Saturday, 1 September 2012

He said/she said: a Dixit shill

Normally, you would run and hide from a Spiel des Jahres. But in this case that would rob you of a great experience.

Dixit is deceptively simple in rules, and there isn't really a lot of strategy to it. But that is not the point. The point is that you relate on a totally different level to the other players than in almost any other board game.

It all centers about the wonderful cards, that allow multiple interpretations and associations. They are slightly quirky in style, and sometimes disconcerting.

Even though there's points to be scored, and generally it pays to be specific (or nobody guesses that your card is the right one), but not too specific (or everybody guesses that your card is the right one), the game is not about the points.

It's about understanding why someone looked at a card and thought "the more things change, the more they stay the same", and trying to come up with a card that comes close to that description. It actively engages your creativity and your sense of association and it allows you to share in the creativity and association of others. It really works at that level and it is refreshing and fun.

There's an obvious comparison to Fabula, also designed by Jean-Louis Roubira, and published by Asmodée. However, while easily holding it's own in the quality of the artwork, Fabula loses when it comes to gameplay.

To fit your part in the bigger story is hard, and the subjectivity of the awards by the storyteller make it easy for the game to break down. The handbook doesn't really help to give you an idea of how to evaluate the stories of the players, and we saw the game bog down.

Competitive storytelling just doesn't work, except in Aye, Dark Overlord, when it's so obviously over the top that it doesn't matter what you say.

In Dixit the competition is not in who is best in tying in an object into a story or roleplaying, but in the intersubjectivity of the group. It doesn't result in sulking, or frustration for those that lack in storytelling skills, but generates discussion on the choice of cards. How hard it was to pick the right card, or why on earth somebody chose *that* card to relate to "when I awoke this morning, I knew this was going to be my day".

I am quite taken to this game. I think it can work in many different groups and spark conversation and interaction. It has the power to bring people together and it has changed the way I think about games, although I don't know yet where it is going.

It might do the same for you.

This post was published earlier on Fortress Ameritrash

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