Hope you guys are all enjoying Roll to Review’s Month of Critical Hits, this is the second last review of the event and it’s the party game classic: Dixit. If you have trouble pronouncing the name just imagine owning a dog named Richard. I told my wife that joke, and she looked at me like I belonged in an insane asylum. It was a nice change from her usual I can’t wait until you’re in an insane asylum look.
For this review we’ll be talking about Dixit: Odyssey. When compared to the original Dixit, Odyssey has a scoreboard that can be removed from the box, some punch cards with pegs for voting, and plays up to 12 players. Ultimately, it’s the nicer version, but they play identical – except Odyssey has rules for larger player counts.
Dixit: Odyssey is a 3-12 player, light-weight party game designed by Jean-Louis Roubira and published by Libellud. It simulates walking through an art exhibit with your friends and coming up with witticisms or crude humour about the art to enhance your enjoyment. Only Dixit turns this into a competitive game, let’s take a look:
How to Play
Everyone is given a hand of six picture cards, and the scoreboard is laid upon the table. The candles are lit, and the sounds of the woods Spotify playlist starts to play. Finally, and most importantly every player receives a cute bunny meeple to track their score. Now, it’s time to listen.
Each turn, one player, in a puff of smoke, transforms into the ‘Story Teller.’ They pick a card, any card, and create a wonderous tale about it. Relaying to the other players through a tapestry of words, a melodious humming, or an unintelligible series of grunts or Trump tweets.
Players listen, ingesting every word, and when silence finally overcomes the Story Teller they each repay the entertainer with a card. Not just any card, but the one that they best believe fits the constructed fiction. The Story Teller collects the cards, then with all the deviousness of a caravan of carnies, they shuffle and place them against the scoreboard, numbering them from one to twelve.
Using the punchboard and pegs, each player chooses the card they think is the Story Teller’s. After everyone has locked in their vote, there can be no changes. Only then can the Story Teller reveal their card, and the scoring begins:
- If everyone, or no one guessed the Story Teller’s card, then everyone but the Story Teller are granted 2 points.
- If only a few, some, most of the players guessed the Story Teller’s card, then both the people who guessed the correct card, and the Story Teller, receive 3 points.
- For each incorrect card guessed, the owner of that card receives a point, up to a maximum 3 bonus points.
Once scoring is done, the Story Teller retreats into their former selves, and the process starts anew with the next player assuming the role. Continue until one player reaches 30 points and then forevermore they shall be known as The One True Story Teller. Or maybe, just until the next game.
Can you put a price on laughter? Yes. It’s about 50 AUD and 10 AUD shipping, which coincidently is the average price of Dixit in Australia. Because that’s what you’ll get out this game, fun, laughter, and a lot of amazing artwork. To me, that’s all I need from a board game.
The way the scoring system is designed is an interesting way of forcing players into complicated clues. It’s easy to get people to guess your card, and it’s easier to get them to guess incorrectly, but to make it so only some will guess your card, that’s difficult. It forces you to disguise your clue, give it an air of mystery: What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees, Up, up it goes, And yet never grows? Solving these clues rewards players with the feeling of beating a riddle, while tricking people into the wrong answer is equally rewarding. And for those who got it wrong, well, there’s always next time.
When players take full advantage of the clue giving freedom Dixit provides, it becomes the best game in my collection. Seriously. When someone gives the clue: my last Tinder date, and everyone puts down ridiculous cards like a velociraptor taking a selfie. Or the clue: what Dave looks like when he wakes up, and there’s a sad pirate fishing from a wine glass. The game cannot be beat in terms of sheer enjoyment. To it help get to this level, I recommend theming different rounds like: different emotions, terrible super heroes, or fictional sex positions.
Another key part of what makes this game what it is, is the reveal. If you’ve worked with anyone who does problem solving, or done it yourself, you’ll know there’s a compulsion to describe how you solved a problem. That happens here as well. After the Story Teller reveals their card, and everyone groans or cheers depending on their result. Then each player recounts their reasoning for why they picked the card they did, or the clue they gave, and between juxtaposition and the absurdity of the choices made, you can’t help but to laugh.
