For as far back as I can remember, nearly all holiday family gatherings involved the adults playing some kind of art/guessing game or charades-esque activity. I always looked forward to the days when I was old enough to join in the fun, and have since had an affinity for this style of game with a large group of friends or family.
-Fast forward to the Present-
Before I left GenCon this year, I visited the combined Bananagrams & Big Potato Games booth where I was introduced to a number of their games recently picked up by Target stores. Today, we’ll be discussing Scrawl, an adult party game for up to 8 players.
Scrawl is a game that takes the familiar gameplay of sketching games such as “Pictionary” or “Win, Lose or Draw” and combines it with a game that harkens back even further in time from most of our childhoods: Telephone. The game requires absolutely no artistic talent, and in fact, advertises that “a bad drawer makes a great Scrawler.”
The idea here is that players choose a color: Pink, Black, Green or White, and each take a Scenario card which has 4 different words or phrases on it and sketches the one that matches the chosen color. After everyone has finished their sketches (or the timer has gone off), the real game begins and you pass your sketch to the person on your left. The new recipient of your sketch takes a blank Scrawl card and writes down their best guess as to what your scenario was, places their card on top of yours and everyone again passes to the left where the new recipient has to draw the current guess.
Play continues in this way, alternating drawing the last player’s guess—or guessing the last player’s sketch until everyone is handed back their original. Everyone then takes turns revealing their scenario and spreading out all of the cards on their clipboard so that everyone can see the evolution of their initial sketch to the final guess or drawing that came back to them. From there, the board’s owner chooses their favorite sketch or guess and gives that player a point. If, by chance, the original scenario makes its way all the way around the table, then the player who started it gains 3 points.
Genre Similarities and Differences
Now, there is another game that has a very similar gameplay style and mechanics as Scrawl, called Telestrations. Both are sketch-Telephone games, however, where Telestrations has flip books, Scrawl takes a more minimalist approach and provides thick Cardboard dry erase boards to which you attach a clip and layer the thinner dry-erase Scrawl Cards on top of each other. While both of these games are immense fun, I have to say that I prefer the Scrawl method of using a multitude of layered cards instead of the booklet. The difference is that, while you can flip through page by page to see the changes in a booklet, the Scrawl method of free-floating cards, allows everyone to see the progression and compare the different stages all at the same time. It’s a minor difference, and also one of personal preference, but we preferred having the entire progression visible at once.
Another thing to note with Scrawl is that this game comes with a Parental Advisory for Explicit Content warning as well as a 17+ age suggestion. Where games like Telestrations are more family friendly, Scrawl definitely has more mature content—imagine the difference between “Apples to Apples” and “Cards Against Humanity.”
All-in-all, we had a great time with Scrawl. Where there is art, it is simple, nonobstructive, and cute—with a wink the humor I’ve come to expect from Big Potato Games products. My gaming group enjoyed starting our night off with 1 or 2 rounds of Scrawl before moving on to the main event of the night, so it was very successful in priming everyone for an evening of fun. We didn’t care much for the point system, though choosing our favorite guess drawing was still fun. It just seemed like a good group activity that could be competitive if you wanted, but didn’t need that competition to be enjoyable. Though, I would recommend using either your own timer or the Big Potato App, which has separate timers for drawing and guessing to keep things moving at a steady pace.
If an adult-oriented game with occasionally explicit subject matter would not go over well with you or your players, this game may not be for you. On the contrary, if you’re a fan of games that involve doodling (with absolutely no artistic skill required), group activities, a good sense of humor, and have an adult-centric gaming group (maturity optional), then I think you will enjoy Scrawl.