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Subject: A game unlike any other rss

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Snowball
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I was first interested in the game because of the box illustration.
Inside I found a game so simple to explain that, unlike in my other reviews, I am going to explain the rules .
A player has a few cards in hand; when it is his turn, he selects a card, gives a hint about the illustration, then puts it face down in front of him. The others pick a card from their hand, put them down on the table, the face down cards are shuffled then revealed. Each player secretly vote for the card he thinks the first player was alluding to. The catch is that the first player gets no point if all or neither among the others vote for his card; others get point by correctly guessing and by confusing others to vote for their own card.
That's about it.

Bits

One of the defining factor is the quality and the nature of the cards; they look like Henri Rousseau's or Folon's artwork, have the same strange, dreamlike, evocative quality.
The box inside is a keeper; it is used to track scores, along with nice bunneeples, and in a style coherent with the cards illustrations.


BGG photo by Laszlo Molnar

Rules

Well as you guessed from my description, the rules are extremely short; one page for the rules, and a second page with examples and some advice on playing.
The french rules are translated in no less than 7 languages: english, german, italian, dutch, spanish, italian, polish and portuguese.
The game component are totally language independant
From what I can judge, the translations are adequate.

Theme

The theme of the game is onirism and symbolism. If you dislike that kind of poetry, this will clearly be a turn off.
Some groups won't feel the theme at all. I would understand if someone would argue there is no theme. I would also understand also why one could argue that the game is nothing but the theme, so let's move to the next point.

The game


This is not a game to be played competitively. This is a kind of party game, but do not expect big bursts of laughs.
Also, do not expect it to work with all players and within all groups.
The only comparison I can find is with Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game, because the success of the game will depend on all the players really wanting to enjoy it. Some introverts won't enjoy it at all.
People afraid to sound silly will sound silly, ruining the enjoyment of everybody around the table.

Conclusion

If only for the theme and the wonderful cards, I am happy to own this game. When it works as intended, it is really a nice experience. Its originality alone makes it a worthy addition to a gamer's collection.

But this won't replace Time's Up as a party game, and its heavy reliance on groupthink will make it fall flat more than once.
However, a completely new idea for a game is not something a true geek can ignore, so give it at least a try.
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Russ Williams
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HavocIsHere wrote:
This is not a game to be played competitively. This is a kind of party game, but do not expect big bursts of laughs.
Also, do not expect it to work with all players and within all groups.
The only comparison I can find is with Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game, because the success of the game will depend on all the players really wanting to enjoy it.

Why is it not to be played competitively? How would someone trying to win ruin it? Both in theory and in my experience, Dixit works as a real game, with people trying to win, unlike Once Upon A Time, which indeed needs to be done with a spirit of cooperative group storytelling instead of competition. OUAT has a lot of fuzzy subjectiveness to it ("Did Joe just contradict what Mary said about the prince?", "Did Robert throw his cards down too fast instead of saying enough words for each card?", "Did Mary really dramatically motivate the sudden appearance of a castle in the middle of the sea, or was that just nonsensically gratuitous?", etc).

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Some introverts won't enjoy it at all. People afraid to sound silly will sound silly, ruining the enjoyment of everybody around the table.

I can't see why an introvert would have trouble either, unless they're someone who's literally unable to get themselves to say even one word in front of other people. There's nothing psychologically challenging for anyone I know to put a card down and say some word or phrase like "Bureaucracy" or "Love" or "Up and down" or "Life is good" or whatever. I'm pretty shy and inconfident speaking Polish (a language I suck at), but I've played Dixit in Polish without pain.

Which also reminds me that Dixit, being turn based, is more friendly to players playing in their non-native language than OUAT, which often flows quickly in real time with interrupt action cards.
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russ wrote:
HavocIsHere wrote:
This is not a game to be played competitively. This is a kind of party game, but do not expect big bursts of laughs.
Also, do not expect it to work with all players and within all groups.
The only comparison I can find is with Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game, because the success of the game will depend on all the players really wanting to enjoy it.

Why is it not to be played competitively? How would someone trying to win ruin it? Both in theory and in my experience, Dixit works as a real game, with people trying to win, unlike Once Upon A Time, ...

I would say then trying to win makes a less interesting game then trying to make interesting allegories and metaphors.
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Some introverts won't enjoy it at all. People afraid to sound silly will sound silly, ruining the enjoyment of everybody around the table.

