Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice Designers Talk Bringing Stealth, Ezio, and More to the Tabletop

While we're all psyched for Assassin's CreedValhalla, fans in 2020 won't just have Eivor's adventures to look forward to. That's because Triton Noir will be releasing their much-anticipated Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood of Venice board game later this year, and you can pre-order the game right now. If you haven't kept up with the game, we thought we'd give you a full breakdown on why any Assassin's Creed fan should give it a look by talking to lead game designer and founder of Triton Noir Thibaud de la Touanne and story designer Fabrice Lamidey all about the game. Brotherhood of Venice is a four-player cooperative game that focuses on some key aspects of the franchise and includes a full campaign story that is set between Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Revelations. Oh, and yes, it. canon.

"We're big fans of Assassin's Creed obviously, and we wanted to make sure that the first game that we're making in this series, the board game that we wanted to make, was really going to talk to and address the biggest compilation of Assassin's Creed fans. That led us to select the Renaissance as the setting," Lamidey said. Then we found that there was something interesting to say in between those two games because there are a lot of evolutions between the games that are untold, a bit of a mystery in between the two, and also there are a lot of things that change in the Assassin's Creed universe between these two games."

"From the very start, we always wanted to make something that was cannon in the universe," Lamidey said. "We always worked very closely with Ubisoft on the characters, the story, and everything that goes into the game has been seen and approved by Ubisoft. I would say that the main story path is 100% canon. It doesn't necessarily talk about many characters from the games, obviously. It's different characters, so what we hope is that maybe one day you would see a spinoff a game, or maybe a novel or a comic book talking about Alessandra, Claudio, or one of our characters. We designed the characters and the story so that it is possible. It is all cannon with the small exception maybe the Creed vs Crows expansion, which is a competitive expansion. That one, it's a bit different."

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(Photo: Triton Noir)

Brotherhood of Venice does include Ezio, and he is playable in a sense, though players primarily control four new Assassins that have been created from the ground up.

"You can call Ezio from time to time to help you," Touanne said. "He can encourage you and you can benefit from his help for one turn. As Fabrice said, we'll keep the surprises, but you can call him from time to time and he can help you. He can also help you in your HQ, but each player plays their own assassin because we didn't want one player to play Ezio and the others play other assassins because it could be frustrating. I think it works well, and I think we created very cool assassins."

If you've glanced at the Kickstarter, you've probably noticed that the game also includes some amazing miniature Towers that your miniature can ascend, and just like in the video games, you'll synchronize when you get to the top of it, netting yourself some cool rewards in the process. Also yes, it does include a hay cart for full authenticity.

"Yeah. This is another painted version of the tower, but it's very big," Touanne said. "If you compare it to a miniature, it's very big. You can also place the character on top of the tower, which is cool because you can climb the tower and then synchronize, it will reveal things on the map that you can then head towards and get. Most of the time, it's optional. Sometimes you have to climb the tower to review your target, for example, and then it will appear on the map. But most of the time it's an optional objective, which is cool because you always have to decide, 'Do we take the risk to stay a little more on the map just to synchronize and maybe get a bonus or do we just leave because it's too risky and we have to leave?' Yeah, you have one tower on every map."

"There's another use for the towers in the Creed vs Crows expansion," Lamidey said. "Basically our towers are your HQ for each side. Your goal is most of the time to try and destroy your opponent's tower. You have two towers on every competitive map in the Creed vs Crows expansion."

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(Photo: Triton Noir)

Assassin's Creed has featured stylish combat in each installment, but the franchise is still built on the backbone of stealth gameplay, and that is definitely the focus of Venice.

"For example, here, we have Daria. Okay. When she enters a tile with an enemy, you have to roll the die. We have red dice. If you get an eye you're spotted. It's always a risk to enter a tile with an enemy. The best solution is to use, for example, throwing knives or smoke bombs. You can use equipment to avoid entering the tile like this and taking risks, or you can also play an assassin that has the ability to enter a tile without consequence."

