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Pictures: Orange & XL expansions

I read a comment, most likely on BoardGameGeek, that the height of fandom in board gaming is when a player makes their own content for a game. While I have made several rules quick-sheets in the process of learning a game and posted them online, there are a rare few games for which I have made extra content to enjoy it more, notably hundreds of cards for Dixit (Libellud) and a substantial amount for my one and only 'lifestyle' game, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (Paizo). When PD Verlag's Pictures, designed by Christian and Daniela Stohr, was released, I was immediately enamoured by its core game play and simple scoring and immediately added new component sets made of Lego and felt, as well as new score sheets to take the game up to seven players.

Safe to say, then, that I like Pictures a lot; so I was glad to hear that expansions were on their way. Let's have a look at Orange (possibly named after one of the component sets) and XL, which come in two separate boxes. Both use the second printing double-sided cards, rather than the first's single-sided limited deck.

XL is the simpler expansion, consisting of larger cards so that it is easier to see the pictures on the table: 100% improvement, unless you're playing on a nightstand. A one-card variant is included which is a large YES/NO (tick/cross) to go with the deck of cards component: players shuffle the deck and take seven cards from it, placing them either to the YES or NO side to indicate they apply or don't apply to the target picture. This has been the lowest scoring of the new component sets - which is similar to the original game - and is the least liked when passed around the table.

The Orange expansion is an excellent addition for those not minded to make their own component sets and score sheets, increasing the player count to seven (or six if you ignore the cards!). In this expansion there is a pack of double-sided pictures to replace the single-sided ones in the first printing and two new component sets: acrylic tiles and felt & pegs. The acrylic tiles are similar to the mosaic and are laid within a picture frame utilising monochromatic geometric shapes and squiggles to recreate the target picture; they are pleasingly tactile and and score pretty well. The mini clothes pegs and two orange felt sheets can be used either 2D or 3D and, again, create a solid component set which is both fun and challenging to manipulate.

If you like Pictures - and, frankly, why wouldn't you? - then getting both of these expansions is a no brainer, though getting both does mean that there will be a couple of decks of cards made redundant, which isn't the best option economically or environmentally. The new pictures add essential variety - though it feels like there are fewer portrait ones in the mix, which makes it easier to identify them - and the extra components and scoring sheet take the game up to seven, which from experience I know works well only if you make sure everyone plays at a decent pace. These are wholeheartedly recommended for those who like Pictures, tho' they won't change the opinion of someone who does not.

Addendum: When I made my own extra component sets and the new scores sheets to go with them, I emailed the Stohrs to seek permission to use the game's logo on my fan-made content. A swift and warm response from Christian encouraged me to seek permission from the publishers, PD Verlag. Sadly, despite repeated emails, I never received any response from them. A real shame, as ardent fans are one of the best ways of getting the word out about games, either online or in person. So, just to say that if I were to use the variant card from XL to express how I feel about this, the designers would be on the YES side, the publishers would be on the NO side :-)

(Review by David Fox)

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