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Subject: Dixit: If images are worth 1,000 words, Dixit is worth 84,000. rss

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Justen Brown
United States
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Jean-Louis Roubira with art by Marie Cardouat

Dixit is a storytelling game. Well, no, that’s disingenuous. Dixit is a story retelling game. It’s an art gallery compressed into a stack of playing cards that demands you to make sense of its images with words. If images are worth a thousand words then Dixit is worth 84,000.

Dixit is a complex game with simple rules. One player is designated the story teller and selects one from a handful of cards depicted by a surreal, vivid image. From this picture a sentence is developed, at least one word, or even a sound. The other players choose a card from their hand that best matches the description which is shuffled with the storytellers card. The players then vote on which card they think is the storyteller’s. At least one person must vote for the storyteller’s card for them to gain points but if no one or everyone votes correctly, the storyteller gets nothing. Furthermore, everyone except the storyteller earns points if their own card is voted on.

Dixit’s gameplay is about the creative use of wordplay and response. The storyteller's goal isn't necessarily about scoring points but rather to mitigate how many points the other players score. The voting players earn points for their own cards if they're voted for in addition to points scored if they oust the storyteller. The voting players have a notable advantage in this matter as they attempt to masquerade as the storyteller while finding the real storyteller themselves. Dixit is a game of mimicry -- one person says something and everyone else tries to imitate it. There won't be a perfect imitation but the closest to the source will score the most points.

On paper it sounds ridiculous but the large cards are lovingly illustrated in a classical painterly style with images inspired by old children’s stories like The Little Prince. While surreal and seemingly unconnected, the illustrations have common themes that crop up throughout. Some are innocent and feature romantic settings, allusions to fairy tales and fables, or fields of colorful flowers and floating butterflies or bubbles. Others are more sinister evoking dark themes of suicide, incarceration, and self reflection. No, Dixit is never explicit but it’s a testament to the game’s good design that the images can be so radically different in appearance yet similar in theme.

Dixit is a work of art in itself but like art it’s completely subjective. Some will pick it up instantly, spitting out varied descriptors with a single glance at their hand. Others will stare vacantly into the cards, stuttering and stammering as they choke on their tongue. The more you put in the more you’ll get out: if that sounds unappealing, Dixit will only put you to sleep. For everyone else, Dixit will serve as the opener and closer to every game night.

Buy This If: You like lavish art and a little creative input with your board games.

Avoid If: Your friends are a bunch of dullards.

Example of Play

The storyteller selects a card from their hand and says something about it.

The storyteller's description is "She loves me." The other players choose cards from their hand that best match the description and shuffle them with the storyteller's.

The green player chooses correctly (card #3 is the storyteller's) so the green player and the storyteller score 3 points. The owner of card #1 and #4 score 1 point each, the owner of card #5 scores 2 points, and the owners of cards #2 and #6 don't score for their cards because no one voted for them. The next player clockwise becomes the storyteller and this continues until the deck runs out at which point the game ends.
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