Where The Laws of Reason & Logic No Longer Apply - Dixit Odyssey Review

Most party games these days seem to be re-hashes of word describing games, charades, quizzes, etc and don't get me wrong I enjoy those to an extent, but I'd like to see a bigger variety out there. Dixit however is something new (at least in my experience). Rather than requiring acting skills or English language skills, you're stuck in a situation where you have to strain the the creative thinking side of your brain to describe images but not so that everyone can get it. . . . confused? Let me explain.

"I do question why they went with this cover art - it seems really random. . . . though maybe that was it!"


Designer: Jean Louis Roubira (2011)
Publisher: Libellud
# of Players: 3-12
Ages: 8+
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 94/7.63
Dice Tower People’s Choice Rank: 28
Category: Party Game

A Guilty Pleasure


I hear that a lot of hardcore gamers who play mostly strategic Euro's or long-winded Ameritrash games have Dixit on their list of quality games more as a guilty pleasure than a sincerely good game. There seems to be the mentality that party games aren't "proper" games, which I don't follow at all. To make a party game that's different, fun and replayable takes as much thought and care as any other game. However it's interesting that Dixit is the game that they focus on when making this statement.


There have been several versions of the game but Odyssey is usually the edition of choice over the original, mainly because it features a scoring board (the original had it as part of the game box which was unwieldy) and can take up to 12 players rather than 6. Yes, that's 12 players at the same time and believe me when I say I've played this game with 11 multiple times in the last week on holiday so I've covered the full spectrum. I see no reason why anyone would buy the original Dixit over Odyssey in my opinion unless they were literally going for every card possible.

In Dixit each player has a hand of jumbo sized cards with obscure storyboard imagery on them. And when I say obscure, I mean obscure, you can have anything from a small child flying on a paintbrush to a 3 headed snake serving drinks in a bar to a moon with lots of road signs dotted all over it. You do get a lot of "what on earth" moments from everyone when they are dealt their starting hand.

"Quite the wide mix and trust me there are much more surreal choices in the box"

Each player takes it in turns to be the Storyteller who gives a clue about a card that they have chosen in their hand. The clue can be verbal, a gesture, a sound, anything they can think of. Each other player then chooses a card in their hand which they believe best matches the clue that has been given and passes it to the Storyteller (anyone thinking Beyond Balderdash at this point?)

The cards are shuffled and laid out next to the scoring board and each non-Storyteller player then has to vote secretly on which card they believe was the Storyteller's original choice. All votes are then shown and points are awarded depending on the votes given:
- If "some" of the players guess right, they and the Storyteller gain 3 points
- If "all" or "none" of the players guess right, all non-Storyteller players gain 2 points
- Bonus points (max 3) are awarded to each player if someone else voted for their card.

These turns rinse and repeat until one player reaches 30 points to win the game.

"On your marks......get set.......GO!....Yellow Yellow he's our bunny, if he can't do it, I'm down fifty bucks!"

Defining the Level of Obscurity

The unique aspect of this game is that as you can see above, you are aiming to only have some players guess the correct answer and you have to have at least one player get it right. This means that you have to think carefully about your clue. If it's too obscure, no-one will get it right without blind luck (especially if someone else's card fits your clue better than your own), but if it's too obvious, then everyone will get it right and you lose out anyway.

"The scoring board doubles as a useful aid for selecting which card to vote for"

It's a cool concept and it really stretches your level of creative thinking to come up with the clues, but unfortunately you do get cases where people have serious AP issues if they struggle to come up with clues. I'm tempted to introduce a 60 second house rule to combat this - not sure how it would go down but it is a pain having to lie there and wait for someone to come up with a clue, especially when the result is some boring one-worded clue that's too broad. I've been known to struggle with clue giving as well though so it's not entirely one-sided!

Even the other players have a role when they are not the Storyteller - it's as much fun giving a clue as it is to pick out a card from your hand to try and fool the other players. You can rack up some serious points if you can deduce the right answer and throw your friends off the scent. However this isn't always easy - sometimes you have conveniently the perfect card to fit the clue, but on others you won't have any hope of anyone guessing your card. This is more down to how boring or strict the clue is though.

