The Patrons of Venice

Rules for Evaluation Purposes

by Ken Stevens


Ages 10 and up.  3-5 players.

© Toccata Games 2004






At the height of the Renaissance, the Mediterranean was alive with trading galleys exchanging prized goods between Europe, Africa and the Far East.  Vessels from the Baltic Sea brought lumber, wool, iron, and hemp to the Mediterranean while ships from the Black Sea delivered silk and spices from the Far East.  At the centre of it all was the port city of Venice, the “Queen of the Adriatic,” where merchant families earned fortunes from this trade.


As the head of a Venetian merchant family, you begin the game with a few ships carrying trade goods.  Using the trade income from these ships, you sponsor local businesses that manufacture raw goods into valuable luxury goods and sell them to local Aristocraticci for wealth and favore.  Compete against other families for raw goods and prime Venetian real estate.  Do you place your new draper business in the draper quarter where it will be more profitable or beside the Campo with the beautiful statue where it will earn your family more prestige?




  • 1 Map Board
  • 5 Player Boards
  • 40 white chips (1 Ducat coins)
  • 20 red chips (5 Ducat coins)
  • 50 Player Cubes (10 each of blue, red, green, yellow, and brown)
  • 69 Raw Good Cards (white)
  • 18 Manufactured Good Cards (yellow)
  • 18 Favour Cards (purple)
  • 10 Manufacturing Business Tiles (yellow)
  • 9 Luxury Business Tiles (purple)
  • 6 Statue Tiles (green)




The Map Board depicts Renaissance Venice.  Along one edge of the Map Board is the Market, where players buy and sell Good Cards.  Along the other edge of the Map Board is the Pirate Wharf, where Players buy Good Cards that were stolen by the Pirates from the Players’ Ships.


Within the map area of the Map Board are a number of labelled green areas.  These are Campi (e.g. Campo Dei Frari, Campo San Polo …).  Surrounding each Campo are a number of brown rectangles.  These represent Buildings adjacent to the Campo.  In the course of the game, players will place Statue Tiles in the Campi and Business Tiles on the Building rectangles.  Statue Tiles belong to the City of Venice and are not owned by any particular player, whereas all Business Tiles will have a Player Cube on them to indicate their owner.


A Building is said to be “Adjacent” to a Campo if the Building and the Campo are beside one another, edge to edge.  For example, there are four Buildings adjacent to Campo Dei Frari and six Buildings adjacent to Campo San Polo (and two Buildings adjacent to both Campi).  When two Buildings are adjacent to the same Campo, they are said to be in the same campo.


The Canals drawn on the map serve no function in the game; they are purely there for artistic purposes.



Each player board depicts 3 Ships with arrows between them.  Players place new Raw Good Cards on the leftmost ships, and these goods sail from left to right until they arrive at the player’s port in Venice.  These Raw Good Cards on players’ Ships are called Shipments.  Player Cubes are placed on these Shipments when they’re reserved.  The numbers on the Good Cards indicate their value at the Market.


Beneath the ships is the Production Materials Table.  This table indicates which Good Cards are required to produce Manufactured and Luxury Goods.  For example, in order to produce a Canvas Good, the player requires a Hemp Good Card in his hand.  Similarly, in order to produce a Luxury Tent, the player requires a Lumber, Silk and Canvas Good Card in his hand.  In order to produce these Manufactured and Luxury Goods, players not only require the necessary Good Cards in their hands, but also need to own the corresponding Business Tile on the Map Board.  The picture of the good produced on the Player Board indicates the type of Business Tile required.  For example, on the Player Board the Wagon Luxury Good has a picture of a Wagon on it which matches the picture of the Wagon on the Wainwright Business Tile.  The number on each Business Tile indicates the cost to start up that business.


Also on the Player Board is the list of actions the player chooses between when it’s his turn as well as a list of all incomes and expenses in the game.




  • Place sorted Manufactured Good Cards in piles beside the board with the corresponding Manufactured Business Tiles beside them.
  • Place sorted Luxury Business Tiles beside the board with the pile of Favour Cards.
  • Each player takes a Player Board.
  • Shuffle Raw Good Cards and deal a number out as follows:
    • 1 face down to each player’s hand (players hide Good Cards in their hands).
    • 2 face up to the Market area of the Map Board.
    • 3 face up onto the Ships of each Player Board.

If any Grain, Wine, or Pepper Good Cards are dealt to players’ hands or the Market, replace them with new Raw Good Cards.  If any Pirates! Cards are dealt anywhere, replace them with new Raw Good Cards.  Shuffle any replaced cards back into the deck of Raw Good Cards.  Place the remaining Raw Good Cards beside the Map Board to form the Raw Good Draw Deck.

