In her book, ‘Brushstrokes of a Gadfly’, E.A. Bucchianeri wrote the words ‘Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation’. It is of course, a take on the earlier quote by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford about beauty. Bucchianeri’s quote could so eloquently describe Scrawl, a party game from Big Potato Games.
In its simplest form, Scrawl is Chinese whispers with pen and pad. Before you say ‘but I can’t draw’, hear me out a little bit longer! There are two versions of Scrawl and I will be reviewing both the green box Family Party Game and the yellow box Adult Party Game versions below. They are essentially the same game, but with noticeable differences between the subjects on the cards.
Both versions of Scrawl seat 4-8 players. Every player gets a numbered player board, clip and blank scrawl sheet. They are also issued with a scenario card. You can either pick one of the four colours on the card and everyone draws that one, or for a slightly easier and perhaps more family friendly option, each player can choose one of the four options on the card. The latter is my preference as it gives everyone a chance from the start.
Players then doodle their best interpretation of the card. The only rule – no words allowed. Once everyone has completed their masterpiece, they attach another blank Scrawl sheet to their board and pass it to their left. This player has to become art connoisseur and write down a description of what they believe has been drawn. Again, a blank Scrawl sheet is added to the pad and play is passed on with the next player having to draw what is now written on the card.
Play continues in this way, alternating between drawing and describing, until you get your original numbered board back. At this point each player reveals the journey, starting with the scenario card, then the first drawing and so on. Once the story has been revealed, a player is awarded a point for the best guess or doodle. Play continues until someone gets two more points than there are players. They are crowned the victor and everyone must bow to their Scrawl skills.
What it’s like
All players are drawing and writing their guesses down at the same time. However, quicker drawers or guessers may have slightly more downtime. It is never too long though. The more players the merrier, but this does extend the length of the game. With the right crowd it won’t outstay its welcome.
Harrison (12) isn’t blessed with the skills of Da Vinci. I don’t think he would mind me saying it isn’t his forte in life. However, he gave it a go and relaxed into it. You see, it doesn’t really matter how well you can draw, as the game is more funny when the drawing is woeful! Even good drawings can lead to bad guesses. That is the joy of Scrawl!
When guessing, I often find myself trying to make a common phrase from the picture before me. It rarely is a well-known saying, but my brain is preprogramed to still work like that.
For both versions the best part for me is the reveal. When you see the Scenario card’s journey from the often sublime to the more often ridiculous. Choosing a favourite is not my preferred mechanic for awarding points but is, like in Cards Against Humanity, a necessary one here.
Scrawl Family Green Box Edition
The age limit for the Scrawl Family version is twelve plus but I think you can include younger players. I’ve played this with George (9) and he enjoyed it. We made concessions a couple of times. For example allowing him to pick another card if the first card didn’t have anything he could fathom. Generally he was okay with it.
Overall, as a family we had a lot of laughs sitting around the table passing ludicrous things to each other. The cards aren’t easy to depict. For example how would you draw ‘Pooing on a pigeon’ or ‘Tasering a Sloth’? I know what you’re thinking, this is the family version? Yes, yes it is!
Scrawl Adult Yellow Box Edition
Aimed at ages 17+ things get a little saucier with the adult version. Swear words and sexual references are frequent. Choosing slightly less racy cards as examples for the purpose of this family-friendly review, you might be asked to draw a ‘Touchy-feely geography teacher’ or ‘Pulling a Hat out of a rabbit’. Now the cards do get more ‘adult’ than that. As a result, you find your mind wandering to that way of thinking. All of a sudden ‘Dreaming of Bacon’ is misinterpreted and transformed into something it shouldn’t be… EVER!
As an after dinner game with friends you will find plenty of amusement. Just like a cocktail, mix this game with a little bit of alcohol to loosen inhibition, and you have got a game full of laughter, regardless of artistic talent.
The boards, wipe clean Scrawl sheets, score card, bulldog clips, cloths for wiping are all good quality. The cards are bright and bold and there is 60 of them in both versions, giving you 240 different scenarios and plenty of replayability.
My only minor gripe is with the pens. These have a habit of splitting at the ends, meaning your drawing line is a bit thicker than you would ideally choose. Other pens that wipe clean would work if need be.
The family edition has thinner player number markers than the adult version, so these often get lost in the blank Scrawl sheets. The thicker ones are definitely better!
The instructions are clear and concise, but then again it is a fairly easy concept to relay in the rules.
This has enough table presence and design to not be cheap, but equally, as is the nature of the game, it is far from the prettiest game you will bring to the table!
Final thoughts on Scrawl
Like many party games, the success or downfall isn’t in the game itself, it is in the group of players. It will be their willingness to embrace Scrawl that will make it a hit. Players need to be prepared to not take themselves, or their creative output, too seriously. With players that are willing to adapt this viewpoint, Scrawl is a brilliant party game that will provide heaps of merriment.
You probably don’t however need to own both the yellow box and green box versions. You will instinctively know which version to sway towards. If you have a family then that is the version to go for, on the occasions when your without children and with friends it will still provide lots of fun as the cards are still quite whacky.
If you are the sort of people that are crying with laughter playing Cards Against Humanity or What Do You Meme, and aren’t likely to be playing with younglings, then the Adult version is likely to be for you. The Adult version of Scrawl would also make a fun and different present for a university student, along with the obligatory can of beans and bottle of vodka!
I must say that the publisher, Big Potato Games, is producing some of the best party games around. Both versions of Scrawl are brilliant options for the party game shelf or cupboard.
Number of players: 4 to 8
Board Game Review Recommended Age: Family Edition 10+ / Adult Version 17+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: Family Edition 12+ / Adult Version 17+
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 1.5 minutes
Publisher: Big Potato Games
Scrawl is the game Pictionary should’ve been. It is the cool relative of that classic, the one that knows about all things urban and lit! With the right people, both editions of Scrawl will provide you with laughter and light entertainment. Which ultimately, is exactly what you want from a party game!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Easy to learn
- Lots of fun
- Good relay-ability
- Some of the cards are hilariously obscure
- The person who says they can’t draw
- Pens could be better quality
- Some of the cards are obscure to draw
- Choosing a favourite when scoring
Need more games?
If you already own Scrawl and enjoy it, or are looking for other inspiration, you might also like these similar games:
- Obama Llama
- You’ve Got Crabs
- Herd Mentality
If you want to buy Scrawl after reading our review click on one of our affiliate links below (note there has been no affiliate links until this point)
For clarity. We don’t get paid for our reviews. We were gifted the Adult version of Scrawl by Big Potato Games, the family edition is our own, this has not affected our review in any way.
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