Identik: How to kick-start your game night in 90 seconds

I picked up a demo version of Identik on a game fair. Yes, a demo! More games should have demo versions. It was a small booklet with a short explanation of the rules and about five pictures in it. I figured it would provide some experimental fun at some point in the future. So when we had seven people over for a night of 7 wonders, a fairly short game, I thought Identik would make a good kicker. And I was right!
I love it when that happens.

(Maxmaven’s picture)

This is the game. One person has 90 seconds to describe a cartoon picture in as much detail as possible while everyone else tries to draw it as quickly as possible. When time’s up, everyone passes their drawing to the left and the describer reads out 10 hidden criteria (that he himself didn’t even know about). Criteria are aspects of the cartoon that net you points if you pictures them right in your drawing. They might be really obscure (“the star on the tablecloth is bigger than on the hat”) or pretty easy (“there’s a plant to the left of the man”).

So what do you do? You draw like mad, you groan at your silly work of art. You rate your neighbours drawing, you fight about the scoring, you laugh at other people’s silly works of art, gasp as the original picture, yell at the describer for leaving out a vital detail that he insists he mentioned… it all get hilarious pretty fast!

Focusing on your drawing for 90 seconds is incredibly hard. There’s blackouts where you have absolutely no recollection of the potted plant with garlands in, even though everyone else has heard and drawn it perfectly. Describing is equally torturous – after a minute you find yourself staring at the cartoon, desperately wondering what details you can possibly be overlooking.
So anyway, back to my game night.

Identik ended up being both a starter (great for when you’re still waiting for the last few arrivals) and a kicker. Explanations were virtually unnecessary, everyone got the game straight away. The guy who doesn’t like drawing (you know, that guy) got a real kick out of describing the images. All was well.

The only thing we couldn’t figure out was the “main criterium’ that got mentioned in our demo rules, but wasn’t explained anywhere. We gladly forgot all about it.

When we finished the cartoons in the book, one of our players said “We can probably make our own Identik with photographs, if someone makes up criteria for them”. So I dug up a pile of photos and we did a few rounds of that! One person making up criteria, one describing the photo, the rest drawing. It worked well, but they were much harder than the cartoons. Our scores for the photos were in the threes and fours instead of sevens and eights for the cartoons. Regardless of scores, Identik’ed photographs of people you know might make a cute gift for gamers. It was pretty funny to see the narrator go “Well you see Jan, he’s in his chair, and he’s wearing that candy heart he got at Octoberfest…”

The next day, one of our group went out and purchased the game straight away. Apparently a “core set” has 120 pictures, and expansions have 80 more. I assume you don’t want to play with the same cartoon twice. Some of our gamers have photographic memory when it comes to games. Where they left their keys? No. What move you made in Le Havre last year? Yes.

Nerds.

Even so, I think 120 cartoons are good value for money, espcially with all the hysterics we got out of the demo alone. Recommended!

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