I have to confess, I've never been a fan of Pictionary, preferring games that required more strategy and skill than drawing a picture. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the party Telestrations, which combines Pictionary with the playground game Telephone. Designed for 5-8 players, Telestrations is not just drawing but seeing how different people see different things and illustrate different words.

All players get: a pad with tabs on the bottom, plus a dry-erase marker. At the start of each turn, all players get a card with six words on each side. One person rolls a die, and each player writes the word matching the die roll on their pad, then initials it on the bottom, turns to the next page (which is blank), and passes it to the left. When everyone has their neighbor's pad, a timer is turned, players flip back to the just-written word, and they have 90 seconds to draw that word (and initial the bottom of the page). Players pass their pad to the left, and then players look at the most recent drawing and write what word they think it is. This continues until everyone has the pad they started with, then each player goes through the word-drawing-word on their pad, showing the progression.

Scoring can be either casual (giving points for the most humorous or creative entries) or serious (giving points for the same word twice in a row, or finishing with the starting word), but I've played with no points and it's still fun. Strategy in Telestrations is almost nonexistent, but the real fun is seeing how a word can evolve or change. Some words will stay very close to the original from start to finish (we had "lottery" end as "lottery winner"), but I've also seen "chiropractor" become "x-ray machine" and "wolf" wind up as "the Loch Ness squirrel!" There's not much depth to Telestrations, but it's very easy to teach and play -- and it is very, very funny.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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