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SPIEL '19 Game Preview: Dekalko, or One Line Leads to Another

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game: Dekalko
What's this image depicting?

From gallery of W Eric Martin

It's not a rooster walking through a rocky field, although one player in our Dekalko game interpreted my scribble that way.

How about this image?

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Not a cenobite

The party game Dekalko (데칼코) from Roberto Fraga, Sébastien Decad, and Happy Baobab appears to be a drawing game, but in fact it's a tracing game, with players tracing as much or as little of an image as they wish.

In a round, everyone places one of the double-sided image cards in their envelope so that only they have seen the image. Everyone then starts tracing, and as soon as you've traced what you think is enough, you grab the topmost image shield, then slide it between the image and your tracing, leaving only your tracing visible against a white background, as in the two images above. If you're quick, you'll grab the high-value shield (3 or 4 depending on the player count), and if not, you'll end up getting the 1, which is what I did far too often — although given what my images looked like, I'm not sure that my detail helped my odds of getting those images guessed!

Board Game: Dekalko
Another 1-pointer for me, although correctly guessed

One a time, players then reveal their tracings, and all other players can yell out a single guess. Whoever guesses correctly first (as determined by the drawer) gets the image, which is worth 2 points, while the tracer scores 1-4 points depending on the value on their image shield. At the end of the round, you record your points, and after 4-5 rounds, whoever has the most points wins.

I've played Dekalko five times on a review copy from Happy Baobab with three, four, five, and six people. Larger groups have been more rambunctious — the sign of a successful party game — and you have more variety in how people present their images. Yes, even with tracings you can detect different styles in how people approach their drawings. The main difficulty with having more people is that if an image is obvious, which many of them could be depending on the level of detail included, then you have lots of people yelling out the answer at the same time and you feel like you're punishing others by giving the image to only one player. Perhaps I need to adopt a Dixit-style scoring by giving everyone who guesses correctly at the same time 1 point each.

For more images and another example of quick tracing, check out this video overview:

Did you identify this image correctly?:

From gallery of W Eric Martin
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