Comprehension is Optional


The big reveal will always get some laughs from players as people try to understand why such cards could possibly relate to the clue in question, but the best part is when once the voting is concluded, everyone asks about the reasons why the card was chosen. You can get some weird and wonderful reasons why the card was picked although this can be a detriment to the serious gamer. I've played with many different groups and the types of clues and reasoning used varies considerably. I've played with my family where the clues are a wide mix, but one gaming group was incredibly cryptic with their ideas and my giant 11 person group, I just wondered what they were all smoking as reasons for choosing cards fell to such random and illogical ways of thinking. Even worse when people actually get their guess right and that makes little sense either!


And that is one of the biggest considerations as to whether you will like Dixit or not. If you are a serious gamer, you might struggle to enjoy your time when you're thinking everyone else is dumb for their choices. I don't think of myself as a serious gamer, but even I will burst a few brain cells trying to comprehend some choices made. The game is dependent on the group you are playing with - the wrong group can break the game, though this is pretty rare from experience. The most fun I've had was with a group who liked using riddles and cryptic phrases for their clues - they made sense and the game felt like the first interaction between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum from The Hobbit - basic one-word or focused clues won't leave much scope for imagination though.

However, Dixit is a party game and by definition of a party game, you shouldn't really be going into it with a serious competitive attitude, but as gamers we're all inherently competitive in some way so it's hard to avoid it. You'll quickly forget any issues with reasons given when the next Storyteller acts and you come back to laughter galore with the card choices. I always like to chuck in a couple of "this card reminds me of" choices just to bring the game back to mayhem (why does a bunny in a space suit remind you of me?).

Repetition, But In A Good Way

The base game only comes with 84 cards and believe me when you're in game with multiple players, you will cycle through these FAST! You have 6 cards to begin with and each round you'll each get another card. However, that's not a bad thing for once - because with each subsequent time, comes a different player or perhaps the same player but with a different clue so there is no limit to the variety in the game. But if 84 is not enough (and for me it wasn't) there are several mini-expansions, each with 84 cards to bolster the game - I believe there are 3 to date and I've yet to open the third that was released last month. Be warned however that if you sleeve the cards (and I recommend doing so in this game as the card stock isn't that strong) you might have to chuck the box insert if you've got every expansion.

" The board sits neatly on top - this contains the main game and 2 expansions - unfortunately there's no way I'm going to get the third expansion in without chucking the insert. :-( "

As such with expansions included it's never a bad thing to play this game multiple times and believe me this will happen. I introduced this to my family who are only "basic" gamers at best as the first new game from their perspective as I bring my gateway games home for visits. We played this 6 times in one weekend and before my next visit, they had already bought the game themselves. My recent holiday with the big 11 resulted in 5-6 games as well - they didn't even consider the other wealth of games in my bag, they were just hooked on this! If anything you need to set aside a break where you put Dixit away just to avoid burnout because everyone wants to play it!

Verdict


Dixit is my current party game of choice and considering that I really like Beyond Balderdash as well, that's high praise from me, but I will say that it can be group dependent. A boring group with little imagination isn't going to get the full enjoyment from this game, but if you've got some friends with creative minds or a weird sense of humour, then this is going to be an instant hit.


It scales well even up to 12 players (with the exception of 3, that's just pointless), but the rules come with a team variant should you want to tone things down a bit which works just as well. I find the ideal setup to be 6 players. Analysis Paralysis is another potential issue, but a simple timer could resolve that problem.

The game isn't that expensive, there's plenty of room for expansion and even with those costs included, you're going to get your money's worth just from the sheer amount of repeated plays you'll get - it's on par with games like Love Letter for value for money. An ideal choice for families and friend groups - you can't go wrong with Dixit . . . . . oh yeah and never be ashamed of liking or owning party games in your collection!!







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