I can't see why an introvert would have trouble either, unless they're someone who's literally unable to get themselves to say even one word in front of other people. There's nothing psychologically challenging for anyone I know to put a card down and say some word or phrase like "Bureaucracy" or "Love" or "Up and down" or "Life is good" or whatever.

Using plain text descriptions would ruin the experience, that's what I mean.
If everybody around the table is not afraid to make poetry even if it sounds terrible, no problem.

The whole point is the experience. If the drawings where replaced by, say, book titles, the game would work too, but it would be, *in my opinion*, a very plain, uninteresting game.
For the game to work (to my standards that is), the players must be willing to engage in imagination and symbolism, which might be totally off putting to some players.
Quote:

Which also reminds me that Dixit, being turn based, is more friendly to players playing in their non-native language than OUAT, which often flows quickly in real time with interrupt action cards.

We do agree on something

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Tony Chen
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A party game with strategy and art. I would love to get a copy.
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Carlos Abrunhosa
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I have a copy and i LOVE it! The cards are gorgeous and the game flow its ok! Not a gamers game neither a party game, just a decent game very good to estimulate poetry in everyone...
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Russ Williams
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HavocIsHere wrote:
russ wrote:
Why is it not to be played competitively? How would someone trying to win ruin it? Both in theory and in my experience, Dixit works as a real game, with people trying to win, unlike Once Upon A Time, ...

I would say then trying to win makes a less interesting game then trying to make interesting allegories and metaphors.

I don't see those as mutually contradictory. One can say interesting phrases AND be trying to win. Indeed, I would argue that it's good strategy to do so - from the point of view of winning, you want some, but not all, of the people to figure out your card, so your phrase should be not entirely clear to everyone, yet not totally unrelated to the card. Weird metaphors have proven to be a good way to achieve this, in my experience with the game so far.

And even a single "boring" word can be a surprising clever metaphor, in the context of the card art.

Quote:
Quote:
Which also reminds me that Dixit, being turn based, is more friendly to players playing in their non-native language than OUAT, which often flows quickly in real time with interrupt action cards.

We do agree on something

We also agree Dixit's a cool game, it seems.

I like very much that it's trivially easy to teach even to non-gamers, and that it has the feel of a creative/subjective/fuzzy party game, yet truly works as a "real" game with no need to play suboptimally for the sake of the story/experience, and no need to debate about unclear fuzzy rules interpretations. This annoying tension between trying to play well (to win) and trying to create an interesting/fun social/storytelling experience was always a frustrating issue with Once Upon a Time. Dixit neatly cuts that Gordian knot, for me.

Following up on the observation of language: when people with a shared language and nationality play it, they sometimes make clues which will be totally lost to a non-native speaker or cultural outsider. I as a non-Pole playing with Poles didn't understand some clues, e.g. one that referenced an old children's cartoon, for example, so the other players kindly translated/explained the reference for me. There is both a language barrier and a cultural barrier. So my SO and I are curious to play it with Esperanto speakers now at some upcoming international events, to see how it is with people who share a common language, so that there's no language barrier, but who have no common national cultural background (but who share Esperanto's own cultural references). Of course much depends on the players, whether they make cultural references to old movies, music, etc or whether they go in other directions (e.g. more literal, or thinking up their own personal symbols and interpretations).
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Snowball
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russ wrote:

We also agree Dixit's a cool game, it seems.

Most certainly. When one's collection of games is taking epic proportions, it is difficult to be really surprised by something new.
Dixit is artsy but unpretentious, original but simple and does create an unique atmosphere. A real keeper.
 
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Andy Van Zandt
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see, i wouldn't say it's unlike any other... there are several games that use an apples-to-apples-esque mechanic, like... Apples to Apples. and Rorschach. but it certainly does have pretty cards.
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Snowball
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That's the combination with the oniric theme that makes it quite unique.
But to be fair, I should have written: any other I know
 
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Tony Chen
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I think the point Russ is trying to make is that the winning strategy in Dixit is not degenerate and in fact encourages party-like play. Whereas in other party games, players need to abandon a winning strategy in order to play party-like. And reading the rules, I agree. And it's really neat how they managed to design it that way with such simple rules.
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truekid wrote:
see, i wouldn't say it's unlike any other... there are several games that use an apples-to-apples-esque mechanic, like... Apples to Apples. and Rorschach. but it certainly does have pretty cards.

It's very unlike Apples to Apples for me. Apples to Apples depends on the subjective and often capriciously random decision of the judge each round; the resolution of Dixit is transparent and objective and simple.

