Gaming Unplugged: Dixit goes on an epic Odyssey

November 18, 2011

One-half expansion and one-half revision, Dixit Odyssey continues the fine quality of Jean-Louis Roubira’s award-winning Dixit gameplay. Like the original Dixit and its expansion, Odyssey contains 84 cards depicting dreamlike images, bringing the complete Dixit arsenal to around 250 cards. Fortunately, Odyssey‘s box insert was specially designed to hold all of these cards, with three divisions meant to contain each release’s stack of cards individually if that’s the way you have them organized. This insert comes at the expense of the idyllic scoreboard of the original, which is a minor loss at best. The new scoreboard is literally more straightforward, just thirty spaces arranged in a row on a simple folding board.

In addition to the extra cards, Odyssey also allows for additional players. Up to a full dozen can now participate, doubling the maximum without teams being involved. The sides of the scoreboard have numbers that serve as “parking spaces” for the submitted cards each round, which keeps a potentially chaotic array better organized. The voting process has also been more streamlined to accommodate for the larger number of players. Instead of individual voting tokens, each player is given a colored board with twelve numbered holes and two voting pegs. The second peg is only used for games of more than six, to give players a better chance of identifying the storyteller’s card among the large number of choices. Scoring with seven or more is also modified slightly; limits are placed on bonus points gained for others selecting your card, and you can earn a bonus point if you can correctly pick out the storyteller’s card with only one vote. Other than these adjustments, this version of Dixit works as normal, ending when one player has accumulated 30 points.

Odyssey also contains two variant play styles: “Dixit Party” and “Team Dixit”. The “party” variant is for six or more players, and is essentially an inverted version of normal Dixit. Instead of selecting a card and issuing a description, the turn’s current storyteller issues a description first, without anyone looking at their cards; players then have to select the card in their hand that they feel best matches the description. Instead of trying to identify the storyteller’s card, in this variant the voting is to determine which card(s) best fits the given description; points are awarded to everyone who votes for a given card, as long as it is more than one player (e.g., three players voting for the same card earns those players three points each) and up to a maximum of five points/votes. However, the current storyteller gets to secretly select one image to be disqualified from voting (by using a red voting peg); any votes cast for that card are lost and no points scored. This creates an interesting dilemma for all players; if the storyteller picks the most obvious choice, there may not be enough other votes to earn points, but even if they don’t the other players might assume that they will and shift their votes accordingly. Once a round is scored, each player draws a card and then passes his hand to the left face-down, giving all players five completely unseen cards for the next round. This process continues until each player has been storyteller once.

“Team Dixit” allows three to six teams of two to play together. The main difference between this variant and regular play is that only one member of each team (and the storyteller’s partner) submits cards to try and match the storyteller’s description. Team members can discuss which of them will submit a card, but they cannot show or otherwise describe cards in hand. Only players who did not submit cards may vote (so in a six-player/three-team game only two players are actually voting), and scoring is the same as in the basic game (without the additional points for seven or more players). Play continues until each player has been storyteller once.

On the whole, Dixit Odyssey is a solid offering, suitable as both an expansion and a stand-alone experience. “Dixit Party” in particular is an interesting twist on the normal play, and allows for a lot of players to have fun over a relatively short time span. The revised box insert is also welcome, although the new scoreboard could stand to have clearer delineations between the scoring rungs; the returning (and slightly different) rabbit meeples span an entire run, and it is easy to accidentally misplace or shift them during the course of play. Still, that is a minor complaint. Dixit has been one of my favorite games for a couple years now, and new additions are always welcome. Dixit Odyssey retails for around $35-40.