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Home > Popular Commercial Games > Board Games > Pictionary Game Rules: How to Play Pictionary

Rules: How to Play Pictionary as a Party Game, Drinking Game,
Adult Game

Pictionary is a Popular Commercial Board Game distributed by Hasbro. It challenges teams of players to draw clues and guess at a secret code or secret phrase in order to advance around a game board. The first team to make it to the finish line wins.

Introduced in 1985, it has since seen multiple game versions catered toward younger players, themed play, and has even been translated into a TV game show format twice – once in 1989 and again in 1997.

Let's Play Pictionary! Board Game Rules, Play as Drinking Game, Adult Game

Fun Fact: a TV game show called “Win, Lose or Draw” was produced in 1987 with similar gameplay

The Pictionary Board Game (or its gameplay concept) continues to be a popular party game in the 21st Century, and for great reasons! Just form your players in 2 groups and start sketching away! Laughs and hollers guaranteed!

Standard Pictionary Game Board
A standard Pictionary Game Board
Squares are color-coded

The Pictionary Game Package:

* Pictionary Game Board
* Pictionary Game Cards
* Plastic Sand Timer
* Various Gaming Accessories: Game Dice, Playing Pieces, Pen and Paper

About the Pictionary Game Board:

The Pictionary Game Board contains playing squares in a basic series from Start to Finish. Each square is color-coded according to the following chart:

Color Code Subject / Category Description
Red / Orange AP All Play All teams play the code phrase (all team picturists draw for their teams); whichever team gets the correct answer assumes control of the board
Green D Difficult Phrases that are difficult to sketch
Purple A Action This can be an event or an activity
Yellow P Person/Place/Animal
Blue O Object

About the Pictionary Game Cards:

Each Pictionary Game Card contains 5 Code Words or Code Phrases.

The Codes are color-coded according to the subject / category (see chart above for reference).

Pictionary Game Cards

How to Set Up a Game of Pictionary:

* You must divide your players into 2 up to 4 teams

* Each team must decide on a “Sketching Order”: In each round of play, the player who assumes the role of picturist is supposed to rotate

* You must distribute the sketch pads and pencils – 1 set each among the teams – specifically to the current upcoming picturist in each team

* You must place the playing tokens at the Starting square (1 for each team) and shuffle the Pictionary cards

* The Game is Set Up and Ready to Play

Objective of a Game of Pictionary:

To advance your team’s playing token from Start to Finish. To do this, the team must :

*roll the dice,
*draw clues,
*to allow teammates to correctly guess the Pictionary Code Phrase,
*thereby retaining the control of the game board,
*repeat the process until 1 team reaches the Finish square and correctly solve the code phrase there

How to Play a Game of Pictionary: Rules and Strategies:

The Starting Square is an “All-Play” Square: This means that all teams get to play the first round. One Pictionary Card is drawn at random. This card is shown to the Picturist (i.e., the designated sketch artist for the current round) in each team.

At a cue, the sand timer is engaged and the picturists start drawing. The first team to guess the correct answer gains control of the game board.

The Next Designated Picturist takes his turn. Take Note: In each round of play, a different player assumes the role of picturist. At the start of the game, each team is made to decide a succession order for the role of picturist.

Playing a Round of Pictionary:

*Drawing a Pictionary Game Card: At the start of any round, a Pictionary Card is randomly drawn by the picturist. The color-category of the landing square determines which Code Phrase on the game card will be played for the round.

*Sketching Clues for the Team: The Picturist is given 5 seconds to study the Code Phrase. He is then given 60 seconds (1 full cycle of the sand timer) to sketch clues using notepad and pen. During this time, teammates must guess the Code Phrase. Note: There are guidelines for the Picturist to follow; details are provided in a separate section below.

*Rolling the Game Die: If the team is able to guess the Code Phrase, they get to roll the die and advance their playing piece on the game board. They also get to keep control of the game board – this means they get to draw another card and sketch again. Note: a team only gets to roll the die and advance its playing piece after a successful guess. If a team never gets the correct answer in a game, they never get to roll the die.

*Keeping Control of the Game Board: The next designated Picturist in the team randomly draws a new game card signifying a new round of game play. The entire process is repeated until the current team fails to guess the Code Phrase or until they win the game.

