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Telestrations - Board Game Box Shot


| Published: 2009

Telestrations is the award winning, laugh-out-loud party game that has players simultaneously draw what they see, then guess what they saw to reveal hilarious and unpredictable outcomes. In this fun, modern twist on the classic “telephone game,” there are multiple words being passed around between players, with everyone sketchin’ and guessin’ at the same time! But the real fun and laughter is the big reveal, where players get their own books back and get to share how “this” became “that”!

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User Reviews (13)

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Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
92 of 99 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“If your group can't have fun playing this, they may not know what fun is”

Do you remember playing telephone as a kid? You whisper something to the person next to you, they do the same to the person next to them, and so on and so forth. Between you and the end of the line, something would often happen to the message. Sometimes, in fact, what came out the other end barely resembles what you began with.

Then there is Pictionary. If, like me, your art skills can only be called “skills” by a very charitable saint, you struggle to draw something, while your team calls out things that have nothing to do with what you are trying to draw.

Now, mash the two together, and you have Telestrations.

This game plays 4-8 players. The more, the better. Once we open the box, you will find:
8 Erasable sketch books
8 Dry erase markers
8 Cloths
1 sand timer
1 die
142 double sided cards

Everything is decent, except the markers. They seem to go dry awful quick in my opinion.

So, what do we do? Everyone gets one of the sketch books, markers and cloths. They all write their names on the first page. Deal a card to everyone, and then roll the die. Each card has 6 words on each side. Determine if you are working off of “This Side” or “That Side” and secretly write your word down.

If you have an odd amount of players, you will now pass to the left, that person will secretly look at the word you wrote, and draw their interpretation of the word. Should there be an even number of players, then you will do the first drawing.

Regardless, whoever drew the first picture passes the pad to the person on the left. The timer will be set, and they have until time runs out to write what they think was drawn on the next page in the sketch book. They pass to the left, the timer is set, and the next person has 60 seconds to draw their interpretation of the word. Play continues in this fashion until the pad returns to the person it started with.

Then, the real fun begins, as each player goes through their pad, showing what the word was, what was drawn, and how it changed (or didn’t) change as each person got a hold of it. Hilarity ensues. There is a scoring system, but I never use it. Frankly, the scoring is counter-productive, because I have always found that everyone has a much better time when things went horribly wrong, and everyone starts arguing about why they thought that was what you drew.

This is a game that plays best with people who don’t care who wins or loses and who can laugh at themselves along with everyone else. Some of the cards feature a choose your own word, which works great with inside jokes between family and friends as well. I don’t know how many times I have played this game and ended up gasping for breath. I know there are people who would not have fun playing this game, and I am sure you all do as well. However, for those who put aside their ego and their artistic snobbishness and are just looking to have a great time with their friends and family, I think you will find this was money and time well spent.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
87 of 94 gamers found this helpful
“A Visual Take On a Think-Alike Game”

People have been playing the classic game Telephone for years (and likely something similar but differently titled before the invention of the telephone). Telestrations puts a new twist on the game by asking players to draw the word or phrase they’re trying to down the line. By changing the medium of the information from an aural/verbal form to a visual form, the creators of the game have built a system that allows up to 8 of these phrases to be in transit at once. This ramps up the payoff at the end of a round considerably; in Telephone you’d only get one garbled message each time you played, but with Telestrations you’ll get one for each player.

The components of the game are adequate; several other reviewers here have commented on how easy it is to build a “DIY” version on your own, and their suggestion is fair, to a point. The flip-book construction of the drawing pads is a fairly key component to how Telestrations is played, and not so easily replicated on a single dry-erase board per player. Overall, the pieces are what they need to be; functional, though not overly fancy. The markers are subject to wearing out, and the boards may gather marks that just won’t go away. Very few players will mind though – these are things you’d expect from the materials at hand, so they’re easy to forgive.

My only strong criticism of the game is that it really suffers from the “one weak link” syndrome that all “think-alike” games are prone to. Since each word or phrase is being filtered through every player at the table, having one player who either just lives on a wildly different wavelength from the rest (or who just wants to spoil things in general) can completely kneecap the experience. It only takes one pre-teen who decides that “Meatball” isn’t as much fun a secret word as changing it mid-stream to “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” would be to have everyone at the table left puzzled and deflated by the end. The real joy of the game comes from seeing the subtle misunderstandings in the process of passing the messages at the end of a round. You may find that a player who tries too hard to have fun for themselves will ruin the fun for everyone else.

