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Subject: Either I have no imagination, or Dixit is a crap game rss

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Brian McCormick
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The room is silent. Then, my wife takes a moment to look at her hands of cards. With a smirk, she says aloud "Whew! I'm glad we got out of there". The three other players around the table all look at their cards, brows furrowed. I look at my own hand of cards.

I have some miniature people on a stack of books, a kid with a flute, a picture with flowers, another picture with flowers, and - believe it or not - a picture of a flower that is losing its petals. Everyone else seems to be picking their card, and I don't want to prolong the game more than I have to.

Screw it, I think, and I decide to use one of my flower cards. My wife collects all of our choices then lays them out on the table. We vote on which card we think was Rachael's (by trying to match the picture to the vague sentence). I notice one picture where two people are escaping the mouth of a lizard, so I vote on that one.

But Rachael's card was that of an open prison window at the top of a giant snail shell with a tied-up sheet hanging down to the ground. Some people moved their colored wooden rabbit (or squirrel?) around a point track, and I scratched my head.

This is a game?


courtesy Chatbus

During my short time on BGG, I've seen many new games come and go, but Dixit's rise to popularity is the one that completely stumps me. I understand that it's a party game, a "light" game, a game aimed at imaginative people, but BGGers tend to be very hostile toward "light" games. My wife loves this game, but I do not.

If you've read any of my other reviews, you'll notice that I usually do a "Pros and Cons" list. With Dixit, such a list would be pointless, because the meat of Dixit is not found it is mechanics. The game is purely about the interaction between the people involved. If there was a category on BGG for "good with the right group", Dixit would be the poster-child. Actually, "the right group" is a requirement, because without it, Dixit is a muted, card-shuffling guessing game with no soul whatsoever.

The mechanics are simple. The current player (I think Dixit goes as far to label them "the storyteller", perhaps hinting at the pretentiousness that flies far above my plebian head) picks a card and then formulates a description for the group to follow. It could be accurate or abstract. Your imagination really is the only limit. A picture showing some red flowers could be described as "look at these cool red flowers" or it could be described as "the crimson of my heart's garden flows out for you", or it could be a line of lyrics from Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorns. All of these are acceptable. The group needs to look at their own hand of cards and pick a card that they think fits your sentence, all of the cards are shuffled, and everyone votes on which card they think was the originator of the sentence.


courtesy gugi


If you are the storyteller, your aim is for some (but not all) of the other players players to pick your picture. You won't score points if everyone or no one picks your picture. I suppose this is a balance meant to make sure the storyteller isn't too specific yet isn't too abstract, but in all honesty, it all comes down to the current player's ability to pick a decent sentence that resonates with the group. You could pick a fantastic line for your card, but if no one else gets the reference or if they conceptualize the picture in a different way, then too bad. The other players who add in their cards are attempting to get their own cards picked, which will also earn them points. The first player to race their rabbit/squirrel around the track is crowned "introspective hipster of the week" and they wear a fashionable '60s hat sold to other hipsters by the dozen at their local University's we're-too-cool-for-Abercrombie store.

Wait.

Sorry.

That last rule isn't a part of the base game. It's added in Dixit 2. My apologies.



courtesy gugi


Some might read my criticism and get upset. After all, you all have had many successes with Dixit, right? You have had so many enlightening experiences with the game with your mother, your spouse, your dog, and your interpretive dance troupe. I can already hear the cacophonic tapping of your fingers on the keyboard. "It's a great gateway game!" and "My entire family loves it!". I'm sure. Believe it or not, I'm perfectly happy that you were able to find a game in Dixit's box. I - however - was not.

I'm not mad that this is a party game. I was fully aware of what I was getting in the package. Dixit is an abstract, artistic variant of Balderdash, which in itself was a repackaging of a play-on-a-scrap-of-paper parlor game. I understand that the aim is to appeal to what other people recognize. I understand that the aim is to "get creative" and have a good ol' time coming up with clever sentences. I understand that there is no raw strategy to be had. I understand that the goal is to loosen up and have a fun time. I'm under no illusion that Dixit needs to be something other than a quick, imagination-driven party game...

