Dixit is one of those instant-classic games that is a little hard to categorize. It’s not exactly a word game, it’s not exactly a traditional card game, and a lot of the action takes place outside the realm of the cards entirely. Dixit is a strange card game, and that is in no way a bad thing.
Produced by French game designer Libellud (here’s BoardGameGeek’s resource page on Libellud), Dixit was first published in 2009 and quickly earned rave reviews from both players and industry experts. Dixit won the Spiel des Jahres award for German Game of the Year in 2010, along with nine other major game awards naming it the best Spanish, French, and Polish game released that year.
The Basics of Dixit Play
One of the frustrating things about trying to describe Dixit is that it isn’t exactly aimed at traditional collectible card game players, but it’s not really a classic card game, either. But explaining the way the game works – the object of the game, how the cards are involved, and how players win – isn’t all that difficult.
Play begins with six of the game’s cards dealt to each player. Once the cards are distributed, players will each take a turn as a storyteller. The first storyteller, indicated by the player to the dealer’s left, looks at the six cards to knit together a story. Every card in the game features a different image. The tricky part is that the Dixit storyteller only has to pick one card to weave his story from.
The storyteller should select one Dixit card and make up a short sentence or phrase and announce it without showing any of his cards to any other players. This is where the game action really begins — all the other players in the game have to pick from among their own hand of six images the one that best matches the phrase or line made up by the storyteller.
The storyteller gathers the player’s cards, again making sure no one sees who has what card. The storyteller then shuffles his deck, including the card he used for his sentence, and lays all the cards face up, at random. The real action of Dixit is when each player wagers on which picture was the storyteller’s inspiration.
Dixit Scoring System
If no other players, or if all the game’s players, identify the right card as the narrator’s inspiration, the storyteller gets no points, and every other player scores two points.
If only one player finds the correct answer, he and the storyteller both add three points to their total. Players whose cards are voted for, but who were not the original narrator, earn one point for each vote their card gets. The game is over when the deck of cards is empty. The player with the highest total number of points is declared the winner.
It sounds simple enough, and one of the major benefits of Dixit is the simplicity of play. But since there is no other game quite like it – the word game Balderdash comes closest, but is still not quite the same - Dixit gets a lot of play among my gaming friends.
You can’t talk about this funny little storytelling game without mentioning the beautiful and weird art on the game’s cards. Dixit is challenging for the person charged with creating a story in part because the images on the cards are, for lack of a better word, really weird. Take a look at a few examples of game cards here.
The fifteen cards in the example above are a perfect way to show people who have never played the game exactly what they’re up against. Creating a story – even a brief one-liner as required by game rules – is even more difficult when your inspirational material is a bit on the bizarre side.
One of the benefits of a game that doesn’t require any words to play - Dixit is popular in markets all over the world. No matter what language you speak, you can look at the oddly-drawn cartoons and images and create a story in your native tongue. This is a great strategy for a game designer, giving him the ability to market his title to a larger pool of potential players.
Because this bizarre little card-narrative game was such a big hit, the designers have already released three expansions since the game first appeared just three years ago.
Dixit 2 was the first expansion of the game, a simple addition of a new set of cards. Because Dixit play can become repetitive, and after you play enough you become familiar with a large number of the image cards, the expansion into Dixit 2 meant that old fans of the game could play all over again with all-new pictures to create stories for.
Dixit 3 was another expansion intended to expand gameplay, add more images and cards, and give the game a bit more replay value.
Dixit Odyssey was the first expansion that could be played as a standalone game or as a booster pack to your original game. The publishers are planning to release more of this type of expansion, a game that you can play all by itself or add to your existing collection of game cards.
iDixit is an app that mimics Dixit play on Apple devices. The images on the app are a blend of the original game cards and the various expansion decks, but require that other people download the app before you can play. It can be a pain to convince enough friends to get the game on their iPhone in order to get a game going, but the company is working on a wide-scale WiFi version to allow players to connect from all over the world.
As difficult as this game is to pigeon-hole, it was one of the big surprises of the year when it came out – in a time when card and board games were becoming more complex, Dixit is incredibly simple to learn, to play, and to teach to others. If you’re a word-person, you’ll probably fall in love with this strange storytelling card title.