Dixit is a 2009 game from Libellud and it’s received positive reviews since its release 5 years ago. The production quality is high on the game, because the basic set comes with 80 pictorial cards. Though these often have a cartoon or animated feel, the artists who produced these paintings are of high quality. If the idea was to create evocative artwork, the publishers succeeded.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been interested in finding games which children could play, but which were interesting to the adult’s playing them as well.
I also wanted to find games which might inspire creative thought in children, or otherwise require them to exercise their brains or “think outside the box”. I believe Dixit is one of those games.
Before we get to the rules, I’ll fill out the background information. Dixit was created Jean-Louis Roubira. The game’s name means “he/she said it” in Latin. It won the Spiel des Jahres 2010 Award for best new game.
How Play Works
When the game starts, each player is given 6 cards apiece. Each of these cards has a professional-level picture on it. Some seem to be taken from folklore or mythology. Others seem to be half-formed thoughts or drawn from pure whimsy. Each can be interpreted a number of different ways, so no one single interpretation is correct.
That’s the dynamic which drives gameplay. Each turn, one player acts as the storyteller. The storyteller takes a look at their deck and selects a picture. Next, they tell everyone at the table a word or phrase which is supposed to match this card. This will be the catchword or catchphrase for that round.
Every other player selects a card from their hand which they believe matches the word or phrase the best. These are handed to the storyteller, who mixes them up randomly, then places them in random spots next to one another, with each spot being numbered. The players then try to guess which card belongs to the judge. They do this by selecting a token and placing it on the picture they chose.
Score is kept with a little game board which has colored playing pieces. For this reason, someone might consider Dixit a board game, though the game board is a very small part of play. I believe most people playing the game would come away feeling like they played a card game.
How Scoring Works
If nobody at the table picks the storyteller’s card, then the storyteller scores 0 and each player receives 2 points. If everybody at the table picks the storyteller’s card, then the storyteller once again scores 0 and each player receives 2 points. But if the votes are split and the storyteller’s card was picked by 1 or more, then the storyteller receives 3 points for each person who selected them. Also, the player who picked right also receives 3 points. Finally, for each person who picks a non-storyteller card, that player (the one whose card was picked) receives a bonus +1 point.
The game continues until someone makes it around the board, or the cards run out. As a general rule, people make it around the board fairly quickly. This is a fast-paced game, which I think is best for a younger group of players.
Dixit for Kids
Dixit is the rare card game which works for adults, big kids, and little kids. I played the original game and Dixit 2 with a group of children between the ages of 6 and 14 and the entire group enjoyed it. While the six year old displayed the usual lack of attention you might expect from someone that age, he did well “on a team” with me and was able to pick the cards most appropriate for strategy purposes. Picking which of the cards which had been played was most appropriate didn’t work out as well, of course.
As for the other children, the 13 and 14 year old asked to play the game almost as much as they wanted to play Fluxx. They preferred Zombie Fluxx more, but otherwise preferred this pictorial game about as much. The couple of 9 year olds in the group preferred to play Dixit.
This game is good for all children, but especially those who are artistic or imaginative. It’s an open-ended game with real strategy, but it provides visual stimulation and the need to think in the abstract. You can almost see the gears working in their little brains when you ask them why the matched one card with another.
As you can tell from my explanation of the rules, this is not a hard game to play. It’s just the kind of open-ended tabletop fun younger people should engage in more often. Though it has a competitive aspect, unless you have natural rivalries which get outo f control, the competition is low-grade enough that people shouldn’t be arguing over rules. The most that can happen is one player criticizing another player’s judgment in selecting one card over another. With up to 6 people playing at once, most of that gets lost in the shuffle. Also, because the phrases used are a wild card, most of the time only 1 to 3 cards are going to be realistic options.
I should say Dixit is a word game, too. Coming up with the word or words makes any given round completely different. I would suggest parents notice the word choice of their kids. I’ve noticed some use phrases they know and others use one-word stories, such as “Dark”, “Scary”, or “Magic”. I suggest encouraging the kids to use phrases. While one word answers work just fine–in fact, their vagueness may invite more interpretation–it’s good to get them to thinking about more complex impressions the pics make.
I would sometimes throw out oddball terms like “Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone” or “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”, just to make them really consider their choices. Besides getting an odd look or two when no one’s picture had anything to do with the Wizard of Oz, it certainly made them think more than the word “Dark” would.