Pictionary Game Rules

Updated April 17, 2017

Pictionary is a team-based board game first offered by Milton Bradley in 1985. It became very popular and even spawned a short-lived television game show.

As many as four teams may play Pictionary, with teams consisting of any number of players. Players attempt to advance their token along a board by correctly identifying pictures drawn by teammates.

Set-up and Winning

Set-up is fairly simple. The four category cards--difficult, action, person and object--are set aside and used as a reminder of what players are currently drawing. Each team is given a pencil or marker. A timer and keyword card deck are shared by all. The winner is the first team to reach the end space and correctly guess a word during its time limit, whether an individual team word or an all-play.


One player from each team rolls the dice and the highest roll wins. The game tokens are set on the Start space and the team that rolled highest will select a word card from the keyword card deck. This team does not roll the dice again to move until it has correctly answered the word within the time period. Once the card is drawn, it is shown only to the "picturist," who will be drawing for the team that round. The picturist gets five seconds to look at the word, then places it facedown next to the stack. He must then draw the word clearly enough that his teammates can guess it before the one-minute timer runs out. The picturist may not speak or use charades to provide additional information to his team. If successful, the team rolls the dice and moves again. They then draw another word card and continue until they are unable to correctly guess the drawing. Play rotates to the team seated to the left, which controls the dice until they, too, are unable to solve a puzzle before time runs out. When a team regains control of the dice, they choose a new picturist and continue their advance toward the finish area. Players establish an order of being picturist and must wait until all others have held the position before taking it again.

All Play

Some word cards have a triangle next to them, indicating it is an all-play word. All-play words are shown to the picturists of all teams, who draw at the same time. Whichever team correctly answers first gains control of the dice. That team rolls and moves, and play continues normally. If no team identifies the word before the timer runs out, the team to the left of the one that drew the card gains control but does not roll to move. It immediately draws a new card and play continues.

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About the Author

Nicholas Robbins has been a professional writer since 2008. He previously serviced system issues ranging from operating systems to point-of-sale deployment and global distribution system equipment. He has experience with computer and tech equipment, as well as business relations/management. Robbins studied business at the University of Alberta.