Party games don’t tend to get particularly high on my must play/must own scale. They can be fun in the right setting, but don’t often transcend into the realm of games you want to play regularly. They tend just to be something to do when conversation runs low. Dixit, on the other hand, is something more than a mere party game.
I love Dixit.
In Dixit, players each have a hand of six cards, each of which is adorned with beautiful, surreal and unique artwork. Players take it in turns to be “The Storyteller”. The Storyteller picks one of his cards and must describe it in any way they see fit. It can be a single word, a noise, a gesture, a song – Whatever they feel like. Every other player then picks the card from their hand which they feel best fits the description, and throws it in, face down. The cards are shuffled up and flipped over and everybody (except The Storyteller) votes which card they think belongs to The Storyteller. Players get points for guessing correctly or if people guess the card that they put it. The Storyteller, however, gets points for ambiguity – He needs some, but not all, of the other players to guess correctly.
It’s this final point that sets Dixit apart from the majority other games of the same ilk. If The Storyteller is so vague that nobody can guess his card, every other player gets points; the same happens if The Storyteller is too direct. The fun for The Storyteller is in the plethora of ways to achieve this goal. Dixit sets no hard and fast rules for what is and isn’t allowed in composing your description. Will you try and form something emotive to stir an idea in some of your companions? Will you reference film or music that you know is alien to some people but familiar to others? Will you just say something fucking weird? Hell, if you can’t think of anything then you could just go completely off the wall and just hope that somebody picks your card at random.
This may all sound easy enough from for The Storyteller and, looking at any of the cards in isolation, you’d be forgiven for thinking so. There are so many components to every card, so many tiny details, that choosing one that will be overlooked by somebody shouldn’t be hard. It’s in this aspect that the art design on Dixit really comes into its element. Seemingly random though the images are, there are so many recurring motifs to be found in the images over many cards – Cats, Feathers, Fire, Vines, Snail, Swords, Teardrops…
Every image is completely unique and utterly gorgeous, but you’re still hard pushed to find something to say that won’t see somebody else putting down a card that fits even better than your own. It’s an element of the games design that is easy to overlook, but I really feel it’s an integral aspect in the workings of Dixit.
The thing I really love about this game is that, although the game is good fun regardless, is that I find it’s best played with people you know incredibly well. It’s fun because you really start to get into the mindset of your friends after a few games giving you not only the feeling of playing a tactical game but also an interesting and enjoyable social experience. Additionally, no game makes me laugh like Dixit does. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but when you flip everybody’s cards over, it’s often just absolutely hilarious; even more so if you repeat The Storyteller’s description with every card you flip. As I say, I don’t know why. It’s just a joy.
The only minor complaint with Dixit is that, although there a whole bunch of cards in the base set, you’re going to go through pretty much all of them every time. This is only a minor issue, as the images are so intricate and layered that it will be a while before repeated use becomes an issue. There are a number of expansions and subsequent versions of Dixit, each with their own sets of cards so, if it’s something you enjoy, grabbing another set and mixing them up sorts the problem pretty promptly.
Dixit is simple, elegant and anybody at all can play it without ever playing another board or card game in their lives. The high social aspect makes the game incredibly accessible, but the real star here is the artwork. The sheer beauty of the whole affair puts it a cut above every other party game I’ve ever played, and I highly recommend it.
For more 4VP reviews, as well as the fortnightly podcast, visit http://4vp.tumblr.com/Board