PLAYlist 45: Nobjects | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, September 18th, 2020  

PLAYlist 45: Nobjects

Aug 16, 2019 By Brad Walton Bookmark and Share

Every kid has played a game where they trace a picture on their friend’s back, and the friend has to guess what it is. And everybody knows the silly fun of playing Pictionary with a large group. Those were the two things I had in mind when I brought Nobjects to game night. Everyone was low-key hanging out around the kitchen bar before we got into our main event game-- having a drink, playing Robyn radio, and chatting. I plopped Nobjects on the bar, introduced everyone to the game, and we were playing about 1 minute later.

Nobjects is the brainchild of Ludovic Gimlet and produced by Pegasus Spiele. Meant for boisterous atmospheres, it was originally played in German beer halls. Its premise is absurdly simple: you draw a card from one of three piles (easy, difficult, or challenging), roll a die, and have to draw the concept written next to that number. The twist to it, and what sets this game apart, is that you draw everything using just your finger on whatever table surface you have. Everyone else guesses as fast as they can. When someone guesses correctly, they and the drawer get a point. Whoever gets 6 points first is the winner. The rules recommend 3-6 players, but you can easily play with more without detracting from the fun.

So I start out drawing “waterfall” on the bar with my finger, and find out that it is trickier than I imagined. “Hair” and “ponytail” are popular guesses. I try to add splashes at the bottom of the waterfall, and that is clearly “curly hair!” to my friends. I start over by wiping my invisible drawing away with a wave of my hand, like erasing an imaginary chalkboard. Maybe I need to add context to get them to guess? I draw a cliff, and then my lovely waterfall. “Box with hair! It’s hair box!” Some trees maybe? “Cauliflower box with a ponytail!” Wipe.

Someone did eventually guess waterfall, if you were wondering. The game doesn’t come with a timer, but suggests having one handy on a phone or a watch that everyone can reach. That way, anyone can start it if they feel that no one is going to guess the drawing. In the course of the night, we started a minute timer after a good amount of time had passed on only three drawings, and one of those was guessed during that time. Overall though, not having a timer to start really works for this game.

Nobjects is pretty low-stakes, and your success is also always someone else’s. There’s also just an inherent silliness to tracing invisible images and in trying to visualize intangible lines.

The Easy, Difficult and Challenging designations for the cards aren’t really hard-and-fast different. “Waterfall” was Easy, but a Challenging card can have concepts ranging from “Cat” to “Discotheque”. One friend got stymied trying to get us to guess “Smartphone” off an Easy card, while the next person had “Triangle”. But because it’s all low-stakes, and everyone is on the same level artistically when only finger tracing, the fluctuations of difficulty just make the game seem unpredictably fun. “Smartphone” turned out to be impossible for us, but that same friend got an almost instant correct guess for “Baby carriage” on his next turn. (An aside, “baby carriage” became our “mic-drop” phrase after this.)

Games run about 15-30 minutes, and the 120 cards included guarantee you’ll be able to play multiple times in a row without hitting repeats. The English version of Nobejcts is now widely available and retails at $14.99. It’s a great party/family/bar game that feels fresh with effortless setup and breakdown.

My only complaint is about the back of the cards. The neon flower art is beautiful, but it is the same for all three difficulties. The only way to tell them apart is the green, yellow, and red colored neon “NObjects” lettering, and barely visible dots above that. For a colorblind player, the differentiation could have been more pronounced. The inclusion of a minute timer isn’t necessary but wouldn’t hurt.

Overall, this is a very fine game to have in your repertoire. I had as much fun playing Nobjects with gamer friends as I did with a 7 year old. Its small table presence means you can play on a kitchen table or a cocktail table just as easily.

Cue up this upbeat playlist of “songs about nothing” to get into the Nobjects mood. Inspired by the finger drawing that leave no trace, the songs all have elements of invisibility, nada, no, and ain’t there. You’ll be able to dance and laugh to each song, but the doubly thematic “Traceless” by Drawing Blanks fills me with special delight.


Previous PLAYlist columns: Memoir '44 & New Flight Plan, Bubble TeaUndoGizmosImhotep, Hex Roller, The Table is Lava, Happy Salmon, The Quacks of QuedlinburgThe ClimbersNEOMCrusaders: Thy Will Be DoneReykholtPandemicEverdellKingdomino, CitrusHistory of the World, Altiplano, Pioneer Days, Crystal Clans, Jurassic Park: Danger!, PhotosynthesisIce CoolFood Truck ChampionArs Alchimia & LemuriaA Game of Thrones CatanTroyesTwilight Imperium: Fourth EditionFlip ShipsNMBR 9UnearthEscape from 100 Million B.C., Orleans (plus Trade & Intrigue)Whistle StopCaverna: Cave vs CaveTwilight StruggleHonshuBärenpark, Notre Dame & In the Year of the DragonYokohamaClank! A Deck-Building AdventureVillages of ValeriaNew York SliceWatson & HolmesHanamikoji.


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