The first thing you notice about Dixit is that it is very, very pretty.
The board game is pretty simple. You and two to four other people all get a hand of cards, and your goal is to invent a clue that describes one of the cards. The clues can be anything—words, phrases, sounds, songs, stories. And that’s where the prettiness comes in.
The cards all feature different illustrations. They are all beautiful, dream-like images. Picture a tree with a sailor tattoo looking sad, a thermometer whose mercury is actually a snake, or a snail climbing a giant staircase to heaven. They provide your inspiration.
Each round, one player provides a clue based on a card in their hand. The other players all pick a card from their hands that best matches that clue. Everyone places their cards face down and puts them in a pile. The clue-giver then shuffles the submitted cards and turns them face up. Each of the other players then votes on which card they think was the clue-giver’s.
The trick comes with the scoring, which works like this:
- If nobody finds the correct card, the clue-giver gets zero points and the other players get two points.
- If everybody guess the correct card, the clue-giver still gets zero points and the other plays get two.
- If at least one of the other players guesses right, but not all of them, the clue-giver and the people who guessed correctly get three points.
- Players (aside from the clue-giver) also get one point for every vote for their card.
Similar to Decrypto, then, the goal is to give clues that are clear, but not too clear.
We spent an afternoon giving Dixit a try. Here’s what we had to say.
Matt, Content Manager: You’ve had a night to sleep on it, so now’s the time: what did y’all think of Dixit?
Evan, Social Media Specialist: My first thought is that whoever created the cards has quite the imagination!
Ivan, Media Coordinator: I agree that the cards are beautifully designed. The game play was fun, but, as I always find myself saying when we review a new game, it helps to go into the game with a collaborative mindset. Only make cultural references that the people you’re playing with will understand.
Matt: True yet again. I guess board games require the same “yes, and” spirit that improv does. And that’s only more true in a game like this, where there really aren’t many rules and the whole point is to be creative together.
Catherine, Graphic Designer: Maybe if you’re playing the game as a family, there would be more overlap in cultural references? Our second round, when we set a theme for the clues, seemed to work better than the first round. And yes, I agree on the card designs—some of those illustrations were beautiful!
Ivan Ross: What other games did this one remind you of? I thought of Balderdash, for one.
Catherine: And Apples to Apples.
Matt: I was thinking of something like Apples to Apples as well—only a bit more mellow. The fact that you’re making up clues about drawings opens up a lot of possibilities, but it also makes it a little less helter skelter than Apples to Apples or Balderdash. Every time I play those games, they get pretty silly pretty quick. Dixit is a little quieter (though we all still laughed a lot). Maybe that’s because the cards themselves are sort of dreamlike.
Ivan: It really is a fascinating concept, for how seemingly simple it is. It really makes you think about how the human brain makes connections between the language of pictures and the language of words.
Catherine: And the scoring system means you won’t win by trying to come up with the most obscure and vague clue imaginable, because if no one guesses your image correctly then you don’t earn any points.
Ivan: Good point. I do feel as though the game makers kind of “baked in” some tricky cards. Like when Hannah played “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan as her clue, and two very similar cards of amorphous windblown beasts walking down a road were played. I don’t think I could play this game more than a few times before really wanting an expansion pack to keep it interesting.
Catherine: That’s true. Elizabeth (TIP’s webmaster) and I were talking about the game this morning (as she’s played it at home) and said it works well when you have a mixed-ages group playing. They’ve enjoyed it with both grandparents and young kids playing at once, but the expansion pack does keep things more interesting.
Evan: Ivan pointed out one of the biggest takeaways for me, which is how Dixit challenges players to think in a way we’re not often tasked with. Because the cards are so random, vague, bizarre (take your pick), and because clues can be virtually anything, even just a sound, one really has to make connections that most aren’t used to making—unless maybe if you’re an art critic. I feel like these types of connections probably happen subconsciously—leading to strange dreams—but this game brings the process out into the open.
Ivan: That’s very well put. Sometimes, the connections you make between image and word are direct—”This card has a picture of a clock and the clue was something about time.” But sometimes you make connections just based on a feeling or, as Evan said, something subconscious. One time, Matt guessed what clue I was going to give just because of how I laughed before saying it.
Catherine: And then somehow I guessed that card right as well, along with Matt, even though I didn’t understand your clue!
Hannah, Staff Specialist: Evan touched on the part of this game that was my favorite–coming up with the clues! I love that clues can be pretty much anything and that we can extract very different stories, and consequently clues, from the same cards game after game. An expansion pack would be nice, but maybe because I just want more illustrations. The illustrations are beautiful! I also found that I wasn’t as much into guessing which card inspired the initial clue as choosing the card that best matched the clue, in my mind, no matter who played it.
Matt: One more concluding question for everyone: how do you think TIPsters in particular will respond to this game?
Hannah: I think some may really get into it and others will quickly loose interest because it is, as you pointed out, a quieter game.
Ivan: If you’ve met one TIPster…you’ve met one TIPster. Some will love it and some won’t. I think it’s a great game for kids interested in literature, art, and maybe also psychology. Someone who wants strict rules and chess-like strategy might not like it as much.
Evan: It will all depend on whom they’re playing the game with. If you’ve got a group of friends, maybe other TIPsters, who can come up with awesome historical, science-y, or otherwise academic references, then the game-play could be a lot of fun for TIPsters in particular.
Have you played a good board game or video game, read a good book, or seen a good movie? Submit a review to Insights by the time the next issue comes out, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Dixit. Find details on the submission page.