Advent reviews: Dixit

Dixit is one of my favorite games. Quick, engaging and beautiful, easy yet challenging, and full of creative juice.

What kind of game is this?

In Dixit, you have a deck of big cards, each with a different and very evocative piece of art on them. Each round, one player will select a card from their hand, give it a title (titles can be anything; I recently gave a “title” which was whistling a song), and put it face down on the table. Each other player will then select a card from their hand they think could carry that title, and put it with the first card. The selected cards are then shuffled, and put face up on the table. All players except for the first player will then look at the card, and try to guess which card was the first player’s. The first player will get points if at least one, but not all, of the other players guessed his card, while the other players will get points for guessing the first player’s card, and for each player who guessed their card.

This means that the first player wants to give a hint that is vague enough that not everyone will be able to guess it, but not so vague that nobody can guess it. The other players want to put out a card that everybody will think is the first card, and they want to find out which card the first player put out.

How many people should you play this with?

The box for Dixit Oddysey (which has better components and more rules variants than the original) says 3-12, though 8-12 is mostly for a team game (which I haven’t tried). Three is ok, but far from optimal. I think it shines at 5-6 players – you have a good amount of cards you have to decide between, but it will be your turn relatively often. 4, 7, and 8 are all fine as well – 4 means not so many options, 7-8 means almost too many options, and you won’t be giving a title very often (which is just fine by some; I kinda like doing it).

What do I think of this game?

This game is great. It is one of not very many games my mother will enjoy. It’s a lot of fun to try to guess which picture would inspire someone to a certain title, and trying to come up with a title really tickles your brain. Not to mention that the artwork is beautiful! It’s very evocative, and most of it is chock full of little details and ambiguous meanings.

It’s also not a very competitive game. I usually don’t care too much where I end up on the score track. The interesting thing is trying to pair titles and images, and hearing the other players explain why they picked each card. This also makes it a very good game to play with writing groups or improv theatre groups – or as warm up for a roleplaying game – as it really gets the creative juices flowing. And the cards can be used as writing prompts.

This is a game I’ve played with children of eight and people over sixty. Both have enjoyed it. Frame of reference is important, because that will help you understand the hints better, so being an outsider in a crowd of friends can make it more difficult to get a lot of points, but it is still an enjoyable game.

In other words, a good game for when you don’t want heavy strategy or fierce rivalry. Also a game that can work well with gamers and non-gamers alike, and one which I wouldn’t hesitate recommending as a game for non-gamers and families.

A few interesting things to note

  • Many games use the logic, maths and spatial skills of the brain. This uses another function of the brain: the so-called “theory of mind”. Theory of mind is the mind’s ability to deduce what other people are thinking. This is one of the things that autistic people usually lack.
  • If I recall, the rule-book gives the scores as 3 points for the first player if he gets it right, and 3 points for everyone who guessed his card. I usually change it, so that the people who guess his card gets two points. Otherwise, it’s actually a mechanical disadvantage to be the first player, as he can never get more than the initial three points, while another player can guess the right card AND have loads of people guess the card he put down. It’s no big deal, just something to consider.
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