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- Construct a Customs House (Great tile improvement)
- Conduct Trade Mission (When in a city-state, can produce a large amount of Gold and Influence.)
- Buy City-State (Purchases any City-State you are not at war with and in the territory of, and puts it and its units under your control.)
The unit is expended after performing any of these actions.
The Merchant of Venice is the second unique Great Person in the game and is vital to the Venetians, allowing them to expand their empire peacefully via the Purchase City-State ability. With it, the Merchant of Venice uses his considerable personal wealth to literally "purchase" a city-state, buying out and bribing his way into the highest levels of the government of the city-state and then manipulating them into officially joining the Venetian Empire. Since the Venetians can't build Settlers, the Merchant of Venice is the only way for them to expand, barring military conquest (or diplomatic tricks).
Once purchased by a Merchant of Venice, a city-state becomes a puppet. It forever loses its city-state status and cannot be liberated, though another civilization can puppet or annex it through war. (Interestingly, a purchased city-state can also be razed, unlike a normal city-state.) This ability works on any city-states regardless of influence - even those allied with another civilization - though it cannot be used on a city-state with which the Merchant of Venice's owner is at war.
Beyond the ability to purchase city-states, the Merchant of Venice also has other advantages:
- +2 movement at sea (right from the start; this comes in addition to any technology-related movement boosts). This allows the Merchant to reach its targets much faster than a normal Great Merchant, thus saving considerable time to the Venetian player. Try to move in the water whenever possible to make maximum use of this advantage.
- +100% Gold and Influence from Trading missions. If you don't need to enhance your empire anymore (or you simply don't want to at the moment), you can do a "normal" Trade mission, which will net you an avalanche of money and influence (especially if you adopted the Entrepreneurship Social Policy).
The merchants operating out of Venice in the 13th through 16th centuries were more than just traders; they were explorers, diplomats, geographers and authors. Besides bringing wealth to the Venetian Republic, they brought back knowledge and culture, and set them down in writing. The exploits of individuals such as Marco Polo, Gasparo Balbi and Ambrogio Contarini not only made Venice rich, but famous as well.
The unit's name is a reference to the William Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice.