We were sent Venn by The Op for review. Venn is a clue-giving party game that has both cooperative and competitive team modes for varied play. In either mode the game lasts about 20-30 minutes. The game is made up of Venn diagrams, large colorful circles in which Art cards are placed by a Clue Giver for the rest of the team to guess. Each round the Clue Giver is trying to get the team to guess three words based on Art cards they lay out across the Venn diagram. As with Venn diagrams, cards placed on the Outer Zones (i.e. non overlapping parts of the circles) only apply to one word, cards in the inner zones (i.e. overlapping two circles) apply to two words, and a card placed in the Center Zone applies to all three words. For example, if the words are: teeth, outdoors, and vehicle, the Clue Giver might put a picture of a truck in the woods in an Inner Zone (outdoors and vehicle), a picture of teeth in an Outer Zone, and a picture of a smiling car in the sky in the Center Zone as it applies to all three words (teeth, outdoors, and vehicle).
To start setup, lay out circles to form a Venn diagram. In co-operative mode players use one set of blue, yellow, and pink circles in a Venn diagram shape. In team competition you use both sets. For setup, you’ll put the Scoreboard to the side of the Venn diagram. You’ll place four Word cards from the shuffled stack to the right of the Scoreboard to start a round, each card lists three words for a total of 12 words. The 12 words are what Guessers have to choose from when trying to guess the three correct words the Clue Giver secretly knows. The shuffled Word and Number cards offer great variety since the number/word combinations always change (this was something we liked).
A new Clue Giver is selected each round, and the current Clue Giver selects a Number card from the shuffled stack that lists three numbers. They’ll look at the Scoreboard and see which of the Word cards corresponds to the three numbers and these are the words they have to get the other players to guess. Then, the Clue Giver places their Number card in the Number card holder so other players cannot see it. Once they are ready, the Clue Giver will start the round and start placing Art cards on the Venn diagram to give clues to the Guessers about which three words they need to guess. The Clue Giver is not allowed to talk or overly-signal. They can however replace a card that might be throwing Guessers off by placing a new card in its place on top of it to offer better clues. Guessers call out “VENN” when they’re ready to make a guess after at least three Art cards have been placed. Three guesses are allowed, with one point awarded per correct guess and in Competitive mode four points are awarded if all three words are guessed correctly for the first team to call out “VENN!”. When playing in competitive mode, the second team to guess cannot get the bonus point even if they guess all three correctly because they weren’t the first to call out “VENN!” This offers a little incentive to be the first to guess. The points are awarded with the team tokens on the Scoreboard. The round begins anew with replaced Word cards for the Scoreboard and a new Clue Giver who selects the next Number card from the stack.
The amount of Art cards Clue Givers are given depends on the type of game. In competitive mode, each team gets a third with the other stack between both teams. These Art cards are double sided and are extremely abstract. We felt this was a large weakness for the game. The images on the Art cards seem to have too much going on and very few seem relatable to the words. For example, imagine the Guess words were chaotic, identical, and patient and the stack of cards has images like a pug pulling a chariot with a microscope or a woman thinking with her eyes closed with birds surrounding her, it is very hard to relate those images to those words. In truth, all of the images in the entire deck could be described with the word chaotic. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and have a word like regal and there’s a picture of a baby with a crown, but there were times for each Clue Giver where no words seemed to fit very well. The word clues could be clearer if they didn’t have as many things going on in each image. They could still be abstract, but these images seemed too abstract for us to feel like we had a chance most rounds.
The goal of the game is to get 12 points, in competitive it is the first team to that amount and in cooperative you need to score 12 points before the number cards stack depletes/within up to five rounds. We also liked timing the rounds for two minutes for both competitive and cooperative mode, even though timing the round was only required in cooperative play. We felt that time limits worked well for all play types as a house rule. As players gain points, they put the relevant team marker on that space on the scoreboard track. We liked that the number track for the clues doubled as a scoring track. For each round, you have three guesses, so it can be difficult to get all three points in a round because guessing one word wrong means you cannot get full points.
We found that the best way to get the most points is to be very deliberate with the clues that fall under multiple categories in the Inner and Center Zones. If you had a car in its own circle, person smiling in its own circle, and a picture of a car with teeth in the overlapping circle between them, players were more likely to guess vehicle and teeth as the right words. However it feels very luck based to get cards that would be clear enough for players to understand the words the Art cards correspond with.
If there is a tie in competitive mode, the team that scored the most points in the last round wins. You can make the game longer by making it a best out of three games win. You can also make it hard for the Clue Giver with the Expert Variant where their first card placed needs to be in an Inner or Center Zone and cannot be in the Outer Zone. The regular game seems like a good length to us as well with the 20-30 minutes. Overall, the game feels like other clue giving games like Dixit but overcomplicates the game with additional rules and extremely abstract art cards that have/give too much information to cohesively gather into one single word.
Language Barrier Playability: Not playable. Since the game relies on guessing words correctly, you cannot play this game without speaking the same language. You not only need to know the word but the meaning of it in order to see how the images connect with the words.
Replayability: Decent. The Word cards and Number cards being changed out every round really help replayability in terms of creating endless variety. The game is fairly short at 20-30 minutes but with so many rounds it feels like a full game experience with one playthrough per game night. We probably wouldn’t bring it to the table more than once per game night.
Artwork: Interesting. The artwork is extremely abstract and the art cards themselves are very interesting. There are image collage combinations that we would’ve never thought of like purple bodybuilders working out in the woods while an old man sits with his cane or a scale balancing a lemon and a brain. The circles are also a very fun element, they’re translucent and of a material much like the filters you would put over a camera to get different colorful lighting effects. The box art is very alluring but the Art cards seem like stock images superimposed on clip art and other stock images.
Strategy: Light. The strategy lies within what zones you place the Art cards on the Venn diagram. However, sometimes it comes down to luck in getting images that will match the words well enough. Oftentimes as the Clue Giver, it feels less like being strategic and more like being hopeful that the image is close enough to elicit a good enough Guess.
Quality: The cards are of a nice, thick quality for Word, Number, and Art cards. They’re easy to shuffle through because of this. The Scoreboard folds in two which is nice and it doubles as a score tracker and number correlations for the Word cards. The translucent Venn diagram circles are also have nice quality/smooth texture.
Instruction Manual: The instruction manual is nice and short. The images provided in the manual are clear examples, especially when describing the Inner, Outer, and Center zones with the diagram it provides. The Objective example is actually much more how we wish the game was, as it shows an image of a red apple in the left Outer zone, an image of a roller-skate in the right Outer zone, and a red wagon in the Center zone because it shares the red of the apple and the wheels of the roller-skate. These images were much less abstract and we think simpler images like this would’ve made the gameplay much smoother.
Organization: Everything has its own place inside the box, from indentations for the cards to the larger Venn circles. However, we noticed that when the box is moved all of the cards do shuffle around the box and spill out everywhere. This might be because the Venn circles and the Instruction Manual that are placed on top of the cards are really light so there’s not a lot of weight to actually hold the cards down.