Released back in 2008 Dixit quickly made a name for itself in the board game industry. The game was a truly unique take on the party game genre which quickly gained it a huge fan base. This lead to Dixit winning the Spiel Des Jahres in 2010. While I have played other similar party games (that were likely inspired by Dixit) I never had the opportunity to play Dixit. It has been a game that I have wanted to try out for quite some time though as it it the type of party game that I really enjoy. Well I finally got the opportunity to try out Dixit. Dixit may be slightly overrated, but it is still a very good party game with clever and easy gameplay mechanics that almost everyone can enjoy.
How to Play Dixit
- Place the scoreboard in the middle of the table.
- Each player chooses a game piece and places in on the start space.
- Shuffle the cards and deal six to each player. Players should hold the cards where the other players can’t see what cards they have. The rest of the cards will form the draw pile.
- Each player will take voting tokens equal to the number of players:
- Four Players (#1-4)
- Five Players (#1-5)
- Six Players (#1-6)
- Choose which player will be the active player for the first round.
Playing the Game
In each of the rounds one of the players will be the active player. The active player analyzes the six cards in their hand. The player will choose one of the six cards to be their card for the round. Without revealing the card they will give a clue to all of the other players. This clue can be one word or a set of words. The clue should relate to the picture they have chosen, but shouldn’t be too obvious either.
All of the other players will listen to the clue and search for a card in their hand that fits it. When they have chosen their card they will give it to the active player without showing the other players.
Once all of the players have given one card to the active player, the active player will shuffle all of the cards together (including the card they chose). They will then place the cards next to the numbers on the side of the scoreboard starting with number one.
All of the players (other than the active player) will then analyze all of the chosen cards. They will choose the voting token that they think corresponds to the card chosen by the active player and will place it face down on the table. When everyone has finished making their choice all of the vote tokens will be revealed and placed on the corresponding pictures. Players will then score points based on whether they guessed correctly (see below).
After scoring is completed each player will take one card from the draw pile and add it to their hand. Play will then move to the next round unless one of the players scored enough points to win the game. The player to the left of the previous active player will be the active player in the next round.
The amount of points that the players will score depends on if they guessed the correct answer, how many people guessed the correct answer, and how many people guessed the card that they played.
- If all of the players guessed the correct card all of the players other than the active player will score two points. The active player scores zero points.
- If none of the players guessed the correct card all of the players other than the active player will score two points. Each player will also score one point for each other player that picked their card.
- If some but not all of the players guessed the correct card the active player will score three points. All players who guessed the correct card will receive three points. All players will score one point for each player that incorrectly guessed their card.
End of Game
The game ends after a round when one or more players have scored 30 or more points. The player that has scored the most points wins the game. If there is a tie the tied players will share the victory.
My Thoughts on Dixit
Basically Dixit is a game of abstract images. In the game each player is given cards that feature pretty abstract images. Players take turns as the active player where they choose one of their cards to use for the round. The player needs to come up with a clue for the card that describes their chosen card, but they don’t want to make the clue too obvious. After receiving the clue the rest of the players search their hand for a card that they think fits the description. Their ultimate goal is to pick a card that will likely trick the other players into thinking their card is what was being described by the active player. Players then vote on what card they think was the card that the clue was originally meant to describe. Players score points for guessing the correct answer, playing cards that trick the other players, and choosing clues that are neither too obvious or obscure. The player that is best at all three of these wins the game.
Since its release other games have implemented similar mechanics, but when it was first released Dixit was a truly unique game. Games like Balderdash were around where players could submit answers to try and trick the other players. What was unique about Dixit though is that it added another element to games like Balderdash. Instead of the current player just writing down the actual definition of a word, they are an active participant in the game. The current player tries to come up with a clue for one of their picture cards that is neither too obvious or abstract. This in combination with the Balderdash-like mechanics lead to a really interesting game.
At first glance it might not seem like there is much strategy to Dixit. All you are doing is describing a picture after all. There is some luck to the game based on what cards the other players play and if you can get only one or two players to get your clue. There is skill to Dixit though. It is possible for a player to just win out of dumb luck, but I don’t think it is a likely option. Most of the time the best player will win the game. As the active player you need to really think about what clue you ultimately give the other players. If you give too obvious of a clue everyone will know which card was yours which will lead to them scoring points while you score nothing. On the other side you don’t want to come up with a clue that makes no sense for the picture you have chosen as you don’t score any points if no one guesses the correct answer. You are ultimately aiming towards creating a clue that will lead to only one player guessing the correct card. To do this you need to get creative with your clues. Thinking outside the box is key as the more abstract your clue the more likely it will succeed. Using clues that only one or two other players will understand will help as well.