All in all, Telestrations is a great casual/family/party game with no losers (only mostly-winners) that should keep your group entertained for quite a while.

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I play purple
Football Fan
Movie Lover
92 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“Great party game - There will be laughs!”

Our gaming group has played this ~40 times in the past 2 years as the party game of choice. (It would be more, but Cards Against Humanity appeared.) It’s VERY easy to learn how to play and a full game typically takes 60+ minutes.

Game Overview
This combines the kids game of Telephone with Pictionary. Everyone gets their own sketch book, a marker, a black cloth for cleaning, and a word card. Roll the dice to determine which secret word is yours and write it down on the 1st page of the sketch book. You then draw a picture of your interpretation of this word without using any alphanumeric characters. Once done, you flip the bottom page up and pass your sketch book to the player next to you who then writes down in word(s) what they think your picture is. They pass it on and the next person draws a picture of the word(s), and so forth until it comes back to you. There is a timer you can use to make sure each round (drawing or guessing) doesn’t take too long. Your job is now to score the drawings/guesses. The game recommends either using friendly scoring (1 point to your favorite guess and 1 point to your favorite drawing) or competitive scoring (1 point if guess matches prior guess or secret word and 1 point for each drawing this guess was based on) and both score yourself 1 point if the final guess matches the original secret word.

It’s always more fun to play with the maximum number of 8 players and there’s a new party edition that has room for 12. An even number of players is best as it’s fun to compare the final guess with the original secret word. After we score the points on our sketch book, we take turns showing everyone else the pictures/guesses in order for all to see at once. This usually results in a burst of laughing as we see how far the original word gets altered, plus players can see if they scored any points.

For each new round, change the direction you pass the sketch books. The game ends after 3 rounds, and whoever has the most points wins.

Reality of playing
The friendly scoring is best, though we also like to just recognize your favorite drawings/guesses and sometimes don’t bother to keep track of points. Rarely do we have any real artists, but when we do they tend to get all the points. So instead of worrying about competing, we just give kudos to those we were most impressed with as we go through each sketch book sheet with the group.

We also rarely use the sand timer as most get done before it finishes leaving us taking time to get it reset. This sometimes results in a bunch of the sketch books getting bottle-necked with one person who we try to put pressure to move faster. Don’t fret if you want to end after 1 or 2 rounds for times-sake. We have never had a game with 8 players and 3 rounds take less than 60 minutes.

I recommend having players switch seats between rounds if possible to mix it up. This is not a game to be played in a room with lots of quiet competitive games. While there will be long bouts of quiet, when it’s time to share the books it gets loud quickly!

This is a game that you can play with materials you have at home. But USAopoly did such a great job with the quality of the sketch books that no one wants to play without these. The markers do go dry after a while and it’s good to clean the sketch books before you put them away or it gets very hard to remove for the next time. I bought a kit of colored dry-erase markers which can provide fun with multiple colors. Also it’s good to keep paper towels handy as the very small black cloths that come with the game will get cruddy and make your hands dirty after multiple uses. The word cards provide some order for folks lacking imagination, but there’s no reason you couldn’t just make up your own secret word for each round.

Like so many other party games, the enjoyment factor really comes down to the humor and mood of the other players. You may need to make it clear at the beginning about your house rules, especially if you have any rules lawyers who may change the mood quickly from what may have been intended. Having each person judge their own book is good, too, as they can decide how to reward (or not reward) the wide variety of drawings, words, and levels of appropriateness (it’s rare when a word doesn’t get devolved and usually depends on overall maturity level or if a parental unit or kid is playing 😉 ). I’ve played with all levels of drawers – this is likely the main reason for us no longer using points as it can be intimidating for some though great to see that talent on display. Even if English isn’t a player’s first language, it’s sometimes fun to have them write down as many words describing the noun or verb they couldn’t remember.

Lastly, this is not a game you want to force on everyone. When it’s just the jester or artist of the group trying to find players in order to show off their skills, it can become a bit dry for others especially if overplayed (which game doesn’t?). But this also shows the level of popularity it has.

Final thoughts
This is a great game to have available for almost any social gathering. If the group is needing a break from serious discussions or contentious games, this provides a great transition period. To this day some of the most memorable occasions from game night came from playing Telestrations – it’s a must have and makes a perfect gift for gamers and non-gamers alike.

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I'm a Real Person
63 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“For the artistically challenged.”

This is a structured version of a game that goes by many many names.

