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There's a notional theme of course. Yusuke Emi's Volto is purportedly about two rival families competing for the position of Doge of Venice. That's a thin thematic veneer, however, just as there was an equally thin theme when Little Future published as Orc a previous edition of essentially the same game. Volto, and Orc before it, is actually a short, tight abstract strategy game for two players where neither players knows the identity of their opponent's pieces.

Players each have three Nobles, three Advisors, two Ladies, one Soldier and one Candidate but, as in the classic game Stratego (Jumbo Games) only you can see which is which as you deploy your pieces out onto the board (neoprene playmat laid out in a 5 x 7 grid). To win, you need to get your Candidate to your opponent's palace on the other side of the board, or capture your opponent's Candidate, or capture both of your opponent's Ladies.

Pieces each have their own particular movement abilities, so when, for example, you move your Soldier multiple spaces you'll be giving away that the piece you've moved is a Soldier. On the other hand when you move a piece one space along a diagonal, that piece could be an Advisor, a Lady or the Candidate... Volto then is a game both of strategic positioning and movement, as well as deduction and bluff.

Blue Orange have done a great job with the production of Volto. Aside from the neoprene play mat, we especially liked the fact that each of the plastic playing pieces has its movement options printed on it; this helps make Volto instantly playable out of the box. And it plays quickly too: even with the most deliberative players, you can expect games to take no more than 10 minutes.

You don't for a moment feel like you're electing the Doge of Venice but Volto is nonetheless an engrossing filler-length strategy game.

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