...but unless you have the right group, Dixit is not a game, which makes we wonder if the right group would be just as satisfied going to a local art museum and commenting on "what the artist was going for" with each painting.

Yes, sometimes I am the guy who goes along with "the right group" to the local art museum and says "Huh?" to half the paintings. So, feel free to label me as a tasteless brute. I'm fine with that. Maybe I just don't "get" this game. I'm fine admitting that, too.


courtesy gugi

What confuses me is why this game is popular on BGG. Strategy, balance, and optimization are the baselines against which every game is judged. Here, we have people who write entire articles on the strategy of seat-placement in Puerto Rico, or why Agricola is better than Puerto Rico, or why Twilight Struggle is better than both, or why War of the Rings Limited Cinderblock Edition is better than them all.We have lengthy dissertations on tactics and strategy for many games in the database. We have session reports that give real-life examples of optimal play. We have variants and rule-tweaks to "improve" the balance of countless games. Yet with Dixit, all of that flies out the window.

My theory? It's the art. Dixit is a beautiful game. If you dealt me a hand of 5 Dixit cards, it's likely that I'd hang four of those on my wall if they came as a full-sized painting. The cards aren't simply beautiful, but they each have a quirkiness about them, which I suppose is supposed to spark your imagination. People like looking at the cards and thinking about them, which is fine, I guess. I like looking at the card art for Race for the Galaxy, but you don't see me trying to make other people vote for my fanfiction, much less trying to make a game out of it.

Dixit's popularity is a symptom of a larger issue: BGG is addicted to theme. You've surely heard of "the cult of the new", right? "The cult of the theme" is a hundredfold stronger. Theme makes or breaks a game, and lack of theme destines a game to obscurity on this site. Dixit is all theme. It's an excuse to shuffle through a deck of pretty pictures and then talk about 'em. I would wager that the scoring system and score track were included simply so that this wasn't marketed as a child psychology tool.

Perhaps I am being harsh on Dixit. No, I am being harsh on Dixit. I admit it. This isn't intended to be the sort of game you pick up when you want to play a game. This is the sort of game you pick up when you want to feel those warm goosebumps of creativity, when you want to relax and look at pleasing art, when you want to learn about yourself and about the people around you. It's an artsy-fartsy, gorgeous, simplistic, meaningful, comfy-fuzzy sort of game. Its nature defies BGG conventions, and in that way it is brilliant.

Dixit is not a game I enjoy. To me, it isn't really a game. Rather, it's a great excuse to get together, shoot the breeze, and express creative thought in a non-threatening way. It's not for me. A deck of cards should be used to bring a civilization from Age 1 to Age 10, or at the very least, to play some Euchre. Dixit is brilliant in its non-game-ness, and though I do not understand BGG's love for it, I'm fine admitting that I am a tasteless brute. Perhaps life is easier being a brute.
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The Compulsive Completist
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It definately takes imagination and it definately takes the right group. Good review but I like it more than you.

Dixit feels more like an exercise than a game.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Dixit is a game everyone should try once and everyone with a game group should own.

That being said, Dixit is not for everyone and won't be enjoyed by every person or group.

I personally love the game and wish I had more chances to play it. BGG loves it because it IS good!


That, and you are a tasteless brute.

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Steve N
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Very nicely written. Great job.

I sort of agree with your "isn't a game" conclusion. In any other game I try to win - not because I'm super competetive, but just because that is what you are supposed to be doing in a game. With Dixit I just don't feel that emphasis. I just have fun making up interesting clues and trying to to get inside people's heads. It is different and so it fills a niche.
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Ben Bateson
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Yeah, you have no imagination.

You do, however, write a good review, so you're forgiven.
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Lee Fisher
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I think BGGers may be a more diverse group than you think.

Also, remember it won SdJ as well.

