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Subject: Dixit: an "adult" filler rss

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Scott Tepper
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I’ve got a quick word association quiz for you. Ready? All right…If I said “adult party game”, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? What did you think of? Did it have something to do with dirty words, or Spencer’s Gifts, or, (shudder) candles? Well, I’ve got a new one for you, and it isn’t what you think.

Recently, I received the copy of Dixit that I had ordered from the publisher, Libellud(http://www.libellud.com/) in France. After a few plays, I was trying to come up with a way to classify it and only 2 categories came to mind. The first was as an “in-the-middle” game. But as this group, where you try to convey something without being too precise or too general, has only a handful of examples, like Thingamajig with word definitions, or Barbarossa with clay, I wanted to slot it into something more general, and “adult party game” seems to fit.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, when I say “adult”, it’s not in the traditional game theme sense. Here I mean that the skills necessary to play this game well generally haven’t been developed yet in children. Even though Dixit’s box says it’s playable by ages 8+, and technically, it COULD be played by children of 8+, this game is really for players of ages 12 and up.

Strangely enough, given this preamble, Dixit, by Dr. Jean-Louis Roubira, is a simple game. It’s comprised of a set of 84 picture cards, sets of tiles numbered 1-6 and scoring markers (wooden bunnies!) in different colors for up to 6 players, and a scoring track that is built into the box.

Dixit, has a couple of factors that prompt my recommendation. The first is the simple yet challenging gameplay. At the beginning of the game, the players are given a set of tiles numbered 1-6 that are colored to match their bunny-shaped scoring marker. In addition, they are randomly dealt 6 cards, face-down, all of which have different pictures on them. One player is chosen to be the first Storyteller. She chooses one of her cards places it face-down on the table and then gives a clue about her card. The statement could be a word or phrase or even a line from a song, as long as it is at most one sentence. The trick is to not make the clue too specific or too general because of the scoring (I’ll get to that in a second). Next, all the other players choose a card from their hands and add them face-down to the Storyteller’s. The Storyteller mixes up the cards and then turns them face-up in a line. The other players must now guess which card belonged to the Storyteller. Using their numbered tiles, the non-Storytellers choose which card in line they think is the one that the Storyteller put in. ie. if they think it’s the 3rd card in the line, they’ll put their #3 tile face-down in the middle of the table. Once all the guesses are in, the tiles are turned over and moved onto the corresponding cards.

The Storyteller reveals which card was hers, and now comes the scoring which makes the game so challenging. If all the players guessed correctly which was the Storyteller’s card, then they all receive 2 points, and the Storyteller receives 0 points. Similarly, if all the players guess incorrectly, still, all the players receive 2 points and the Storyteller receives 0 points. If any other number of players (less than all, but more than 0) guess the Storyteller’s card correctly, then the Storyteller and each of the correct guessers receives 3 points. In addition, a non-Storytellers whose card is chosen (incorrectly) by other players receives 1 point per guess. After points are scored on the scoring track, the played cards are discarded, and everyone receives a new card from the draw pile. The next player clockwise becomes the Storyteller, and the game repeats as so until the last card is drawn from the draw pile.

The scoring system makes the Storyteller’s task very challenging, which is why Dixit is not really a game for children. The Storyteller can’t make their clue too easy or too hard, or else everyone will score except for them. Trying to come up with an “in between” clue can be challenging. This is one of the aspects that makes this game so interesting. It requires you to be creative as the Storyteller, and then analytical as a guesser. In the games I’ve played of Dixit, it’s been fun to hear the wide variety of clues that people give, from song lyrics to a line from a book, to one or two word clues, like “weird guy” as given by my 12-year old nephew.

Besides the simple but challenging gameplay, Dixit has something else that makes it truly stand out: the incredibly enchanting artwork by Maria Cardouat. The cards were designed with bewitching pictures to evoke all sorts of scenarios and emotions. The drawings have so many components to them that they give the players a wide variety of themes to base their clues on. Some are charming, some are odd, but all are beautiful. I would love to have framed versions of some of them to hang in my house.

One of my concerns about Dixit is that even though it contains 84 different picture cards, over multiple playings, the players will come across the same pictures again and again. This won’t make the game unplayable, but rather more challenging for the players to come up with clues that won’t be obvious to people who have played before.

Dixit is one of those rare games where the players need to use both the creative and analytical sides of their brain. Since its mechanism is so simple, a typical game of Dixit plays in about 30 minutes. But the charm that this game exudes both in its components as well as the creativity that it elicits make me hesitant to label it as a filler game. Since it is not available in the US, the 45 Euro pricetag ($57 US) might be a little hefty for the non-collector, but I have to say that even though my copy arrived a little damaged from its trip overseas, I feel like I’m going to be getting my money’s worth with this game.


