games with similar vibes.

If you are looking for a social deduction game, I highly recommend When I Dream as it has a unique twist on the genre. Werewords is also pretty good, it’s pretty similar to the One Night Ultimate Werewolf social deduction games but adds in the twist of word guessing that makes it a bit more interesting.

If you are looking for something a bit deeper, Letter Jam is the only word guessing game that isn’t a light party game and requires you to think and concentrate a lot more to cooperatively figure out what everyone’s words are.

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