How to Play Pictionary

Three Parts:Getting Ready to PlayStarting the GameContinuing the Game

The board game Pictionary is fun to play with a group of three or more people. The game includes a game board, four playing pieces and category cards, a one minute sand timer and a die. It helps to have four drawing pads and pencils, but you can use any type of paper and pencils or even small dry-erase boards and markers. Understanding how to play Pictionary is easy once you learn how to set up the game and how to handle special situations, such as the “All Play” category.

Part 1
Getting Ready to Play

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    Divide players into two teams. If you have a large number of players, you can form four teams, but the game is more fun with fewer teams and more players on each team. Select one person to be your picturist for the first word. The picturist is the person who attempts to illustrate the word using the pencil and paper. Everyone else on the team will try to guess the word that the picturist draws.[1]
    • Players on the team will take turns acting as the picturist.
    • If you only have three players, one person must be designated to draw for both teams during the entire game.
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    Supply each team with the proper playing equipment. Each team gets a category card, a pad of paper and a pencil. The category card explains the meanings of the category abbreviations that you see on the playing board and word cards.[2]
    • The different categories are (P) for person, place or animal; (O) for object; (A) for action, such as an event; (D) for difficult words; and (AP) for all play.
    • If you prefer, you can draw on a dry-erase board and marker instead of pencil and paper.
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    Set up the game. Place the game board and deck of word cards in the center of the group. Place a playing piece on the starting square of the Pictionary game board to represent each team. Since the starting space is labeled (P), each team will draw the person, place or animal category first.[3]
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    Determine if you will play by any special rules. Some people like to set special rules before starting a game in order to prevent any disputes later in the game. Talk to the other players about any house rules that you want to set before you start the game.[4]
    • For example, how picky will you be about words that other players call out? If a player calls out “baseball” and the word is “ball”, will that count or does the player need to say the exact word?

Part 2
Starting the Game

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    Roll the die to see which team selects the first card. Each team rolls the die once and the higher number plays first. The first word played will be an “All Play” word, but the team with the highest die roll gets to select the card.[5]
    • Do not move the game pieces on the board after the opening die roll. Leave them in the start space.
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    Let both team’s picturists see the card. After the first card has been selected, both team’s picturists should have a chance to look at the word for five seconds before they begin drawing. Do not start the timer until five seconds have passed and both picturists are ready to draw.
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    Have both team’s picturists draw at the same time. When both team’s picturists are ready, start the timer and instruct the picturists to start drawing. The picturists will have 60 seconds to draw while their teammates try to guess the word. The first team to guess the word correctly wins control of the die.[6]
    • Remember, do not advance any pieces during the first turn. The object of the first turn is to see who gets control of the die.

Part 3
Continuing the Game

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    Decide who will draw for each team. Each team should decide on a turn order for picturists so that everyone gets a turn. During your team’s turn, the picturist selects a word card from the front of the deck. The picturist may look at the word in the (P) category for up to five seconds, but may not allow any of his or her teammates to see it.[7]
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    Flip the timer over and begin drawing. Each picturist has one minute to draw their word as best they can. Teammates can guess continuously during the one minute drawing time. Keep in mind that picturists may not talk, use hand gestures, or write numbers or letters during their turns.[8]
    • If teammates guess the word on the card before the timer runs out, they get to roll the die, move the number of spaces indicated, then pick another card and draw again.
    • If teammates don't guess the word in time, they pass the die to the team on the left, who begins by drawing a word card.
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    Rotate who draws each time you need to pick a word card. Start each turn by picking a word card, not rolling the die. You only roll the die and move the playing piece when your team guesses the word before the timer runs out and your turn continues.[9]
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    Include all teams for “All Play” squares and cards. If you land on an “All Play” square or the word on the card has a triangle symbol next to it, then all of the teams get to compete. The picturists for each team get to look at the word card for five seconds. Then, start the timer and have the picturists from each team draw clues for their teammates.[10]
    • The team that guesses the word before the timer runs out gets to roll the die, move the spaces indicated by the die roll, and pick a new word card.
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    Continue to play Pictionary until a team reaches the final "All Play" square. Once a team reaches the "All Play" square, they are eligible to win the game. Keep in mind that your team does not have to land on this square with an exact roll of the die. If your team doesn't guess the word guess the word, then play continues with the team to the left.[11]
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    Win by guessing the word in the final “All Play” on your team's turn. It may take several tries before your team guesses the word and you may be in competition with other teams that are also on the final square. Keep trying until someone wins the game.[12]


  • Try playing Pictionary at a party or family gathering. It is a great game for a large group of people to play together.

Things You'll Need

  • Pictionary game board
  • Playing pieces
  • Category cards
  • 1-minute timer
  • Die
  • Paper and pencils or dry-erase boards and markers

Article Info

Categories: Board Games