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Philipp Klarmann
Germany
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Venetia is an underrated gem which suffers from a negative review on the Dice Tower. One cannot really see why the game was slammed by Tom Vasel, but we can assume from most other reviewers that this review is an outlier. I am adding to the majority here in saying that Venetia is a must have for the historical gamer who likes to live the rise and fall of the Serenissima.

The game at heart is an area control game with action cards. You play an aspiring family in Venice trying to gain as many colonies as possible and gaining majorities in them. Each turn you chose from a set of action dice one die which shows a numbered value plus a symbol for drawing cards. If you are the elected doge (a subgame), you are able to add one point to the die. They can thus range from 2-5 in value. There are three kinds of dice, which allow different placement methods, the most risky being the military die. This die can have great success allowing two cubes to be placed at once, but gives a reason for conflict for the other powers in the Mediterrenean. The threat mechanic involved drawing from a set of threat cards which bring new kingdoms on the map. These kingdoms let you lose existing cubes and even sometimes losing the valuable naval connections which take long to rebuild.

For more information about the gameflow, see the other reviews.

A few thoughts on strategy:

Each turn you have 2-5 actions. The action cards can only be played with a certain colour, so you have mostly these action points which are used to place the cubes on the board. Given the fact that a low result allows you to add a card to your hand and some powerful action cards allow you to forego the points for the play of the card, you can see that each player has an almost equal chance to score at least on victory point for each action point. Certain times, even more when you are able to place a Podesta on a colony (the mayor). So, there are a few routes to victory: make sure you place your cubes spread out on smaller colonies, but always try to include one cube in the large colony for presence. Do not fight for Podesta until you really need to, as the one additional point for the large Podesta is not worth it if you can pick two smaller Podestas for the same cost (thus getting 4 VPs instead of 3 VPs).
Engage enemy fleets immediately with military dice, there is not much you can do better with military action. Protect the yellow dice, they often have strong action cards as well. They can gain you a quick presence in many small colonies, so use the Doge marker.
Now, the veto power. Do not play without it. However, use it wisely. It is tempting to protect a large colony Podesta with a veto, since seemingly you only lose one doge hat for the veto. But the large downside is that your doge is out of business in a hurry and your competitors are able to gain the title on the cheap. This also leads to the necessity of preservering your better Doge candidates for the later game where being the Doge is better than earlier. Especially, do not forget the last doge election which can net you a whopping 6 VPs if you saved your best man.

All in all, Venetia is an engaging, but not short historical game. It teaches a lot about the rise of the Republic without adding complex military mechanism to the game. It includes a healthy dose of conflict with more than 2 players, so if you are out for a more relaxing evening, play it with 2. Scaling wasn't done for less players, so the game plays differently with each number.

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Ingo Griebsch
Germany
Bochum
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Does Phil like it?
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Philipp Klarmann
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Which Phil? Eklund? Have not shown it to him, good idea.
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Ingo Griebsch
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Philipp Klarmann wrote:
Which Phil? Eklund? Have not shown it to him, good idea.


Yep, I mean Phil Eklund...
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Benjamin Hester
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completely agree. This game is available for $10.00 right now on Coolstuffinc, which is mindblowing to me. I greatly enjoyed it, and look forward to playing again.
 
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Andrea Bampi
Italy
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BenjaminHester wrote:
completely agree. This game is available for $10.00 right now on Coolstuffinc, which is mindblowing to me. I greatly enjoyed it, and look forward to playing again.


surprise 9 €....Insane. Frankly offensive to the guys who developed the game, who, BTW, are the same behind War of the Ring (Second Edition).
Simply incredible, and sad
 
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Michael Tschida
United States
Florida
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Philipp Klarmann wrote:
Venetia is a must have for the historical gamer who likes to live the rise and fall of the Serenissima.




Dang, that's a niche market right there.
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Claude nameless
Italy
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Yes, terribly underrated. My group loves this game and it is always a pleasure to play.
 
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Mike B.
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Yep, underrated and a steal for the price. Played it for the first time the other day and my group greatly enjoyed it. I agree that going after smaller colonies gives you more value. The major colonies are also much more vulnerable to political changes through the event cards. Taking out fleets and making treaties with other powers. are important ways to get points.

I liked the historical aspect through the event cards. The game we played worked out historically: the Ottomans were running wild by the end making trading difficult, while the French and the Austrians made their presence heard at the end.

 
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Danger Mike
United States
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Because Tom Vasel is an unreliable reviewer who slams games after one (or zero?) play, and frequently misunderstands rules?
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