In the world of Spyfall and Codenames, Telestrations is an older party game which brings together elements of Pictionary and Chinese Whispers. Having only heard about this from podcasters in the USA, I got myself a copy and have been playing it with all types of groups ever since. It goes over well with gamers and non-gamers alike and always gets lots of laughs.
In Telestrations, each player takes a dry-erase pad and marker and is given a card of 6 words of phrases. A dice roll decides which word (from 1-6) on the card is the one which must be drawn. The owner of the pad writes down the word on the first page and draws a picture of it on the second page. This picture is then passed to the next player who must write down what they think the picture is on page 3. This is then passed to the next player who must draw on page 4 a picture of that word...and so on, until the pad gets back to its owner. Everyone then assesses the damage to see what mutations their original word has gone through as a result of their friends’ various levels of drawing prowess.
One of the main discussions I always end up in before playing the game is whether to play with or without scoring rules. I will always vote for the scoring rules. I only want to play with the friendly scoring, where there is one point to the pad owner if the final guess matches the original word and then the pad owner may award one point for their favourite drawing and one point for the best guess. The reason I think this is important is so that there is at least some incentive to try and draw or guess the right thing. I have been in games without these rules and sometimes it descends into a game of ‘who can write the most hilarious thing that is not that closely related to the clue’ or ‘who couldn’t draw the word so just drew something funny’. Your group might find this amusing, but for me it’s a step too far from actually playing the game.
|Scoring! If you ask me, I will award points for the guess which is the right answer from the worst drawing. For the best picture I usually choose the actual best art.|
One issue I have with Telestrations is that you really need 6 or more players to make it work. Eight players is definitely the best as this gives the whispers time to get warped and gives the game a good length. With 6 players there is slightly too much chance of a set of good matches which isn’t that amusing. With 7 players (or any odd number) you have to play with the variant where the owner of the pad does not do the first drawing, which means you have no control over whether your pad will come back with a matching answer. The game still sees plenty of play for us with the full count of 8-players at game nights.
Telestrations is probably my favourite party game right now. I love how it can bring together gamers and non-gamers and how often it gets requested by our friends. Every time it hits the table, someone has a story to tell about a hilarious result in a previous game. Admittedly other people look at that story teller quizzically as it was undoubtedly a ‘you had to be there’ moment, but for those players involved in the legendary game, those memories of ‘sad river cheese’ and ‘baby smoking a cigar’ are long-lasting.
I don’t ever see this game in mainstream stores in the UK and I only rarely see it in gaming stores. This would make a great family party game and should really be more well-known than it seems to be in UK. Telestrations gets an 8/10 from me.