Release Date: 2023Players: 2-5
Designer: Elizabeth HargraveLength: 15-30 minutes
Artist: Annie WilkinsonAge: 10+
Publisher: Button ShyComplexity: 2.0 / 5
Plastic (by weight): 50%Air (by volume): < 1%

They were very shy and very few people had seen one, but you and your friends had been lucky. One lived at the bottom of the garden of the McGregories at the end of the village. The old couple was completely unaware of the sneaking by both, the mythical creature and your group of pals. You really wanted to make friends with this little winged being, but it was a very Picky Pixie by Elizabeth Hargrave from Button Shy.

Yes. Here we are. We’re all trying to make friends with a pixie. In fact, one of you plays the titular creature whom the rest of the group wants to attract. As a mythical creature of British folklore, pixies are famously difficult to find and even harder to befriend. The particular pixie that one of you roleplays is especially tricksy, but there is one thing pixies have in common with many other creatures when it comes to enticing them and that is food.

In fact, to start with, the picky pixie in Picky Pixie is actually quite helpful. It shows you two sets of flowers: one it loves to eat, the other it doesn’t. That’s where the help ends, however. The pixie gives you no clue as to why one bunch of flowers is so delicious, while the other is so very unappealing. All you know is that there are four different flower types and that they all come in four different colours. I suppose it’s no surprise that you’re not getting any additional help, because while pixies are known as being benign, they are also very mischievous.

Picky Pixie Players

Your role, as the human players in the group, is to discover what rule the picky pixie has for its eating habits. On your turn, you draw the top card from the deck and choose one of the four different groupings of flowers depicted on the double-sided cards, where each side is divided into two sections. You then offer that set of flowers to the very picky pixie player who either adds the card to their “Yes” pile, if they find the present absolutely delectable, or to their “No” pile, if they simply can’t bring themselves to even taste a single of the beautiful flowers.

The active player can then decide to convene a guessing turn. All human players then secretly write down the rule by which they think the pixie chooses its flowers. Once everyone has made their choice, the guesses are revealed and the pixie player says which one, if any, is the correct rule. If the humans guessed correctly, they get points based on how many cards are left in the deck. So the sooner they guess correctly, the more points they’ll get. If they guess wrong, the pixie player gets a card worth two points. So the more wrong guesses are made, the more the pixie scores.

You keep playing until the deck is empty or someone guesses correctly and then repeat the whole process with the next player in turn order taking on the role of the picky pixie. Once everyone has had a turn as the wood sprite, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.

the pixie's "yes/no" card with one offering each side, plus a new offering of flowers played in front
human players have to offer the Picky Pixie bunches of flowers in the hope that it accepts them

Tricky Pixie

It all seems quite simple, but it’s a lot harder than you would expect. The pixie player has to make up a rule in secret and write it down. The rule has to follow certain conventions to ensure it’s actually guessable and that’s the first hurdle when you learn Picky Pixie. The rulebook is pretty good, but creating a valid rule isn’t easy. The rulebook could have benefited from more illustrations and more examples of valid rules to help new players. I certainly found it very hard to explain it to the others around the table.

The other thing that slows down the flow of the game is the guessing phase. Everyone has to secretly write down their guess of the pixie rule. That not only means everyone has to have a pen and a piece of paper, but while the player who called for a guess will have a clear idea of the rule they think the pixie follows, the other human players might struggle. Having to make up a rule on the spot is harder than you think. Some people found this very hard in the games I played and it really slowed things down.

The problem is compounded because Picky Pixie is a competitive game. Everyone wants to score the most points, so the human players want to avoid everyone getting the rule right and everyone getting the same points. Yet, if the human players played together, it would make the game a lot easier and would allow people who play it for the first time to benefit from those who know it well.

Love or Hate

When I first read the rules for Picky Pixie, I was really excited. I loved the idea of the social deduction element. You try and gather evidence by offering cards to the pixie who either accepts or declines them. However, the rules are a lot harder to understand than I had expected. The people I tried the game with really bounced off it. Not only did they feel making up a rule as the pixie is tricky, but it’s even harder for the human players to guess it.

Elizabeth Hargrave is a highly skilled and respected designer. So my inkling is that Picky Pixie is a really clever game, but there is something that we’ve missed – or maybe it’s just the sort of game that needs a specific group of people to properly work. Either way, I can see how some game groups will love to take turns as the pixie, while the rest tries to guess the rule before the deck runs out.

The card stock is the same great quality that people have come to expect from Button Shy and the illustrations by Annie Wilkinson are really cute and fit the family theme of Picky Pixie. The fact that everything fits in a small wallet is, as always, wonderful, making the game easily transportable, even though you have to ensure there are enough pens and paper available for you to play it. The game length is also really short, making it an ideal game to start or finish a game night.

So, as much as I wanted to fall in love with this Picky Pixie, it just didn’t work out. However, your experience may vary and you may be really enchanted by this little gremlin of a game.

Useful Links

Transparency Facts

I feel that this review reflects my own, independent and honest opinion, but the facts below allow you to decide whether you think that I was influenced in any way.
  • I was sent a free review copy of this game by the publisher.
  • At the time of writing, neither the designers, nor the publisher, nor anyone linked to the game supported me financially or by payment in kind.

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (

Sound Effects: – © copyright 2024 BBC

Azure, Purple & Gold by WombatNoisesAudio |
Music promoted by
Creative Commons / Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0)


These are the songs I listened to while I was writing this review:

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