Tag Archives: Dixit

The Elements of a Worthwhile Board Game Expansion

With the recent, and exciting, news that the famous “Betrayal at House on the Hill” board game is finally getting an expansion, I thought now was a great time to talk about why we board game enthusiasts buy expansions. Expansions are like the DLC in the board game world as they can enhance the original board game and create new and exciting ways to play the game. And like DLC, there can be multiple expansions for the same game (Dixit or Pandemic, anyone?). As such, for all these expansions, what should you look for? Which expansion do you buy and the which one do you leave on the store shelf?

For me, it boils down to two things

  1. The expansion adds more players to the game
  2. The expansion enhances the original board game experience by balancing and diversifying it

The first point is the easiest to understand of the two. When you have a board game that only goes up to four or five players and you have five or six friends over, you can’t use that game! Simple as that (unless you double up). But an expansion throws that out the window and gives you the opportunity to add those players in. The Settler of Catan 5-6 player expansion is a great example of this. By simply adding new tiles and player tokens, the game can now incorporate more people with the sacrifice of a longer game. In all honesty, if I get an expansion, this is my primary reason.

My second point, though, is bit more subjective (your mileage may vary so to speak). Diversifying a board game can add a fresh, new take on a game you’ve played many times. The expansion adds a new element of fun into a now stale system and this is where most board game expansions fall into. To name a few off the top of my head, Night of Werewolf adds new villagers and wolves, Dixit adds new cards, Powergrid adds new maps, and Ticket to Ride adds a freaking Alien and Dinosaur! All of these expansions change up the formula, change up the gameplay, and most importantly, add a new level of fun to your favorite board games!

Along with the diversifying aspect, the gameplay developers will usually try to add balancing aspects as well. Do they work? Well, I would like to say yes but given the extreme diversity of board games and players out there, it’s really hard to say. So to cherry pick from one example, Evolution’s expansion, Flight, does an amazing job balancing a gameplay that can be, at certain times, broken (though to be fair, the 2nd edition of Evolution really cleans up the first game). The Flight expansion allows your animals to evolve flying traits that can counter defensive traits like “climbing” nicely. What’s more, the added capabilities of flight are not overpowered and also have its limits as well. Great expansion, btw.

But I think the best expansions out there are the ones that combine both of these qualifying traits of additional players and diversified gameplay. There are some legitimately good expansions out there that fall under this category. My two favorites are probably the Cosmic Encounter and Pandemic expansions. Cosmic Encounter has possibly the best expansions ever as they add 25 new aliens to an already astonishing diversity of species and they add an additional home system. What’s more, given Cosmic Encounter’s highly encouraged cooperation system, everyone has a chance to get planets even though the game takes longer to make one complete round. Meanwhile, the Pandemic expansion “On the Brink”, not only adds additional gameplay, such as mutant strain, but the additional player serves as a bioterrorist. This bioterrorist brings up the number of players to six and acts as the antagonist to the other five players. This expansion is amazing as you can do so much with it. Pandemic can now be even more challenging, more frustrating, and more fun to boot!

As for Betrayal at House on the Hill?

Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting additional players but I’m really looking forward to the new rooms, haunts, and monsters! I think though if they want to push it to a new level they should incorporate the adventurers’ traits into certain items, rooms, or events. Think about it, Brandon Jaspers likes bugs, well, there should be an event where if a whole bunch of bugs swarm all over you, everyone loses a sanity point unless you’re Brandon Jaspers. It’s funny to me how the personality traits and birthdays are so underutilized by the game itself. I think the creators of Betrayal should really tap into that for the next expansion.

What are your favorite expansions? Let me know!

Let’s get Creative with Dixit!

I got two board games for Christmas; the first was Camel Up and the second one was Dixit. Of these two board games, I think my friends like Dixit more and it’s easy to see why! The game is simple but it promotes a massive amount of creativity. The rules are like a combination of Apples and Apples and Balderdash with a fantasy twist to them. Basically, each player (3-6 usually) gets six cards with very strange, surreal drawings on them. The “active” player picks a card and says a clue that represents his/her card. This clue can be anything from a phrase, a poem, song, word, or, my favorite, sound effects! You lay down that card and all of the other players pick a card from their hand that best matches that description. Once the cards are in, the active player shuffles them and lays them down for all to see.

Now. This is where Dixit’s true unorthodox nature comes through and what makes it stand out. If at least one player, but not all, correctly guess which card is the “active” card, both the active player and the other player(s) get points. But if none or all of the players correctly guess the active player’s card, then the active player gets no points. The beauty of this game comes from your clue. Your clue should not be too obvious or too obscure, you have to find that healthy balance between the two. And that is where the real fun of the game comes in. What clue will you think up of when you see an armored rabbit looking at three doors, or a self-mutilating plant, or planets arranged on a galaxy-size abacus? “The unknown?” “Depression?” “John Lennon?” The possibilities are almost endless.

Image from kazoodletoys.com

Unfortunately, this can also be a drawback for new players as I found it hard initially to get in the swing of things. Mine and other player clues were either too vague or too easy for our opponents so we didn’t score a lot early on. There is definitely a certain mindset you should have when approaching this game similar to how you would tackle Scrabble, Boggle, or Balderdash. But once you find that train of thought you ride it forward towards the Land of Enjoyment!

The other major drawback of the game is the number of playable cards. Although 84 cards is an amazing number, there definitely should be more cards to help satisfy the intense variety of illustrations. Some cards are just so specific that it can be easy to identify them no matter what clue the active player gave. Luckily, there are several expansions to this game that adds more cards to the already large set. Each expansion, from what I can tell, adds 84 more cards making the expansion set well worth it. What’s more, Dixit is one of the few board games that’s organized to handle more expansions in its box which is AMAZING. So many games don’t do this and it’s a bit of a pain to carry two boxes of the same game around. Dixit cuts the BS out and gives you a great box that can easily handle several expansions.

Buy it? Buy this game if you want something light that is easy to learn and not competitive. This game is fun for those who have a creative flair (plus a beer or two helps makes the clues all the more crazy!)

Leave it? Leave the game if you want a strategic game; this is not one of those games. Also, if you don’t like Balderdash or Once Upon a Time, then this is a game you should skip.

So in the end, Dixit is a great, fun little game that should be played for fun, low key parties, family, or as a break between longer, more intense board games.