Updated: Apr 12
I used to work as a school inspector. I must have visited literally thousands of lessons. Most are now a blur but a few still stand out in the memory, and not always for the right reasons. Case in point, a primary school maths lesson where the teacher got into a muddle explaining the use of Venn diagrams. Working in pairs, the pupils were tasked with using Venn diagrams to classify any objects of their choosing. Almost all of them floundered except for a mischievous pair who apparently had a clearer understanding of Venn diagrams than their teacher. They decided to group all of their classmates using the categories of 'fat' and 'ugly', with most placed in the overlapping area because they judged them 'fat and ugly'!
Published by The Op, Venn is a communication game. There's an against-the-clock cooperative version included in the rules but Venn is primarily a competitive game played between two teams. There's a thick bundle of double-sided word cards, each showing three words, and four of these cards are placed out against a 1-12 number line that also doubles as the score track. Both teams have their own set of Venn diagram circles and the teams nominate a player to act as their clue-giver. The clue-givers draw a number card that shows three numbers. That card is concealed from all the other players. The clue-givers have decks of double-sided picture cards and they place them out in their team's Venn circles so as to give clues to the three words. Each round, teams score a point for the words they get correct plus a bonus point if they correctly guess all three words.
This is a great idea for a game in the spirit of titles like Pictures (PD-Verlag) and Dixit (Libellud) and it has the distinct advantage of being playable with teams of any size: obviously you need a minimum of two per team but there really is no upper limit. We did have problems with the game, however. The picture cards are large. That's a big plus when playing with large teams but it has the downside that they don't fit comfortably within the areas of the Venn circles. The pictures are all fairly surrealist, with very odd juxtapositions of objects, but they lack the whimsical charm of the illustrations used in Dixit.
The words also make this a tough game. There's a mix of abstract and concrete nouns and adjectives, and in our plays at Board's Eye View most players particularly struggled to use the pictures to convey abstract concepts. This is a pity because conceptually Venn is a game that should be playable by a wide and varied group - the sort of game you should be able to break out at parties and have everyone join in. I'd be hesitant tho' about presenting this game to non-gamers without perhaps a cull of some of the word cards to make the game a tad more accessible.
The pupils that were so unkind about their classmates must now be in their early 20s. I wonder what they would make of Venn...
(Review by Selwyn Ward)