Spiel des Jahres, anyone?
For us non-German speakers in the community, the English translation is: “Game of the Year.” The Spiel des Jahres Award—the international game board version of an Oscar or a Grammy—has been given since 1978. Rubik’s Cube was a “special category” Spiel des Jahres Award winner in 1980.
Many Deerfield students and staff may not realize that the Boyden Library has acquired an impressive collection of games over the past year. Some games, like chess or backgammon, will be familiar to almost everyone. Others may be entirely new to most community members. A remarkable number in the collection are Spiel des Jahres winners or finalists:
The Settlers of Catan (winner, 1995)
Carcassonne (winner, 2001)
Ticket to Ride (winner, 2004)
Dominion (winner, 2009)
Pandemic (finalist, 2009)
Dixit (winner, 2010)
Forbidden Island (finalist, 2011)
Hanabi (winner, 2013)
Throughout this upcoming school year, I will write some short game reviews for The Scroll, to encourage the investigation and enjoyment of the Library’s exceptional game collection. The subject of this issue’s game review is Dixit.
The essence of gameplay:
1. Players are each dealt four cards, all of which contain colorful, imaginative artwork. During each round of the game, players take turns being the provider of a clue to one of their cards. The spoken clue can be a word, phrase, sentence, song—just about anything. The clue should be good, but not too good, as you will see.
2. For the example picture above, providing a clue like “A small girl on top of a stack of books” would be a poor strategy, as the other players would easily pick out the card. Something like “Knowledge is power,” “All that glitters,” or “Late Tuesday night in Ro-Sho” would be more appropriate. Let’s say the clue is “Knowledge is power.”
3. The other players choose the card from their own hands that best suits the original card’s clue—again, “Knowledge is power”—and give their cards (face down) to the clue-giver.
4. The clue-giver shuffles the original card and the donated cards, then sets them out (face up) on the table. The other players try to guess which card is the original.
5. If at least one, but not all, of the players guesses the correct original card, the clue-giver scores maximum points. If everyone, or no one, picks the correct card, the clue-giver earns zero points. The rules provide ways for the other players to score points, too.
6. The played cards are discarded, card hands are replenished to four apiece, and the next person acts as the clue giver. Continue until someone scores 30 points. Or simply enjoy the fun and don’t keep track of points at all.
Dixit is a fantastic party game. The banter around why people chose certain cards, or provided certain clues, will likely generate lots of laughter and lighthearted entertainment. It works passably well with three people, but really shines with four to six. Rounds move quickly, and there are few important strategic decisions to be made. A complete game to 30 points can be enjoyed in 30-40 minutes. Even with a relatively small deck of 84 cards in the base set, you could play the game dozens of times and not find the game experience in any way repetitive. You won’t find an equivalent of building hotels, moving tokens around a board, or conquering continents in Dixit. Instead, witty, creative thinking is at the core.
Dixit could easily serve as a clever social icebreaker as students get to know each other during the opening weeks of school. A short, lively game with the possibility of making some new friends—what’s not to like?
Games can be checked out of the Library for three days. Although some questions about the specifics of game play can be solved via instructional videos on Youtube, I would be happy to help anyone who needs some coaching to get up to speed with the rules of any of the games in the Boyden Library’s collection. Happy gaming!