Subjectively, I enjoy Dixit, while I find Apples to Apples to be a lame pseudo-game I hope never to play again.

I've not played Rorschach, so can't comment on it.
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russ wrote:

It's very unlike Apples to Apples for me. Apples to Apples depends on the subjective and often capriciously random decision of the judge each round; the resolution of Dixit is transparent and objective and simple.

Subjectively, I enjoy Dixit, while I find Apples to Apples to be a lame pseudo-game I hope never to play again.



they've still got the same core concept- a social mechanic where you have a greater chance of success the better you know the other players.

moreover, your particular arguement is somewhat contradictory... instead of one "capricious and random" choice, you've got ALL the players making a "capricious or random" choice each round.

but OBVIOUSLY the resolution of both games is transparent and simple as well, even though you presented that inclusively as well, as if it were part of something that differentiated the two. so i'm doubtful that my drawing the parallels will change your outlook.
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truekid wrote:
russ wrote:

It's very unlike Apples to Apples for me. Apples to Apples depends on the subjective and often capriciously random decision of the judge each round; the resolution of Dixit is transparent and objective and simple.

Subjectively, I enjoy Dixit, while I find Apples to Apples to be a lame pseudo-game I hope never to play again.



they've still got the same core concept- a social mechanic where you have a greater chance of success the better you know the other players.

moreover, your particular arguement is somewhat contradictory... instead of one "capricious and random" choice, you've got ALL the players making a "capricious or random" choice each round.


To me there's a clear difference, but I think I'm not explaining it well.

It's analogous to playing any boardgame where players can make crazy random moves, but then the rules of the game are well-defined as to what the results of their moves are.

Whereas Apples to Apples feels like the results of the move are not well-defined, and instead one player gets to decide what the result of everyone's decisions is, using whatever criterion that one player likes.

Or to put it another way: Dixit could be viewed as a game where one person picks a number and gives some weird clue about it, then people guess what they think the number is. Each guesser is indisputably either right or wrong. Apples to Apples is like a game where one person says "Tell me a number that's a square", and everyone proposes a square number, and then the person says "Hmm, OK, we have 1, 4, 9, and 64. I pick 9." "Why?" "I don't know, I just do." For me, the first is more satisfying and less arbitrary/random/party-game feeling.

I agree that there's random personal weirdness in both cases, but it just feels OK to me when it's given as the initial condition that people then work from, as opposed to being the final decision. Perhaps you are right that at some level of abstraction, it all boils down to the same thing; I'll have to ponder more.
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Randy Cox
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I don't see the "poetry" angle. It's just another bluffing game (Balderdash, e.g.) where you hope to make the best caption that others will vote on. I've played it a couple of times (I think) and didn't see anything new in it. Cards with pictures (think Compatibility) and people making up lines where others vote to say which line is best (Wise & Otherwise, and about 50 others). We played it as competitively as we play all other party games, which is to say we kept score.
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Randy gives the perfect example of how this kind of game can be ''poetic and memorable'' to some and probably very dry and unoriginal to others. And it proved why the reviewer was accurate when he wrote that this game can be seen as 'theme-less' or full of it.

Some games create their 'atmosphere' with their intrinsic themes, components, rules, etc...like last night on earth and so many ameritrash games or any avalon hill wargames...others need the players to create their own atmosphere by the way they will play the game. You dont need much effort for LNOE or Arkham Horror to create the atmosphere...you just have to watch the board or read the card, etc...one player can be mute and another one can spend 98% of the evening in the bathroom and the 'theme' will still be there for the other players. Obviously, if the players add music or candles, and roleplay their ''characters' the theme will be more remarkable...but you dont really need to do this to enjoy the game (or the theme).

A game like dixit is another beast.
Dixit seems the game that could be superb and memorable with some kind of players and very boring and too simplistic with others. I think this game is very interesting but I doubt I will buy it...especially because the people I play with will not be interested by the style of the game and will not play it as it is supposed to be played (to be enjoyed).

I dont think you can play this game ONLY to win...otherwise it will be like playing tic tac toe...this game want you to use your imagination and create the atmosphere...if youre not good to do this and especially if you dont want to play the game this way, I guess it'll be very boring for you and for your guests. This game is totally dependent on the players and especially on the players' own imagination, otherwise it'll be like those ''guess the card'' games for 3-years old.

