Pictures (PD Verlag) by Daniela and Christian Stöhr is one of the three nominated games for Game of the Year 2020. PD-Verlag from Heidenau has been publishing board games in addition to textbooks since 2005. In 2006, the publisher's first published game, “Antike”, took third place at the German Game Prize. The publisher specializes in strategy games that have slight or no random factors. In 2019 Pictures received the Spielwerk Hamburg eV's game inventor award. The criterion for this prize was an asymmetrical game with different starting conditions.

Pictures is an extremely creative game with simple and short rules. The complete rules fit on one page. The special thing about this game is that each player is assigned their own set of five different sets. A display with 16 different photos is created. The columns and rows are marked with letter and number tiles. Each player now draws a photo selection tile from a cloth bag. This tile assigns one of the 16 photos on the display to each player. But be careful, it can also happen that two players are assigned the same photo.

The idea behind the game won over the jury of Siel des Jahres eV, the pictures by Daniela and Christian Stöhr, along with Uwe Rosenberg's Nova Luna and Reiner Knizia's My City Nomination list for the game of the year 2020 has set.

Pictures: And the big puzzle begins

It is the players' task to add the photo with their own set of materials in such a way that the other players can recognize which photo it is. That is sometimes very difficult. Since all players are always busy at the same time, there is little waiting time.

When all players have finished adding the photos, the big guessing begins. All players must now note on a pad which player has added which photo. Sounds easy? But it is not. The laying material consists of stones and sticks, laces, building blocks, symbol cards and colored wooden cubes. How can you imagine that now? With shoelaces you can, for example, add contours, with the colored wooden cubes you can show striking color differences in an image.

The game material is a real hodgepodge - and actually the star of the board game. Photo: Nicole Zeller

The game material is a real hodgepodge - and actually the star of the board game. Photo: Nicole Zeller

The building blocks, stones and sticks are suitable, for example, to mark prominent points in a picture. Often times, the player has to decide which features or properties of an image to highlight, as the scope of the material is very limited. Handling the materials is also sometimes difficult. The shoelaces are very stubborn and often do not adapt to the shapes that you would like to lay with them. The symbol cards make the simplest impression at first. But again and again the existing symbols do not match the photo. In addition, you have to place at least two and a maximum of five symbol cards. Even if there is no suitable symbol.

Pictures: Board game nominated for Game of the Year 2020

Allocation is often not that easy. What was the player thinking when he positioned his material? Which features of the photo were important to him? Often there are also similar photos. Only which one was meant? During the guessing phases there are often discussions around the table. One or the other player is in doubt, others are very optimistic that they have found the right assignment.

The highlight of the game is that at the end of the round the material is passed clockwise to the next player. So every player has to come to terms with each material once. Each player gets along differently with the given materials. The photo selection markers from the preliminary round are removed from the game. Each player draws a new photo selection marker with which the photos are assigned to the players. This can now be a new picture or the picture from the preliminary round. Chance decides here. And the players never know if a photo has been assigned multiple times.

Puzzle games are particularly popular with families. Photo: Nicole Zeller

Puzzle games are particularly popular with families. Photo: Nicole Zeller

Points are awarded every round for correctly guessed assignments, but also for the fact that the other players have guessed the added photo. The player receives one point for each correctly guessed photo and one point for each player who was able to assign their own material display. With five players, you can get eight points per round. The winner is the player who scored the most points after five rounds.

Pictures is a surprising board game on several levels. Simple rules contrast with complex lines of thought. Pictures picks up players in a special way: It is entertaining because of the overwhelming demands that the title of Daniela and Christian Stöhr can evoke. This is ensured, among other things, by the accurate selection of the picture cards.

What at first glance looks like a hodgepodge on any photos turns out to be extremely well thought out. In this regard, the board game Pictures scores 91 hits, because it contains so many picture cards. This is not necessary for the course of the game, but it does ensure a high level of contradiction. Motivation is already there - if you have played Pictures once, you will add further games, as a family player for sure, as well as a beginner. Frequent players benefit from the good mood that the title can quickly create at the table. 

The material mix appeals to fans of haptically impressive board games, but also makes sense in a playful way. Because material, rules and entertainment are well interwoven, Pictures turns out to be a fluid, playable piece of work that will find its place somewhere between family games and party titles.  


Number of players: 5 players
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: good

Published by PD Verlag
Author: Daniela & Christian Stöhr
Graphic: Dominik Mayer
Year of publication: 2019
Language: German
Cost: 40 euros

Conclusion on Pictures

Pictures is a lot of fun in large groups of five people. There are waiting times because some players ponder for a long time about the assignment of the images. Under certain circumstances, an hourglass could help.

After reading the instructions, the game looks very simple at first, but heads smoke during the game. On the one hand, the challenge is how do I add the motif in such a way that the others can also recognize it. On the other hand, you always have to put yourself in the shoes of your fellow players. The game addresses many different levels, e.g. haptics, creativity and logic.

So the first appearance of the game is deceptive. Pictures is a game that is sure to come on the table more often. The game contains 91 photo cards. This means that there are plenty of different motifs available for further games. The idea of ​​the game is innovative and the process works smoothly. A game not just for families. The age from 8 years is appropriate.

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