Essentially, you’re drawing a clue, and then someone’s trying to guess what you were drawing. It gets translated to and from that a bunch of times, and then you see how far you’ve strayed from the original. You can even play it with the game in place if you want, where points are awarded for getting it right between drawings. So accuracy counts. Or at least a proper representation that someone else can guess.

This is dressing up the core game, but it’s a good job of dressing up a basic game. It includes a lot of good ideas, so you don’t have to come up with them yourselves, and don’t have to deal with people unable to fold things correctly.

The sand timer is pretty good quality as well. So really, I’ve seen this on sale a bunch, and it can make it an excellent entry level game for non gamer people of any age that can read.

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Stone of the Sun
El Dorado
61 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“"But I can't draw."... "Good news - No one cares!"”

Easily one of the best party games in my collection, Telestrations has the ability to turn the worst artist(s) in any group into the comedic genius of the game. Simply put, Telestrations is a combination of the game telephone and Pictionary combined into one unique, fun experience.

Though it is true that this game could easily be done with pad and paper, the provided game components are well done and assist in playing the game quickly and easily. Each player is given a dry erase flip-pad with numbered tabs with an accompanying marker and eraser cloth. The game comes with one die and a box of cards. Each card has six random words/phrases. Finally, there is a sand timer provided.

Each player draws a card and based on the roll of the die writes the corresponding word on their pad. Then, depending on whether there are an even or odd number of players, players either pass just the word or provide their best drawing of the word within the timers allotment and then pass. Turns then oscillate between guessing what was drawn with a word or drawing the word passed to you.

How do I win:
Honestly, I don’t know. I own the game, which comes with a rule book that provides methods for scoring… but I’ve never done so. No one I have ever played with has ever cared about scoring this game (using the term “game” loosely). That’s why I love Telestrations. More than any other party ‘game’ I own, Telestrations is about the experience (Cliché…). When no one cares about scoring, everybody wins (another cliché… knock it off).

But I can’t draw:
EVEN BETTER! If you’ve ever played the classic game telephone, part of the joy was the reveal of how different from the original message the final message became. It was as though the bigger the difference, the more solid the punch line landed. I’ve found the same to be true for Telestrations. The best moments in my game group have come from the “What am I looking at?!” moment when you’re passed a picture. (I will say that I’ve played with an amateur artist before as well – that experience was hilarious as well.) The point is it doesn’t matter if you can’t draw well, this will only lead to a more solid punch line.

Some downsides:
I will admit that Telestrations grows better with a larger group of people. I’ve played with the minimum of four, and the experience fell flat. There just wasn’t enough opportunity for the words/phrases to become distorted. At the other end of the spectrum, the games I’ve played with 12 (I own the 12 player version) were hands down the most fun.
On top of that, the provided pens dried up pretty quick, but it was simple enough to purchase some more, higher-quality dry erase pens from a local craft store.

Telestrations will remain a treasured favorite in my collection. I recommend this party game to all gamers interested in truly funny moments among friends and family.

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Z-Man Games fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Stone of the Sun
62 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“Chinese Whispers”

I got this game for Christmas two years ago. This became an instant classic and took the place of pictionary in our family games. It is that good!

Replay Value: The games are quick and can last up to 30 minutes. It is a great game mechanic, a drawing version of Chinese whispers. All players have books, everyone gets an item to draw, they write thanswer on a page and then draw it on the next. Once everyone is finished they all pass the book left. The next player looks at the drawing and then writes what it is on the next page and everyone passes left, the next player then reads what it is and draws that thing on the next page and passes left etc. until the original everyone has the book they started with. Then one at a time they show the items and drawings and get a point for everytime the item was named correctly. It is hilarious as this happens and works even better if you have people who are bad drawers in the group.
It is so quick everyone wants ‘one more go’.

Components: Exactly what is needed, non permanent markers, wipes for the books and card for the subjects. Not too flashy but works perfectly. Be wary of heavy drawers and writers damaging the pens though.

Easy to Learn: Not much to say here, you can be playing within 5 minutes of opening the box.

I know it is a pretty short review, but the game is concise and to the point and all about fun for fun’s sake. Pick it up for when you will be having groups of people around.

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My First Favorite!
62 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“Fun from the first round”

This is a fun and fast game that all types should enjoy. It is like a combination of the old “telephone game” and pictionary.
The after dark version is great for adults but my friends don’t really need the extra push in that direction.
In a nutshell you draw a picture and pass your book and the next person writes what they see and passes it and the next person draws what they have written. The whole time you are getting other people’s passed to you so there is little down time.
A couple tips:
Get people in the habit of starting in the back and working forward so the don’t accidentally open it to the wrong page. (We say start at the back and when you come to a used page do the next one.)

