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My Dixit houserules and practices

Dixit is a cardgame from 2008. Here is how I like to play it.

Houserules

Drawing, not dealing

Everyone is responsible for drawing new cards as they play cards, instead of there being a “deal cards” phase. Don’t worry about getting out of sync, there is no advantage to having too few cards. Just draw up to handsize when you notice it.

Honest guessing

You have to guess the card that you really thought that player played. Even though there are often situations where that’s strategically bad (because you want to give that player fewer or more points). That’s why this house rule: guess honestly. This is obv an unenforcable rule unless you are The Shadow that knows what lurks in the heart, but, I find that having an explicit policy is good.

Discard plays

When you don’t have an OK play, it’s allowed to play your worst card to get it out of your hand. You don’t have to play your least-bad card. However, if you have a card that’s even remotely OK, play it. Obviously, for this and the “honest guessing” rule, be Postel about it: check yourself but don’t be a goof that lectures others about it.

A quiet time

Do not let people kid around about the clues (or go “I don’t know what that is”) until after the round has been scored. That can spoil someone’s clue! Of course say it again if they didn’t hear it or they forgot it.

Practices

Split scoring

Do the two or three point thing first (“Too easy”, “Too hard”, or “Just right”), and only once those points have been handed out, do the extra single points.

The Teach

The three points I like make sure to convey right away with a new group is the drawing not dealing, the split score, and the honest guessing policy. Anything else here can wait, or be shown by example.

Topsy-turvy

Gather all the cards that people have played in the turn, make sure−by looking at the backsides of the cards−that they’re all facing the same direction before you shuffle them.

Also, flip them up quickly (either one by one in rapid sequence, or as one combined flop), and then let people take them in all at once, in good time. Do not do the thing where you say the clue for each flip, and especially don’t do that if you say the clue in a different way each time.

“Guess” your own card

When using the original tiles, which I like (over the pegboard from Odyssey), once everyone has selected a tile, it’s good if people place them on that card. (People should take care to not do that until every has selected a tile, of course.)

I like it when the clue-giver also marks a card, the correct one. That way people can see right away what happened.

Deductive scoring

Sometimes it can be a fun minigame to see how few questions you need to ask before scoring. For example, you know that people don’t guess on the card they’ve played (that’s not allowed) and you know that they haven’t played the card that you yourself played. That way you can, by process of elimination, suss out who should get extra single-points. A fun party trick.

Downtime thinking

When there is downtime, think of your next few plays when it’s gonna be your turn to say a clue. Have a few spares in case those cards you have in mind leave your hand before then (do not hang on to them in case there is a perfect fit for someone else’s card).

Don’t neglect a good guess

I’ve sometimes done well in this game even when most of my clues have been too easy or too hard, if I’ve been consistently good at guessing.

References

One thing that has made me sour on the game is references. That’s when you know another player has read the same book or seen the same show as you have, and that the others haven’t, and you give clues that really tie in to that reference. This problem, I don’t have an answer for. Not only is sprinkling in some references fun, it’s also hard to say what even is a reference. All language, expressions, words… it’s all references in some sense. The problem is that every injoke or nod can feel like a jab for someone else. This game is best played with strangers, which naturally leads you into relying less on references, and also when there are references, they’re a way for strangers to bond over a shared experience.