I definitely enjoyed reading your review. Very well written!
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Jules
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So far Dixit has worked for us for every kind of group, from competitive MTG players to family. I'm getting a bit fed up with it myself now (mostly from trying it out on all those different kinds of groups), but I'd still call it a game and a fairly fun one at that

Great review, though!
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Brian McCormick
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No need to get offended, Todd Werner. Thoughout my review, I openly bash my lack of creativity and admit quite readily that I might not "get" this game simply because I'm a brute and it goes over my head.

Strategy, balance, and optimization are the baselines because games that excel in these areas are the ones that populate the Top 100.

Because Dixit's gameplay rests almost entirely on the creativity of the players, I feel it is entirely appropriate to comment on the "deficiencies of the players", which is truthfully just a roundabout way of commenting on the lack of structure within the game.
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Aurendrosl wrote:
Strategy, balance, and optimization are the baselines against which every game is judged.


I judge games based on how fun they are to play. I like Dixit because it is fun. However, you have a point. Part of the reason I think it is fun is because of the unique type of strategy, balance, and optimization it contains in heaps.

It seems like the type of strategy, balance, and optimization that Dixit contains is not for you. That's fine.
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Paul DeStefano
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The key to the game is knowing your group and devising the clue that ONLY ONE of them will get.

There is that as well as The Prisoner's Dilemma of scoring to make this more than a simple party game.

And you're a brute.
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Ian Allen
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I give it an extra point just for the bizarre artwork.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Hockey Mask wrote:
It definately takes imagination and it definately takes the right group. Good review but I like it more than you.



Agreed. I like Dixit more than the OP as well.

After reading your review I would definitely say that you are a member of what you label, "the wrong group."

There is a game in Dixit, its just different than what you look for in games.
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Ben Lott
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Aurendrosl wrote:
Dixit's popularity is a symptom of a larger issue: BGG is addicted to theme. You've surely heard of "the cult of the new", right? "The cult of the theme" is a hundredfold stronger. Theme makes or breaks a game, and lack of theme destines a game to obscurity on this site. Dixit is all theme.

I like your review, and almost completely agree with you, however this little paragraph seems so out of place. In what way does Dixit have any theme? It's just a pile of pictures, there is no theme of art speculation suggested in the rules.

And I find it humorous that you say that the cult of the theme is strong on BGG considering the games that top the rankings. I mean who lists these as highly thematic games: Puerto Rico, Le Havre, Dominion, Caylus, Tigris & Euphrates, Goa, Crokinole, Go, Troyes, Ra, Hansa Teutonica?
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Kenny VenOsdel
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Aurendrosl wrote:
No need to get offended, Todd Werner. Thoughout my review, I openly bash my lack of creativity and admit quite readily that I might not "get" this game simply because I'm a brute and it goes over my head.


I'm not mad or anything, but I do want to point out that for all your "self bashing" it sounded more sarcastic and not really self bashing as much as...others bashing indirectly.

The wonders of the internet and the lack of expressive ability in written words eh?
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Arthur Rutyna
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Blott wrote:
Aurendrosl wrote:
Dixit's popularity is a symptom of a larger issue: BGG is addicted to theme. You've surely heard of "the cult of the new", right? "The cult of the theme" is a hundredfold stronger. Theme makes or breaks a game, and lack of theme destines a game to obscurity on this site. Dixit is all theme.

I like your review, and almost completely agree with you, however this little paragraph seems so out of place. In what way does Dixit have any theme? It's just a pile of pictures, there is no theme of art speculation suggested in the rules.

And I find it humorous that you say that the cult of the theme is strong on BGG considering the games that top the rankings. I mean who lists these as highly thematic games: Puerto Rico, Le Havre, Dominion, Caylus, Tigris & Euphrates, Goa, Crokinole, Go, Troyes, Ra, Hansa Teutonica?


Totally agree with this statement. The above listed games are all very good in my book. However, I can't give them a 10, because the theme is just so-so (IMHO). I also like DiXit. Less than the above mentioned games, but I still like it.
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Brian McCormick
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Blott wrote:
I like your review, and almost completely agree with you, however this little paragraph seems so out of place. In what way does Dixit have any theme? It's just a pile of pictures, there is no theme of art speculation suggested in the rules.

