Get on Board: Telestrations

A drawing game in which the fun is in the gap between intention and result

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Telestrations is a hybrid of classic parlour games Chinese Whispers (apparently know as Telephone in America) and Pictionary. The amalgamation of the two already exists, apparently employed in some corporate corners as an icebreaker, but don’t let that put you off. Telestrations injects a bit more life and turns it into a humorous party game.

Each player takes a wipeable sketchbook, marker pen and a random card with a series of secret words. A roll of the dice will decide which one you’re allocated and, in secret, you write down your word on page one – be it a “rubber ducky”, “pin cushion”, or “buffet”. Turning over the sand timer, players have 60 seconds to draw their word on the following page. When time is up you pass it to the person next to you. That person then has to decide what your drawing depicts and write down their guess on page three. The sketchbook gets passed along again, and the next player draws to the best of their ability the previous word. The game continues until everyone has their original sketchbook back in hand.

The fun part of the game is the big reveal, as players takes it in turn to go through their book, with the group either admiring the beautiful creations and great guesswork, or laughing hysterically at someone’s inability to draw a dolphin. There are two ways of scoring: friendly, handing out points based on your favourite sketches or guesses; or competitive, based on whether the guesses and the sketches match up, and are true to the original secret word. After three rounds, points are added up and a winner is declared.

A lot of thought has gone into the sketchbooks – with their different-coloured binders – but the words have been given less consideration. “Lightbulb” and “dinosaur” are just too easy, while “marching band” and “veggie burger” seem well-nigh impossible. This can put some players at a massive disadvantage throughout the game, unless the whole group is up for a challenge. With children it’s probably best to let them pick the easiest word on their card.

Whilst the game can be played with as few as four people, it is a lot more enjoyable with seven or eight players. It gives more of a chance for the secret words to get lost in translation and create a hilarious results. There is a reason Telestrations has sold over a million copies, and it is definitely one to add to your party games collection.

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