While a lot of the skill comes from creating the clues, there is also some skill in choosing which cards to play when you are not the active player. When you are not the active player your goal is to try and find the card that best fits the clue given by the active player. You are unlikely to have a card that perfectly fits the clue. You don’t need a perfect card though due to how the cards are designed. All of the pictures are pretty abstract featuring several different elements. This allows players to interpret pictures in different ways. There will be times where you won’t have any cards that really work, but I was surprised that the cards are abstract enough that it is not that hard to find a card that at least somewhat fits most clues. For an experiment we actually added a random card to the cards submitted each round. These random cards were good enough that they actually got some votes. Any random card you choose may get you a couple votes, but players that are good at picking the right cards will increase their odds of winning considerably.
Dixit has some skill/strategy to picking the right cards/clues, but the game is still quite straightforward. For these type of party games it is usually really beneficial if the game is quick and easy to learn allowing new players to jump right in. That is definitely the case with Dixit. I honestly was a little surprised that the game was easier to play than I expected. The mechanics are so straightforward. The only thing that may confuse players a little is the scoring as it depends on how well the players do at guessing the correct answer. Even this is pretty straightforward and the game smartly included a reference to the different ways of scoring right on the gameboard so there is no need to refer back to the rules. I honestly think you could teach Dixit to new players within just a couple minutes. The game is simple enough as well that it should work great as a family game.
I think the main reason that Dixit has succeeded as much as it has is that it does a great job finding the right balance of complexity. The game gives players enough choices that they feel like have a genuine impact on their fate. It is still simple enough though that it shouldn’t overwhelm anyone including people that don’t play a lot of board games. You are left with a concept that is easy to grasp, and yet you are excited to see what you can do with it. The gameplay in Dixit is not the deepest, but it is truly fun to play. I am a fan of these type of party games and Dixit fits in perfectly with many of the other party games that I really enjoy. The game finds that perfect balance between allowing you to relax and take your mind off your problems while also having enough competitiveness where you want to beat the other players. People who like these type of party games should really enjoy Dixit.
Dixit’s good gameplay is supplemented by the fact that the game’s components are great. The star of Dixit is the artwork that is included in the game. In addition to being abstract enough to give players options, the artwork itself is just fantastic. The game’s art style is really interesting and it works really well for the game. While playing the game you will likely revel at the game’s artwork. It is not just the artwork though. The other components are quite good as well. The cardstock of the various cardboard pieces is thick enough to make them durable. I also really like the custom rabbit Meeples.
I really enjoyed my time with Dixit as it is a good party game. There are a couple issues with the game though.
Probably the biggest problem with Dixit is that it just won’t be for everyone. The game relies on quite a bit of creativity which may turn some people off. Dixit is the type of game that you need to be in the right mood to get the most out of it. When giving clues you can give any sort of clue from really straightforward to abstract. While straightforward clues work in the game (even if they are usually a little obvious), Dixit is usually better when players get more creative with their clues. When players use more unique clues it forces players to think more rather than just coming to the obvious conclusion. If players can’t get into the right mood they might find the game to be kind of dull.
Second I kind of wish the game included more picture cards. In general I love the game’s components, but if I had one complaint it would be that the number of cards is a little limited. I can understand why there aren’t a lot of cards in the game as each picture probably took quite a while to create. The problem is that you will end up using all of the cards pretty quickly. You will likely end up using around half of the cards in just one game. Unlike a lot of games you can reuse cards multiple times as the clues and cards that they will be compared against will likely be different each time. After you go through the cards a number of times though it will eventually get a little repetitive using the same cards over and over again. The good news is that the game has several expansion packs which add more cards to the game. I could even see using pictures from other similar games with Dixit as long as the pictures are more abstract giving players multiple elements to focus on.
The final complaint that I had is that while playing the game it felt like it ended a little quickly. The overall length is not bad as around 30 minutes seems right for this type of game. While playing the game though it just felt like not a lot happened before the game ended. This was probably partially due to us being pretty good at guessing the right answer which meant we scored a lot of points. It just felt like the game ended as soon as it really started to take off. It was too easy to score 30 points. This is not a big problem as you could easily extend the game by forcing players to score more points. I am curious what it would be like making Dixit a longer game though as final scores seem to be really tight. I can see quite a few games ending in a tie as most players will likely be within a couple points of one another before the final round.
Should You Buy Dixit?
Dixit is a game that has built a strong reputation in the board game community. It currently sits as one of the more popular board games of all time. Dixit may be a little overrated, but it is still a very good game. Dixit is simply a fun game to play. The game does a really good job finding the right balance between accessibility and giving players enough to do to remain interested in what is going on. There is some reliance on luck in the game, but you have more control over your fate than you would initially expect. To do well in the game you need to do a good job of coming up with clues that are obvious enough that at least player will know which card is yours, but abstract enough that other players will guess incorrectly. When you are not the active player you want to play cards that will trick your fellow players. This gameplay is not going to be for everyone. People who enjoy these type of creative party games though should really enjoy Dixit. I wish the game had more picture cards, but there isn’t anything else to complain about regarding the components. Dixit also feels a little short at times, but it is easy to adjust the length if you want a longer game.
Basically if you don’t like party games especially ones that require creativity, Dixit probably won’t be for you. Those that really enjoy party games and think the premise sounds interesting though should really enjoy Dixit and should consider picking it up.