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How to Play Pictionary? Rules & Strategies

Are you searching for a board game you can play with pretty much anyone? Then Pictionary could be the game for you! This game is quite simple and perfect for casual gaming sessions. Let’s look at the Pictionary rules in more detail so we know exactly how to play. 

Compared to many other games like Monopoly or Clue, Pictionary is quite an easy game to get to grips with. However, if you have never played it before then it might sound quite complicated when reading the rule book for the first time.

So, let’s get down to it and take a look at everything you need to know about Pictionary. 

What is Pictionary?

Many people think Pictionary is quite an old game, but it was actually only published in 1985. The game was first self-published by graphic designer Robert Angel and while the rights have swapped hands a number of times it’s currently Mattel who publishes the game in the USA. 

Pictionary is similar to a number of games with charades being the main inspiration. But this game certainly has its own unique identity. For one thing, Pictionary is very much a group game where teams of two players work together to win. It also makes a great party game as well. 

To journey across the board players need to take turns drawing pictures that their teammate must guess for them to progress. Now, this might all sound quite easy but when you look at the rules of Pictionary in more detail and examine the gameplay you’ll see that Pictionary can actually be quite challenging like all good board games should be. 

What You’ll Need 

Pictionary is much more versatile than many people realize. It doesn’t quite reach Monopoly numbers when it comes to themed sets or different versions. But there are different types available. 

However, we recommend sticking with the basic Pictionary game. This will help you get used to the gameplay and traditional Pictionary rules. The product below is a great example of what to look out for. 

On Sale Pictionary Board Game

You might be surprised by how much is in the box when you open it as well. While Pictionary is quite a simple game there are still quite a few different components that you’ll use during regular gameplay. Let’s take a look at these in more detail. 

The Board 

The standard Pictionary game board is quite colorful and shows a sequence of squares you must travel along to get to the end. Each square color represents what must be played from the card. But there are two other special kinds of squares as well. To help simplify how these work check out the list below. 

YellowObjects This can be many different things such as houses or other buildings.
Blue Persons While this is called persons it can also include animals or places. 
OrangeActionQuite a difficult one, it asks you to draw an action like running for example. 
GreenDifficultEncompasses many different things but will often use complex words. 
RedMiscellaneous Can mean many different things so is often a hard category to win. 
4 PencilsAll PlayThis means all teams play the clue. The All Play symbol can be found on all different colored squares. 
Color WheelWildIf you land on a wild square then you can choose any of the clues. You need to announce the category before sketching. 

The Cards

Your standard Pictionary game set will often feature a lot of cards, usually around 200. You can normally expect around 120 adult cards and 80 junior ones. These cards follow the same design apart from the color at the back. Junior cards will have easier clues though. 

If you are playing Pictionary for the first time then opting for these cards (even if you’re an adult) could help ease you into the gameplay. Each card will have five clues at the back in color-coded blocks. 

The colors follow the same practice as the colored squares on the board. For example, the yellow block will list an object of some form that you’ll then have to draw. This nicely brings us to the next part of the game set. 

Drawing Materials 

Now Pictionary is all about making pictures, right? To do this most modern game sets will include drawing boards, pens, and an eraser. Some older sets used paper pads and pencils as well. 

While using the materials included are advised you can still use other paper/ drawing pads and pens alongside your Pictionary cards. As long as players have a way to draw you’ll be okay and be able to play.

Hourglass/ Timer 

Gameplay in Pictionary is all about drawing. But you won’t have all day to do this which adds to the challenge. Players will only have 60 seconds to draw and a mini-hourglass is used to time players. Some players prefer to use a smartphone or stopwatch instead. As long as you have an accurate way to time players it doesn’t really matter what method you use. 

Pictionary Rules and Gameplay 

The Aim of The Game 

Like most board games, in Pictionary the aim of the game is to reach the goal at the end of the board. To do this, teams (of 2 or more players) will need to roll the dice and one player will have to guess the word/ phrase being drawn by their partner. 

If someone lands on the All Play square, then each team will need to race against each other to guess. The first player to land at the finish and then guess correctly will win. But that is just a brief description of the game. Let’s explore the gameplay in more detail. 

Setting Up 

The first thing you need to do under the standard Pictionary rules, is to work out how movement will progress. So, both teams should roll the dice. Then the team with the highest number will select a card from the deck. 

Both teams will then play as if this was an All Play situation. So, all teams will be racing against each other. Once the timer has finished, both teams should take attempts to guess the picture. The winning team will then get to move first. 

Now before the team starts their proper turn they have one last thing to decide. And that is who will take on the role of the artist and who will take attempts guessing. These roles should switch every turn so both players can have a chance to take on both roles. 

Playing Pictionary 

Once you have rolled the team member who is drawing should choose a card. They’ll then have around 5 seconds to look at the word/ phrase that matches the square color. Your teammate will then turn over the hourglass and you’ll have to start drawing. 

Your teammate will have until the timer ends to guess what the picture is/ represents. They can guess as many times as they like during this time. But the drawer can’t talk or signal their teammate in any way. 

If your team succeeds in guessing the picture then you can roll the dice again. However, if you fail to guess within the time limit then play passes to the next team. If you are playing with more than two teams, then it passes to the team on the left. 

Winning The Final Square 

When you reach the final All Play square you have the chance to win the game. You don’t need to land on this square with a direct role either. Once you do you play with the normal All Play Pictionary rules. 

If your team guesses correctly then you win, but if you don’t then your opponents will gain control of the dice and get to play. The best Pictionary games are when both teams get to the end and then it’s a race to see who wins the final All Play round. 

Pictionary – Simple But Challenging 

So, that is everything you need to know about the Pictionary rules and gameplay. Pictionary is simple to play but difficult (some would even say impossible) to master. If you love to draw then it’s a great choice. But don’t worry you don’t need to be a talented artist to enjoy Pictionary. 

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