FTW Staff Picks - Pictomania

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 


Genre: Party

Designer: Vlaada Chvatil

Player Size: 3 to 6 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Telestrations, Sketch It!, Pictionary

The best people to play drawing games with are the ones who are horrible drawers. Sure, people can be competitive when playing games like Pictionary, but most people play drawing games for a good laugh. I don't think I've ever played a game of Telestrations that I  bothered to score. In Pictomania, Vlaada Chvatil has managed to find a good balance between full-blown party game and strategic scoring. 

In Pictomania, players will simultaneously draw their secret word while attempting to guess the drawings of others. A rack of cards will be visible to all players, showing all the possibilities that could be drawn. In order to predict, you only have to correctly guess the number of the drawing in correspondence to the card. The earlier you guess, the more points you can earn. When you decide you have completed your drawing you may grab one of the bonus tokens. The earlier you finish, the more your bonus could potentially be. However if too many players guess your drawing incorrectly, that bonus will reverse into a penalty. The player with the highest point total after 5 rounds is declared the winner.

If it sounds like there's a lot going on in Pictomania's scoring system, it's probably because there is. Inexperienced gamers might feel overwhelmed by how many things they need to keep track of, but it's really not that difficult after a few rounds. Because each player is assigned a number from the same set of cards, no two players can be drawing the same number. There's an element of deduction and making educated guesses at play. This makes Pictomania feel more like an actual game, as opposed to just a fun activity. 

Pictomania is a great way to incentivize "gamers" to letting loose with a party game, while giving more casual players a competitive edge. Much like Vlaada's other big hit, Codenames, he does a great job with creating a game that can be played by a wide range of players. Initially, I thought the game might feel too similar to another popular party game in Sketch It!. But after fully understanding the scoring system, Pictomania is the clear superior choice. For me, Pictomania is much more clever game that provides incentive to play it again and again. 

Earl OliverosComment