Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.When I think of HABA games, I instantly think of cute, fun games in yellow boxes for preschoolers and the early school age set. So that’s why I was surprised when I saw Picassimo at the New York Toy Fair earlier this year. It’s a game for eight and up, fun for family members of all ages, and — what really threw me — the yellow HABA box branding was completely absent from the box. Let’s dig in.

The game itself is a variation on the “charades, but drawn” genre of gaming popularized by Hasbro’s Pictionary (1985) and re-implemented in several other party board games. Here, the big thing is the board you’re drawing on is broken into six tiles. Finish your drawing and then you swap two tiles, then two more, mixing up your clean, simple illustration and it goes from this

to this

Everyone draws, everyone rearranges the same tiles, and one by one the players try to determine what was drawn. Get ’em right? Drawer and guesser gets three points. Need to return some of the tiles to the original spaces? Fewer points. Once seven rounds are over, high score wins!

I ran the game with two ten-year olds, who both loved the game. “I want this game!” exclaimed my daughter’s friend. Playing with the wife and our daughter, we all had a hilarious time.

The only caveat I had is even though the game says it’s for ages eight and up, and there are over 900 things to illustrate, some of the topic cards featured things that weren’t familiar to the younger crowd. I know what “currywurst” is — mainly because I lived in Germany for a few years — but my 10 year old? Luckily, each card has six terms ready to draw, so this wasn’t much of a problem.

That last bit probably came about because HABA usually publishes language-independent games and this one is All Words. Published in six languages, they use a clever way to not have to do localized versions: each card is double-sided with colored backgrounds on each line. These are placed next to a language card: a flag with three similarly-colored arrows. English-speaking players? The green arrows on the English card lines up with the green English terms, so you know you’ll be looking at the line that says “bathtub” and not the ones that say “Badewanne” or “Baignoire”. (Oddly, the English line is the only one of six languages — German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Dutch are the others — that doesn’t capitalize the first letter of the word.) We found it very easy to find which word we’re to draw.

Drawing is quick, using dry-erase markers on the tiles, and rearranging the tiles to reveal that what you thought was an obvious drawing now looks crazy is fun. You’ll have to be a bit careful when swapping tiles to avoid accidentally brushing the drawing, but the tiles and drawing surfaces are designed to help moving the pieces around. Plus you’re playing among friends and family, right? Let people touch up anything they might have wiped.

Picassimo — did I mention it was fun? — was well-received by players of multiple ages. It plays from 3 to 6 players in about a half hour. The game retails for $44.99. Find out more about Picassimo at

A copy of Picassimo was provided by HABA USA free for review.