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English language edition
List Price: $39.95
Your Price: $31.95
(Worth 3,195 Funagain Points!)
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from 9 customer reviews
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Venice, also called Serenissima, the most venerable, flourished in the late middle ages as a merchant center. The old established families competed for political power and influence in this city state. As the heads of these families, the players use their power and influence to build the most magnificent buildings and palaces along the Grand Canal. Those that move swiftly and cleverly may attain the highest office in Venice: the office of the Doge!
Players: 3 - 4
Time: 60 - 80 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 1,405 grams
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
- 1 board
- 60 houses
- 32 palaces
- 9 advisors
- 28 ballot boxes
- 24 influence markers
- 42 cards
- 1 rule booklet
- 1 rule summary
Average Rating: 3.6 in 9 reviews
Unlike the last two reviewers, our group really enjoyed Doge. I found Doge to be exciting and fun. The game played quickly, and prompted careful thought. As long as you like a game with some bluffing, I give this one a thumbs-up.
I suppose some might complain about 'blind-bidding' in this game. But I felt there was a lot of information to process around the decisions. You always know what the next seven elections will be. Consideration for whether or not an advisor will be in place at any given election must be given. We frequently abstained from claiming advisors in order to move houses across town.
We expect to be enjoying Doge for quite some time!
Doge is a neat little game. Its great for non-competitive players and families because of its above-average luck factor. The luck isnt so overt as in Settlers, but it lies in the guessing of your opponents moves. Nobody is ever sure of whats happening due to the blind bidding. So its hard for beginners to implement a strategy, but not impossible. In fact, there is more strategy happening on peoples faces than the game board. This I like.
While comparisons have been drawn to El Grande and Taj Mahal (two games I quite enjoy), I saw the parallel, but I didnt feel it. I think Doge is much more reminiscent of Knizias Royal Turf (another light strategy game thats high on luck, high on fun) especially with that 0 betting chip.
The theme works. It doesnt make me feel like Im in Venice, but it does make me feel like Im in a political battle. And this game does a wonderful job of solving the downtime problem so unmistakably avoidable in other games. For this reason, it plays fast. Very few games can boast this kind of tension in such a quick duration. I originally passed on this game because of my ignorance of the designer, but Colovini has done well. Not groundbreaking, but unique.
Doge is the type of game that gives you a lot of choices on each turn, and for me, this is what makes the game so much fun. On each turn players must decide how many districts and which districts they wish to compete in, how many votes each district is going to get, and the respective value for each of these votes--and this is just phase one. In phase two, the elections are resolved and further questions arise related to moving houses or controlling representatives (this is further complicated by the order in which the elections are held for the current round as well as the known order for the elections for next round). Factor in the ever-increasing cost of building palaces and the parliamentary district and you've got quite a game on your hands. You'll find your head swimming with options as new situations arise requiring new decisions and new strategies.
Doge has a lot going for it. First, I find the setting of the game--Medieval Venice--fascinating (sorry, I'm an historian). The Doge was one of the great power-brokers of the Middle Ages as he controlled Europe's major trading center with the East. Second, Doge is beautifully produced with a colorful map and solid wooden pieces. Third, despite the fact that there are so many options on each turn, the game is fairly easy to play. The rules are simple and clear, with little abiguity. Fourth, the game is playable in about one hour. The turns play quickly (all players play phase one simultaniously and phase two involves all players at various times) and the interest level usually remains high. Fifth, because of the way all players reveal their districts in phase one simultaniously and the way the elections are resolved in phase two, each turn is full of tension. Lastly, since there are no dice involved, the game relies more on players' actions than on pure luck (this is not to say that chance plays no role whatsoever).
Doge has its drawbacks too. The early part of the game (when all the districts are open and no palaces have been built) seems to rely much more on chance than later rounds. If someone runs unopposed in a few districts early on, he/she is virtually guaranteed a couple of easy palaces while the other players are going tooth-and-nail over three or four tightly contested districts. This can lead to one player building up a solid lead while the others scramble to catch-up. Personally, I like the way the game develops. Since each player is responsible for where they place their own votes, it gives some sense of control but also allows an acceptable amount of chance. Plus, it's interesting to see if someone who jumps out to an early lead can capitalize and exploit their advantage. The second drawback to the game is related to this, however. If one player gets a lead, and knows the subtleties of the game, it's almost impossible to overtake them. This doesn't necessarily mean whoever gets the early lead will always win, but if they know what they're doing, they probably will.
Still, despite the aforementioned issues, I find the game very worthwhile. Doge is challenging, fast-moving, beautiful, and very re-playable. In fact, as I was teaching a friend how to play the game, he asked me what the overall strategy of the game was. I knew I liked the game and would be playing it for a while when I realized that I couldn't give him a general formula for victory. There are just too many variables. While it's true that certain patterns appear (like using advisors early and moving houses later on) and strategies become apparent, specific situations demand different strategies that may run contrary to those patterns (e.g., the last time I won, I won because of a crucial late-game advisor move to break a tie in a key district). If all of this sounds too confusing, don't let it scare you. As I said earlier, the game is simple to learn, but the strategies are complex. If you like strategy games that give you a lot of options each turn but are playable in about an hour, you'll enjoy figuring out the subtle, yet elegant, nature of Doge.