Its the prime example of a game where the possibilities are only related to the players own capacities (and willingness)...if they dont or cant do this, this game will propably 'serve' you a very boring evening.
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MatanteKiFume wrote:
I dont think you can play this game ONLY to win..otherwise it will be like playing tic tac toe...

In what sense? Tic tac toe is a 2-player combinatorial game with no chance or hidden information, trivially obvious strategy, and optimal play guarantees a draw. Dixit is a multiplayer game with chance and hidden information, non-obvious strategy, and unclear optimal play.

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this game want you to use your imagination and create the atmosphere...if youre not good to do this and especially if you dont want to play the game this way, I guess it'll be very boring for you and for your guests. This game is totally dependent on the players and especially on the players' own imagination, otherwise it'll be like those ''guess the card'' games for 3-years old.

You seem to be hypothesizing without actually having played the game. (Sorry, I'm noticing a lot of posts like that about various games lately, so maybe I'm reacting because of that...) I've seen many people play Dixit who were not particularly poetical or role-playing etc, just treating it as a strategic word/party game analogous to Scrabble or Password or 20 Questions or something as far as I can tell, yet they enjoyed it.

Sure, you can get all atmospheric and light candles and whatever (just as you can with any game), but that kind of approach is not necessary to enjoy Dixit.
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russ wrote:
Sure, you can get all atmospheric and light candles and whatever (just as you can with any game), but that kind of approach is not necessary to enjoy Dixit.
Agreed.

When I played at the Gathering, the crowd I played with (who love many party games, particularly Balderdash/Malarky/Wise & Otherwise/I could name 50 more) liked the game. Only I (and maybe one other) didn't care for it. But they described Dixit as just another make-your-bluff-and-hope-people-vote-for-you game, just like Balderdash.
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Randy Cox wrote:
When I played at the Gathering, the crowd I played with (who love many party games, particularly Balderdash/Malarky/Wise & Otherwise/I could name 50 more) liked the game. Only I (and maybe one other) didn't care for it. But they described Dixit as just another make-your-bluff-and-hope-people-vote-for-you game, just like Balderdash.

Is Balderdash (I've not played it - I don't play many party games) the same as what I know as "the dictionary game", where an obscure word is proposed by one person and everyone writes a definition for it, and then everyone votes, and people earn points for each person who voted for their (false) definition?

That's indeed rather Dixit-ish, and indeed I like the dictionary game for the same reason - you can be as poetical/wacky/atmospheric (or not) as you like, and yet still be playing it as a "real" game you are trying to win. Except that in Dixit you are much more free to be poetical/wacky/atmospheric since we're describing art in any crazy way you like, whereas the dictionary game requires you to write a plausible sounding definition which sounds like a real dictionary definition - so less freedom of form - ANY phrase could potentially be a good rational winning choice in Dixit, but no dictionary would have a definition like "joyful death of her moonpuppies" or something.
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the people I play with will not be interested by the style of the game and will not play it as it is supposed to be played (to be enjoyed).

I dont think you can play this game ONLY to win

And that is exactly my gripe with many party games, that there is a conflict between playing to win, and playing it as it is "supposed to be played." But with Dixit, there is no conflict because of the way the rules work.

That is not to say that one will necessarily have fun playing Dixit only to win. Just that playing to have fun and playing to win are not mutually exclusive, as it is with many party games.
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ideogram wrote:
Well, we are competitive types, we like playing to win.

Most people at parties don't like playing to win, so most party games aren't played to win.

In general, generalizations are unlikely to be true. :)

First off, we are not all competitive types. Some of us can turn on and off our competitive streak better than others.

That said, there are plenty of party games you play to win (including Dixit and Balderdash and the like). And I know of very few games where the "proper way to play" causes you to play suboptimally to win. The ONLY time I can think of where this happens is when people distort a game to be something it is not.

Case in point Balderdash/Dixit. When we play Balderdash (and when we played Dixit), some players intentionally come up with the crazy, off-the-wall phrases that everyone knows is not intended to garner points. Those players are intentionally, of their own accord, playing a different game just for their jollies. The game as designed is not intended to have people come up with humorous or silly answers. They can if they want to, but they will not win. And that's fine.

