After the success of his last Safe For Wife article, Brad Cummings is back for more, this time with Spiel des Jahres winner Dixit. Safe For Wife, focuses on reviewing games with Non-Gamers specifically in mind, but that’s enough from me, here’s Brad…
Dixit was awarded Spiel Des Jahres this year. It is is a party game and, thus, winning game of the year is an interesting development. Most “gamers” have some aversion to party games, but I think Dixit is unique in its ability to create a bridge between gamers and non-gamers. But is it Safe For Wife?
SFW Meter: 10/10
It is a party game. It includes surreal art. My wife can watch me again and again fail to give a decent clue. We can laugh at the clues and pictures others use. This game is perfect for my wife, and I believe other non-gaming wives and family. It is a party game that takes an Apples to Apples concept to a new level.
Rule Complexity: 9/10
The rules for Dixit can be summarized in a small one page rulebook. Each player is dealt a hand of cards from the deck of picture cards. The player whose turn it is to be the storyteller says a phrase or word about one of his cards and then puts it face down. Each other player looks at their own hand and puts down a card face down that they feel could apply to the word or phrase the storyteller shared. The storyteller shuffles all the cards and puts them in a row face up. Players then decide which card they think was the storytellers and put down their voting chip with the appropriate number. The votes are then shown and points are given. The storyteller gets points if someone guessed his card, and those who guessed his card get points. Other players get points for those who guessed their cards. If no one guesses the storytellers card or if everyone does, then the storyteller gets no points.
The rules, as you can see, are very simple and attractive to non-gamers because it is a party game and shares many mechanics with Apples to Apples. What makes this game unique is that it can appeal to gamers more than other party games. Apples to Apples is a fun game but one of its weaknesses is that the scoring and game outcome are almost entirely subjective. In my mind the game is a mental game, trying to figure out which card will be the one that the person picking will like, do they like humor or will they take your card literally. In Dixit I feel that there are more choices. Not only do you have to trick others, but you cannot get tricked yourself. As the storyteller you don’t choose anything, but you must strike a balance with your clues as to not be too broad or narrow. These new choices create a party game that I feel can have a broader appeal, and will feel, to a gamer, that you are playing a game not participating in an activity.
Components and Size: 9/10.
- 84 Large Art Cards
- 36 voting tiles (6 for each player)
- 6 Wooden Animeeple rabbits (1 for each player)
- Scoring track (in the box)
The production quality of Dixit is very high. The tiles are well cut and made, the board is adorable and so are the little rabbit meeples. The card art is amazing and is what initially attracted both my wife and I to this game. Each card in this game is a work of art. I could see each one hung up for display (albeit some of them would only fit in motels). My only complaints would be that some of the components are unnecessary. The scoring track is cute but most times a pad of paper seems easier. The price for the game may seem a little high ($25 to $30), but rest assured that all of the components are good quality.
Length of Play: 10/10.
For a party game, length is not usually a major concern. However, if a game just keeps going then people will stay all night at your house, wearing out their welcome. My wife and I love that Dixit has a controlled timing built into the game. Once all of the cards in the game have been drawn, the game ends and scores are totaled. This usually takes about 30 minutes, depending on the number of players. After one game, our friends almost always request another, and the advantage of Dixit is that you know you are only committing 30 more minutes. Other party games without such clear endings can go on for hours, and you must forcibly cut that Game of Things game after 3 hours. Dixit avoids these problems.
It is a party game and I am not sure how important theme is. However, when introducing this game to my wife and others, I have noticed that they initially assume that theme is somehow fantasy related due to the box art. One friend commented, “Is this one of your nerd games?” And even though in my mind I am screaming, “No, no. This is for you! If this was my game night I would be pulling out Castle Ravencloft or Catan or something,” most people’s initial reaction is that the game has some sort of fantasy theme. Not a major concern, but something you may want to be aware of when introducing the game to a non-gamer wife or others.
Direct Conflict or the Screw You Factor: 10/10.
Dixit is a game where you can laugh at one another. It is game where my wife can tease me for giving a too obvious clue...again. It is a game where I can be surprised by my little sister using abstract thinking in her clue, at 8 years old. It is a game about interaction and, as I mentioned in an early section, it encourages interaction that uses both thinking and luck. You feel like you have some control over whether you lose or win the game.
Dixit is perfect for a non-gamer wife and non-gamer family. It is a party game that is familiar and fun. Where I feel Dixit really excels is in its ability to bridge a gap between gamers and non-gamers by creating a party game that also includes elements of strategy and thought. There were many good games in the running for Spiel Des Jahres this year and the fact that Dixit won is a good sign for family gaming.
Well, that’s about it folks. Don’t forget to vote in the poll and let us know how many games is too many!