A couple of Fridays ago, Peder and I got the chance to spend a great evening trying out some new (to us) games with a group of fellow gamer friends. We started off with a social deduction game called Deception (which Peder will be reviewing in the near future), and ended with the game that’s the topic of my post today–A Fake Artist Goes to New York.
The quickest way to describe this game is to say that it’s like Pictionary, but better. Like that old classic, it’s a pass-and-play drawing game, but it adds in a few other elements to bring some extra challenge and a lot more strategy.
The premise of the game is that all of the players (from 5 to 10) are artists at an NY art show — all but one, that is. There’s a faker in the crowd, and it’s up to the other artists to figure out who it is. Meanwhile, the art critic and the faker are in cahoots — it’s their goal to fool all the other players into thinking the faker is legit.
The game is played in rounds — the players take turns acting as the art critic/Question Master, who gets to decide what word they want the other players to draw a picture of. The QM writes the word or short phrase they’ve chosen on a set of dry-erase tiles — except for one, on which they draw an “X”. The player who receives the “X” tile is the faker.
The players then start to draw the picture, one stroke at a time. They can make it as big or as small as they like, as long as they don’t lift their marker. When it comes time for the faker to draw, they of course have no idea what it is the other players are trying to depict, but they have to make it look as though they do to keep from being found out, either by adding to the drawing according to what they think it’s supposed to be, playing it safe and adding something small, or going the bold route and adding something more obvious that may or may not be right.
Once everyone but the QM has added to the drawing two times, it’s time for everyone to guess who the faker is. When we played, we did this by counting to three and then having everyone point to the person they thought was the fake artist. Then, based on the results, different players can earn points. If the players correctly guess who the fake artist is, everyone but the faker and the QM get a point. However, if the faker is caught but can guess what the QM’s word was, they get a point. Finally, if the faker isn’t caught, both the QM and the faker score points.
This game is a bit tricky to describe in writing (as you can no doubt tell…), but conceptually, it’s pretty simple. The strategy comes into play in the way the QM and the faker are pitted against the other players. It’s in the player group’s best interest to keep the faker from guessing what they’re drawing, but at the same time, they still have to work together to draw something that at least resembles the word the QM gave them, and since they have to keep adding to the drawing as it goes around, it gets trickier and trickier to do so without making it obvious what’s being drawn. And while the QM and the fake artist need to work together, they need to find a way to do so without telegraphing their moves to the other players.
I thought this game was well-balanced, and a great gaming experience overall. It takes the creativity and fast-paced feel of Pictionary and improves on it by both pitting the players against each other and forcing them to work together at the same time. This game would be a good choice for a game night at which there’s a lot of players but where the group doesn’t want to split off into smaller groups to play different games. I will say that though this game allows for up to 10 players, it seems to reach critical mass at about 6 or 7–at a certain point, it just becomes too tough to keep adding to the picture without making it really obvious what it is. It still works, but it can really lower the difficulty level for the fake artist, which you may or may not want. Despite this, though, it’s casual enough to play with a low-key group, but fast-moving enough to keep everybody engaged. It’s a new twist on an old classic, and is sure to be as fun at round 10 as it was at round 1!
Overall Grade: A
Casual Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: C-
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