Monday, 27 September 2010


The Game

Dixit. Spiel des Jahres winner of 2010 (Game of the Year award in Germany). It's something very different from past winners. It's a party game, a social game. When I made a rule summary for the game, there was so much space left on the half page space that I normally use for rule summaries, that I had to enlarge the font to make it look less empty. So the game is one with very simple rules, but the actual playing turns out to be not that straight-forward, and there is a lot of freedom for the players to use their creativity.

Here's how the game works. Everyone gets 6 cards. Every card in the game is a unique drawing, often with a few different elements. Every round one player takes the role of the Storyteller. He picks one card from his hand secretly and says a word, a phrase, a sentence, or even tells a whole story. Every other player then picks a card from their hands to give to the Storyteller. The Storytellers shuffles all cards and then reveal them. Now all other players try to guess the Storyteller's card.

If everyone guesses right, or everyone guesses wrong, the Storyteller gains no points and everyone else gains 2pts. If some guesses right and some not, then the Storyteller and the correct guessers gain 3pts. Non-Storyteller players whose cards are chosen gain 1pt. So the Storyteller wants to make his riddle not too easy and not too difficult. The other players want to guess the correct card, and also wants to pick a card from their hand that others will guess. This can sometimes make it quite a challenge to guess the right card, when all the card revealed seem to match the clue given by the Storyteller.

The box is nice and is used as a score track.

I love the artwork. The artist is a very pretty French lady.

The Play

I played a four-player game with Ben, Chung and Moh Yen. It was the first time for all of us. We didn't do any fancy stories, and mostly did single words, or phrases, or names. Chung was pretty good at making the right guesses, and took the lead throughout the game. I think he read us very well. Some interesting situations came up, e.g. when Chung picked the name of a colleague whom only Ben and Moh Yen knew. I had no idea who Greg was or what he was well known for. I could only randomly pick a card from my hand. When all cards were revealed, 3 out of 4 had musical notes or musical elements. Obviously Greg was a musician or composer. They could easily tell which was the card I contributed. But I almost made the right guess too. In another situation the clue was the name of the Hong Kong governor. They all live in Hong Kong and know about the local politics, but I had no idea about this guy. However in that round I actually made the right guess, whereas not all the rest did. I picked the card with an anchor icon, because that meant port, and Hong Kong being an important port, its governor probably was involved in some controversial policy related to the port. It turned out that this wasn't the reason, so although I had a solid reasoning, it was luck that won me the 3pts, not reasoning.

There were a few rounds in which one card matched the clue very very closely. It matched so well that it felt overly obvious. The Storyteller should not have made the clue so obvious. But then maybe that was intentional, sowing doubt in the other players, thus making some of them boldly make the right guess and some conservatively make the wrong guess. There was a bit of psychology in there.

Often when a round concluded it was fun to ask the Storyteller how the clue related to the card selected. It was also fun to ask the wrong guesser (or even the correct ones) why they picked those specific wrong (or right) cards.

The Thoughts

Dixit is a game that is easy to teach, and can be played with casual players. I think it is better with more players, at least 5. It gives a lot of freedom to the players to create their own fun. The clues can be silly, humourous or completely crazy. They can also draw from the group's past experiences or shared in-jokes. If you want to, there's nothing stopping you from making your clue a poem, a song, or even a scene acted out.

It is possible to make use of knowledge that only some players have as your strategy, but I feel it is not good because the players who do not share the knowledge will feel left out. I was a victim of this strategy in the game we played. I prefer the clues to be based on something that everyone has an equal chance of guessing. E.g. some abstract concept that everyone can try to associate with the particular drawing.

Calling Dixit a party game may be a little unfair, because sometimes people tend to think of party games as quite mindless and chaotic. Dixit requires a bit of thought in coming up with an interesting clue. If played mindlessly it would not be much fun. It would defeat the whole purpose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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