The board game Pictionary is generally regarded as a classic board game. Pretty much everyone has played Pictionary or another similar game at some point in their life. For the few of you who don’t know Pictionary, you are basically given a word/topic that you have to draw so your partners can guess what you are trying to draw. This concept has been utilized by many drawing games over the years. I don’t hate Pictionary or other drawing games but they aren’t my favorite genre for a couple reasons. First most games from the genre feel like the exact same game with maybe a couple small tweaks. Then there is the fact that most of the games require you to actually be good at drawing to do well at them. I would consider myself to be a pretty average to below average artist so I don’t always do that well in these type of games. For these reasons I tend to stay away from most drawing games. When I saw the tagline for Luck of the Draw though I was intrigued as it states that it is “a game for the artistically challenged.” That sounded like an interesting premise so I decided to check it out. Luck of the Draw has some really interesting ideas for a drawing game distinguishing itself from many games in the genre making it one of the best drawing games that I have played despite its issues.
How to Play Luck of the Draw
- Each player takes a pad of paper, a pencil and a voting wheel.
- Place the boxes of subject and category cards, die and timer in the center of the table.
- Choose enough colored chips so there is one for each player. Place the chosen chips in the middle of the table. The rest of the chips are returned to the box.
Playing the Game
Luck of the Draw is played over a number of rounds. Each round consists of two phases: drawing and voting.
Each round begins with a player choosing one of the cards from the subject box and placing it face up on the table. One of the other players rolls the die. The number rolled on the die determines which of the prompts on the card will be used for the current round. All of the players will have the length of the timer (45 seconds) in order to draw the prompt on their sheet of paper. The only rule when drawing is that you can only use one side of one sheet of paper. This phase will end when the timer runs out or all of the players have completed their picture.
At the beginning of the voting phase all of the players hand their pictures to one of the players. The pictures are mixed up face down and then placed face up randomly on the table. A colored chip is placed on each picture which will be used when voting.
One of the other players will roll the die to determine how many rounds of voting will be conducted this phase. This is how many category cards will be drawn and voted on.
One category will drawn and voted on at a time. The card is placed face up on the table. All of the players analyze the pictures and determine which of the pictures they think best relates to the category card. Players will turn their voting wheel to the color corresponding to the chip on the picture they want to vote for. Players can vote for their own pictures if they are truly worthy.
When everyone has made their choice they will reveal their vote. If one of the pictures receives a majority of the votes, place the category card next to the picture. Each category card is worth one point.
If two or more pictures tie for the most votes, give each picture one subject card. Subject cards are worth half of a point.
If more than one category card will be voted on this round, players will not reveal which picture is theirs until all category cards have been voted on. Another category card is drawn and players vote again. When all of the required category cards have been voted on, players reveal which drawing is theirs and take any cards that their picture received. These cards are set aside as they count as points.
If none of the players have acquired enough cards to win the game another round is played with a new subject card being drawn and the players drawing another picture.
End of Game
The game ends when one of the players have earned enough points to win. The amount of points needed in order to win the game are as follows:
- 4 players: 7 points
- 5 players: 6 points
- 6 players: 5 points
- 7-8 players: 4 points
My Thoughts on Luck of the Draw
In a lot of ways Luck of the Draw is similar to a lot of drawing games. Like other drawing games you are given a subject to draw and a certain amount of time to complete the drawing. This element of the game plays like every other drawing game so I am not going to waste any time on it. One element distinguishes Luck of the Draw from pretty much every other drawing game though which makes it feel like Pictionary with a twist. In most of these type of games you are drawing to get your teammates to guess a word/phrase. In Luck of the Draw all of the players draw a word/phrase in order to hopefully receive votes based on the category cards that are drawn.
At first this might not seem like much as it just replaces getting your teammates to guess a word/phrase with a voting mechanic. In practice it actually has a pretty big impact on the game. This mechanic makes Luck of the Draw feel like a combination of Pictionary and a party game like Apples to Apples. In most drawing games the best artist who thinks quickly is going to have a big advantage in the game. If you struggle with drawing you are going to have a hard time doing well in most other drawing games as the other players need to at least recognize what you are trying to draw. Good drawing skills could sometimes help you in Luck of the Draw but they are far from necessary. In some cases you may even benefit from being a bad artist. I thought the fact that Luck of the Draw was promoting itself as a game for the “artistically challenged” was mostly a gimmick but it actually is for people who can’t draw.
While all of the players are drawing the same thing, there is a hidden element that will impact each player’s drawing. The goal is not to do the best job drawing the subject. Instead you are trying to draw the subject in a way that will fit the category cards that will be drawn later. No one knows what these category cards will be though. That doesn’t stop players from drawing their pictures based on what they think the categories will be though. Some of the category cards in the game include which is the straightest (has the most straight lines), the worst drawing, the most abstract, and a bunch of other categories that would drastically change how you would draw the picture. As you have no idea what the categories will be though it adds an element where players try to artistically alter what they would normally draw in order to increase their odds of receiving votes.
This in particular rewards players with creative interpretations of the subject. Some subjects are pretty cut and dry where there really is only one way you can draw them. In these situations you want to draw it in a wacky way or add elements that would distinguish it from what the other players end up drawing. Some subjects really let your creativity shine as there are several different ways to interpret them. Going with the non-obvious choice is usually beneficial as it will help it stand out against the other options making it more likely to be picked.