This is a good game if you like bluffing and strategy. You have limited resources and cannot go back to an area in which you have already bid. This forces you to really have to think about your goals and how best to attain them while thwarting your opponents. Timing of your bids can be crucial, and don't underestimate the power of the advisors!
If you are looking for a light, fluffy fill game, this game isn't the one. Like the previous reviewers have said... this game can be mentally taxing... but thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable.
If you enjoy games with a large amount of bluffing (you Aladdin's Dragons players will love this one) and a lot of mixed strategy and tactics, this game should not be passed.
The only problem we've had with the game is the occasional slow bidding round when one or two key areas are being contested (it's really hard to decide what to do with your limited options). There is virtually no downtime during the game itself as all bids are revealed simultaneously.
Probably best played with four instead of three... and, with some tweaking, could probably be played with five if you wanted to fudge some game components.
Highly recommended! This game is definitely SdJ material... it should give Java a good run for the money.
I agree with the statements by the other reviewer. It is a very good game with little luck involved. It does not merit five stars because it seems that it would get old fairly quickly, although your milage may vary. I would recommend buying this game to someone looking for a game that emphasized strategy over luck.
'That's Amore, 'Volare', 'Forget Domani' Just like Martin, Sinatra, and Como crooning Italian love songs in the 50's & 60's, Italy seems to the game designer's country of choice recently with La Citta, Princes of Florence, Vino and Leo Colovini's latest, Doge. By definition, 'Doge' was the title bestowed upon the holder of the highest office in Venice for over 1000 years influencing the control of trade and business of Italy. Rome had the Pope, but Venice held the purse strings. Doge is a simple recreation of the families of power jockeying to become the 'Doge'.
Doge consists of two phases in which players vie for control of six districts and advisors of Venice along with the advisors of the Quarantia, a type of Italian parliment. Control of a district lets you build one or two houses, which in turn build palaces. With each palace built in a district (max. 5), the cost to build the next one increases. Build six or more palaces throughout Venice guidelines and you win the title of 'Doge'.
Phase one consists of three rounds (four with three players) of secret voting. Players select an area from their identical set of cards, lay it face down with 1 - 4 votes (values from 0 - 3). Players reveal what district they are trying to influence, BUT not the value of their votes until phase two.
Phase two reveals the value of votes for each district. Top # of votes receives the 'Advisor' for that area and two houses in that district. Runner-up receives one house. Control of an 'Advisor' allows the player to add 1 vote per advisor in any other district but its own. As soon as a player meets the criteria (# of houses) to place a palace, he may do so.
Players repeat phases till a victor is determined.
I really enjoyed the play of this game. There is very little down time between players, and with the '0' votes, the opportunity to bluff your opponents in the districts is great. While it sounds like an oxymoron, the pre-determined randomness of when districts reveal the votes placed on them, it works in this game and reduces any luck factor. There are however, two rule disputes that kept me from giving a five star rating. The first challenge involves players who tie with the # of houses to build a palace. When players tie, rules state both may build a palace for the same cost, but only five palaces are allowed in each district. If the tie occurs for that fifth palace, can both players build, putting a SIXTH palace in the district? We decided since ties are allowed, you could though there is no space on the board to put it. The second challenge involves the Rulebook versus the Rules Summary Card. When a player gets majority votes in a district, he receives two houses in the district and the 'Advisor'. A player can give-up (neutralize) the advisor and instead move an exsisting house in or out of that district to another. Rulebook states this happens BEFORE placing your two houses, Summary card shows it happening AFTER. This is important as a player could place his two houses, then immediately move one of them to another district. A distinct advantage later in the game. We decided Rulebook takes precedent, but one player balked as it killed his endgame strategy.
DOGE is a medium complexity influence game in par with El Grande, Web of Power and Taj Mahal. The bits and pieces are solid, cards neat, and wonderful game board graphics. Worth buying and will probably be in the 2001 Spiel de Jahres running.
It's basically a bidding/bluffing game, where you allocate your pool of influence to 3 of the 9 regions each turn, with the player who allocates the most getting houses. Houses can then be converted to palaces, with the early converters getting better rates.
And that, sadly, is about it. You get to claim advisors in regions that you win, and these have some small effect on the game, but really it's all about getting the most mileage out of your bid tokens.
For me, I guess, it comes down to the rather ugly matter of cost. For a $10 card game (which it could very easily be) this would not be too bad. For a big-box (and price) board game, it doesn't hold your interest much past the 3rd play. In a Goldsieber line that is not exactly known for killer games, it's not even as good as Big City, Medieval Merchant, or Vino (never mind Lwenhertz).
