Telestrations Review

Telestrations party pack unboxed

Today's review is of a game that truly took me by surprise - Telestrations (which is available in either an 8-player or 12-player format, depending on how many friends you think you have).

Telestrations is really a very simple premise.  In fact, one of the reasons that I waited so long to try it is because, frankly, I probably felt like I was too good for it.  ("Oh?  That little party game?  Sure - you guys have fun with it."  Good thing I eventually got over that.)  So, Telestrations takes two classic games and smashes them together - the game of "telephone" (where you whisper something into someone else's ear, and they whisper to the next person, etc.) and Pictionary.  So, in Telestrations, each person starts with a booklet of dry erase pages, and writes something on the first page.  Then, they hand the book to the person next to them.  That person looks at the text, and they draw a picture of it - and hand the picture to the person next to them (that isn't the original person, obviously).  That person then writes down what they think the picture is representing, and pass the book.  Then I can continue typing this same thing, but ultimately, it just keeps going like this until it gets back to the original person.  That person then flips through the book, shows all of the other players the transformation of their term, and laughs.

You may now be thinking, "Wait, how is this a game?  You didn't tell me how to win!" And you would be right!  I actually view Telestrations as an activity more than a game - in fact, the rulebook even states: "Are you a winner?  Did you have fun?  Well, then you've won!"  And I agree with it.  However, if you must compete to enjoy things, there are also rules for how to make it competitive - give points for your favorite answers, etc.  Basically, very Apples to Apples style scoring rules.  However, you don't need any of that to have fun.

Example of Telestrations drawing
A Teddy Bear Confessional
So, what do I like about Telestrations?  I like writing something ridiculous down to see how my original statement transforms, and how people try to depict it.  For example, one of my favorite things that I've written down was "Runaround Sue" (a song from the 60's).  When I got my book back and flipped through the pages, I was pretty impressed with the (first) drawing I saw.  The first picture had a picture of someone running, a circle that was going around, and a picture of a sewer, indicating to drop off the "er."  (After all, how do you draw the name "Sue"?)  Unfortunately (ahem, as I intended) the next person wasn't quite able to figure out what the artist was going for, so they took it a completely different direction.  Another time, I wrote down "Code Monkey", and wound up with a Teddy Bear Confessional by the time that it got back to me.  Basically, watching how different people interpret different clues is really fun - and hilarious.

The next pro that I have for Telestrations is that the components are well made.  Ultimately, you could play Telestrations without owning the official box.  However, the published version provides you with materials to make it really easy to play for as long as you'd like.  The Dry Erase boards have plenty of room, while also being Dry Erase, and thus not wasting tons of paper.  Plus, the box includes different cards that you can use in case you struggle with coming up with ideas for what to write down.  So, though the game can be played without using the "official" version, it definitely is enhanced by using the tools that the official version provides you with.

Telestrations game example
Some people actually draw well, even when rushed!
So, were there any real problems (cons) that I found with Telestrations?  Well, first off, is people's preconceived notions of it - like my own.  You may have trouble getting strategy gamers to play Telestrations, because they will assume that they don't like it.  That's not really the game's fault, but it is definitely something to be aware of, as I have seen a lot of this bias against the game.

The next con that I found for Telestrations is that a lot of the fun is dependent on the creativity of the initial concepts.  For example, far too many people can draw a "good enough" fire hydrant.  So, if that is the initial clue, then you won't have the satisfaction of flipping through the pages and going, "how the heck did my clue turn into this??"  So, I highly recommend that your clues are more complex - perhaps song titles, or other compound concepts.

Overall, I give Telestrations an A+.  I realize that's not a score between 0-10, but as a nod to it being a party activity more than a competitive game, I felt like it deserved it's own scale.  Really, it's a lot of fun, and I'm glad to have a copy to take with my to future game nights!

If Telestrations sounds fun, you might also check out Rory's Story Cubes, Time's Up, and AttrAction.

I would like to thank USApoloy for providing me with a review copy of the Telestrations 12-player party pack.

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