The front cover has excellent art. The art inside the box is likely to be far worse. Because you will be contributing to it. And that will have some successes and some... less than successes.
Theme and What is it?
Artbox is a drawing and evaluating drawings party game. You score points by having the most people identify your drawing correctly and by getting as many of the other drawings correctly identified as possible. In each round only one point will be awarded for each of these two categories. Competition is fierce, if you let it be.
Gameplay is deceptively simple. You roll dice and get some distribution of 4 shapes (line, triangle, circle, square). Then players receive two cards with words on them and when everyone is ready you look all at once and attempt to draw one of the cards as well as possible. Set aside the card you didn’t draw, grab the lowest numbered tile for how fast you finished, and turn in your word card/drawing. Once everyone has done this extra words are shuffled into the words players used.
The drawings get put out into a display row and the inflated list of options is displayed. Players then attempt to accurately match the drawings to the words. The word list seems well designed. One of the best pictures I saw in play was a very creatively made flower. That player had the word “garden” and that should have worked perfectly. But one of the dummy cards added… was flower. Haha. Poor guy.
I am one of the least artistic people you will ever meet or hear of. I can mimic artistic creativity by tracing a screen or projection. If I am lucky. Normally I would have had no interest in a drawing game. Cranium can be extremely painful for my teammates.
I specifically requested Artbox after looking into it and was really pleased to receive it for review. Being constrained in what you are trying to draw and only having 4 shapes to work with that are very specific types of shapes… isn’t a painful restriction that makes a drawing futile. Instead it allows alternative creativity and abstraction to shine through. I have found I am actually quite good at this game!
An engineer (non-civil that is) that can do good at a drawing game? What!? But the real artists equally enjoy Artbox. This is a masterpiece just for that alone.
Game Build Quality
Some pencils, privacy screens, dice, cards with words, and a huge pad of papers completes the artbox components. And some miscellaneous items shown above for scoring, speed indication for tiebreak, etc. The pad of papers seems extensive but even a few sessions using each paper twice has made quite the dent. There is no reason any plain paper cannot be used or any other pad of notes. I do intend for that pad to find itself depleted in very little time.
The front cover has excellent art. The art inside the box is likely to be far worse. Because you will be contributing to it. And that will have some successes and some… less than successes.
Restrictions on what and how you draw is actually very freeing. Knowing you cannot make a perfect picture with these restrictions and no one expects you to is very liberating to those self-conscious of their lack of artistic skill. It is quite fun when you get one single feature noticeable and others all pick up on it and guess what you made perfectly. It is even better when they say they could identify it WITHOUT the word at all.
Age Range & Weight
8+ is fair. This could be easily accommodating to a child if you give them extra words to pick from. When the child rejects a word or has to ask what it is, it gives a good teaching moment. They might have difficulty matching some pictures but will learn from the other players why a given thing is supposed to be that word.
I usually dislike drawing games. I love Artbox. How does that work? Don’t ask me. It just does. This is so cleverly made that it fixes my normal complaints with drawing games I have experienced before. One player who is a bad drawer can still compete by identifying images accurately. And one who draws great can rest on their laurels if they are fast enough.
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