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Subject: Venedig- You may or may not dig it.. rss

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Daniel Rocchi
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I guess I’ve been a bit of a fan of Klaus-Jürgen Wrede for a number of years. Carcassonne was one of the first euro-games I ever played and it became a smash hit with family and friends. I eagerly awaited The Downfall of Pompeii, and have enjoyed that game ever since as well. I even owned Mesopotamia for a while and still wonder why I traded it away. So when I heard about Venedig, Klaus’s game about my favourite city in the world, I knew I had to track down a copy.

Opening the box, I was not disappointed with the contents. The board, which many have described as "bland" is a completely serviceable and artistically unadorned map of Venice. There are scores of thick cardboard tokens to be punched out, very attractive cards with renderings of each of the building types, and then there are the buildings themselves. They are an assortment of colourful and chunky bits that give a wonderful 3-D presentation to this game of early city building. The game is for all purposes language independent, with the text on the cards only indicating the points for building each building type.

I won’t rehash the rules, but players clear the swamp tiles from the board to clear space to place the various buildings with the use of cards. The cards are collected by a system only slightly more complex than Ticket to Ride. Clever hand management will decide what type of building you might build, and whether you build it by yourself or with an opponent, sharing the points. Speaking of points, the score track winds through the canals, adding another element to the game whereby you get a bonus if you build in a region of the city adjacent to the location of your gondola score marker. Those swamp markers have amounts of treasure on their flip sides, which you can use to propel yourself along the score track, and leapfrog other gondolas.

So, in all, there are some intricate, interconnected mechanics, subtle strategies of timing and trade offs, and as I mentioned, some of the most eye pleasing bits you might hope to find in your euro. But I have to say, as much as I seem to be raving about the game, I didn’t find it overly fun. It’s an abstract to be sure, but one perhaps half submerged in theme, like the floating regions of Venice itself. With such a setting I guess I expected a bit more of a narrative, a little intrigue, I don't know.. maybe personality? I find it ironic that a game about Venice could be so dry.

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