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Subject: A Fake Artist Goes to New York: rollicking good fun! rss

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Andrew J.
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Missouri
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A Fake Artist Goes to New York is another game from Oink, the people who brought you the popular Deep Sea Adventure (my review). Deep Sea was a success because it's a tiny filler game that packed a big punch despite featuring roll-and-move and press-your-luck.

Fake Artist revitalizes a similar category that often doesn't get a lot of love: drawing. In "A Fake Artist Goes to New York" all players will be collaborating on a drawing that a game master has decided on -- the only catch is, one player is a fake artist and doesn't know what's being drawn beyond a general category.

Photo credit: Chien-Tsun

No Drawing Skills Required
Now I know what you're thinking -- I can't draw! Rest assured, neither can I. Fake Artist is fun because of that very fact. You're drawing on a tiny piece of paper about the size of a credit card, so the Mona Lisa isn't what you're looking for here. Secondly, you're trying to draw vaguely enough that the fake artist won't get a clue, yet detailed enough that your friends will know that you are not the fake artist. And with six people drawing a roast chicken, well, let's just say the drawings can be weird even when most people know what they're allegedly drawing.

Photo credit: Kangyu

Gameplay
The game structure is simple: the game master for the round (we played so that everyone was game master once, though technically you don't need to go this long) decides on a category of drawing, say, furniture. Then, he writes a specific piece of furniture on everyone's little whiteboard, for example, a bed. On the fake artist's whiteboard, he draws an X. The game master then hands back all the whiteboards to the players and they covertly look at them. Following that, each player draws one stroke on the canvas until all of the players have drawn two strokes in the drawing.

Photo credit: Daniel

When the drawing is done, the game master holds it up for everyone to admire. He then asks everyone to point, simultaneously, at who they think the fake artist might be. If the fake artist is not identified by a majority of the players, he and the game master win the round (they are considered to be working on a team). If he is identified by a majority, he still has one last chance to redeem himself by guessing what the specific object was that the team drew -- and this is harder than it sounds!

Strategy
This isn't a game where you keep track of points -- it's more of a fun social party game than a competitive game. However, the fact that the game master and the fake artist are on the same team leads to some interesting shenanigans. In one round, the game master announced the category, but then gave all of us real artists different items from that category on our whiteboard. It's bending the rules, but it also meant the fake artist got away scot-free!

Photo credit: Steph

Additionally, by selecting a difficult item to draw, or a really vague one, the game master can make it easier for the fake artist. As game master, I'm also interested to try the idea of drawing on each artist's board (maybe vaguely enough that they have to interpret what it might be), and I'd also like to be mean and assign a 'concept' (like happiness) for them to draw -- both are tricky things that could help the fake artist out!

That's really why 'A Fake Artist' shines. It's not the game itself that's special: you could play with a pack of markers and a sheet of paper. But the system that they've laid out is remarkably sound, and I've got to admit, the game as a whole is extremely cute. You'll get ten tiny markers, one whiteboard marker, nine tiny whiteboards for the game master to draw on, and the most adorable little eraser you've ever seen. You'll also get a pad of paper which provides enough for 100 games or more, and also includes a place for the title of the drawing, the date, and which team won the round. We've taken to saving these little drawings inside the box to laugh over the next time we bring the game out.

If there's one downside to the game, I'd say there's ambiguities that the rules don't address. 'One stroke' is the rule, though it's possible to game that to draw a lot in one turn. Similarly, nothing prevents the game master from being sneaky and sabotaging the real artists. Of course, at that point you're destroying the spirit of the game, and even unbalancing it, so I guess you have to ask yourself if that's really fun. I think the system, as written, makes for a lot of fun games as long as you interpret the ambiguities in a common-sense fashion.

Impressions
Yes, Fake Artist is basically an activity in a game box. I'm not generally fond of these sorts of games, but Fake Artist is the first of the genre I could honestly say I enjoy. Unlike Cards against Humanity, you can make the game as benign or naughty as you wish. Unlike Telestrations, you're not relying on crummy whiteboards and clumsy thick markers, but the 'telephone' aspect is magnified even further in Fake Artist. Unlike Werewolf or Mafia, you're not eliminating players and neither do the games drag -- you can knock out a complete round in less than ten minutes!

Like so many social games, this one will depend on the people aruond you -- but when you're with a bunch of friends, time will fly by and you will crack up over the drawings that you've made. I guarantee it. This is fun in a box, and for 22 bucks, there are much worse games you could spend your money on. Is it as good as Deep Sea Adventure? I'd say yes, though in a different way. Both are an essential sort of filler game for different types of people, and I'm happy to have both in my collection. Plus, their little boxes are so cute!. Recommended!

Photo credit: Vaner

Gameplay
.. Abstract -♦--------- Thematic
....... Luck --♦-------- Skill
.... Simple ♦---------- Complex
. Strategic ----------- Tactical (n/a)
... Friendly ---♦------- Cutthroat

Other
Graphic Design/Components: 5/5
Insert: NA/5
Rules Clarity: 5/5

Overall: 4/5 (only because it fills a very particular niche)

tl;dr Fake Artist is an ingenious little party game. Though I generally prefer to pass on party games, no other game breaks the ice so quickly and provides so much enjoyment in such a short time. Fake Artist owns the drawing genre completely.[/

Feel free to check out all the reviews I've written by visiting my geeklist.
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April-Lyn C.
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Ventura
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Finally got to try this game out last Saturday, and played it again last night with a mix of hardcore gamers and brand new gamers ("I've played Hangman... and Yahtzee..."). My favorite part is that at least one round each game, there's a moment where someone looks at the drawing we're working on, starts laughing, and says "Are you sure you're not *all* fakes?" because we all clearly have a different idea about how to draw the thing. I'm currently borrowing a friend's copy but will be buying one of my own for sure to keep with my copy of Deep Sea Adventure.

Have you tried any of their other games?
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