Break the Code (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Ryohei Kurahashi
  • Publisher: Iello
  • Players: 2 – 4
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Time: 15 Minutes
  • Times Played: > 20

Break the Code is Iello’s new re-implementation of Tagiron, a deduction game that I’ve long loved.  The game was recently released in the United States, and for fans of deduction games, I think this is a “must have.”  Kudos to Iello for bringing such a great game to a wider audience!  

The Components

The main components are 20 tiles, numbered 0-9, with one set being white and the other being black.  Both of the 5s, however, are green.

There’s also a stack of deduction sheets, screens for each player, and a deck of cards featuring questions.

The Gameplay – 2 Players

Gameplay in Break the Code is quite different depending on player count.  In fact, it feels like a completely different game!  Let’s discuss the two-player game first.

In a 2-player game, each player takes 5 tiles, and arranges them behind their screen from lowest to highest.  If two tiles have the same value, place the black tile first.  

On your turn, you can either guess their tiles, or ask a question.  There are six face up question cards on the table, and they provide you information.  Sample questions include:

  • What’s the difference between your highest and lowest tiles?
  • What is the sum of your three leftmost tiles ?  (Another card exists for rightmost.)
  • How many of your tiles have a black number?  (Another card exists for white numbers.)
  • Is the tile in the C-position (the third tile) higher than 4?
  • What is the sum of your black numbers?  (Another card exists for white numbers.)

And so on and so forth.  After asking a question, a new card is drawn.

The goal is to be the first person to guess your opponent’s tiles.  You spend your turn listing the exact tiles — color and number — and your opponent tells you if you’re entirely correct (in which case you win) or incorrect.  The game has equal turns, so both players could win, or if the cards in the middle run out, both players could lose.

The Gameplay – 3 and 4 Players

Gameplay is similar with 3 and 4 players.  

In the 3 player game, each player receives 5 tiles, and the goal is to guess the 5 in the middle of the table.  On your turn, you (1) ask a question, and the other two players answer it, or (2) you can guess the tiles.  If you guess incorrectly, you’re out of the game (since you had to look at them to tell if you were correct).  The game has equal turns, so potentially all three players could win, or if the cards in the middle run out (or all three guess incorrectly), all three players could lose.

In a 4 player game, each player only has 4 tiles, and your goal is to guess the 4 in the middle.  When asking/answering questions, you also answer, so all four players provide information!  Otherwise, it is identical to the 3 player game.  

My thoughts on the game…

I’ve long enjoyed Tagiron, which is one of my favorite deduction games, so it is no surprise that I love Break the Code.  The new version is fantastic: it is very well produced, with the quality artwork and components Iello is known for.  The rulebook and questions are clearly written in this version, which is an advantage over the prior implementation.  Overall, I’m glad I made the purchase, and I think deduction game fans will love having this in their collections.  

Break the Code is a great way to start a game night.  It accommodates all player counts equally as well, and it only takes 15 or so minutes to play.  In many ways, this feels like a very different game with 2, 3, and 4 players, so much so that it feels like it is three games in one.  

This gets compared to Code 777 a lot — and that is certainly a great comparison — but this is simpler, faster, and, in my humble opinion, better.  

The joy is obviously in the puzzle, but the strategy is largely in selecting which question to ask.  This is particularly true in the four-player game, where not only are you getting information, you’re also giving information to your opponents. 

Break the Code is intuitive and easy to teach, with a rules explanation only taking a couple of minutes.  Even inexperienced gamers quickly grasp what they’re trying to do, and this is a great introduction to deduction games. All that said, this isn’t for everybody: some players do struggle with deduction games, and this is a game that not everybody is going to be able (or willing!) to play.  

Overall, I’m highly impressed.  The game is decently inexpensive — I paid less than $20 — and is certainly going to be one of my go-to games when I have fifteen to twenty minutes where I feel like solving a clever little puzzle.  Thanks to Iello for bringing such a great deduction game to a wider audience!  

Comments from the Opinionated Gamers

Dan Blum (1 play): I have Tagiron but have only managed to get it to the table once. I thought it was quite good and certainly plan to play it again, but I have so many deduction games… I don’t think I will ever prefer it to Code 777 but it’s certainly nice as a shorter alternative.

Jonathan F. (4 plays) – I have really enjoyed the small box and large-ish game. I feel it gives me more choices than Code 777 in terms of questions to ask to get at the one piece of info I need to crack the case.  The iello version is certainly a larger box, but I am not sure if that goes to nicer bits/usability or air.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Chris Wray, Jonathan F.
  • I like it. Dan Blum
  • Neutral. 
  • Not for me…
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6 Responses to Break the Code (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  1. Pingback: Break the Code (Game Review by Chris Wray) - Rollandtroll.com

  2. Jacob Lee says:

    This sounds like my kind of game. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Break the Code (Game Review by Chris Wray) – Herman Watts

  4. Brian Hanechak says:

    I was pleasantly surprised, especially with how it plays 3-player. (Haven’t tried 4-player yet). I like it better than Code 777 because of the choice of questions, and some of the deductions seems a little more interesting. It’s my favorite deduction game right now. It feels like going last has a bit of an advantage in 3-player, but it’s somewhat offset by the fact that the player going first gets the first choice to use up one of the initial questions. (And we mostly mitigate this by playing multiple games in a row.)

  5. Pingback: 10 Great Deduction Games (Article by Chris Wray) | The Opinionated Gamers

  6. Pingback: 10 Great Deduction Games (Article by Chris Wray) - Enewsgate

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