Dixit review – A world of wondrous whimsy
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up” – Pablo Picasso.
How about you, dear reader? Have you grown up or does the fire of unbridled imagination burn in you still? The answer to this question is a single most important determinant if you will love Dixit to pieces or will want nothing to do with the silliness. I certainly hope it’s the former.
How it works:
Three to six players get to compete in describing and interpreting highly abstract pieces of art, distributed on Tarot-sized cards. Each turn a player comes up with a description of one of their cards – a single word, a phrase, a quote. Each of the players then finds a card from their hand that best matches the description.
Cards are mixed up and laid out with each player but the “leader” voting on which was the original image that inspired the description. The goal of the “leader” is to make sure his description is clear enough so that at least some people guess the right card, but not so clear that everyone gets it right. Other players get points for correctly guessing the original card or for others picking theirs.
The game goes until an arbitrary limit of 30 points is reached by one of the rabbit markers representing each player.
This description sounds dry, right? You bet! And then you look at the cards…
How it feels:
My reviews normally has a middle section of “how it plays” but I will forego it this time, mostly because what you feel playing Dixit is much more important. These cards, how can I describe them? Let’s say take the deranged creativity of Dali, add cozy whimsy of James Christensen and then multiply it all by the piercing childish sincerity of the Little Prince. Kind of like that. Each card shows something completely absurd – flying ships, inflatable castles, sentient clouds, trees playing soccer – but rendered with such loving care that it emits palpable warmth.
At first you think it is next to impossible to make your cards match others’ descriptions but soon you recognize that it is the emotion behind each description that you are trying to address and the cards speak that universal language fluently. Sadness, happiness, joy, doubt – so many complex emotions hide behind these images. I’ve seen reactions to the cards being flipped open range from uncontrollable laughter to wooow, to pensive looks into nothing or silent nodding.
It lets your imagination roam as you are coming up with a creative, non-obvious way of how to describe that couple dancing atop a waterfall and sometimes what you come up with will surprise even yourself. Guessing the correct card is also fascinating as you try to get into a specific mindset and figure out what that specific person would put down for that description.
Dixit truly engages people and it has been an absolute hit with several different groups I have introduced it do. The enjoyment is not purely internally aimed – the social interactions stemming from the discussions of the cards are engaging and entertaining. Children, especially those with a creative bend, have a great time with it and it is amazing in that it transcends language barriers with ease. An average game lasts for about half an hour and usually immediately leads to a next one.
The one drawback is that the variety in the base 84 cards you see is not endless and it might become somewhat repetitive. Lucky for you there are several expansions out, each adding a new deck of 84 cards to the base game, sure to prolong your enjoyment of this gem.
I usually strive to make my reviews more objective, but this game defies objectivity. I love its’ spirit, its’ approach, its’ art and how it makes me feel and think. It brings back that artist inside that Picasso was talking about. If you want to stretch your creativity, get in touch with your inner child, or just have a really fun time – I strongly suggest you give Dixit a try.