No, Your Other Left: An Up-A-Bit Review

by Corey Whelen
23 October 2019

3+ Players, 60 Minutes, Medium Complexity, Low Strategy, Ages 8+

Draw a horizontal line across your paper, then draw four, equal-sized circles underneath, touching the line. Take one end of the line, draw a hook on the end to turn it into a “J” shape. Then, off the other side of the line, draw a line straight up, then a smaller line out two inches to the left, then another two inches down.  Finally, connect both ends of the line, and what do you see? The answer is a finely played round of Up-A-Bit, a fantastic re-release of the classic party game by Outset Media- although, the real answer is a rollerblade that probably looks a train, sorry.

Up-A-Bit is best described as a sort of reverse-Pictionary where everyone draws the picture except for one player, who acts as a sort of judge. The “Up-A-Bitter” (as they’re called in the instructions) is still the only one who knows the clue, which takes the form of a card with a simple line-drawing on it. The winner is the first player to accurately guess what’s on the card, by following the Up-A-Bitter’s instructions. For the clue-giver, this means detailing step-by-step exactly how to draw their clue, which is always more difficult than it sounds. Everyone knows how to draw a flower, but it’s a lot harder without words like “leaves” and “petals”.

I am absurdly proud of this fish

Luckily, Up-A-Bit does something really clever to maximize the game’s accessibility by adjusting the difficulty on the fly. Everyone has the same piece of paper to draw on, and there is a grid that can be utilized by the Up-A-Bitter. If the Up-A-Bitter uses the grid to describe the drawing more accurately and somebody guesses the clue, they get a point. However, if the Up-A-Bitter doesn’t reference the numbers and letters on the grid and somebody guesses the clue, they get two points. This is a fantastic mechanic for a number of reasons. It makes certain clues a lot easier, giving the Up-A-Bitter an interesting choice every time they draw a card. It lowers the barrier of entry so younger kids can get a chance at being the Up-A-Bitter. It also adds a bit of a “risk/reward” mechanic, because if NOBODY guesses the correct clue, then the Up-A-Bitter actually LOSES a point. Yikes!

Much like Pictionary, the Up-A-Bitter will have to contend with people shouting their guesses and a steadily declining time limit as they get people to guess the proper clue. There’s no penalty for incorrect guesses, so there are a lot of bad guesses, but this adds a lot of personality and humour to the game. Sure, the Up-A-Bitter knows that everybody has half of a rake drawn, but maybe the drawers think it looks like a bad toupee, or a centipede doing aerobics. And they will absolutely yell these thoughts the moment they enter their head. The laughs come the hardest when the round ends, and there is a genuine sense of glee as you look over everybody’s horrible drawings. Even those who followed the directions perfectly end up with a questionable (at best) drawing, and mistakes are common, treated as a joke, and generally trivialized.

A standard player area- masterpiece not included

It’s worth noting that the game comes with an abundance of double-sided grid sheets, score pad, several miniature pencils, a hundred different clue cards and six “privacy screens” as the game calls them- little stand-up tri-folds that hide your drawing from peekers, cheaters, and especially Up-A-Bitters. Of course, you can have way more than six players (the player count is only limited by how loud your Up-A-Bitter can yell) but the screens are a nice added value to an already full box.

Look at all that VALUE

Overall, Up-A-Bit is a party game that hits the mark on everything a party game should be. The rules are simple, it can be explained in seconds, it can support a huge number of players WITHOUT increasing the length of the game, kids and adults can play together on a surprisingly even playing field, and, perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely hilarious. It's a fantastic pick-up for holiday get-togethers, family game nights, and casual evenings with friends!