And I find it humorous that you say that the cult of the theme is strong on BGG considering the games that top the rankings. I mean who lists these as highly thematic games: Puerto Rico, Le Havre, Dominion, Caylus, Tigris & Euphrates, Goa, Crokinole, Go, Troyes, Ra, Hansa Teutonica?

To me, theme is the non-gamey chrome. Games are "thematic" when they make gameplay design choices to better reflect the foundational theme. Theme is the pictures, the tokens, the board art. When the theme integrates with the mechanics, the game is called "thematic". When a game's mechanics do not integrate with the theme, the critique "the theme is pasted on" arises. However, my totally subjective observation is that the term "thematic" has more or less become the politically-correct term for "Ameritrash" here on BGG, which is why Euros are not labelled as "thematic" even though they might have a very strong theme, because Euros =/= Ameritrash, and if "thematic" implies "Ameritrash", then Euros =/= thematic.

So, that's how I see (and under that definition, I'd consider many of the games you mentioned to be "thematic" in that sense).
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Blott wrote:
Aurendrosl wrote:
Dixit's popularity is a symptom of a larger issue: BGG is addicted to theme. You've surely heard of "the cult of the new", right? "The cult of the theme" is a hundredfold stronger. Theme makes or breaks a game, and lack of theme destines a game to obscurity on this site. Dixit is all theme.

I like your review, and almost completely agree with you, however this little paragraph seems so out of place. In what way does Dixit have any theme? It's just a pile of pictures, there is no theme of art speculation suggested in the rules.

And I find it humorous that you say that the cult of the theme is strong on BGG considering the games that top the rankings. I mean who lists these as highly thematic games: Puerto Rico, Le Havre, Dominion, Caylus, Tigris & Euphrates, Goa, Crokinole, Go, Troyes, Ra, Hansa Teutonica?


I agree that Dixit has zero theme.
But I also agree with the OPs point about "cult of the theme". There's a reason why a number of subjects exist in games much more than others: because players like it. Even if it's themes that you simply can't see at all in said games.

Look at the new games based on the Terry Pratchett's books, and how many people said they'ld buy them because of their subject. Even though they're eurogames and light on theme.
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Guy Steuperaert
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Not sure if i should pitch in.
I have this game since a year i think.

I play it with my gaming group.
I played it with a sportsteam.
I played it with students
I played it in my local youth mouvement group
I played it at my local youth club.(not sure right word, a bar for
young people, run by young people not with the intention to have profit)
I played it with ...

So far i have not had a single person who did not like it.
I admit it takes some imagination but it can be real easy.
I also admit you sometimes have no card that fits what the storyteller says. But it is always fun.

I do explain it by giving some examples and often people use tips/story related to stuff they are intrested in for me its often movies/games/...
Others use music and so on. we also have people use tips they know their best friends will know but others not.

We often explain why we picked a certain card or why we explained it a certain way which often leads to a good laugh.

However i have no idea what the intention of youre review is.
I happely admit that whenever i explain the game, i explain the points, but right after that i always say that points dont really matter in this game. So in that regard it may not be a game.

Ok last thing now, keep in mind i still dont know youre intentions.
I can understand youre imagination is not triggerd from all the cards.
But i can not understand that there are person, that when dealt six of these cards cant come up with a clue that he thinks some will get about one of these cards.
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kvenosdel wrote:
Aurendrosl wrote:
No need to get offended, Todd Werner. Thoughout my review, I openly bash my lack of creativity and admit quite readily that I might not "get" this game simply because I'm a brute and it goes over my head.


I'm not mad or anything, but I do want to point out that for all your "self bashing" it sounded more sarcastic and not really self bashing as much as...others bashing indirectly.

The wonders of the internet and the lack of expressive ability in written words eh?


God its brutal, I find myself apologiziing on the geek all the time after a mildly heated argument cause stuff I write seems so much damn harsher than I mean it to be!

In any case, I have a lot of fun playing the game for just making interesting clues and seeing if they are successful (as in getting at least one right and one wrong vote, but not really interested in getting only one right vote).

