A lot of drawing games tend to have a time limit to them – Pictomania has a sort of player-imposed one, because you’re all drawing your own unique piece but also trying to get that done at the same time as guessing what other people are doing. A mix of items/things is given to the group playing, displayed publicly to allow everyone to compare what’s on those cards to what their friends are scribbling.You want to make your drawing not too hard to guess, but not take too much time to draw it – because the later you get your guesses out for what everyone else is drawing, the less points you’ll get. Of course, designer Vlaada Chvátil wouldn’t make any party game too simple, which is why this game strikes a wonderful balance of hectic and fun for me.
Pictomania is from Czech Games Edition/Stronghold Games, designed by Vlaada Chvátil. It plays in about 25 minutes, for 3 – 6 people. (And the more players, the more hectic fun!)
A Fake Artist Goes to New York
I often describe Fake Artist as Spyfall meets Pictionary. One “question master” will take a small card for each player and write a thing/object on all but one – these are then handed out to players, and the person who ends up with the blank card is the Fake Artist. Players then take turns to draw one line as part of a collaborative image to try and draw the thing the question master has indicated. Of course, the Fake Artist doesn’t know what’s going on – and this is the real winning part of the game for me: how the artists in the know are trying to draw just enough detail to let each other know they’re legit, without giving away what they’re drawing to the Fake Artist. After two times around the table, this piece of collaborative art is considered by all, and the players vote on the Fake Artist. If the majority of voters are correct, they win! (The Fake Artist does get one last chance to win by guessing what the drawing is, though.) If the Fake Artist gets away with it because the majority voted for someone else, they – and the question master – win! You’ll find yourself playing round after round of this one, as it hits a sweet spot of social deduction and goofy picture creation.
A Fake Artist Goes to New York is from Oink Games, designed by Jun Sasaki. It plays in 10 – 20 minutes for 5 – 10 people.
Portrayal (you may now find it as Duplik or Identik) is a little like reverse pictionary. Each round, one player will take a look at an image – within the sand timer limit, they will then have to describe the image in as much detail as they can to the other players, who will sketch it on their pad. The key here is that players will gain points based on 10 aspects of the image that should be represented in their picture – but nobody (no, not even the person describing it) knows what these are until the scoring round. Oh friends, it’s so brilliant. Will I need to describe how many petals are on that flower? What way the hat on that crocodile is facing? Does that house have one window, or two? And are there dots on the curtains in the window? Being as detailed as you can be while not leaving too many key aspects out is a tough balance, but it’s a fun challenge as the person describing – and the pictures that result from each round are pretty fun to compare to the original image.
Duplik is from Asmodee, designed by William Jacobson & Amanda Kohout. It plays in about 20 – 45 minutes for 3 – 10 people.
This game hovers somewhere between spatial negotiation and the structure of a video game. The premise of the game is to work your way through “levels” of a world of adventure (and the game includes a good chunk of them!) to gain points. Each round, level is placed out for all to see – there will be certain elements that are good (points!) and bad (negative points or elimination!) – what you’ll be doing is drawing a path with a dry erase marker on a clear overlay that you think will take you over all the things you should hit and avoid all those you shouldn’t. Once the timer’s run out, each player puts their overlay over the level to see just how they did. Points are determined, and the next level is laid out – rinse, and repeat for the levels of the world til you hit the “boss” and then whoever has the most points after that wins. I love the unique approach to using drawing in this game – basic lines, dots and circles being used to navigate a play area, slightly displaced, is quite a fun challenge.
Loony Quest is from Libellud, designed by Laurent Escoffier & David Franck. It plays in 20 – 30 minutes for 2 – 5 people.
The classic drawing game that inspired so many – charades with images, essentially. Players group up in teams, and each round a team has one person take a look in secret at a word, then draw that and have their team guess in a time limit. Remarkably simple in concept, yet complex when you’re up there scribbling lines and circling things madly, jabbing at the page trying to hammer home exactly what this thing is as your teammates look on, blankly. Works of art and fun, in all – this one will never get old.
Pictionary is from Mattel, designed by Rob Angel. It plays in about 60 – 90 minutes for 3 – 16 people.