Dale Yu: Review of Really Bad Art

 

Really Bad Art

  • Designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
  • Publisher: Wonder Forge
  • Players: 3-6
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: ~15 minutes

really-bad-art

When I was in GenCon this August, I got my first look at the set of Wonder Forge games set to be distributed at Target. On my first glance at the new games, I was immediately drawn to the wobbling tower of Stick Stack, a dexterity game. As I got the sales pitch, I knew that I would want to play Suspicion – a deduction game. Being the good journalist that I am, I listened to a description of the third game of the set, Really Bad Art, and I have to admit that I very possibly might have started to zone out (or think about lunch) as soon as I heard the words “speed” and “party game” used together in a single sentence – Sorry Florian!

I was intrigued enough at the first two titles that I jumped on the chance to review the set. I went ahead and accepted the entire set because it seemed more complete to be able to review all of them than just choosing which ones I wanted. I’m glad that I took them all because, as it turns out, Really Bad Art looks to be the gem!

The main components in the game are a deck of cards – each with two words or phrases on them, one on the purple side and one on the orange side. The other main thing is a battery powered timer which lasts for about 6 seconds. In each round, players are dealt a card facedown out of the storage box, and then one player decides if the round will be played on the orange or purple half of the card.

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Once this is decided, someone hits the time which then has 3 beeps as a countdown for everyone to get ready. After the third beep, you hear a ding and then you get 6 seconds of music. In that unbelievably short span, players must pick up their card, look at the word/phrase on the designated colored side and then make a drawing on paper that somehow illustrates the word on the card.

When the buzzer sounds, again after only 6 seconds, all pencils must go down and everyone puts their drawing in front of them so everyone can admire their handiwork. Someone collects all the cards – which have remained face-down – and adds another card from the deck. These are shuffled, and then they are placed under the board in the lettered slots. Players have a set of letter tokens in their player color, and now players put their letter tokens next to the “art” that they think matches the cards under the board. These tokens are all placed face-down – and once all players have tried to identify each of the drawings, all the tokens are flipped over for scoring.

For each piece of art, the artist gets 1 point for each player who correctly matched the art to words on the card – i.e. they put the correct letter token on the paper. Additionally, each guesser who was correct scores 2 points. This process is repeated for each of the illustrations on the table. IF a player has reached the end of the scoring track (30 points), the game will end after this round, and the player with the most points wins. If the target isn’t reached, deal everyone a new card and do it again.

My thoughts on the game

So, I hate party games. And I have a strong dislike for speed games. Yet, despite that – I have truly enjoyed every game of this that we’ve played thus far. The game is hilarious fun, both in seeing what awful art can be made in 6 seconds as well as laughing at the guesses that players make at some of the really bad art!

The timer doesn’t cause most of the issues I have with speed games – because in this game, being faster at the main skill doesn’t guarantee success. The time allotted is intentionally not enough to let you draw more than the most basic of pictures – many of mine are simple shapes or stick figures with a few arrows or stars for emphasis. And, that is the beauty and genius of the game. The game really works because the art is so breathtakingly bad. While there are a few cases each game where the art is spot-on and there is no doubt to the meaning, more often than not, you’re trying to decipher which set of chicken scratch means “world peace” or “unintended consequence”.

The game scores like Dixit, but I feel more involved in the game because I’m actually creating the art – not just choosing from amongst the provided cards. There’s also less of a mechanic of playing the judge in this game because everyone is “judging” at the same time here.  We’ve also found that there is no correlation between actual artistic skill and success at the game.  Heck, you only have six seconds; you just  sketch out the briefest thing you can.

Try it for yourself. Exhibits A, B

Try it for yourself. Exhibits A, B

Exhibit C and the 6 orange cards

Exhibit C and the 6 orange cards

And now Choices D and E

And now Choices D and E

In our games, we’ve found that it shines with higher player counts. When you only have 3 players, it is easier (IMHO) to decide on meaning with only three word choices for two pictures. When you play with 5 though, there is a lot more chance for similar cards or just really bad art that you can’t figure out. From now on, if we play with 3, we’ll probably add two or three decoy cards instead of only one in order to simulate the uncertainty of the extra cards in 5-6p.

Scoring tends to clump as it’s really hard to break away from the pack. The scoring system rewards those who are able to consistently be guessed correctly – but again, this isn’t an easy thing to do in only six seconds!  Sure, there’s a fair amount of chance in being dealt a card that is easy to draw – but in a ten to fifteen minute party game – it’s no big deal.

Though I thought I’d hate the game when I first saw it, this is one of the big hits of GenCon 2016 for me – and one that will definitely stay in the game collection. It works with just about any group, and I like it better than other similar party games. Dixit might be pretty to look at, but Really Bad Art is more fun to play.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

 

Eric Edens: I love this game. Ok, it isn’t perfect and really, it isn’t one I will probably play for years to come. But it is a blast to play. When I think of party games this one will now come to the top or near top of the list. It’s hard to explain why it is fun to someone without them playing it. Just like Telestrations the game isn’t really deep or interesting but the 20 minutes of playing it are. I can’t imagine this game will stay on the shelves long once more reviewers and gamers get a chance to try it so I would grab a copy now if I were you.

 

Dan Blum:People I played this with were initially skeptical but everyone seemed fairly positive by the end. I definitely liked it. It’s a bit like Pictomania, but faster and simpler (and cheaper). I prefer Pictomania but it’s really a gamer’s game, whereas I’d play RBA with any group.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y, Eric E.
  • I like it. Dan Blum
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…
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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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