Dixit vs Codenames | Which board game is right for you?

by | Guides

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Dixit and Codenames are two exceptional board games that are great for parties and playing with friends. They are both easy to learn and quick to setup to play. So, Dixit vs Codenames, which one will be best for you?

First off let’s have a quick look at the differences:

Dixit

Players
3-6
Age
8+
Playtime (m)
30
Game type
Storytelling card game
Difficulty
Easy
Awards
2010 Spiel des Jahres

Codenames

Players
2-8
Age
14+
Playtime (m)
15
Game type
Spy deduction card game
Difficulty
Easy
Awards
2016 Spiel des Jahres

Both these games are great for parties and will ensure that everyone has fun. I am only going to discuss the base games here as both Dixit and Codenames have expansions that change the game slightly. I do mention some optional expansions as I go though.

The main difference between Dixit vs Codenames is that Dixit you all compete against each other, whereas Codenames puts two opposing teams against each other. 

Let’s take a quick overview look at both games.

Codenames

Codenames takes you into the world of espionage. Split up into two teams with each team nominating a spymaster. The other players in the team are the field operatives who only know the code names for the agents.

A grid of 5 x 5 word tiles are placed on the table which represents the field. The spymasters share a key which indicates where the agents are on a grid of words. Each word represents a potential codename for an agent. 

The spymaster can only communicate with the teammates with one word clues. The field operatives then attempt to guess all 25 agents.

The spymaster will say a word and then how many of the words on the grid are agents that relate to this clue. The field operatives will then need to guess which words on the grid they think the spymaster means by pointing to them.

The spymaster then reveals if the team has revealed a friendly agent, hit a bystander, guessed an opposing team’s agent or fatally guessed the assassin.

Hitting an innocent bystander or an opposing team’s agent will end your turn immediately. If you hit the mysterious assassin then you lose!

What kind of game is Codenames?

Codenames is a deduction card game. It is set in the spy and espionage genre. There are two teams who are competing to find all their agents before the other team.

You must avoid incorrect guesses as they may be innocent bystanders or the assassin. If you hit the assassin then it is game over and the other team wins.

What is the purpose of Codenames?

In Codenames you must find all your agents before your opponents. If you successfully contact all your agents before them then you win the game.

How long is a game of Codenames?

Codename games typically last for around 15 minutes per game. This is a nice length to be able to play many rounds in a session. Which will give you lots of opportunity to mix up the spymasters and even the teams if you wish.

Is Codenames hard to play?

Codenames is not hard to play at all. The rules are very easy to understand and pick up. Making it ideal for parties where it is likely people will be playing it for the first time. As it is team based this also provides the opportunity for those who have played it before to team up with those who haven’t.

Is Codenames a good game?

Codenames is a really great game and has all the elements to make this fun in groups. You can even increase beyond 8 players by simply having a larger team of field operatives on either side.

The game is about communication and collaborating with your team. The spymaster has the challenge of giving a single word that will hit as many agents on the grid as possible. Should there be another word in the grid that relates to the clue that you didn’t see. Then the team could guess wrong and you score nothing. 

It can be a real fun brain twizzler for both sides. You will be amazed at how differently people think to what you thought was an easy clue. Very fun and guaranteed laughs.

Dixit

Dixit is an amazing storytelling card game. It is turn based and you are working individually to gain the highest score and win the game. Each player has a rabbeeple. A rabbit shaped meeple which records your score on a scoring track. The track is on a board that remains in the box.

The game has 84 beautifully drawn surreal cards. Each player is dealt a hand of 6 cards. Each turn one of the players is the storyteller and this rotates to the next player after the turn ends.

The storyteller picks one of their cards from their hand. Without revealing the card they will then describe in a sentence what is one the card. This sentence should describe the card enough that someone will guess the card but not everyone. So describing the card exactly will not work here.

Now the storyteller speaks out the sentence and each of the other players reviews their hand. The other payers will then choose a card from their hand that they believe best describes the sentence. They then hand this card to the storyteller.

The player’s objective is to choose a card that everyone else will guess instead of the storyteller.

