Publisher: Out of the Box
Ages: 12 to Adult
Time Per Game: 30 Minutes
In Backseat Drawing, players divide themselves into two teams. Each team receives an erasable white board and marker. One person draws for each team per round, but the two opposing artists don’t know what they are drawing. It is up to the rest of the team, who glance at the word card secretly drawn from the box, to describe the image to the artist until he guesses the word.
It sounds simple, but players cannot give descriptive words like “fire,” for instance, if the word is “fireplace.” Players have to stick simply to shapes, sizes, arrows and directional cues, such as up, down, parallel, perpendicular, etc. The first artist to guess the word takes the card for his team. The directors and artists rotate for the next round, and the first team to collect seven cards wins.
Out of the Box also offers Backseat Drawing Junior, recommended for ages 7 and up. The gameplay remains the same, but a picture associated with the word also appears on each card to help the directors describe the objects easier. The game is also designed to be slightly shorter, with a score track of five points to win at the top of each white board, and the option to play with only three players.
I think I’m speaking for all of us when I say, looking at the box we thought this was going to be a Pictionary rip-off. As it turns out, Backseat Drawing is an entirely different type of game. Similar to the word game Taboo, the restrictions placed on what the director can and cannot say lead to a lot of talking around a particular item in an effort to get the artist on the right page.
It was amazing too see how well the communication worked between teammates on certain objects, and totally fell apart on others. Trying to get the artist to draw fire was no easy task. It is an interesting team challenge, likely better experienced with eight players than four.
But while I had a lot of fun in our initial outing with the game, it can also be a frustrating experience similar to its namesake, backseat driving. When the rounds drag, they can become truly painful. The price point is also a detriment. While gamers are always paying for the concept and experience with a board game, rather than just the physical materials, Backseat Drawing, more than many games, seems like something that is way too easy to do without the kit. On sale, this isn’t a bad buy, but it doesn’t exactly provide its bang for the buck at $25.
In the Out of the Box board game Chain Game, one player would have to sit out of the action so he or she could officiate for the round. This was to make sure words being used were legal. There is no ref for Backseat Drawing. The problem is that the game gets too involved and cheating (even the unintentional kind) can easily go by unnoticed. I caught myself mid-illegal word and was expecting the other team to jump on me for it, but they were having their own communication issues and did not notice.
It’s fine if your friends are model citizens just looking to have fun, but bad for competitive players after a few drinks. It is easy to pick up and play, but $25 is a little steep.
As Bill and Kevin have covered the overpriced point to Backseat Drawing, I’ll leave that issue alone.
I think the most important complaint levied upon this game is the quiet interludes between “cluemaster” and “artist,” when the activity has died either as a result of communication breakdown or an overly difficult description. Unlike Pictionary, Taboo or the assortment of clones, the frustration was far too common. Then there would be rounds where the time to guess the item or whatever was either immediate or extremely quick. There was a vast disparity in the difficulty, which was rather devoid of middle ground.
Forget Backseat Drawing on the next road trip and focus on other driving games such as the license plate game, or poking your fellow occupants ad naseum.
YAYs – 0
NAYs – 3
NAYs have it!
Pads & Panels received a review copy courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.