It helps that the card artwork is phenomenal. Even if you’re not a fan of the style, the images are otherworldly and surreal. It turns the deck into a PEZ dispenser, where you pull back the top card, and a new bit of candy comes out. There’s an excitement to seeing each card, as they are so deliciously interesting, to the point where you don’t even need a game system around to enjoy them.
The other fantastic thing about Dixit is the end of turn judging is objective. Similar games have someone take the role of judge, holding the point system at ransom with their taste. In Dixit, you either get it right or wrong, there are no grey areas, just vibrantly coloured pictures.
Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of plays where Dixit falls flat. More than most other board games, the amount of enjoyment and fun you’ll get out of this game is based on creativity of the players, and their enthusiasm. If players are more logical, or have trouble creating clues, then the game either stalls, or you end up feeling bad whenever the struggling player takes a turn.
While the scoring system invites complex clues, it also opens the door to a less inviting strategy. Namely the Story Teller relying on in jokes, pop culture references and memories that only a few people within the group would know, leaving the rest of the group out of the fun. Like one time my friend used Bobson Dugnutt as the clue, and man that was good. Haha, it’s still funny! Anyway, what was I talking about?
Then there is the issue with dud cards. While most cards are fantastic, interesting to look at, and have multiple meanings. Others are straight boring, how they’ve managed to cardify eight hours of golf watching, would be an achievement, if it wasn’t so detrimental to the game. These cards clog up your hand and force you to either give an uninteresting clue or play them on an unrelated clue just to get rid of them.
Although 84 cards may seem like a lot, it doesn’t take long to go through a deck of cards. As mentioned, part of the fun is just looking at the artwork, so the game loses a little bit when you’re recycling through already seen cards. It needs at least one expansion to keep the artwork fresh. However, this is a rabbit hole you might not want to go down, because you can easily find yourself buying all eight. Trust me.
Speaking of expansions, you should be a bit careful with which ones you pick up, as you might not enjoy the style as much. Each expansion tends to have a different artist, with that comes different techniques, interpretations, and in some cases different mediums. I like and enjoy them all, however, it’s something you should be aware of if you’re planning to invest.
Lastly, if Dixit has one clear influence, it’s Star Wars. The naming convention is as bad, if not worse, and they do themselves no favours by dropping the numbering system half-way through. With only a couple versions with scoreboards attached, it makes it difficult to know which ones you’ve already bought, and which ones you should buy. To make it easier, let’s break it down:
- Dixit – is the original Dixit, and comes with scoreboard, meeples and rules, for three to six players.
- Dixit: Origins – is just the cards from the first Dixit.
- Dixit 2: Quest – Card only expansion.
- Dixit 3: Journey – Card only expansion.
- Dixit: Odyssey – is the fourth Dixit, and comes with scoreboard, tokens, and rules for three to twelve players.
- Dixit: Odyssey – Card only expansion
- Dixit: Daydreams – Card only expansion.
- Dixit: Memories – Card only expansion.
- Dixit: Revelations – Card only expansion.
- Dixit: Harmonies – Card only expansion.
- Dixit Jinx – I have no idea, I don’t think anyone else does either. Anyway, it’s unrelated.
With these expansions there’s no clear indicator showing which card comes from which expansion. Hopefully, you never have to separate them out, but if you do: God speed.
Dixit is one of the oldest games in my collection, and it still gets played frequently. Because of its easy to learn rules, and casualness, you can pull it out with your family and have a great time. Then the next night, you can pull it out with your adult friends and watch the game turn not safe for work in a heartbeat. It’s an all-purpose game, and one that I’ve had some of my best gaming memories with. For that I give it my highest recommendation – a Critical Hit Rating. With the caveat that I wouldn’t play it with more than 6-7, as at that point the number of cards turns picking the Story Teller’s card from figuring out a riddle to wildly guessing. While the rules for teams, or negating cards can be fun, it doesn’t beat good, old, vanilla Dixit.
I started this review late because I thought: it’s impossible to write a lot about Dixit. How wrong I was, I apologise! It’s my go to party game, what’s yours?