Dixit is one of the games that Miss B spends a lot of time enthusing about, but we very rarely get to play. If we have a decent number of players available, we are more likely to play Apples to Apples, which is always a lot of fun, while Dixit, while excellent in concept, can be quite stressful as it is based on some pretty intense psychology which Miss B (and many adults, it must be said) can struggle with.
Anyway, S was away on a business trip recently and came back bearing Dixit Jinx, which comes in a pleasingly small and portable box. Inside there are a pile of double sided cards with a different image on each side; unlike the surreal illustrations in Dixit itself, these images are mostly just abstract patterns or look like extreme close-ups of some stylised pop art image. Dixit Jinx and its elder sibling play very differently, though there is just enough similarity to justify the name connection.
You lay nine of these cards in a three-by-three square in the middle of the table and one of the players uses a second set of cards (which show locations within the square) to select a card. The active player then gives some sort of a clue (usually just a word or two) and the other players have to put their finger onto the card that they think matches the clue, with only one person allowed to point at each card. Whoever guesses right keeps the card as a prize. If nobody guesses correctly, the active player is penalised a card.
Miss B, by the way, wanted the title of this post to be “Jinx!” because that is what you are meant to shout if two people point at the same card at the same time — whoever shouts first wins the right to point at the card alone.
So while Miss B claims to prefer the original Dixit game, this one certainly flows a lot easier, despite the occasional bit of “I meant to point at that one!” frustration. Apart from the odd moment like that (this is probably not a game to play too close to bed time!), it’s enjoyable and certainly easier to get to the table than its elder sibling, largely due to the fact that it really does take about 15 minutes, as stated on the box, and it does work pretty well with just the three of us playing.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7): “I’d say that the original is actually better because it is a 10 out of 10 but this game a 9 out of 10.”
The game: Dixit Jinx (Asmodee), 3 to 6 players aged 8+.
Dobble is basically a super-charged game of snap where you have to do a little more cognitive gymnastics to spot the matches. The game comes with a stack of 55 circular cards, each with eight symbols on them, including things like an igloo, a pair of lips, a clover leaf, and a purple cat. What is clever is that if you take any two cards from the deck there will always be exactly one matching symbol between them. The game comes with five sets of rules to choose from, all of which are variations on trying to spot the matches between cards before your opponents.
We came across the game at the UK Games Expo in May, and since then Miss B has been occasionally asking me to get a copy. I’m not sure why it took me so long, but at last we now have our own Dobble set.
So far we have had several games using two different sets of rules: The Well (the first person to get rid of a pile of cards wins) and The Towering Inferno (the person to acquire the biggest pile of cards wins) and we’ve had a lot of fun with it. We really must try roping S in on a game some time. So far I have won every game (ending up with my brain hurting a bit), but it’s getting closer and it won’t be long before Miss B gets to beat me fair and square.
This is also one of those games that you don’t seem to play one game of. Each game only takes a few minutes, so it is natural to go straight on and play another right away using a different set of rules.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6¾): “It’s a really good game especially because you don’t know what card is coming next unless you look. But that’s cheating. I’d say it’s 9 out of 10.”
The game: Dobble (Asmodee), 2 to 8 players aged 6+.
I have been hearing about 7 Wonders for some time now. It won the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres award a couple of years ago along with more other honours than you could shake a stick at, and is known for its scalability: it takes about the same amount of time to play as a two-player game as it does with seven.
So how does it achieve this? Well, the main mechanic is card drafting. Everyone has a hand of cards. Everyone chooses one to keep and play in front of them, then passes the rest to the next player, in turn receiving a new hand from another player. The cards all interact to allow you to build a civilisation with advances in things like trade, science, religion and warfare plus, of course, building one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
So, despite having heard a lot about this game I had never got around to trying it until we had a friend visiting, who brought around his copy for us to try. It turns out the game is not complicated, but there are quite a few icons and interactions between cards to learn about. But Miss B and I just waded in after a quick explanation and learnt the game as we went along. It all went reasonably well and we managed to both build a pretty decent civilisation (though experienced players may differ!) and finish our respective wonders.