Quick Overview

Number of players: 3-6
Theme: Deduction
Components: Excellent
Rules: In French
Rules explanation: 2 minutes
Effect of Luck: small
Game Length: About 30 min.
Replayability: fair

(this review originally posted on Boargamenews.com)
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Bastien
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I like your review but I'm just confused by the use of the word "adult" here.

There are plenty of boardgames that are 12+ and that we don't qualify as adult games. Hopefully, in fact, because adult is more like 18+, not 12+.

I'm also worried that "adult" qualification, as you mentioned, make you think of something completely different from what Dixit is. And that might put some people off where it shouldn't... And the other way around.
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Stephen Powell
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Not to be a killjoy here, but wouldn't the best scoring strategy be for the storyteller to say "Ishkabibble" on his card? The votes would most likely be evenly distributed - thus maximizing the storyteller's score.

Steve
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unkle
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Quote:
Not to be a killjoy here, but wouldn't the best scoring strategy be for the storyteller to say "Ishkabibble" on his card? The votes would most likely be evenly distributed - thus maximizing the storyteller's score.


Do not want to be a killjoy here, but the answer is plain "no".
Scores are really close, you cannot really allow yourself to:
* loose a storytelling
* give opportunities to the others to score too... possibly more than you


Of course playing Dixit is a little more than just playing for winning. Best reward is really to look at the cards the others have selected when you storytell...

Really a great game when you are in the mood.
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Russ Williams
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steve_bgg wrote:
Not to be a killjoy here, but wouldn't the best scoring strategy be for the storyteller to say "Ishkabibble" on his card? The votes would most likely be evenly distributed - thus maximizing the storyteller's score.


That gives an expected value of exactly 1 vote for the storyteller's card, which might sound good, but actually seems rather risky. Just 1 vote less than the expected result means bad news for the storyteller. Such random variables have some kind of variation; how much is it in this situation?

There are a total of n+1 cards; a player knows it's one of the other n cards, not their own card; and they have an (n-1)/n probability of picking one of the n-1 non-storyteller cards. The probability that all n players will do that is thus
f(n)=((n-1)/n)^n
where n = number of non-storytelling players.

n f(n)
1 0
2 .25
3 .29
4 .42
5 .51
6 .58
etc

I.e. the more players, the more likely it is that the storyteller's card would get 0 votes (instead of the expected value 1) if players have no clue and are just distributing their votes randomly among the cards.

Surely the storyteller would prefer to get an expected value of about half of the votes on the storyteller's card (instead of just 1 vote), so that random deviation is less likely to leave them with 0 (or all) the votes.
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Dominic Crapuchettes
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North Star Games designs party games that don't suck! Play them with your non-gamer friends over the holidays.
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steve_bgg wrote:
Not to be a killjoy here, but wouldn't the best scoring strategy be for the storyteller to say "Ishkabibble" for his card?


No, the best strategy is to say Babaganikkinak"
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Gerald Rüscher
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steve_bgg wrote:
Not to be a killjoy here, but wouldn't the best scoring strategy be for the storyteller to say "Ishkabibble" on his card? The votes would most likely be evenly distributed - thus maximizing the storyteller's score.

It may sound bizarre to some gamers that there are people out there who play a game just to have fun and not to optimize their winning strategy...
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Russ Williams
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gruescher wrote:
steve_bgg wrote:
Not to be a killjoy here, but wouldn't the best scoring strategy be for the storyteller to say "Ishkabibble" on his card? The votes would most likely be evenly distributed - thus maximizing the storyteller's score.

It may sound bizarre to some gamers that there are people out there who play a game just to have fun and not to optimize their winning strategy...

Luckily, as the math above shows, there's no need to even make such a dichotomy between playing "just to have fun" and trying to win: making a random nonsense description is provably risky and not good strategy for the storyteller.
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Jacob A
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Also, you're forgetting that the rest of the players will still be attempting to play cards that match the random nonsense you've just spouted, so everyone else is now more likely to get a vote than you. Whenever someone plays a card that doesn't match their phrase at all, everyone else gets votes, and the storyteller gets none.
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gruescher wrote:
It may sound bizarre to some gamers that there are people out there who play a game just to have fun and not to optimize their winning strategy...


Sounds like you've met my wife. The rest of us play to win and to have fun. Everyone does like this game, though, and I've never seen it cause hard feelings after a loss.
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