And yeah, for me winning a party "game/activity" doesn't mean anthing to me, but for a game like this, the art/fun counts for a lot!
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David Brown
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My limited experience is that Dixit works for the family but not for the gamer.

With the family we can have fun with this game, but when I tried it with gamers it fell flat - they took it too seriously. With the family it's a good light game

In my last game I used a picture that showed two ants fighting on top of some coins.

Lacking real immigination I said "pants" thinking ants in your pants, and to my surpise my daughter and wife got it right, but not for the reasons I thought. One though pants stood for a Pair of ants, and the other thought it stood for Pounds coins and ants
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James 3
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i like wearing Fedoras...cry soblue not sure i get the hipster bashing comments, and must assume you have no imagination if picking between the alternative
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Matt N
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Aurendrosl wrote:
To me, theme is the non-gamey chrome. Games are "thematic" when they make gameplay design choices to better reflect the foundational theme. Theme is the pictures, the tokens, the board art. When the theme integrates with the mechanics, the game is called "thematic". When a game's mechanics do not integrate with the theme, the critique "the theme is pasted on" arises. However, my totally subjective observation is that the term "thematic" has more or less become the politically-correct term for "Ameritrash" here on BGG, which is why Euros are not labelled as "thematic" even though they might have a very strong theme, because Euros =/= Ameritrash, and if "thematic" implies "Ameritrash", then Euros =/= thematic.

So, that's how I see (and under that definition, I'd consider many of the games you mentioned to be "thematic" in that sense).

Dominion still loses the theme debate by most measures, so I don't really follow your example. If you're arguing that some highly ranked games have good theme but are lacking in depth/strategy compared to their counterparts, then I'd agree with you.

I don't think your title is really an either/or premise, but I liked your review overall.
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Since you quite clear didn't care for the game, feel free to send it my way ...I like to think I'm creative.

Honestly though, I appreciate you opinion and, though you probably meant to accomplish the opposite, I now want to try this game even more. It's clearly a 'right group' game.

I do have to disagree with about the game-ness of it. It's more of a game then say...a roll-and-move, much more interesting/fun decisions, which I feel is a more accurate definition of a game. That being said I've never actually played it.
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Doug Click
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The game was a flop with those I play with. I don't think it is "gamey" enough for us. We got through several rounds and someone said, "this is stupid, lets play something else"... so we did.

But to be fair, those same people didn't like the game Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game because it was just too open for them. I spent hours painting the figures and getting things ready to game only to have it flop... so I traded it away.

What is really weird, is that Apples to Apples was well received which is why I thought Dixit would also work. But, I think the game play is just a little too abstract. Apples to Apples is straight-forward, match this word to this word. Not, match this statement to an abstract painting on a card.

I wish I were able to explain exactly what it is about this game that doesn't work for us, but I just can't... All and all, it seems our same thoughts about the game are echoed in this review in some way. So, I think this is a great review of the problems with the game with some people. I know I thought about writing a review of the game but couldn’t do it because the review became a disjointed mumble of words, no where as distinctly worded as the above review.
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Adam Blinkinsop
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Aurendrosl wrote:
Dixit is not a game I enjoy. To me, it isn't really a game. Rather, it's a great excuse to get together, shoot the breeze, and express creative thought in a non-threatening way. It's not for me.


I'm not going to argue the "not for me" comment.

However, as a game designer, the mechanics really point towards how you can play the game strategically: try for a single correct guess.

As the picker, look at the scoreboard, and then at your hand. Is there an inside joke, phrase, shared experience you have with the person in last place? See if you can find a card that is described by that experience. Perhaps you're both Redwall fans -- use that as your clue for the mouse with the sword.

The ideal situation has you gaining points, the person in last place moving ahead a bit, and -- great for a party game -- people learning something about your relationship.

My main criterion for a game is that you must be able to get better at it; random exercises like Chutes and Ladders don't really count as a game, because there's no skill. Dixit definitely has skill: I destroy people at it.
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