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Luck of the Draw (Gamewright Games, 2006 - Precinct 13 Development) had me at the tagline - "A Game for the Artistically Challenged". With pictures of simple stick drawings on the cover, I was encouraged that this might be a game for me, since my artistic skills are bad enough to make Michelangelo weep. Games such as Pictionary have always annoyed me, since they obviously give great credit to those who can draw well. While the rest of us insist that "it IS a dog," while people break down with hilarity upon looking at our pictures.
Luck of the Draw is rather like Apples to Apples mixed with Pictionary, except that you don't have to draw well - and everyone can vote! People will still laugh at pictures but be giving you points at the same time, which certainly assuages my wounded pride! It's a fantastic party game that delights teenagers and adults alike and allows every player to shine (or at least be noticed) at some point in the game.
Each player is given a pad of paper, a pencil, and a voting wheel. A box of subject cards, and one of category cards is placed in the middle of the table, along with a six sided die (marked only "1" through "3") and a forty-five second timer. Several different colored chips are placed in the middle, one for each player in the game (up to eight). The first round then begins.
On each round, one player pulls the top subject card, and another rolls the die. The matching word or phrase (examples include "Martian", "Submarine", "Two Pair", "Benjamin Franklin", "Rainbow", "All Torn up", etc.) is read to the players, and the timer is flipped. Players then must draw the subject on a paper, placing it face down in the middle when finished. When the timer runs out, all players must finish their drawings, and the papers in the middle are shuffled and placed face up - with a colored chip placed randomly on each.
The die is rolled again, and that many category cards are going to be used in the round. Category cards are pulled one at a time and resolved before the next one is checked. They include "Happiest", "Looks Most Like a Mess the Cat Made", "Least Detailed", "Should Have Used an Eraser", "Largest", "Most Disturbing", "Had Way Too Much Time", and more. Using the voting wheels, players simultaneously choose which drawing meets the criteria on the category card and reveal them together. The drawing with the most votes has the category card placed by it. This is continued until all the category cards are resolved, then players reveal which drawing is theirs and take the category cards as prizes. In case of ties (which happens a lot) each involved player gets a face down Subject card (counts as only half a point).
The round ends and another subject card is drawn. The game continues until one player has accumulated a set amount of category cards (four to seven, depending on the number of players), at which point they are declared the winner!
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: There is a lot packed in the plastic insert in this sturdy box! Eight full sized pencils are included along with several pads of paper that will last for many games - especially when the papers are torn in half. The die and chips are nice, with the chips being small poker style chips (the same as used in Axis and Allies), and both the subject and category cards are of good quality. The wheels make an excellent way to vote, spinning easily, although I imagine that color blind folk might have a hard time determining which color is which. Still, excellent quality is involved in the game, and the horrible drawings all over the box inspire, rather than make one cringe.
2.) Rules: The rules are explainable in two minutes, and people understand the game quickly and easily. They're only printed on both sides of a single page and are written well (although there's really not that much to say!)
3.) Drawing: As the game states, and as I've told you, one needs absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever to play the game. You can scribble a blob every time and still manage to win a round. In fact, if Luck of the Draw has any weakness, it might be that it rewards players who are poor artists (whether deliberately or not) a bit more than it should. And occasionally I'll see people NOT vote for a drawing because they think that it's done by a specific person. This problem is easy to deal with, because players can switch up their drawing styles and try it a different way, to fool the other players. I've seen good artists draw horrible little stick figures in an attempt to hide their skills. Of course, it's hilarious when they do so, and the "Most Artistic" card is drawn.
4.) Category cards and Fun Factor: The category cards are what make the game, and Gamewright did a good job when selecting the ones to be included. Sometimes the category makes players laugh (such as "Best Use of White Space", or "Most Likely to Prompt the Question 'Which side is up?'"), and other times it's the way players interpret a card ("Most Frightening" or "Most Controversial") that's funny. Arguments might ensue after that game, but players can take respite in the fact that while people found their picture scary, they got a point - so who cares! And that's the point of Luck of the Draw, and I'm surprised that no one has picked up on this simple idea before. Players are rewarded when others notice their drawings for better or worse.
And that's about all I have to say on Luck of the Draw - it's simply a fun, funny party game in which players will make fun of one another's illustrations, while awarding them points at the same time. Taking a few good mechanics (voting, timed drawings) and adding in some hilarity with a good mix of category cards, Luck of the Draw will cause Pictionary to NEVER be played in my house again. I can't draw, so give me some points!
"Real men play board games"