I grew up playing games like Pictionary on actual sheets of paper (and enjoyed every minute of it). Over time, I mastered the art of simplicity; why draw some elaborate scene when a stick figure would suffice? Those doodling skills have brought me to a series of successes in “Draw Something.”

Unfortunately, many of my fellow players really suck at it.

I find myself screaming at the screen just like I used to scream at my partners across the table – wondering how on earth I would ever guess that a simple square was supposed to be “cheese.” So, instead of wasting my breath, I thought I’d spend a few minutes helping you boost your “Draw Something” game – hoping that you’ll use these tips and share them with all the people you play with as well.

In no particular order:

  • Don’t get greedy. Yes, “penumbral” may be a three-coin word – but if your two-coin word is “saddle,” you’re probably better off taking it. Don’t be a hero. This isn’t a competition. You win only if the person guessing wins.
  • Remember who you’re drawing for. How old are they? Is there a chance they might not be able to guess a word like “zeppelin” over “buckle?” Sure, you might be able to draw a blimp better than anybody on the planet – but if the recipient doesn’t have cultural context, without an extreme degree of luck, the turn will fail.
  • Don’t be vague. Sure, that square may look like a block of “cheese” to you, but the other player isn’t inside your head. What do you need to do to make sure they understand that’s “cheese?”
  • Split words if need be. If you can’t draw well, perhaps “nosering” would best be illustrated by drawing a nose on a face, a plus sign, then a diamond ring. Plus signs are your friends.
  • Use the biggest screen available. This game is cross-platform, but I’ve certainly found it easier to draw on an iPad surface compared to the iPhone’s. You can squeeze in more detail without fudging things up.
  • Use your colors. You may not have many options in your palette to begin with – but once you’ve earned enough coins, you should diversify your rainbow. Then, be sure to USE what you have at your disposal to make details in the image really stand out.
  • Reorder the letters when you’re guessing. See those double-arrows toward the lower-right edge of your screen? Tap it to rearrange the array of letters. Look for common patterns.
  • Draw arrows. When you’re finished drawing an object, point to it – possibly with a different color. My favorite stand-out arrow color is red (unless I’ve used it elsewhere in the drawing). You can’t expect that your partner is going to get “goalpost” if you’ve drawn an entire goal area without specifically pointing at one (or two) of the posts.
  • Think of the purest form of the word. This is most difficult when you’re setting out to draw actions (versus objects). Don’t complicate the scene. We may not need every single detail – just information that’ll get us to guess the word quickly.
  • Be mindful of your line thickness. For some unknown reason, many players seem to want to use the thickest brush available. That makes it next to impossible to guess the word (since you’re wasting so much space). If you start to draw a thicker line that could (and should) be thinner, don’t hesitate to erase it and start over.
  • It’s okay to be sloppy. You’re probably not Justin Hillgrove. Don’t worry about coloring outside the lines – we get it. Even if your arrow isn’t perfect, so long as we can tell it’s an arrow… it’s okay. If you’re trying to work in finer details and find your fingers to be a bit “fat,” perhaps a stylus would help next time?
  • Start a new page if you need to do so. You might have messed up – or, maybe you think you can do better? Maybe you’ve thought of another example? Tap the trash icon to start a new sheet (it doesn’t end your turn).
  • Don’t cheat – it’s not fun. What’s the point of playing the game if you’re going to give away the answers? Half the fun is drawing, the other half is guessing. If you take away half the fun, I’m not going to want to play with you ever again.
  • Use your bombs sparingly. This should go without saying, but I didn’t realize they would be so precious. Unless you’re made of real money, it’s probably best to learn how to survive without those bombs. I’ve debated picking up a few more with my stash of virtual coins, but… using those bombs may not bring me any closer to guessing a word if I really have no idea what it is. Bombs could also be useful to refresh the list of words you’re given to draw (though a current bug in the game allows you to exit out of the app if you see words you don’t like, then re-Play that user to get a fresh set).
  • Connect your Facebook account. This can be done safely, and you can always revoke the app’s privileges at a later date. It’s very convenient. If I’m still waiting for people to return a play, I’ll pop into the list of Facebook friends who have also connected their accounts to see if there are any new ones I’d like to engage. Granted, there’s no way of telling how well any of ’em can draw / play.
  • I hope these tips have been helpful for you in playing Draw Something. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to add a comment below – and be sure to let others know about this list as well, since you’re playing with them (and you NEED your partners to be better players).