Venn Board Game Review
WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 2-99
You’ll like this if you like: Dixit, Codenames Pictures, Wavelength
Published by: The Op
Venn is a clever new party game, that combines the picture clue fun seen in games such as Dixit and Codenames Pictures, with the simplistic beauty of the Venn diagram. Don't know what a Venn diagram is? Well stick around. Let's get it to the table.
Venn can be played either in a competitive or cooperative mode. Let's first look at the competitive set up. This requires at least four players, so you can have two teams of two, but works up to any player count. Just split into two even teams.
Give each team three plastic circles, one of each colour. Place them down on the table in front of the two teams so that each circle overlaps each other a little bit. Then place the score marker down, shuffle the number and word cards, and lay out four word cards in any order down the side of the score card. Place a score marker for each team at the top of the score tracker. Finally, shuffle the picture cards and split them into three equal decks. Give one to each team and place the final one in the centre of the table. Each team will choose which player on their side will have a first go placing the pictures, and then the game can begin.
How to Play
Both players chosen to go first on each team will now play simultaneously. They will draw the top numbered card and check the three numbers on it against the current word cards. Each team's player will have three words that they need to get their other team members to guess. They do this by placing picture cards down on the three coloured circles. Players on both teams will do this at the same time, not in turn order, just as quickly as they can find a picture card to match their words. They will arbitrarily choose one circle to represent each word, it doesn't matter which. And they will place one card onto each circle, the picture that they can find that best matches that word. They can also place one picture down in the areas that cross over between each of the two colours one card that matches those two words. And one final picture card can be placed down in the centre if it matches all three. So, in total, seven cards can be placed. If you find a card that better suits a word that you had previously laid a picture card for, you can simply cover up the previous card with the new one.
The rest of the team that are guessing can discuss with each other about which word they think their teams picture layer is trying to make them guess. As soon as at least three picture cards are placed down, they can, when they want to, shout "VENN!" At this point, both teams picture layer must immediately stop. No more picture cards can be laid. Then both teams guessers need to try and figure out which three words were being suggested to them. This could leave the other team very short of course in terms of picture card laid. So, both teams picture layers must work as quickly as they can.
If they cannot find any picture cards that suit their words, they can swap their deck with the other deck in the middle of the table, and of course if both teams picture layers do this, then you could get a chance to look at all three decks at one point. But the decks are large, the picture cards are double sided. And the pictures on the cards are all so varied with mixed images, you generally will be able to find something that suits your word. The difficulty more comes from find a picture that suits your word and only your word. They often work for more than one word, and you don't want to send your team down the wrong path.
Each team will then score one point for each word they correctly guess, and if any team ever guesses all three words they will score one additional bonus point, so four in total. A new picture chooser is then chosen, the word cards are swapped, and a new number card is chosen and the next round begins. This will continue until one team scores 12 or more points.
The cooperative version works in very much the same way, and allows games with less than four players. You will just have one Venn set up and only five number cards. Players will take it in turns to lay pictures cards in an attempt to score as many points as they can with their team. Trying to get to 12 or more points with their five number cards. So, five rounds to score 12 or more. There is no bonus point for correctly guessing all three words, and you are working to a two-minute time limit as you place the picture cards instead of against another team.
Is It Fun?
Venn works well in both competitive and cooperative modes. It is nice to have both, to work not just to different player counts, but also to suit different groups or requirements. I have played the cooperative mode in larger groups and simply increased the amount of number cards we had and upped the target we had to reach. The two minute timer works well to keep the pressure and tension in the game. But sometimes, when the cards align, you will find you are laying the perfect card with one minute to spare. Other times, you may be running out of time with only a one or two cards placed. Two-minutes is the right time, but racing against another team is a lot more fun.
As such, I much I prefer the competitive game. It brings a lot more tension, and from that, laughter, table chat, and fun. The cries of anguish as one side calls "VENN!" When their side only has one or two picture cards placed. But then of course, that team could then score two points, and the first team may get them all wrong. The speed and race element adds so much to the game. People's competitive nature comes out, not just from the person rushing to place good picture cards down, but also from the rest of the team who are guessing who want to halt the other team as soon as they can.
This makes Venn the perfect game for people who enjoy a little bit of time pressure, but perhaps not the right game for those who find this stressful or unpleasant. Even in the cooperative game, you may feel this in the two-minute time limit they give you. If you don't have their right cards, then this race against the clock or other team can be frustrating or stressful. Equally, if you have words that closely match other words, you may find it hard to find pictures specific enough. But most frustratingly, you may play a picture card you think suitable for one of your three words, only for your team to see that picture very differently to you, and associate it with another word. This may be because you see the art differently, perhaps you hadn't spotted the other word and how it works for that card too. Or worst of all, you had missed part of the picture that works perfectly for an incorrect word.
However, these obvious frustration aside, teams I have found, will score on average two points per turn. Getting all three is pretty tough, but possible. But when you miss one word due to one of the above very possible reasons, it won't be too frustrating if you can put into context the average score. An accept the fact that under time pressures, you may sometimes miss something, and look at mistakes or misses like this as being funny and part of the game, rather than annoying, and proving the game is broken.
I very much enjoy playing Venn. I have found it to work with most groups I have tried this with. It suits all ages and abilities, and works well in both modes. I have found the need to increase the amount of time allowed in the co-op mode when playing with younger children, but that is very much possible, and easily implemented. The one constant each time Venn hit the table though was laughter. Trying to determine how different people have associated certain picture cards with specific words, and correct or incorrect guesses resulting or cries of joy or anguish. Venn always brings the fun.