Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dixit: A Family Game That’s Too Cool for Your Family

Posted By on Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 8:30 AM

I’ve often felt that many things designed for families — theme parks, for example — would be way better if you kicked all the kids out. This is the case for Dixit, a family card game designed by Jean-Louis Roubira.

click to enlarge NATE WARREN
  • Nate Warren

Dixit plays simply. You’ll be holding a hand of six cards with text-free illustrations on them. Illustrator Marie Cardouat has a knack for pulling inspiration straight from dreams; her lush images are one of the game’s chief attractions. On one card, a flaming heart sizzles under a glass cover. On another, a cat eyes a tiny wedding couple in a birdcage suspended under a quarter moon. There are 84 such cards in the box. You’re forgiven if you stop and stare for a minute.

Each round, one person is a “storyteller” giving a clue about one of the cards in his or her hand. The other players then choose a card from their hand that they believe best matches the clue. The cards — including the storyteller’s — are mixed up, face-down, and then revealed. Then, everyone except the storyteller votes on which card they think matches the clue, and points are scored.

You’ll score points based on how artful you can be when it’s your turn to be the storyteller. You can’t be too obvious or too obscure; you lose points if either everyone guesses your card or if nobody does. And other players have the opportunity to score points if they trick you into voting for their decoys.

Striking the balance between difficulty and ease when coming up with your clue stretches the brain a bit. The creative challenge is where the game gets its juice, and why you should exclude your kids when you play it: The generation gap puts older players in a straightjacket. Forget using the wide array of cultural references that would make enticingly clever clues. Your kids won’t get it. And prepare to be bored when they’re the storytellers.

Unless you’ve got extremely precocious kids, this is what’s going to happen…

Kid: My clue is fish.

Everybody picks cards and mixes them up, face-down, with the storyteller’s card, which, when revealed, has a picture of a fish on it.

You: Whoa, look at the time! Go to bed so me and Mom can get drunk.

Playing with some bright grownups is when the fun of the game is revealed. You can pull a card that depicts planets strung across an abacus, tell your co-players that the clue is “Vivaldi,” and someone in the group will shine on to the classical music reference, scoring you both some nice go-ahead points. That’s not going to happen with kids. (Not many of them, anyway.) You can get pretty creative with the clues and knock out a few games of Dixit in short order.

If you like intensely challenging, strategy games, this is not the one. But Dixit is a great game for those times when you want a few minutes of social entertainment and the right half of your brain needs a light workout.

Dixit works with 3 to 6 players and takes about 30 minutes. It is a family game that should not be played with children.

Nate Warren is a Colorado Springs-based copywriter who offers both the veteran gamer and the uninitiated a local window into the burgeoning and wildly creative world of hobby and designer board games enjoyed by fanatics and connoisseurs — around the corner and and across the globe.

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