Win All You Can

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Activity – Win All You Can



  • To explore how sub-groups in a larger team can balance their desire to win more as a sub-group with their desire to win as a team
  • To reflect on how cooperation and competition might affect multiparty negotiations


At least 40 minutes, although a thorough debriefing can take hours


At least eight participants


  • Visual aids illustrating the goal, rules of the game and scoring system (see below under step IV of the procedure)
  • Copies of the handout below, with the score sheet


I) Ask participants to form groups of eight, then ask the members of each group to form four teams of two (teams A, B, C and D). If the total number of participants is not a multiple of eight, create a few teams of three within the groups.

II) Allow each group of eight to sit around the same table.

III) Tell the participants what the goal of the game is:

“Your goal is to win all you can”.

Participants will probably press you for more information (What are we winning? Whom are we playing against? Who wins, the teams of two, or the group of eight as a whole? etc.). Just repeat “Your goal is to win all you can”, and patiently resist any pressure from participants.

IV) Explain the rules of the game:

* The game is played in ten rounds
* Each team of two has a vote: Y or X. Each team should vote visually (team members cross their arms to form a Y or an X)
* Each team will be given time to discuss how to vote in each round: 90 seconds for the first round, and 30 seconds for all other rounds
* Within each group, teams may not talk to each other.

Explain the scoring system:

* A team’s score in each round is determined by how the whole group votes.
* Specifically:
* If all teams (A, B, C and D) vote Y, each team will get +1 and the group will get +4 as a result
* If all teams vote X, each team will get -1 and the group will get -4 as a result.
* If the votes within the group are mixed, each team that votes Y gets -2 and each team that votes X gets +2. The group’s result is calculated as the sum of the four teams’ votes
* The stakes multiply in the 5th (multiplied by 3) 8th (multiplied by 5) and 10th rounds (multiplied by 10).

* 1st round: all teams vote Y, each team gets +1 and the group scores +4
* 2nd round: all teams vote X, each team gets -1 and the group scores –4
* 3rd round: teams A and B vote Y and teams C and D vote X. A and B get -2 each and C and D get +2 each. The group score is 0 (-2-2+2+2=0)
* 4th round: teams A, B and C vote X and team D votes Y. A, B and C get +2 each and D gets -2. The group score is +4 (+2+2+2-2=+4)
* 5th round: teams A and B vote X, teams C and D vote Y. A and B get +6 each (2x3), and C and D get -6 each (-2x3).

This group’s score sheet would look like this:

Round           Team A           Team B           Team C           Team D           Group          
1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +4
2 -1 -1 -1 -1 -4
3 -2 -2 +2 +2 0
4 +2 +2 +2 -2 +4
5 (3x) +6 +6 -6 -6 0

V) Start the game. Check the time allowed for the teams’ preparation of each round (90 seconds for the first round and 30 seconds for each following round).

Say: “Ready? 3,2,1… Vote!”

It’s important that all teams vote simultaneously and no cheating be allowed. Remember to tell the participants that the stakes multiply by three, five and ten at the fifth, eighth and tenth rounds.

VI) After the tenth round, ask teams and groups (if there is more than one group) to compare their scores.


The following questions are only suggestions. You can omit, supplement and change them as you see fit.

  • How do you feel about this game?
  • How do you feel about your team’s performance?
  • How do you feel about the other teams in your group?
  • How do you feel about the group’s performance and results?
  • How did you feel about the fact the your goal wasn’t that clear?

  • What happened during the game?
  • What was your team’s strategy at the beginning of the game?
  • How did your strategy change during the game?
  • Why did your strategy change?
  • What happened during the last three rounds?
  • Who, in your opinion, was most cooperative?
  • Who was most competitive?
  • Who won?

  • What have you learned from this game?
  • What enables the teams of two to cooperate for the benefit of the group of eight?
  • What role does trust play in this game?
  • How should all teams in a group vote to get the best possible score?
  • How should all teams vote to get the worst possible score?

  • How does this game relate to the real world?
  • When do we see sub-groups in a larger team (or organisation or community) competing with one another to the detriment of everyone?
  • When do we see the opposite – cooperation that maximises the larger team’s gain?
  • In the real world, what is needed if sub-groups are to cooperate for the benefit of the larger group?
  • How does this game relate to multiparty negotiations?
  • How do cooperation and competition affect multiparty negotiations?

  • What if instead of scores you were to play with real money?
  • What if you had 20 or 30 rounds, instead of 10?

  • How would you behave differently if you were to play this game a second time?
  • What suggestions would you give to someone who is going to play this game for the first time?
  • What changes would you apply to your real life/work based on what you have learned from this activity?


This game shows how the sub-groups of a larger group can balance their desire to win with their desire for the whole group to win together. The dynamics are an expansion of the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” – see the activity Green Card, Red Card for similar game dynamics.


Mark Rogers of Catholic Relief Services suggested this game. The game is available on the internet in slightly different versions and with slightly different names: “Win all you can”, “Win as much as you can” or “Win-all-you-can”.

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