I’d never been previously referred to a board game as charming. I might have used the terms “exciting”, “interesting”, “dull” and a few got the non-committal “meh”. But charming? I’d never found something that would ever really fit that moniker. And then I watched an episode of Tabletop and saw the featured game on sale second hand. And that was when I first became aware of Dixit.
Dixit is a card game created by Jean-Louis Roubira and published by Libellud in 2008. The main components of the game are a series of colourful cards, each of which features a series of abstract illustrations. Each player takes six of these cards and starting with the “Storyteller”, attempts to describe an image from their hand whilst placing the card face down on the table. The other players then also place a card from their hand face down that they believe matches this description. The cards are shuffled up and turned face up. The other players then secretly vote on which card they think the Storyteller chose. After voting is completed, the players score points and the Storyteller role passes to another player.
The scoring works on the Storyteller being able to only get some of the players to vote for their card – making it too obvious or too obtuse will gain the Storyteller no points and every other player scores 2. If some players vote for the right card, both they and the Storyteller get 3 points. The other way to score is tricking people think you card is the answer when it isn’t your turn – you get 1 point for everyone you able to convince to vote for you.
That is Dixit in a nutshell. Literally all you need to know. Because the simplicity of Dixit is one of its absolute joys. The game plays like it is some beautifully weird dream, where logic and fact are hindrances. Instead it is about emotions, feelings and intuition – you are playing with the concepts brought up by these cards instead of the actual images themselves.
Take this card for example – the description “hourglass” would see you giving away 2 shiny point to your other players. But what about the concepts it raises? Time. Rejuvenation. Change. All of these words could describe what is being shown here and all are correct. The question is will your other players think the same as you? Can they make the same associations with the strange scenarios placed before them?
The descriptions you give do not have to be single words either, although some people may find that easier. You can quote books or films. Use poems, noises or actions to tell the tale of what is on your card. Anything association that your mind makes is a valid play in the game.
I remember using the words ‘AT LAST SIR TERRY WE MUST WALK TOGETHER’ to use as a description for the card shown earlier during one game. Some of you may remember that these were the words used on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Twitter feed to announce his sad passing. They were also words spoken by Death from his Discworld series, who is associated with hourglasses to measure the lifetimes of mortals. Another player picked up on this connection and voted for the card.
The reliance on the use of the imagination also makes this a wonderful game for children, who are given freedom to let their ideas flow and manifest themselves in whatever terms they can think of. From my own experience, I can tell you that this game is not challenge for them, as my sons regularly do well when they play with my wife and I. On more than one occasion I have been well beaten by both of them.
Design wise – you cannot fault this game. Everything is just built towards this theme of bizarre child-like wonder. The cards are large and wonderfully drawn. The score track is built into the box and the markers are like wooden rabbits. Rabbits for heaven’s sake! It’s odd and yet somehow makes some sort of weird sense when you put this game together as a whole.
The only downside with this game is the limits that the number of cards places upon you. Whilst I have been able this game several times with the basic components, sometimes you will hit a brick wall with a card and you can only think of those descriptions that have been used in the past. Thankfully there are a number of cards packs that have been released to ensure that you can expand your play experience. The cards also fit rather neatly into the original box with little fuss.
There is a reason Dixit is a multi-award winning game. It works on so many levels – as a gateway game for people first getting into the hobby; an inspiration to people’s imaginations; an educational tool for children; or just an experience like no other. If you have any interest in tabletop games, there is simply no excuse for you not to have played this game. Try it and I’m certain you will be charmed just as I was.