  • Each player takes 10 Ducats (1 red chip and 5 white chips).  The remaining Ducat chips are placed beside the Map Board in the “Bank”.
  • Identify the second-youngest player.  They will take the first turn.




Players take turns clockwise around the table until a Game End condition is reached.  When it is a player’s turn, he is the Lead Player for that turn.  As the Lead Player, he chooses the action that all players will perform on that turn.


Here is the list of actions.


  1. Reserve Goods on Ships.


Merchants reserve goods on ships sailing to Venice.

Starting with the Lead Player and proceeding clockwise, each player may reserve one Shipment on any player’s Ship by paying the reservation cost and placing one of his Player Cubes on that Shipment.  To reserve a Shipment on his own Ship, a player pays 1 Ducat to the Bank.  To reserve a Shipment on another player’s Ship, a player pays 2 Ducats to the other player.  Once a good has been reserved by a player, it may not be reserved by another player.

  1. Sail Ships to Venice.

Ships sail towards Venice.  The rightmost ship on each player’s board sails into Venice.  Its shipment is either stolen by pirates, delivered to the merchant who reserved it, purchased by the owner of the ship, or sold to the Market by the owner of the ship.


A Sail turn occurs in four steps.


a.       Draw New Shipment Cards.  Draw a number of Raw Good Cards equal to the number of players from the Raw Good Draw Deck.  Place these cards face up beside the Map Board.  These are the New Shipment Cards.  If there are not enough cards in the Raw Good Draw Deck, shuffle the Raw Good Discard Pile into the Raw Good Draw Deck and use it as the new Raw Good Draw Deck.

b.      Pirates.  If one or more of the New Shipment Cards is a “Pirates!” card, then pirates steal the rightmost Shipment from each Player Board unless that Shipment was reserved:  Move all non-reserved Shipments from the rightmost Ship of each Player Board to the Pirate Wharf.  Reserved Shipments remain on the Player Boards.  Discard any Pirates! New Shipment Cards and replace them with new cards drawn from the Raw Good Draw Deck until there are a number of New Shipment Cards equal to the number of players.
Important: If all 4 “Pirates!” cards are in the Raw Good Discard Pile, shuffle the Raw Good Discard Pile back into the Raw Good Draw Deck.

c.       Unload Ships.  If the rightmost Shipment wasn’t stolen, the player unloads that Shipment as follows.

                                                   i.      If the good to be unloaded has a Player Cube on it, it moves directly to the hand of the player who reserved it.  The receiving player either takes the good into his hand at no cost, or immediately sells it to the Market for the price listed on the card.

                                                 ii.      Otherwise, the player who owns the Shipment being unloaded either takes the good into his hand at no cost, or immediately sells it to the Market for the price listed on the card.

Note: If a good sold to the Market was Grain, Wine, or Pepper, then the good is not placed in the Market, but is placed in the Raw Good Discard Pile instead.

d.      Place New Shipments.  Once all of the rightmost Shipments have been unloaded, each player moves their two remaining Shipments one Ship to the right so that each player’s leftmost Ship is now empty.  Starting with the Lead Player, each player chooses a New Shipment Card to place on his leftmost empty Ship.

  1. Trade Goods at the Market.

Merchants buy and sell goods at the Market and the Pirate Wharf.

The Trade action occurs in two steps.


a.       Sell.  Starting with the Lead Player, each player in turn sells as many items he wishes to the Market.  The value of each Good Card is printed on the Good Card.  When selling a Good Card, the player places the Good Card in the Market and takes Ducats from the Bank equal to the value of the Good Card.  Grain, Wine and Pepper cards are placed in the Raw Good Discard Pile instead of the Market.

b.      Buy.  Once the Sell step has finished, the Buy step begins.  Beginning with the Lead Player, each player in turn may buy one item from either the Market or the Pirate Wharf or “pass.”  All goods at the Pirate Wharf cost 1 Ducat.  Goods at the Market cost the price on the Good Card.  Buying continues around the table until all players “pass.”  Players who “pass” on an earlier buying round can jump back in and buy a good in a later round.


  1. Sponsor a Business or Statue.

Merchant families sponsor new businesses in Venice and erect statues.  To start a new business, a merchant has to demonstrate he’s serious about getting into that business by possessing the goods that business requires.  When building statues, family pride demands that each statue be more grandiose than the previous.

Starting with the Lead Player and proceeding clockwise, each player may sponsor a new business or statue in the city of Venice.  In order to sponsor a business, a player must either already own a business of that type or have the raw goods consumed by that business as follows.

                                                   i.      To sponsor a Draper or Canvaser business, a player must either already own a Manufacturing Business Tile of that type or show the other players that he has either a Wool (Draper) or a Hemp (Canvaser) Raw Good Card in his hand.

