In Rise of Venice, fans of trading simulations were put at the helm of a shipping company based out of the Venice of the 1400’s. Where Patrician and Port Royale – both built by Gaming Minds and part of the same family of trading games - focused solely on trading and naval combat, Rise of Venice introduced the senate as a way to progress in rank and adopted the dynasty gameplay mechanic from Patrician IV: Rise of a Dynasty. It meant not only haggling for trade goods, but also smooching up to members of the senate in order to stay in their good graces and applying the skills of members of your family to help you progress through the game. As a result, the game was a little more dynamic than its older siblings simply due to offering some variation to its core trading gameplay.
Rise of Venice: Beyond the Sea expands upon the dynasty side of things by adding ‘residence missions’. Think senate missions, but dished out by your family members and slightly different to what you are used to. The new Doge tasks follow the same line, offering additional missions though often of a grander scale than the family ones. Neither do anything groundbreaking, but they do add some more variety into the mix.
A newly added ship type, the NAO, speaks to the imagination, being the ship that Christopher Columbus sailed to America. Stripping away that bit of history, the NAO is a good ship with decent speed and a set of 32 cannons. It acts as a replacement to the Carrack, but if you want it you will have to work for it as you cannot build it Venice. History buffs will like this little tidbit of historical accuracy, as you can only build the NAO in Spain or Portugal.
Sharp-minded fans of Rise of Venice will have noticed that building the NAO would be impossible, as the map of the Mediterranean simply doesn’t reach far enough West for there to be any Spanish and Portuguese ports. Beyond the Sea is way ahead of you and expands the map to include new ports all the way to the Atlantic coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. It’s a sizeable increase that offers a total of 13 new ports to trade with.
All of the changes that the addon brings really do improve the game but I have to question the 20 dollar price point. Compared to the base game, which sells for $40, the addon simply does not bring enough to justify its price. The addon would be good value for money and get a heartily made recommendation at half the price and a nod of approval at $15.
Players may also be unpleasantly surprised to find that to access these new features, they will have to start from scratch. In a trading game that gets better and more complex as your empire grows in size, starting over can mean jettisoning weeks or months of work. Venetian merchants that can put those things aside, however, will no doubt appreciate the ability to conquer new ports and fulfill new missions in the Beyond the Sea expansion.
50% more map, 13 new towns, many more missions
On the expensive side.