The game Chiffre: Krimpiel - Duel der Code-Cracker by author Peer Sylvester is from Gmeiner Verlag, which has already brought some crime games onto the market. There are also various crime novels as well as mystery thrillers to guess the repertoire. This one is explicitly for two players over the age of ten. The players duel and have to guess each other's secret code. Whoever cracks his first wins the duel.

The police against the mafia

Commissioner Wolf has a duel with Mafia boss Volpone. Only if Wolf can decipher the secret word that he got from an informant smuggled into the Mafia can he understand the entire message. But he has to be careful: Volpone has also lodged an informant with the police. If he cracks its code, the Wolf employee is in great danger. So time is running out ...

Board game review for the crime game Chiffre from Gmeiner Verlag. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
Despite the simple rules, the word puzzles are quite challenging. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

If I hadn't already found the crime thriller topic appealing, the packaging would have aroused my full interest. The colors are kept in a harmonious red and black and a person is printed on who makes you think of a criminal or a commissioner. I also find the term "code breaker" very appealing and suggests what exactly the game is about.

Coherent map texts

If you unpack the game, you will find 3 different types of cards in the packaging: The theme cards, the letter cards and the instruction cards. The instructions briefly describe the structure of the game, followed by the rules based on examples. There are also two game variants that are supposed to make the game a little harder, but I think the basic rules are the best in themselves. It is therefore good and quick to play, even for infrequent players.

“Last week he was seen at the supermarket taking notes. Maybe that's where he came up with the secret word."

Excerpt from Chiffre - Duel of the code breakers

The theme cards each contain a theme word under which the code word to be guessed should be located, but are described with appealing texts, which underlines the theme of the game even more.

Every beginning is difficult

The first difficulty in the game is to find a word for the other player at all. Everyone has 21 letter cards at their disposal, so they do not have every letter of the alphabet to choose from and not necessarily twice.

With a total of 42 letter cards you are therefore somewhat limited. In addition, the word may only consist of four letters. And in order to have a good chance of winning the game, the player must also be careful that the word is not too easy for the opponent to guess.

Board game review for the crime game Chiffre from Gmeiner Verlag. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck
The card texts are particularly appealing to crime thriller fans. Photo: Melanie Dürbeck

But if the first hurdle is over, each other's guessing is on. Everyone has one try and can choose from one of four options:

  1. Guess the full word
  2. Guess a single letter in one of the four places
  3. Guess which topic is the right one
  4. Place one of his letter cards in one of the four places in order to be able to narrow down the letters for this place. The opponent must then indicate whether the letters match, or whether the letter placed is before or after the letter to be guessed. This is how the cards are placed.

It's easy for me to get started after a practice lap. The three possible subject areas provide a clue. I always started with the vowels. Because these are the only cards in the row where you know exactly that there are some in the respective places.

The vowels are shown on the back. By placing a card I can then narrow down whether it can be a, e and i, or o and u. The further nibbling works in a similar way. If I then think of a suitable word, I will try to guess it straight away. I was a tick faster than my opponent, but then she would have guessed her word on the next move. In the next few rounds I would definitely feel a little more cautiously towards the word, especially since we would find our words a little more difficult after the first test matches.

Images for cipher


Number of players: 2 players
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 10 to 15 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Published by Gmeiner Verlag
Author: Peer Sylvester
Year of publication: 2018
Language: German
Cost: 12 Euro


Of course you don't need the background story to play, but it makes the game more exciting and very thematic. The story reminds me a lot of the Codename series of games. The game style and rules are quite different. While Codenames players have all kinds of secret words in front of them and have to guess several words, Chiffre is about finding a single four-letter word. In addition, two players play together in Codenames. Here in Chiffre you can duel nicely. And with Marie I finally found an equal opponent for such games. Therefore, cipher ensures double the fun for me. Those who like guessing games are in good hands here.

Another big plus point is the simple set of rules. So I would say that the game can also be used as an educational game for a child who has just learned to read. A clear recommendation for the game: Those who like guessing games are in good hands here.