Every year, the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award is presented to an outstanding German board game – and because Germany is the acknowledged world leader in addictive and inventive board games, the Spiel des Jahres has become the most prominent award in the gaming community. It is nearly always awarded to a cunning strategic game (past winners include Dominion, Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan), but in 2010 the prize went to a surprise contender: Dixit, a stunningly simple storytelling game from Asmodee Games played with 84 cards and three rules.
In Dixit, each player has a hand of six cards. When it’s your turn to be the storyteller, you choose a card, and make up a sentence, phrase, word, sound, song, or whatever you like to describe it. Then you play your card face-down, and all the other players choose cards from their hands to match your description. Finally, all the cards are revealed, and players try to guess which is really the storyteller’s card.
The twist is this: the storyteller gets points for every correct guess, but if every player chose the right card, the storyteller gets no points. The storyteller must therefore be careful to hint toward their card without giving it away. This leads to some ingenious clues: “I can’t wait to grow up.” “We may be left behind.” “Excess.” This aspect of Dixit really makes it stand out from other storytelling, bluffing and voting games.
But the major selling point of Dixit was the gorgeous, surreal and endlessly fascinating illustrations of painter Marie Cardouat featured on the cards.
Simply browsing the deck is a genuine creative joy, inviting meditation and speculation. Playing the game with them allows players to exercise their imaginative subconscious, making surprising connections between image and concept.
Now, Asmodee has released Dixit Odyssey, the first full-sized follow-up to Dixit. Odyssey can be fully combined with Dixit (and the earlier expansion Dixit 2), or played completely independently. In addition to 84 new images, now illustrated by artist Pieroin the distinctive Dixit style, Dixit Odyssey provides enough material for 12 players (originally Dixit accommodated 6) and simplified scoreboards and voting mechanisms.
And, of course, the cards are still beautiful.