We like the cold reveal with commentary (light heart non-mean commentary). In other words without previewing we say “My word was “cat” and here mom draw an excellent cat sitting in a window. Dad wrote “Cat Nap”. Bob drew a bed covered in cats and Sue wrote Crazy cat lady”.

The best part is the crappier the drawer the more laughs they normally get.

Our first game my mom drew a otter in a chefs hat <—- treasured memory

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62 of 77 gamers found this helpful
“Cant draw for $h13T?? Perfect!! Just what we needed!!”

Great game, loads of fun, and super easy to pick up. Everyone has doodled before and most can pull off a stick figure. With the ones that can’t draw, it just makes the game that more fun when trying to solve the enigma which is there so called masterpiece. Played this game plenty of times at my parties and its a hit every time. Only problem is that they will get loud. So much laughter ahead so beware!

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Gamer - Level 1
72 of 99 gamers found this helpful
“Laugh riot!”

I recently played this game and I haven’t had that much fun in ages!

Think combination between the old camp fire game, telephone, and Pictionary and you have the perfect description of Telestrations.

It’s amazing how quickly drawings can cause a word or phrase to get warped and it is absolutely hilarious to see that process happening. For example, in one of our rounds, the original word was, “Leopard.” By the end of the round the word had been changed to the phrase, “Cat tree” and finally to “cat stuck in a tree. And the drawings that accompanied it were hilarious.

The game, as it comes, is fun and easy for all family members. However, it can be made more “adult” by thinking up your own original words and phrases or by combining it with the cards from Cards Against Humanity!

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Old Bones
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
64 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“Who doesn't want to laugh?”

We play this mostly at family functions, people are always asking if we brought it and are eager to play. We’ve included kids as young as 8, who are able to read simple words and spell to some degree.
I get a kick out of watching my wife’s family play because they always seem to start laughing and not being able to stop for the entire game. As others have said, if you can play this game and not have a blast I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I usually try to mess with things a bit and make them corny just to get people going.
I would suggest you play it with 4 or more people as that gives a word enough time to get really screwed up. Other than that, you’d probably want to invest in an additional set of dry erase markers (we bought an 8 pack of colored expo markers) since the ones that come with the game don’t last that long.

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Plaid Hat Games fan
Cave Goblins - Summoner Wars
I Am What I Am
65 of 103 gamers found this helpful
“Visual Telephone”

Although it’s easy to play this game with your own paper and pens, I find that this game does a great job of helping people that have not played before. On every page, it will say “Sketch It” or “Guess It”, which is especially handy with a slightly inebriated group. This game has been a hit at many parties and family gatherings, so I almost always have it in my traveling bag of games.

My only slight beef with the game is that some of the dry-erase markers that came packaged with the game were bone-dry, so we substituted Crayola Markers until I could go out and pick up some more markers.

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I play yellow
65 of 121 gamers found this helpful
“Buy the components separately and save”

Awesome game, however… My friend saw this game and decided she didn’t want to shell out the 30 bucks when she could go to the dollar store and get 8 dry-erase boards at a buck a pop and basically play the same game. Not to detract away from the game’s fun itself, I have a blast when playing, but I can’t see paying that much for it.

Now, granted you aren’t getting EVERYTHING getting only the dry erase boards as listed above, but you could easily substitute matching Cards Against Humanity to start instead of the “This Side/That Side” and the egg timer and dice are easily found in other games if you feel you REALLY need them, but you’ll have plenty of laughs with the whiteboards alone.

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4 of 9 gamers found this helpful
“favorite of all games”

this is my very favorite game. It can make people want to play it over and over. It is a game where you have to guess the last persons drawing, or draw what the last persons said they thought the other persons drawing. You first write a secret word that you get from a card. if you just started playing there and didn’t Finnish reading you would wonder, ” how can i choose there is so much card choices?” but you have to notice there are dice numbers. There you would roll the dice to figure out what to choose and pick a side, because there are two sides. Next you would write it down, not show, or tell anyone it. You then flip to the next page and draw a picture of. Last you pass it, and the guessing and drawing begin. at the very end you finally get it back after getting passed around, and read your dry-erase tablet. it can be really funny, like turning a hot tub into a black hole. Or it could stay the same the whole time. It is a really fun game to play, and a great game to play with your family! c;


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