That one not so much
Ohh that tickles
In my reviews I concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, a look at both the quantity and quality.
Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.
This time I am going to be looking at Pictomania. It's a party game for 3 to 6 players. It's from the Czech Design Edition and it a new design by Vlaada Chvatil. If it's not already obvious from the title, it's Vlaada's take on Pictionary. The box says the game lasts around 25 minutes and in my experience I would say that is about right.
Vlaada is no stranger to party games having already produced Bunny Bunny Moose Moose, Travel Blog and Sneaks and Snitches. So let's see how this one compares.
The box cover features a Dragon with a pencil, why I have no idea, but it is quite striking. Trailing behind the Dragon are a lot of drawings done to a level I know I will never approach. All in all an attractive if slightly odd piece of artwork.
The box is square and exactly the same size as other Czech Games Edition games, Dungeon Lords and Dungeon Petz.
So let's open up the box and see what's inside.
As a gamer probably the first thing you will notice is the rule book. It's 4 pages long of which best part of one page is devoted to the scoring (easily the most complex part of the game). The back page of the rule book is mostly devoted to explaining what you can and can't draw. It's not the most complex game ever. and the rule book is pretty easy to follow.
Get assigned a word, try to draw that word while also trying to work out what words every one else has. That's pretty much the game.
At the heart of the game are the cards that have all the words that you have to draw on them. There are four different colours of cards, each of which represents a different level of difficulty. In the photo you can see an example card from each colour, they go in difficulty from Green to Purple. The cards also have marks on them to remind you of the difficulty levels.
You get two stands to put the cards on for each round. Each stand holds three cards. They need to be assembled and as has been commented elsewhere are not a great design. You get a couple of two sided stickers in the box to stick the base down. This works fine, but I think some people either have not noticed them in the box or had trouble finding them.
Once that's done you still need to fix the top bit into the base. Something that does not work too well, but eventually you will get it done.
You can see three different symbols on the base, there are three different ones on the other base as well. These are used to let you know which card you are drawing from.
Before each round you are dealt two black cards, one of the cards above and one with a number between 1 and 7 on. This lets you know what you will be drawing this round. Look on the racks for the card above the symbol on your card and look at the word that matches the number you have. This is what you will be drawing.
Place the two black cards face down in front of you.
Here we have the stands all set up to play a round using the Green (Easiest) cards.
Here you can see a close up of one of the players drawing boards. Wonder what the word was? The game is played over five rounds and you can just see on the bottom of the board some of the boxes where you keep a running score.
Just a word about the pens and the wipe off cloths. They work brilliantly I have a number of other games with wipe off pens. None of them come with any cloths, you usually need to find some thing to wipe them with and what ever you use, they never work as well as these.
Each player has a colour and gets a set of seven numbered cards. When you think you know what someone else is drawing, you put the card that matches the number on the drawing card and put it on top of their black cards in front of them.
When you have finished drawing and either guessed all the other players drawings or at least all of the ones you can work out, you can take one of these tokens. The Stars represent the points you might score. There is always one less black tokens than players. So each round there will be one player who does not get one. (You only use the 3 star token in 5 and 6 player games)
When the round finishes each player turns over the pile of cards in front of them and reveals the two black cards they were dealt. They then go through the cards placed on them and give out their coloured tokens to all the players who correctly identified their drawing. The first player gets the 3 stars, second player gets 2 stars and everyone else gets one star and their cards are returned to them. (You only use the 3 star token in 5 and 6 player games)
Any incorrect guesses and the cards are put into the middle of the table. If one person has more cards in the middle of the table than any other player they are the black sheep and they subtract the stars from their black token from their score. If no one player has a majority there is no black sheep for that round. Players then add up the black and coloured tokens they collected.
You then have to subtract any of your coloured tokens you did not give out. Also you only score your black token as long as at least one person guessed your drawing correctly.
Play for 5 rounds and the player with the most points wins.
So what do I think of it?
I think it's a great take on Pictionary. The fact that everyone is drawing at the same time makes it feel very different. You are trying to do your drawing and at the same time also trying to work out what everyone else is drawing.
You want to do it as quickly as possible to grab maximum points, but if you go too quickly you might get the other players drawings wrong or do such a bad job on your own drawing that no one else gets it.
On the other hand take too long and most of the points will be gone. So you really need to get a good balance of good speed, but not so much that you give away points.
I played this a couple of times with my family over Christmas and while it went over pretty well it did highlight what I see as a problem when played with non-gamers (which should be easy with party games) the scoring is a bit too complicated for no-gamers. I kept getting asked questions through out the game about the scoring. I think by the end of the first round they had pretty much got it. Maybe not a big issue but one to keep in mind.
You get a lot of the drawing cards and they are double sided and as you only get to draw one word on each card they should keep you going for a long time.
The different levels of difficulty are a good idea, but I really can't see too many people using the purple ones. Do you think you could draw Give, Offer, Take, Promise, Thank, Swear or Ask? They are all on the same card.
One important thing to remember when playing is that each player will be on a different card and a different number, so you can ignore your card and your number when trying to work out what the other players are drawing.
There was a big sigh during one of the games I played when one player realised they had put their own number on another players cards.
The back page of the rules give all sorts of restrictions on what you can draw. You can't use verbal, sound or mime to give clues on what you are drawing. Your drawing must represent the meaning of the word, you can't do anything to indicate how many letters there are in your word, or draw anything that sounds like what you are supposed to be drawing. You can't include numbers letters or arrows in your drawing.
So overall I liked the game. It's fun to play, there is a lot going on and it's quite a quick game. Really the only caveat I will give you is the scoring might prove difficult for non-gamers.
You can use arrows as long as they're not used to point at something external to your picture.
This game is bullshit.
Having now used the purple (ludicrously difficuly) cards, I can add that they are pretty entertaining in their own way. Often, a round will end with one player furiously looking at a player's drawing and then at the cards crying that they haven't drawn anything on any of the cards.
It adds a different, but equally entertaining, aspect to the game.