Most drawing games are not intentionally meant to be funny. Most of the laughs come from players not being able to draw or players missing the obvious solution. While there are still going to be some laughs due to horrible/strange drawings in Luck of the Draw as well, the game is designed as something that is supposed to be taken less seriously. Some of the subjects are really strange and silly that it would be hard to not get a few laughs. Being humorous increases the odds of your picture being picked as well so you are encouraged to avoid going for the most obvious interpretation of the subject and instead drawing something unexpected.
One thing that adds to the humor is that the game places a pretty strict time limit on the players’ drawing time. You only get 45 seconds to draw each round. That is not a lot of time to draw a picture leading to some silly pictures. Even the best artists aren’t going to have enough time to draw exactly what they want. Instead of carefully figuring out what you want to draw you need to just draw as much as you can before you run out of time. You can’t get too complex with what you are trying to draw as you won’t be able to finish in time. You need to focus on the most important aspects instead of trying to make everything perfect. For example stick people make a pretty regular appearance in the game. While I like that the time limit forces you to make quick decisions, I think it is a little too short in my opinion. At times it is a little stressful having so little time as you have no chance of being able to complete what you want to draw. I personally think the game would have benefited from having a one or two minute timer.
In a lot of ways I liked Luck of the Draw. The game deserves a lot of credit for bringing something new to the typical drawing game. The voting mechanic allows players to succeed in the game even if they aren’t a good artist. I think this is a really interesting idea and a welcome edition to a genre where pretty much every game tries to do the same thing. I am not a huge fan of the drawing genre but Luck of the Draw is probably one of the better drawing games that I have ever played. While it deserves a lot of credit for its creativity, Luck of the Draw has one significant issue that keeps it from being as good as it could have been.
In theory I really liked the idea behind the voting mechanic. Unfortunately it doesn’t work as well as it should have. Simply put the voting mechanic makes the entire game feel pretty random. It doesn’t really matter how good your drawing is or even how closely you followed the subject of the round. All that really matters are the categories that are drawn. Sometimes these will reward the players with the best or most creative drawings. Other times it will reward random drawings that have nothing to do with the subject. For example in one round a player didn’t know what to draw so they just drew a simple straight line which had little to do with the subject. A category card was then drawn where the straight line was by far the best choice. Thus a player ended up receiving a point because they drew a straight line. This makes it feel like you have no control over your fate in the game.
I could see this being a bigger issue for some players more than others. Simply put you need to accept that Luck of the Draw is not supposed to be taken seriously. You don’t have much control over what happens in the game. The worst drawer can easily win the game just because they got lucky. If this will annoy you Luck of the Draw may not be for you. As you can vote for your own drawings (a rule I don’t particularly like), highly competitive players can also ruin the game by just voting for their own pictures every round even if they aren’t worthy. People who can set this randomness aside though can have quite a bit of fun with Luck of the Draw. Luck of the Draw is the type of game that you play mostly just to have fun and some laughs with your friends and family. The ultimate winner shouldn’t really matter.
As the voting ends up making Luck of the Draw pretty random, I am actually kind of curious how different the game would play if you knew the categories that would be voted on before you even began drawing. I never tried this house rule but I think I want to try it out the next time I play the game. I think this would have some interesting impacts on the game as players could strategize how they wanted to incorporate the categories into the round’s subject. It would add more strategy to the game as you tried to find clever ways to alter your picture in order to fit the voting categories. It would also take a lot of the luck out of the game as all of the players would know what they would be judged on. This might swing the game a little too much back in the favor of the best artists though and it may take some of the fun/silliness out of the game. Knowing the categories ahead of time might also lead to players disregarding the subject entirely to focus on just matching the category cards.
The components for the most part are pretty good. The game features 210 subject cards. With each subject card featuring three different subjects you can play quite a few games before you will run into repeats. When you play through all of the cards you can also easily use cards from other drawing games as they shouldn’t impact the gameplay. The 105 category cards is pretty good as well. You should be able to play 50 or so rounds before you repeat any categories. The categories don’t impact what you draw anyways so getting repeats shouldn’t be that big of an issue. I also thought the voting wheels were pretty clever as the color chips are used to assign a color to each picture making it easy to vote for the picture you want. The game’s artwork was also pretty good.
Should You Buy Luck of the Draw?
I have never had strong feelings about drawing board games. I occasionally enjoy games from the genre but there are issues with it as most games from the genre are basically the same game. There is also the fact that they usually heavily favor players that are good artists which I am not. This is the main reason why I was intrigued by Luck of the Draw as it bills itself as a game for people who can’t draw. It does this by adding a voting mechanic where players vote on which picture fits various categories that are randomly drawn. This mechanic is pretty unique as it quite a bit different than your typical drawing game. Everyone has a chance to win no matter how good or bad of an artist you are. Luck of the Draw can be pretty funny at times as it rewards players who think outside the box and draw weird pictures. The game doesn’t always give you enough time to draw though. The biggest problem is that the voting feels random at times as you could pick a category card that will end up rewarding the worst picture. You can’t take Luck of the Draw too seriously or this will really annoy you. At the end of the day Luck of the Draw is still probably one of the best drawing games that I have ever played as it at least does something unique.
As Luck of the Draw is a drawing party game, if you hate drawing games you likely will not like Luck of the Draw either. The game is also quite random which will turn off players that are really competitive. If you really like drawing games or are intrigued by Luck of the Draw’s unique mechanics, I think you could get some enjoyment out of Luck of the Draw and should consider picking it up.