I thought we were gonna talk about Venice? Yeah, let's do some of that.
Why is Venice #3?
"It's a playable city-state!" declares someone who has completely missed the point. Naturally, Venice can do a lot of things city-states can't, but they are clearly an experiment in how much the basic rules can be changed while still being fun and playable. The good news is Venice is a lot of fun to play and a real challenge as well. Somehow, "we'll put handicaps on you, the player" tends to get a worse reaction than the equal and opposite "we'll give the AI free stuff to make up for its poor play." It's really two sides of the same coin and when you pick Venice, you know you're going to get a very different game. It's because of this issue, not in spite of it, that I love to play as them. Add in flavorful bonuses like double trade routes and merchant takeovers and maybe they're not as weak as the reputation. Also, don't forget the Great Galleass, which never seems to rate a mention but is actually one of the very few unique naval units and a very appropriate choice, too.
Besides, who wouldn't want to be the Doge? Former trivia contest answer Enrico Dandolo truly shines as the wealthy blind old man whose schemes sometimes get a little out of hand. Like that whole Fourth Crusade misstep, for example.
You can pay me by attacking other Christians, it should work out.
Most Memorable Game as Venice?
I was going for the Great Betrayal achievement (I can't praise the number and creativity of the achievements in this game enough) and Byzantium was actually in the game and converted Venice to the One True Faith. Time to reward that with senseless violence. Nothing like a little historical propriety in what otherwise tends to veer into the most ridiculous historical "what ifs" imaginable. Apply the unique unit, send in some Knights, next thing you know the Crusader army is repeating the same mistakes because we don't like to learn from them. After this atrocity it was back to sending out cargo ships and building toward the diplomatic victory as if nothing had happened, just like in real life.
A funny thing happened on the way to Jerusalem...