I had the privilege of helping out CGE at Gen Con 2018 when they debuted Pictomania 2nd Edition. Over those few days the creativity I saw was matched only by the hilarity of the art. So many four-legged hippo shaped creatures (that were clearly zebras come on!) and so many floating stick men doing the macarena.
Freud would have had a field day.
Pictomania is a party game for up to six players. Like most party games, it’s better with more. Pictomania is a drawing game where players need to guess other players’ drawings and make sure their doodle is also correctly guessed. Because of the words used, even on the easy setting, I think this is better for ages 12+. ESL speakers may also struggle with the harder words.
I’m not entirely sure the difference between 1st and 2nd edition as I’ve never played the first. I know there is at least one slight rule change, but it isn’t a huge effect.
At the beginning of a round, players choose one of four difficulties and place out three word-cards (A, B and C) each with 7 different words (1 to 7). Players are then given a secret letter and number—no two pairs will be the same. Then the drawing starts. Once a player is done drawing, they will start guessing other drawings (by playing face-down guess cards). Players will earn points for correct guesses they make and those made on their drawing. Most points after four rounds wins.
The word cards are grouped by shape. For example, a category might have “cloud”, “cotton candy”, and “sheep”. With only a quick doodle you might see why those three are grouped together. As the difficulty increases, the words can become more similar or more abstract. Imagine trying to quickly draw pen instead of pencil.
My favorite sketch I saw at Gen Con was of a stickman standing in front of a podium. The word card is in the image above. You should be able to see why this wasn’t enough information. Then the artist drew Nazi flags and it all made sense. Can you guess the word?
Every reveal is a joy. “How is that an alligator?” followed by uproar of laughter and jeering. Correct guesses give points, but they scale based on guessing order. Meaning the artist must draw quick in order to guess faster. This leads to rushed doodles of knives that look like fishing poles and soft-serve ice cream that looks like… well I’ll let you guess that one.
But the game is not mindless. Players only guess the number of a doodle, not the letter, and numbers aren’t repeated. Narrowing down your guess based on available options can net you those extra points. Well, until you forget your number and use it as a guess on another player. Whoops!
Pictomania is what Pictionary should have always been. Why have only one person drawing at a time? The best party games engage all players simultaneously, and Pictomania has players constantly engaged.
The need for balance between a telling doodle and fast guessing keeps players on their toes. How much detail is enough for players to identify your doodle? How sure are you that she drew “anger” and not “annoyance”? Can you hide your terrible drawing skills by calling it modern art?
Pictomania is a fun game sure to bring laughter to your table. It’s a box of giggles and pencils.* If your group likes carefree party games, or you’re looking for a great icebreaker, this is the box you want.
* Note: Pencils are characteristically not funny.