Now the storyteller shuffles the cards in their hand and lays them out face up on the table. This is where the fun really begins. As each player (except the storyteller, because he knows) now votes which card was the storyteller’s card.

If no one or everyone has guessed the storyteller’s card then the storyteller receives no points and each player gets 2 points.

In any other case the storyteller gets 3 points along with any player who guessed his card.

Each player also gets an additional point for each vote placed against their card.

As you can see this is a very simple game but enormously entertaining. This game is about getting inside the other players head and guessing what they are thinking.

What kind of game is Dixit?

Dixit is a storytelling card game. The objective is to describe a picture on the card in such a way that some will guess it but not everyone and not no one. You are pitching for the sweet spot. Get it right so that only one player didn’t guess it then you score maximum points for that turn.

What is the purpose of Dixit?

The purpose of Dixit is to have the highest score by the time the last card has been drawn. This is done by accumulating points by having people guess your cards.

How long is a game of Dixit?

The game of Dixit lasts for about 30 minutes per game. This can vary depending on the number of players. The end of the game happens when the last card is drawn. Each card is drawn to replace the card you have just played. With 3 players only 3 cards are picked per turn whereas with 6 players 6 cards are drawn. So the game will last longer with only 3 players.

Is Dixit hard to play?

Dixit is not hard to play at all. The rules are easy to learn and teach to new players. It does require some brain power to play well though. Especially as the storyteller as you are trying to get some players to guess and avoid no players and all players guessing. It can be a real challenge to hit the sweet spot and gain some good points for the win.

Why is it called Dixit?

Dixit is derived from the Latin word for ‘he/she/it said.’ As the game revolves around storytelling then Dixit explains what it is about in one word. As the storyteller he/she/it said what is one the card.

Is Dixit a good game?

Dixit is a fun game to have at parties. It is quick to learn and has some difficulty attached to it that will make you think. It is best with more players and comes into its own with 5 or 6 players.

Being the storyteller or the other player gives you completely different goals.

Storyteller: Get nearly everyone to guess correctly.

Player: Guess the storytellers card and get everyone else to guess mine.

This really makes you think. The end of turn reveal, where the storyteller identifies their card will always delight and surprise you. The discussion afterwards for me was where the fun was found and discovering why someone chose that sentence.

I can remember the first time I played this game and how much fun it was.

Dixit vs Codenames

So, which game is best for you? If you have to make a choice then it depends on who will be playing and how many. Let’s pick out the differences that will hopefully make this choice easier.

How many players?

Dixit hits its sweet spot around 5 or 6 players. If you want to play with more then consider Dixit Odyssey as this states it is for 7+ players and has slightly different rules. Dixit Odyssey can play up to 12.

The limitation in Dixit is that there are 84 cards and more players will get through them more quickly. However, Dixit can play with as little as three players.

Codenames on the other hand has a little more flexibility in that you can have a bigger group of field operatives and still enjoy the game. However, it is limited to playing with 4 players as you need 1 spymaster and 1 field operative per team.

I have an article called How to play Codenames with 2 players which explains how you can get around this. There is also the Codenames Duet that is designed for 2 players.

If you are likely to play with more than 6 often then I would consider Codenames as a good choice. 

Winner:

Codenames

Age of players

If you are looking for a family game where you will often be playing with children under 10 then Dixit is a clear winner here. Dixit is sold as an 8+ game and for this reason wins. Codenames is sold as a 14+ but can be played from 10+ if you split the kids up with the adults.

Winner:

Dixit

Team or individual?

If you want to compete against each other then Dixit is the best choice for collaboration and as a team game then Codenames wins.

Individual game:

Dixit

Team game:

Codenames

Conclusion

For me overall I think Dixit pips Codenames but that is me. Dixit has more scope for creativity and can be really fun at parties. Codenames is still a great game to play. But has a little less creativity and challenge.

I hope this has helped make an easier decision and you now know which game is best for you. If you want to check out the prices on amazon then just click the buttons below.

Codenames

If you are looking for some board games to play with larger groups of 8 players then take a look at my article Best 8 player boardgames of 2021 here.

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