I know people who intentionally overspend just so they can get the first spell card in Aladdin's Dragons every game. They do this knowing they will not win, but they'll have the fun of always having the "best" magic. To each their own. Some people play games just for fun and not necessarily to win. But that is not the fault of the game. And, more importantly, it's not a fault of the player. It's just a different style.
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russ wrote:
Is Balderdash (I've not played it - I don't play many party games) the same as what I know as "the dictionary game"...That's indeed rather Dixit-ish, and indeed I like the dictionary game for the same reason

Yes the Fictionary/Dictionary game is the root of all these bluff-the-answer games (Out of Context, Balderdash, Liebrary, Ex Libris, etc) and is also the grandfather of the "know thy judge" genre of games (Apples to Apples, Why Did the Chicken, Consensus, etc).

And in fact, we play with a house rule often, just to cover for people who want to show their flair moreso than they want to play the game as designed. Again, I cannot stress enough, the game is not designed so that you play suboptimally--so that you play NOT to win. The game (Dixit included) is NOT designed to force people to be, as you call it, "poetic." Some people just enjoy that. But the game as designed is not about style over substance.

So, we play Balderdash with a rule where people vote for two answers--one that meets the rules of the game and one that we call "for style points." That way, the silly answerers get their fun, knowing they'll get no real game points. But they'll accumulate a style point and get their jollies. But, again, it's not that Balderdash (or any other game) is trying to get people to do the style option. That's just the way some (few) play it.
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ideogram wrote:
Speaking as someone who always plays to win, I have seen people get upset at the way I play Pictionary or Taboo, e.g. insisting that people follow well-defined rules.

Are you saying you attempt to win by breaking the rules of the game? As long as you're playing by the rules of Pictionary or Taboo, what's wrong with playing to win?
 
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Sue Hemberger

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I hate Apples to Apples but enjoy Dixit. Apples is too constrained. Both clue and answers are a function of the cards you hold, whereas in Dixitthe clue is generated by a player and only the answers are card-driven. Also my subjective impression is that Dixit handles intertextuality much better -- various card elements and themes recur and seem to intersect along multiple axes. In Apples to Apples, there's much more disconnect (among answers, between clues and answers) -- hence the complaints about random play.

From the standpoint of play, Hit or Miss is the game that Dixit reminds me of most. In each case, I've got a topic and my challenge is to think both about obvious associations and about clever but not idiosyncratic interpretations. Scoring is different -- with H or M, you're looking for answers that everyone or no one got (but that people agree are valid). With Dixit, you're narrow-casting -- you want some rather than all or none of the other players to guess.

All that said, I'm eager for an expansion for Dixit and/or to play it with a different set of people because with the same cards + the same people it risks getting stale, especially in 3p games. That said, there's some middle point where play is optimal because you know the whole deck and can create clues based on that knowledge.
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I just played Dixit this weekend, and, yeah, see an Apples to Apples mechanic: As one of the other players, you're given a topic you must attempt to match, and sometimes the random assortment of cards you have match, and sometimes they don't.

As said, the hint-giving mechanic isn't unique, either. Just after Dixit, we played Linq (?), in which you give a hint that's understandable to your partner, but not the other players.

Dixit also isn't immune to the "couple's advantage", in which two players who have "insider's knowledge" can share information unavailable to other players. As a competitive player, myself, a hint I gave was "No, I'm a villager". No points as to what shape a certain shadow in the background was!

That being said, Dixit's surreal images certainly stand out. It's definitely uncommon for a party game to have pictures, and I can't think of any with such striking ones. And you can use the cards as story elements to make your own fairy tale game!

I'll probably pick this one up in trade, or at a deep discount. That's more than I can say for nearly all party games out there!
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ideogram wrote:
Speaking as someone who always plays to win, I have seen people get upset at the way I play Pictionary or Taboo, e.g. insisting that people follow well-defined rules.


Insisting people play by the rules is a completely different thing than playing to win.

I play a lot of iSketch (an online pictionary type game). They have mechanism where players can 'tweet' players violating the rules (99% of the times, it's drawing letters).

New players sometimes complain and say 'its just a game' but the response is generally 'rules are what make a game a game. If you don't like the rules, don't play the game.'.

The vast majority of players accept that and the ones that don't usually quit for being constantly tweeted off or temporarily banned by the administrators.

In the expert rooms especially, there is zero tolerance for cheating but even there, not everyone is playing to win. Some people just like to draw the harder words and others are more interested in chatting with their friends than playing seriously.

But even the easy rooms, most people playing just for fun still insist on people playing by the rules. Insisting on playing by the rules has nothing to do with whether one is playing to win or just playing for fun.
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