Our step-by-step guide to how to play Pictures board game. This visual clue giving party game won the prestigious 2020 Spiel des Jahres award which is given to the best general board game of the year. This is a tremendous group game that really gets the creative juices flowing. Pictures seems like a cross between Pictionary and Codenames but is refreshingly different from either. With so many options on how to convey clues, syncing up logic and reasoning is way more difficult than you would ever imagine.

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Pictures is a quick-playing family game with very simple rules. Form the image on your secret picture card with one set of components, either shoelaces, color cubes, icon cards, sticks and stones or building blocks in such a way that the other players guess what image you have pictured.

Everyone gives different clues with different components at different times and the individual picture grid never changes (within each game). This is a refreshing take on the visual communication game and not something we have ever seen before. Learning how to play Pictures is easy but mastering the technique inside takes plenty of practice. For 3 – 5 players.


Time Needed: Approximately 20 – 30 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play pictures the popular represent a photo party board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Put Out Grid Markers
The first step of how to play Pictures setup is to make your grid. From left to right, lay out the 4x 1 – 4 number markers in ascending order. From top to bottom, lay out the 4x A – D tokens also in ascending order. These should be next to each other so you now have a 16 space grid with coordinates like “A1” and “B4”, like in Battleship.

2. SETUP | Put Out Picture Cards
The picture deck has 91 cards in it, these are a variety of photographic images. Shuffle these up and randomly deal 16 of these into the spots on your grid. This is the same grid for the entire 5 round game.

3. SETUP | Randomize Grid Location Tokens
There are tokens included that point a person to one of these setup grid spaces previously mentioned. There are 3x each for the 16x possible spots (A1, A2, A3, A4, B1, B2, B3, etc). One side has a question mark with the single spot on the other. Put these somewhere that they can be drawn from without looking at.

4. SETUP | Hand Out Initial Clue Components
There are five different ways to give a clue, which are described below. These are all active at once. Each player has one of the five and will be making a clue for that given round. Each round components are passed so everyone in theory has each component once. If you have more than 5 players, you add blank spots or if less than five, eliminate different components each round.

5. GAMEPLAY | Choose Clue Option
All players who have one of the clue giving options draws a space marker. This shows them, and only them, which clue they are giving.

6. GAMEPLAY | Make Clue
All players now take some time to make their clue. Everyone does this at the same time so everyone does this until there are five constructed clues for everyone to judge.

7. GAMEPLAY | Clue Option 1 | Blocks
There is a set of odd-shaped building blocks. You can choose a variety of these to put them into any configuration you wish to represent the photo.

8. GAMEPLAY | Clue Option 2 | Nine Cubes
Choose 9 color cubes from the different available options and then arrange them in a 3×3 grid on the designated card to represent the picture.

9. GAMEPLAY | Clue Option 3 | Icon Cards
You choose 2 – 5 of the available icon cards and lay them in a road from left to right to represent the picture. Do nothing else.

10. GAMEPLAY | Clue Option 4 | Sticks & Stones
You have three rocks and four sticks. You arrange these in any way you like to represent the photo.

11. GAMEPLAY | Clue Option 5 | Shoelaces
You have 2x shoelaces to work with, one is twice as long as the other. You can arrange these however you like to represent the picture.

12. GAMEPLAY | All Players Guess
After all clues have been formed, now all players guess who is who. Write down on a sheet of paper which clue corresponds to which picture. You would denote “Clue 1: C3” for example.

13. GAMEPLAY | Answer Reveal
After all players have made their guesses, players reveal what they had by placing their secret grid location chip on the correct space. If you are correct, you get a point, and if not, then nothing.

14. GAMEPLAY | Pass & Repeat
After one go of this, everyone passes the clue giving apparatuses clockwise and everyone draws new location tokens. The picture grid does not change. This repeats for 5 rounds total, or basically everyone getting the chance to use each component once.

15. WINNING | High Score Wins
After all five rounds have been completed, everyone counts up their total correct answers. Whoever has the most wins. The game itself is by no means easy, but learning how to play Pictures is.



You will need to alter play in some way to accommodate for having less than 5 players (less than the number of clue options). You can either remove a clue component completely (no one gets) or have rounds designated for a specific clue to come out (some get). Its all fluid, do whatever you want as long as it makes sense.


  • 91x Picture Cards
  • 4x 1 – 4 number makers
  • 4x A – D letter markers
  • 48x Grid Location Markets
  • 5x Sets of Clue Tools (Bricks, Blocks, Laces, Stick/Stones, Icons)


We hope you can now say you know how to play Pictures. Pictures won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award for a reason, it is a very well put together game and something that challenges creativity in an unparalleled way. The items you are given to make clues out of are both carrying and completely limited. You really need to approach it in a smart way in order to succeed in this one. Pictures is a great game for a group of players of all ages.