Insofar as I can tell, this is a game that was only published in Germany (ie: in the 16 years since the game was originally published, Queen Games don’t appear to have produced an English or international edition).
In Venezia, the players represent the pigeons of Venice. The game is one of area control, where players score for having majority presence in each of the districts of the city. Players place their pigeons (wooden cubes) on face-down location cards that are revealed simultaneously. That means players will know how many pigeons their opponents are flocking to a location but not which specific locations (up to three) they are sending them to.
Other than in the first round, players also play a face-down action card which will affect the game. All players start with an identical set of action cards, and these are discarded after use, although there is a mechanism for cards to be recovered for subsequent replay.
The unique element of Venezia, and its key appeal, is the option players have each turn of sending their pigeons to St Mark’s Square. This is represented by a 10x8 grid. Pigeons allocated to St Marks are placed on empty squares on the grid at the players’ choice. Then two spinners are used to show the co-ordinates where two tourists and a pigeon catcher will be placed. The pigeon catcher culls all pigeons adjacent to him. The tourists, however, feed adjacent pigeons and so enable players to breed more pigeons in their nest. Players have the opportunity to move their pigeons one square or to jump over pigeons as in draughts (checkers) to get adjacent to the tourists once they are placed. There are special rules over landing on top of the tourists and rules enabling opposing pigeons to be killed by catching them in a pincer movement.
Though this game is light enough to be played by families, it is a game with a lot of ‘take that’ mechanics. Players will ultimately succeed only by doing down their opponents through their manipulation of the action cards and area control placement, and through their positioning in relation to the tourists. It’s a game with a good mix of luck and skill: the only random elements being the spinners’ determination each round of where the tourists and pigeon catcher are sited.