When you think of family game night, you probably think about board games like Monopoly, Operation, and Boggle. If played often, many long-winded games can drag, become repetitive and lose their fun. But this doesn’t stop me from loving them. Luckily, as an adult, I’ve found a solid group of friends who love board games as much as I do.
Since my childhood, board games have come a long way. Whereas games used to be about beating the opponent and placing obstacles in your competitors’ path, there has been a shift in the mentality behind current board games from the goal of winning to an enjoyment of the journey to get there. One game in particular that supports this idea is Dixit, created by game company Libellud.
Dixit features a simple board, colored rabbit pieces for each player, and intricately surrealist-style illustrated cards. Each player is dealt six cards, one person is the Storyteller and, using one of the cards in their hands, picks something that they associate with the card which they announce to the rest of the players. It could be a word, phrase, song lyric or even a sound. The Storyteller then places the card face down. Everyone else also selects a card from their hand that they connect with that same word, phrase, or sound and also places them face down.
The Storyteller then shuffles the cards and everyone else except the Storyteller has to vote in secret on which card they think is the Storyteller’s. When the votes are revealed, there’s a catch. If everyone votes for the right card or nobody guesses correctly, the Storyteller doesn’t win any points. But if some people vote for the card, they do get points. Also, everyone else who gets a vote on their card gets points. The idea behind this is that the Storyteller’s clue isn’t too easy or too difficult.
What’s so fascinating about this game is that it’s not just about the end goal of winning, but about getting inside players’ heads. The fun lies in learning how your friends’ and family’s minds work. Even more interesting is the cards themselves. There are several different game versions and each has expansion packs, designed by different artists. The cards never show just one simple image, but instead, feature a whole story that could be explained in many ways with entrancing colors and designs. For example, one of my favorite cards features a butterfly with wings made from maps flying below towers of books. Another of my favorites has a female blacksmith looking angry in the middle of hammering a metal heart.
Dixit (which is Latin for: [he/she] says) makes for a great party game as it tends to draw out people’s personalities and perceptions. For example, one of the cards features a couple in a cage hovering over the ground, while below an austere rabbit wears a soldier’s uniform and carries a gun. Is it guarding prisoners, has it captured humans and are rabbits taking over the world? Anything could be possible. The other wonderful aspect of this game is the diversity of people (and animals for that matter) featured on the cards. These aren’t stereotypical fairytale-type drawings. There are clearly endless interpretations here.
What makes Dixit even more of a unique game is that it’s universally popular across the globe. The cards and game pieces themselves don’t feature a particular language, making it an easy game to play no matter what language you speak. Dixit has won numerous awards in France, Spain, Quebec and more, including the 2010 Game of Year Awards in Finland and Germany.
If you enjoy a slightly slower paced, more thoughtful game that integrates logic and imagination, I highly recommend trying Dixit at least once. Playing with couples can also be an interesting relationship test. Though my partner and I would often guess each other’s cards, there were times where we were both totally off base and that can be interesting to discuss too.