Our step-by-step guide to the rules of how to play Pictionary board game. This is the original draw and guess party game. The game is for 3 – 16 players at ages 12+. The rules for how to play Pictionary are incredibly easy to learn because so much of the game takes place in your imagination. This one is broad and appeals to pretty much everyone.

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Pictionary originally came out in 1985 and is famous for bringing the old school charades game into the graphical realm. This was a popular party game that remains popular today and has spawned many other games inspired by it. The object of the game is to identify through sketched clues as many words as necessary to advance to the Finish square, and correctly identify the final word.


Time Needed: Approximately 90 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play Pictionary the classic drawing and guessing board game. Additional information and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Put Out Timer & Card Box
To kick off how to play Pictionary setup, put out the universal components. Place the game board, timer and card box so all players have access to them.

2. SETUP | Category Cards
Remove the 4 category cards from the front of the card box and use them as a reference throughout the game.

3. SETUP | Divide Into Teams
Divide equally into teams of two to four.

4. SETUP | Give Out Team Components
Give each team a pad, pencil, category card and playing piece. Each team places their playing piece on the “Start” space.

5. GAMEPLAY | Choose Picturist
Every round, each team needs one individual who will draw the pictures to give clues to the rest of their team to guess.

6. GAMEPLAY | Choose Card
The starting picturist selects a word card from the front of the deck. The word corresponding to the colored square in which the playing piece lies is the word in play.

7. GAMEPLAY | Set Timer & Sketch
The picturist has five seconds to examine the word. The 60-second timer is then turned and the picturist begins sketching clues for the team. *No physical or verbal communication, or letters or numbers in clues.

8. GAMEPLAY | Guess
The teammates try and guess based on the sketching while it happens. If they guess correct, they continue by rolling the die, advancing that many spaces and repeating the process with a new card, picturist and 60-second timer. If something is not guessed within the 60-seconds, play passes to the left.

9. WINNING | Land on Finish & Complete
The first team to land on the Finish square and guess the word correctly wins the game. The word guessed does not have to be on the team’s turn, it can be during other game modes like the All Play. As you can see, the how to play Pictionary rules are very easy to pickup.



  • It’s OK to use as many pieces of paper as you want, but try to conserve by using both sides of the paper.
  • An X can only be used to cross something out, or to indicated an area (like on a map). Never use an X as a letter, like brand-X.
  • Players cannot use secret or pre-arranged clues — like drawing an ear for “sounds like” or dashes for the number of letters in each word.
  • You can draw mail for male or blew for blue, etc.
  • Remeber! Sketches may not include letters or numbers.


AP | All Play (this can be any type of word or expression)
D | Difficult (challenging words)
A | Action (verbs – things that can be performed)
P | Person/Place/Animal (proper names are included)
O | Object (nouns – things that can be touched or seen)


In the All Play category, the card is shown to the picturist of each team. The All Play word is sketched simultaneously by picturists to their respective teams at the start of the timer. The first team to identify the word earns control of the die and immediately rolls and advances their playing piece the number of squares indicated.

The team now continues its turn with a new word. If no team identifies the word in sixty seconds, play continues to the left. The new team does NOT roll the die, but begins its turn by pulling a new card and sketching the word corresponding to the square currently occupied.

When you see a triangle symbol on the card, that designates an All Play and should be called out. Any team that first identifies an All Play word immediately receives the die and rolls, moving the indicated number of squares and then pulling another card.


  • 1x Gameboard
  • 1x One-Minute Plastic Timer
  • 496x Cards
  • 4x Category Cards
  • 1x Die
  • 4x Playing Pieces
  • 4x Pads of Paper
  • 4x Pencils


We hope you can now say you know how to play Pictionary. This simple game of drawing and guessing has been lighting up the party game scene for decades and there is no sign of that stopping. This is a classic for a reason. The creative possibilities are endless with this one and that is why there is no need for a ton of rules. You will be able to pick up how to play Pictionary in no time.