Duplik is a drawing game from deisgners William P. Jacobson and Amanda A. Kohout. It works for three or more players ages 8 and up and takes about 45 minutes.
Published by Asmodee, it can be found online for less than $15.
How it works:
The game consists of a score sheet/drawing pad, a die, and 120 pictures that also have a list of elements on the picture. That list isn’t visible without a red sheet put over it (a bit like the toys they used to put in cereal boxes).
The starting player, called the Art Director, creates a score sheet, then rolls the die. The number rolled will determine what number on the list gives everyone bonus points. But no one can look at the list until later.
The picture has a title, which the Art Director reads.
Then the Art Director has 90 seconds to describe the scene, and everyone else draws it. No questions, gestures, or talking allowed.
When time runs out, the artists pass their drawings ot hte right or the left and become judges. The Art Director now looks at the list and reads each of the 10 criteria it contains.
Judges check whether the drawing has each element. The judges don’t get to look at the original picture yet.
Artists get three points for getting the bonus criterion, and one for each other one. The Art Director gets one for criterion met by at least one of the artists, and three if someone got the bonus criterion.
The scores are tallied, and everyone gets to see what they were trying to draw. The player to the left of the Art Director becomes the new Art Director.
When everyone has taken a turn as Art Director, the scores are added up, and the player with the most points wins.
Why you might buy Duplik:
There are lots of pictures included, and most of them are quirky and sort of charming — everything from an egg and a man with his briefcase all going for a walk under the clouds to a man in a swimsuit having water poured on buy him by a telephone.
Teachers will find the game a good exercise in describing and in following directions. I can see them game being especially useful in English as a Second Language classes (which I used to teach).
It’s good for people who don’t draw well because accuracy, not quality, is what’s important.
The price is excellent.
Why you might not buy Duplik:
Most party games have teams for a reason. Perhaps two people are explaining the same thing, trying to get their group to do better than the other. Or they’re trying to do more than the other team, whether that’s drawing or describing, or what have you.
In Duplik, that’s not the case. Everyone’s listening to the same description, so if the listeners are equally skilled, they’re going to get exactly the same score. If the describer is skilled, their task will be fairly easy. If not, it will be much more difficult.
The scoring feels a bit tedious. One person I played with said it felt like homework. The fun is in the drawing, but then you have to go through 10 items after each picture. It was tough to get people to play more than a couple of rounds.
If I were still teaching, this game would be an automatic purchase for me. It uses language skills, and because the pictures are surprising, it forces students to use words in which they wouldn’t normally. It also pushes listening skills. In a lower-level class, the teacher could describe the picture, and the students would still be practicing language.
As a game with friends, though, Duplik won’t get much play. I don’t like to compare games, but Duplik invites obvious comparisons with Pictionary and Win, Lose, or Draw. The competitive and snappy nature of those games makes them easier to get people to play. And because different people will draw the same word different ways, they have more replay value.
Full disclosure: I got a review copy of Duplik from Asmodee. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.