                                                 ii.      To sponsor a Luxury Business, the player must either already own a Luxury Business of that type, or show the other players that he has at least 2 out of the 3 goods required to make that Luxury in his hand.

Once the player has met the requirements to sponsor a business, he pays the cost to start the business to the Bank, takes the Business Tile, places it in any available Building on the Map Board, and places one of his Player Cubes on the tile to indicate that he is the patron of that business.   The cost to sponsor a business is printed on the Business Tile.

Instead of sponsoring a business, a player may choose to sponsor a statue in a Campo.  To sponsor a Statue, the player pays the cost to build the statue to the Bank, takes a Statue Tile and places it in any Vacant Campo on the Map Board.   The cost to build the first statue is 3 Ducats.  The cost to build all subsequent statues is 3 Ducats plus the number of statues already in Venice.


A player may not sponsor both a business and a statue in the same turn.

  1. Produce Goods at Business.


Businesses consume raw goods to produce manufactured or luxury goods.  Customers are drawn to statues and quarters where like businesses are congregated.  Gondola Makers earn income by transporting goods to other businesses in their campo.


Each player in turn produces as many goods as he can.  For each good produced, the player must have in his hand the Good Cards required to produce the good and he must have on the Map Board the corresponding Business Tiles required to produce goods of that kind.  The quantity of goods a player can produce is limited both by the number of Good Cards in the player’s hand and by the number of Business Tiles the player owns of that type.  For example, a player holding 3 Hemp Raw Good Cards who has 2 Canvaser Business Tiles on the Map Board would be allowed to produce only 2 Canvas Goods that turn since he has only 2 Canvasers in Venice.  A player is allowed to produce more than one type of good in the same turn provided he has the Good Cards and Business Tiles required.


Raw Good Cards consumed are discarded to the Raw Good Discard Pile.  Manufactured Good Cards consumed are returned to the Manufactured Good piles beside the board.


When a player produces a Manufactured Good, he takes the Manufactured Good Card from the Manufactured Good pile into his hand.  When a player produces a Luxury Good, he receives a Favour Card from the Favour Card pile.  Favour Cards are placed face up in front of the player so all players can see how many Favour Cards each player has.


Players also earn Ducats for producing goods.  First, producing earns the player a Base Income per good produced as follows.

                                                   i.      The Base Income for producing a Cloth or Canvas Good is 0 Ducats.

                                                 ii.      The Base Income for producing a Wagon, Armour, Tent or Clothing Good is 5 Ducats.

                                                iii.      The Base Income for producing a Gondola is a number of Ducats equal to the total number of non-Gondola Business Tiles in the same campo as the Gondola Maker.  Note: If the Gondola Maker is adjacent to two campi, the Base Income is determined by the campo that earns the Gondola Maker  the most income.


In addition to the Base Income, producing can earn the player a Bonus Income per good produced as follows.

                                                   i.      Earn +1 Ducat if there is a statue adjacent to the business where the good is produced.

                                                 ii.      Earn +1 Ducat if there is another business of the same type in the same Campo as that business.

For each good produced, the player decides which Business Tile the good is produced at and earns the base income and bonus income according to that Business Tile.  Both bonuses can be earned by the same Business Tile.  If the player produces more than one good of the same type, each good must be produced by a different Business Tile.

Note: Neither of the produce bonuses can be earned multiple times by a single business.  For example, if a business is adjacent to 2 Campi each containing a statue, the player still earns only a +1 Ducat statue bonus for producing at that business.  Similarly, if a Draper Business Tile shares a Campo with 2 other Draper Business Tiles, that Draper still earns only a +1 Ducat bonus for being in the same campo as other Draper businesses.




A 3- or 4-player game ends at the end of the turn where a player has 12 points.  A 5-player game ends at the end of the turn where a player has 10 points.  Each business owned by a player is worth 1 point.  Each business adjacent to a statue is worth 2 points.  Each Favour Card in front of a player is worth 1 point.  The player with the most points wins.  Ties are broken by Ducats.




During the “Produce” action, if a player has the necessary goods, he may produce a manufactured or luxury good using another player’s business.  When this is done, the player exchanges his Good Cards for the Manufactured Good Card or the Favour Card, and the player owning the business receives any money earned from the production.




I’d like to give special thanks to the people who play-tested early versions of this game and made many excellent suggestions—in particular to Paul Merriam and Brian Rudy for their help with the historical research, Mike Enns for a number of rule changes that fit perfectly, and to Patrick Maguire, Kali Chapman, John Marshall, and Gilles Dignard for their observations that resulted in rule and material improvements.  Lastly, I want to thank my wife Irina, who not only graciously supported my hours thinking, typing, drawing, printing, cutting and pasting that went into this game, but who also played in nearly every play-test and won most of them—helping me tune the balance between various winning strategies.





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19-Sep-04  Rev 2.6