Venn’s Revenge: The Game

I recently came across The Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge.

It seemed interesting. Within a day, the basics of my game were pretty well worked out in my mind. A few days later, my wife and I played some test games. After testing, I came up with some refinements. Now I’m ready to reveal the game to the world and allow others to give it a try and see how they like it. So, what follows is a description of my game. Please try it out. Try to have fun with it. And please let me know how you like it.

Venn’s Revenge:

Venn’s Revenge is a spatial relationship game, requiring no specialized knowledge except that at least one participant should be able to count. It’s a well-established, or at least long rumored “fact”, [based, one hopes, on scientific data] that women are generally at a natural disadvantage to men in spatial ability. To the extent that Venn’s Revenge is an educational game, my hope is that through playing the game, anyone can improve his/her spatial abilities to the point of negating these gender-based inequalities. The game is easy-to-learn, highly adaptable, and playable virtually anywhere. It can be played with any natural number of participants, even as a solitaire. It can be played competitively, cooperatively, or even super-cooperatively.

At a minimum, you need two sheets of vellum, a pencil,
and an eraser
two sheets of transparency film and a dry erase marker.

The sheets should be of identical size. For convenience, it’s best to have a considerable stack of sheets, so that you aren’t constantly in the process of erasing. Transparency film is the ideal material, as it can be reused indefinitely and therefore ends up reducing environmental impact over the years, but the game can be played with any kind of paper that is translucent enough to be used for tracing.

For competitive play, you will need a round coin, a wedding band, a bottle cap or some other smallish, disc- or ring-shaped object. This item is called the Master. The Master is used to determine whether your cells are of legal size. “Legal size” is defined as “no larger in any dimension than the Master”. The smaller the Master, the more challenging the game.

Brief Description:
Players draw closed cells [generally circles, although this is not a requirement] on otherwise blank sheets. When the sheets are overlaid, the goal of each turn is to have the new play’s cells intersect with all cells from the immediately preceding play. These intersections, as in the classic Venn diagram can be full or partial. If all cells from the previous play are intersected by the new play’s cells, the play is successful and the game continues. If any of the previous play’s cells are not intersected by the new play’s cells, the play is unsuccessful and the game is ended. One player loses. In the case of a two-player game, this leaves one winner. In games involving more than two players, all non-losing players are winners.

Game Play:
At the outset, players should agree upon the maximum number of cells allowed per turn. More experienced players will want to go with a higher number. For beginners, a fairly low number, on the order of 4 to 6, is recommended.

Also, at the outset of a competitive game, players should agree upon a Master. [see above]

There is no set rule about who goes first. Decide for yourselves. You can flip a coin, roll dice, base the decision on age, shoe size, or any other method you like. Likewise, it’s of no consequence to the game designer whether your turns progress clockwise, counter-clockwise, in a star pattern, or based on the results of an arm wrestling tournament. What is important is that every player gets a turn in some regular sequence.

The first play is always one cell, placed anywhere on the sheet. With each subsequent turn, the player has the option of adding one cell, until the maximum number of cells has been reached.

The first sheet is placed on a table or some other flat surface, convenient to all players.

Unless playing in super-cooperative mode, cells are never drawn while the new sheet is overlaid on old plays. The current player draws his/her cells and then overlays his/her sheet on top of the previous sheet, aligning the sheets’ edges. Then the play is checked for intersection. If anyone suspects any cells of being larger than allowed, the Master is used to determine whether this is the case. In highly competitive games, the Master can be used to check every cell in the entire game. If a cell is too large, or if intersection is not achieved with all of the previous play’s cells, the play is unsuccessful and the game is over.

  • Competitive play involves trying to force some other player to lose. This generally means drawing small cells, spaced far away from each other, but not in a regular pattern.
  • Cooperative play involves trying to keep the game going for as many turns as possible. Generally, this means eliminating the Master, allowing for cells of any size, and coaching [kibitzing].
  • Super-cooperative play allows for drawing cells when the new sheet is overlaid on the previous sheet. The goal of this style of play is to create something artistic. One interesting feature of Venn’s Revenge is that the turns can be recorded by digitizing into 3D software, with each sheet representing a “slice”. The result is that the game can be viewed not necessarily sequentially [as, for example, a game of chess can be recorded and viewed sequentially], but instead as a three dimensional object, rotated in space, viewable from many perspectives.
  • The introduction of multiple colors can add another twist to the game, whether played competitively, cooperatively, or super-cooperatively. Cells of different colors can pass through or wind around each other, making for particularly beautiful solutions.
Creative Commons License
Venn's Revenge by Louis J. Cassorla is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Example Photos:

First Play
Second Play—
successful partial intersection,
with added cell.
Third Play—
successful partial and full intersection,
with added cell.
Fourth Play—
successful full and partial intersections,
with added cell.
…unsuccessful play when using
a dime as the Master.
This would have been a successful play
if the Master were a quarter.


  1. Thank you for the nice article here. Really nice and keep update to explore more gaming tips and ideas.

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