Your teammates sit patiently waiting for you to begin drawing. You’ve got a word in front of you that you need to get them to guess through the sheer power of your illustration. The card says “Matador,” and you know you’ve got to get across a man antagonizing a bull. No problem, all you need to do is put pen to paper. Except, you’re not in control of the pen. Your job is to move the paper. This, in essence, is the challenge of Telestrations: Upside Drawn, a brand new party game for 4-12 players from The Op.
The general concept of this game is that it's sort of like Pictionary, but turned on its head. In Telestrations: Upside Drawn players split up into multiple small teams of 2 to 3 players. 1 player on each team takes on the role of the 'Guide', they know the clue word that everyone else needs to guess. Another member on the team holds the pen. The pen-holder is only there to raise their pen up and down as directed by the Guide, and the Guide moves the board around under the pen, attempting to draw out the image they're trying to get across. The only words the Guide can communicate are "Up" and "Down," and they can move the board around however they choose. (You can see 2 of our party's attempts at drawing in this way below. Can you guess what we were trying to get across?)
This creates, from the jumpstart, a sense of chaos (and I mean that in a good way) that few other party drawing games possess. Each team has the same clue, trying to get their teammates to guess the same word. The fact that there's no time limit, the round doesn't end until someone guesses the right answer, adds to this fantastic chaotic mood. People are screaming and shouting, pens are flying, and no one has perfect control of their work of art.
The act of actually getting across what you're trying to draw through guiding a board is harder than it looks. From knowing exactly where to tell your pen-holder to drop the marker on the board to create a smooth, straight line, there are challenges hiding in every small moment. In relation to this game, a game like Pictionary where you have full motor control of your drawing seems downright effortless.
The Bottom Line
Telestrations: Upside Drawn is one of several recent party games we've seen that are really investigating what it means to have fun together. Sure, we can all shout the answers to trivia questions at each other, but there's something special about trying to solve more unique problems as a group. Party and Family Games are always the most widely-marketed, popular games on the market, and so it can seem like innovation takes a bit longer to trickle down to them. But that sentiment quickly turns into hobby gaming elitism, where we believe we can only have fun in intense strategic games that take hours to complete. Companies like The Op work hard to continually ideate on and reinvent what it means to play together, and Telestrations: Upside Drawn throws a lovely wrench into what we expect from group gaming.
Get This Game If...
- You're looking for a fun and compelling party game
- You have great (or laughably terrible) hand-eye coordination
- You're looking for a game to bring home for the holidays
Avoid This Game If...
- You're looking for a different kind of party game
- You like to be in total control of your artistic endeavors
Image #1 "Bartender"
Image #2 "Wolf" (believe it or not)
The copy of Telestrations: Upside Drawn used in this review was provided by the publisher.