Tried this one at the weekly game session. The concept of blind bidding didn't make sense to the players and consumed a lot of time until the end of the game. Hard to stop someone who breaks away from the pack. This one is going to sit on my shelf for a while, which was agreed by the rest of the group. "Seemed like guessing and whoever guessed best to stay away from other players won, 'cause you can't stop 'em for long." Blecch!
The heat of scheming political battle increases dramatically during these secret ballots to control the medieval city. Each round, everyone chooses districts and places up to four markers (numbered from 0 to 3) facedown in each. The highest total wins a district. The victor builds two houses there and places the representative from that district as an extra vote in another district yet to be counted. Three houses can be exchanged to build a district's first Palace; further Palaces become increasingly expensive. You win if you have enough Palaces in several districts. It's every Venetian for himself in this Machiavellian scenario.
This is a game about the politics of medieval Venice, which was ruled by a Council of Ten consisting of nine "Advisors" and an elected Head of State--the Doge. Players, representing the heads of prominent merchant families, compete to construct palaces along the frontage of the Grand Canal, so attaining the necessary status to be elected to the supreme office.
The game is beautifully produced with plenty of heft factor to the box. You get a tasteful game-board showing a map of central Venice, a mass of coloured wooden houses and palaces, several big pawns, card sets, and various ballot tokens and control markers. The 8-page rulebook is crystal clear and fully illustrated in colour, with a separate rules summary and game overview sheet for easy reference. So, quality components, but how does it play?
Victory goes to the first player to construct one palace in each of the six districts marked on the map, or alternatively a total of seven palaces in five districts, or eight in four.
In order to build palaces, players have to first construct a number of houses (as in Monopoly) before they can trade up for a palace. The right to build houses in any district is determined by a series of ballots, which are the core of the game. Each player has seven ballot markers numbered 0,1,1,2,2,3,3 and may play up to four of them face down onto a card--also face down--corresponding to one of the districts. When all players have placed their ballots the card is revealed--but not the ballots. Thus a player will know where his opponents have played but not in what strength, giving plenty of scope for bluff and that pleasing sense of having to choose between several desirable options. These actions are repeated three times in a four-player game. The ballot tokens are then revealed in each district in the order determined by a further set of cards of which more in a moment. The player with the most votes gets to place two houses into that district, while the runner up gets to place one. If a player has sufficient houses in the district he may immediately trade these in for a palace. The first palace constructed in any given district costs three houses, the second four, and so on up to seven for the fifth and last palace that can be built there. Thus the cost of the palaces escalates dramatically, and the decisions on where and when to play your ballots become that much harder.
The player who had the most votes also has the option to take control of the Advisor for that district and place him in any other district where he will provide an additional free vote. The Advisor is represented by a chunky wooden pawn showing the coat of arms for "his" district embossed on his head. Control of the pawn is denoted by a cardboard ring of the player's colour which slips over his head like the brim of a hat--a nice colourful touch. Alternatively the player may decline to take control of an Advisor, and elect instead to move a house into or out of the home district of that Advisor. This may well permit a palace to be constructed in another district, thus frustrating the carefully laid plans of an opponent.
A seventh "special" district--the Quarantino--is voted on in the same manner as the central districts, but players do not have the option to build houses or palaces in this location. Instead there are three Advisors up for grabs--two for the player with most votes and one for the runner up. As with the central districts, a player may choose to move a house rather than take control of an advisor, but in this instance may move the house from or to any other location--a powerful option later in the game.
The order in which the ballots are resolved is driven by two sets of seven cards showing the coat of arms for each district, which are displayed along the bottom of the map-board. One set is displayed face up, providing the order of play for the current turn, while the second set is face down. However, one card from the second set is revealed after each district has been resolved so that as the turn progresses players will have increasing knowledge about the order of play for the subsequent round--and can take this into account when deciding where to place any Advisors they may take control of. At the end of the round the first set of cards is reshuffled, becoming the face-down set for the next round.
And that's it. There is a certain randomness about the opening rounds, when any conflict will be the product of chance, or bloody-mindedness, but as the players' positions develop the pressure to compete grows dramatically and a tight finish is practically guaranteed. Play proceeds in rounds lasting about ten minutes, and a typical game will require six or seven rounds.
So what you have is a rather clever game of bluff and tactical placement, nicely themed and beautifully presented. I am not a great fan of bluffing games, but I like this a lot. The systems work well, and the thematic gloss appeals to the medieval historian in me. However, you should be aware that there were very mixed reviews from the Brit-pack at Essen. I think this had something to do with learning the umpteenth new game of the show at eleven o'clock at night, but one ignores the opinion of the great and good at one's peril. With that in mind, it may be sensible to try before you buy. My advice, however, is buy it.