"It's one of the ways to become exposed," Touanne said. "Another one is to use ... most of the weapons are noisy, as you can see with symbols that show the alarm. If you use this weapon, it's powerful, but if you use it, it will trigger the alarm. As the alarm keeps ringing we will have more enemies coming onto the map every turn. One of the aspects of the game is to try to trigger it as late as possible during the game.

"You also have many equipment and abilities to avoid that or to cancel it," Touanne said. "One of the key things of the game is it's a very tactical game and you really have to use what you have in your hands at the right time to make the best of your equipment and the aptitudes. It's really tactical and really cooperative, so you really need to discuss with the others around the table and take the right decisions together. When we go on conventions and people all play on their own side because they don't know each other and they try the game for the first time, most of the time they fail because they didn't use the best aspects of each character. It doesn't work."

Another hallmark of the franchise is utilizing others in your environment to help your mission, and that means Thieves, Mercenaries, and the Courtesans, and that is alive and well in Brotherhood of Venice.

"The Courtesans work like this," Touanne said. "You send a Courtesan on a tile next to one of your characters and then the guards will be attracted ... they will attract the attention of the guards so you can more easily pass. Mercenaries are straight-up fighters. When you attack, they add that dice to your attack and they escort for a small time. One cool thing also with the game that you have to decide at some point if you will choose to have the mercenaries HQ or the courtesans HQ. Then depending on your choice, which is a choice for the rest of the campaign, you will have the mercenaries or the courtesans playing with you. It's one of the coolest things because if you play again, each HQ has different stories inside also, so it makes the game a little different and that's cool."

As for the Thieves, they have a part to play as well. "In the base game, you can call the Thieves at any time, but in the Roma expansion, you have the thieves HQ, and then you have the thieves playing the same as the Mercenaries or Courtesans.

So, how does actual gameplay work? Touanne broke down a typical turn for us, and it's here you can really tell how a strategic player will succeed in the game far more than someone who charges in headfirst.

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(Photo: Triton Noir)

"First of all, you draw an Event Card," Touanne said. "Then every player plays the three actions of their Assassins. You can play totally free, so there is not a turn. You can play, for example, one action, then I play two, Fabrice plays three, you play one, etc. "When we complete that, it's his enemy's turn. The enemy's turn is pretty straightforward. I wanted it to be fast, so you just move the enemies and make them attack. You have reinforcements coming on the map, then they move and then they attack. The way they move most of the time, you can anticipate it. There is not a lot of luck involved. You know that they will go north, so if your character is on a tile, you know that the enemies will come on your tile when you play. This is indicated on the cards. When you draw it at the beginning of the turn, you know that the enemies will move south when they move, because we don't want too much randomness in the game. We want you to win because you utilized good tactics, good strategy and not just because you rolled the dice correctly."

Tabletop gaming has experienced a renaissance recently (pun totally intended), and it's more important than ever for games to maintain the depth longtime players expect while also being new player-friendly, especially on those first turns where most new players are won or lost.

"We spent a lot of time on this point, particularly when writing the rules," Touanne said. "We have two systems. We have the classic system where you just read all the rules and you can play the game. This is for the core gamers, but we also made a way that you just to read these few points of rules and then you can play this mission. Then you can read the next set of new points and you can play the next mission."

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Also, when you draw a new kind of equipment for the first time, for example, these parachutes, you can see a little number and it's a point in the rulebook. These cards when you draw them tell you that you have to read point 24 and then point 25. Those rule points then explain how to use this type of card because this is the first time you are using it. We also have tokens, and they use the same principle. You place the token on the map, and when a character reaches this token, it will refer you to that point, for example, how to open a chest."

Crazily enough that's just a taste of what's in the game, so if that sounds like a game you want to play then you can head over to the official page and pre-order right now. Also, be on the lookout for more from our interview about the game soon, and as always you can find me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things Assassin's Creed and Tabletop!

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