Just playing with you


01.jpg Venetia

Venice has been compared to many things, or has suggested or inspired many things, but I have only now discovered that she also makes an excellent base for board games.  Two have been created by Italians (I don’t know their provenance) and one American, but they all live, or lived, on the Giudecca.

A new board game called “Venetia,” created by Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, is based on Venetian history.  (Disclaimer: I have received absolutely no remuneration or even offers of dinner for the following notices — I just think they’re worth knowing about.)

It appears that the ability to speak Italian (or German?) is going to be important, so this post may have value only in letting you know that such a thing has been invented.  Or, it may be a great way to practice your Italian.

It is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of the Serenissima,” and the idea, as outlined on their site, is to “compete with your friends to become the most influential family in the history of the Republic of Venice…The hegemony of Venice is threatened by many enemies.  The Republic faces the rise of other powers, from the rival Republic of Genoa to the Kingdom of Aragon to the west, to the Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Turks to the east.  Century after century, take part in the struggle that formed the long history of the Republic of Venice.  ‘Venetia’ contains historic notes on the Serenissima, her politics and wars, complete with biographies of some of the most important personages in the history of Venice.”

02.jpg Venetia

Stand back, though — this isn’t going to be just any little fandango. You get the board and the rule book, of course, but you also get a booklet of historical notes, 7 dice, about 200 wooden pieces (function not specified), almost 200 segnalini (no clue, but they must be important), and “more than” 80 cards.  It’s for 2-4 players.  The notes say it lasts 90 minutes.  That sounds optimistic when you’re dealing with 13 centuries of derring-do, but fire when ready, Gridley, as Doge Leonardo Loredan didn’t say.

pic1827225_md.jpg Inkognito

Then there is “Inkognito,”a veteran in the game world, created in 1988 by Leo Colovini and the late Alex Randolph, and now out in its third edition.  It’s a spy game played on a board displaying the map of Venice.  Such non-Venetian characters as Lord Fiddlebottom and Col. Bubble roam the streets of the Queen of the Seas, spying.  A more detailed explanation (in English) is given on the site I’ve linked to.

I think I've seen some of these characters, on the #1 vaporetto going toward the Lido.

I think I’ve seen some of these characters, on the #1 vaporetto going toward the Lido.

Now somebody could get to work on a board game in which you earn points by finding the one vaporetto with an available seat, getting to Venice on the tram with no more than one breakdown, crossing the Piazza San Marco at noon on a Sunday in July without touching anyone; you lose points by carrying more than one piece of luggage, buying an illegal handbag or a bag of corn to feed the pigeons, or leaving your empty beer can or ice-cream cup on a windowsill.

Actually, that doesn’t sound so much like a game. Forget I mentioned it.

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  1. Lisa Gordon says:

    Erla, I was pleasantly surprised to see the board games! My fiancé and I are game buffs and I actually have an English edition of Venetia that we picked up a while ago, so I can report there are rules available outside German and Italian. They also have Spanish, I believe. I’ve heard there are pdfs in Japanese online, so I think it is traveling further afield, now, for the love of game and of Venice. We knew of the creators, Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello, from a role playing game called Lex Arcana (a well-regarded Roman-Empire-with-magic series) from the 1990’s but I never knew they lived on the Giudecca. That’s pretty exciting; they write games with the history of their home and have shared it with countless others. I can give you a little snapshot of the Venezia game from the times we’ve broken it out so far:

    Venetia a good strategy style game with a lot of player tension, but it has a rep for being “serious.” Once you learn them, the game runs smoothly as you play a family and vie to control cities, fight pirates, spread a mercantile empire, go on crusade, foil each other’s plans, treaty/fight with enemy empires… Somehow, miraculously, it really does take around 90 minutes to do all that, or 60 with a “4th Crusade Scenario,” unless you and your friends argue for real about the game’s doge elections, necessitating bribery, lengthy debate, false accusations, and wine. (What else is new?)

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      This is hugely great to hear, all of it. (Especially the part about its being in English.) Thanks for filling in the blanks in my post!