There are pretty tricky decisions to make all the time in this game, but it’s nice that you are continually making progress and improving the tableau of cards in front of you. Even if you can’t do anything with the cards you hold, you can remove something that someone else might want and gain some gold into the bargain. Miss B was, by the end, recognising cards that other people might want and trying to frustrate them. This is something that makes 7 Wonders both fun and agonising!
Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a second game, but I suspect it would have gone really well. Both Miss B and I really enjoyed playing and would certainly have another go if given the opportunity. 7 Wonders is definitely high on my wish list, but there is a lot to be said for not having some of the games we really like as it means we can look forward to playing them when we see friends who have them.
The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 6½): “7 Wonders is 9½ out of 10. I’m saying that because it’s not got enough detail in it. I like the pictures, I like how it works, I just think you should have -2 counters as well.”
The game: 7 Wonders (Asmodee), 2 to 7 players, aged 10+.
I think it’s fair to say that playing a trivia game with a six-year-old is probably not really cricket. You really can’t expect her to know when the first antibiotic was discovered (to be fair, though, I don’t know either), but she requested we played Timeline, so why not?
This is actually quite a sweet little trivia game. You get a heap of cards with a title (something that was discovered, invented, built, etc.) and an illustration on one side, and on the other it’s the same apart from the addition of a date (the year that thing was discovered, invented, built, etc.). You have a few cards and the aim is to get rid of your cards by taking it in turns to add them to the right position in a growing timeline of cards in the middle of the table, flipping the card to see if you were right. If you are wrong you get another card.
With Miss B, we’ve been playing that she gets a couple fewer cards than the adults, and I’ll give her a hint of a couple of places I think the card might go (along with the caveat that I may be completely wrong). Armed with that information, she has demonstrated an unnerving instinct for this game and has won three of the four games we have played so far as a result!
I’m astounded that that Timeline has proven so popular with Miss B. I suppose from her point of view it’s a guessing game and we get to talk about the things that crop up on the cards, so it’s interesting from that point of view.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6): “I liked it better this time because even though I didn’t know it that well I did it right at the end. The best thing about the game is some of the time when I get it wrong I might even get a card that I know where to put.”
The game: Timeline (Asmodee), 2 to 8 players aged 8+.
A few days back we had a lovely day of gaming with friends, with a total of five adults and five kids. The afternoon saw several games get played, including one that I had been wanting to play for some time, Dixit.
Dixit is a lovely, visual game that needs at least three people to make it worth playing. The idea is that one person chooses a card from a selection of beautiful illustrations in his or her hand and gives some sort of clue to describe it. The other players choose one of their own cards that, hopefully, could match that clue, and then everyone tries to guess which of the shuffled and revealed cards was the original choice. People who guess correctly get points, as do people who have their card chosen; however, the first player gets nothing if everyone chooses their card.
Now, this last point is the key one when playing with many youngsters as at Miss B’s age they can tend to be very literal. Hence we had a point when Miss B had a card with lots of letters of the alphabet on it, so her clue was “alphabet”, which was rather obvious when the cards were revealed. This could get a bit frustrating, but luckily the game is enchanting enough (and relatively quick) that it remained fun throughout.
I’m definitely sold on Dixit now. It’s kind of a more visual and more creative version of Apples to Apples, so I’ll definitely be getting hold of a copy for those social gaming moments. There are a couple of variant starter sets available, so I am planning to buy a different version to the one our friends own.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6): “I think it’s 10 out of 10. It was quite hard because the first time I did it I chose my own one because I didn’t understand properly. I liked the rabbits racing. I wonder what we’re going to get.”
The game: Dixit (Asmodee), 3 to 6 players aged 8+.