*Moving on to the Next Team: The turn typically passes in counter-clockwise order – the team to your left assumes control of the board once your turn ends.

Guidelines for Drawing Clues in Pictionary
(Do’s and Don’ts for the Picturist):

*The Picturist may not include letters or numbers in his drawings
*The Picturist may not use pre-arranged means of communicating clues, like drawing a hand with 3 fingers held up to indicate a three-word code phrase, or drawing an ear to indicate “sounds like”
*The Picturist may not use gestures or actions to indicate any clues
*The Picturist may not utter words, whistle, hum nor may he form words or sounds with his mouth
*The Picturist may acknowledge the correct answer from a teammate by pointing to the teammate. This is the only action allowed to the picturist other than sketching on paper.

Standard Pictionary Sketch Pad

Tips on How to Play and Win a Game of Pictionary:

*Speak up if you catch the picturist violating any of the guidelines. If your co-players agree that a violation has been made, the current team loses its turn.

*As the picturist, if your code phrase contains compound words or abstract concepts, go ahead and Break It Down! For example, if the code is “Blueberry Cheese Cake”, you can break down the code and separately sketch “Blue” + “Berry” + “Cheese” + “Cake”. Think Fast!

*As the picturist, you may draw clues for words that sound like your code phrase. For example, you may draw a tree where you code phrase contains the number “Three”

*As the picturist, if your current sketch isn’t working out, you can cross it out and start over. Be sure you communicate this clearly to your team or else you might convey a negative condition like “No” in “No-Smoking”, or “Anti” in “Anti-Biotic”

How to Play Pictionary as an Adult Party Game:

Pictionary makes a Great Adult Party Game! For gatherings like a Bachelor / Bachelorette Party, for example, you can make Pictionary into a naughty game on so many levels. Play it with naughty code phrases, or play it as a drinking game or as a strip game. Read on for our suggested rules and guidelines to Play Adult Pictionary now:

How to Play Pictionary as a Drinking Game:

Typically, you can play Pictionary using normal rules with the following add-ons: (You may use some or all of the optional rules below)
*Option: Whenever a team guesses their code phrase, all other teams take 1 drink per player
*Option: If a team fails to guess their code phrase, the members take a drink. Addtionally, the team picturist may take 2 drinks instead of just 1.
*Option: If a Picturist violates any of the guidelines, he takes 1 drink. Alternatively, the whole team takes 1 drink. Or, the team takes 1 drink and the picturist takes 2 drinks.
*Option: For games with more than 2 teams: The team to reach the finish line first takes 1 drink. The next team takes 2. And third team takes 3 drinks, and so on.

How to Play Pictionary as a Strip Game:

This is great for Bachelorette Parties! Play using normal rules with the following add-ons: (You may use some or all of the optional rules below)
*Option: Whenever a team guesses their code phrase, all other teams each take off 1 article of clothing per player. Additionally: the picturist in that team can be allowed to retrieve 1 article of clothing. (Take note that the picturist role revolves among team members in each round of play.)
*Option: If a team fails to guess their code phrase, the members take off 1 article of clothing. Addtionally, the team picturist may take off 2 items instead of just 1.
*Option: If a Picturist violates any of the guidelines, he takes off 1 article of clothing. Alternatively, the whole team can take off 1 item. Or, the team takes off 1 item and the picturist takes off 2 items.
*Option: For games with more than 2 teams: The team to reach the finish line first takes off 1 article of cloting. The next team takes off 2 items. And third team takes off 3 articles of clothing, and so on.

Free Pictionary Game Cards,
Ready to Print and Play!


or, Play Pictionary without the Game Board: How to Play Pictionary using only the Pictionary Game Cards!


FREE Game Cards: Play Pictionary using our Game Cards


FREE Blank Game Cards: Make Your Own Pictionary Cards using our Blank Cards(Type1)(Type2)


or, Learn to Play Picture Charades: Find our Free Printable Picture-Charades Game Cards when you follow this link

Pictionary Game Card - Sample (visit www.fun-free-party-games.com to find more FREE Pictionary Game Cards ready to print and play)
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