Scrawl board game review: “a filthy-minded romp through the weirder parts of your brain”

You definitely wouldn’t want to play the Scrawl board game with your parents. Think ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and you’re in the right ballpark; it’s fun, filthy, and absolutely NSFW. That’s hardly a criticism, though. In fact, it’s the perfect party game for anyone aged 17 and up. You don’t need to be good at drawing, either. Rather, it’s better if you aren’t. Oh my, the things I’ve seen playing this. 

Essential Info

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)

Players: 4-8
Time to play: 30 mins
Set-up time: 2 mins
Complexity: Easy
Avg. price: $30 (opens in new tab) / £25 (opens in new tab)

Disastrous doodles

Here’s the elevator pitch for the Scrawl board game – it’s Telephone crossed with Pictionary. Designed for four to eight players, everyone starts with a secret prompt card that tells them what to draw. Because this is definitely a board game for adults (opens in new tab), these are varying degrees of filthy… or absurd. For example, one card reads “photocopying your balls”. Although there are tamer options (it seems to be color-coded in terms of severity), this is exactly the kind of humor the game thrives on. If that’s not your bag, you and Scrawl aren’t likely to get on.

Anyway. Once you’ve picked up a card, you’ve got to draw whatever it describes on a whiteboard. You then pass your work of ‘art’ to a neighboring player who will write what they think you’ve drawn on a new sheet (this covers up the whiteboard, hiding the original doodle). Once that’s done, the next person along has to draw whatever they’ve been given – and so on. The process continues until the whiteboard finds its way back to the original artist. Who then reveals the entire, weird-ass journey their phrase took. Points are awarded to the funniest or most accurate post. Because those prompt cards are written to maximize misunderstanding, you can guess which of the two happens more. 

Scrawl board game review

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)

It’s a brilliantly straightforward idea. I’d even call it elegant if we weren’t talking about a board game that includes the prompt “butt chin”. Yes, it could do with a timer to speed things up during the drawing phase. But you’ll be willing to forgive that when you’re having such a laugh. Not needing to be an art major takes the pressure off, too. That makes it an excellent ice-breaker.

Foul-mouthed and filthy-minded

Despite being one of the best card games (opens in new tab) going, an issue I have with Cards Against Humanity is the fact that its outrageous suggestions have a shelf-life. There’s a danger of diminishing returns if you play a lot, and Scrawl runs the same risk. Fortunately, it’s got an advantage in that regard. Besides differently colored sections on cards (meaning you get four prompts for each one), everyone will depict those phrases in a slightly different way. Which then gets twisted by the next player along. That helps to keep things fresh; you never know what you’ll get.

There’s only one gripe I have with this game, to be honest – its scoring system. Awarding points to the funniest or most accurate response is great in principle, but realistically? It’s all too easy to penalize whoever’s in the lead to stop them from winning. Victory hinges on how honorable your players are, and that’s a double-edged sword.

Scrawl board game review

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)

Still, it’s not enough to ruin things. That’s because Scrawl isn’t about racking up a high score or accuracy. Instead, it’s about having a giggle at silly drawings. And with that in mind, it’s a roaring success.  

This tells you everything you need to know about Scrawl. It’s not overly competitive, nor is it tactical like so many of the best board games (opens in new tab). It’s not a game for everyone, either. Scrawl is a filthy-minded romp through the weirder parts of your brain. However, it is fun. Powered by a sense of sheer, wicked delight, the Scrawl board game should be at the top of your list when it comes to hosting a party. 

The Verdict


4 out of 5

Scrawl: The Adult Board Game

Foul-mouthed, filthy-minded, and damn good fun, Scrawl is the perfect board game for parties.

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