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This review is part of my series of reviews of how multiplayer games work with just 2. For the full list see: My 2 player game reviews.
Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?
There are no rules differences in a 2 player game.
How is the game different with 2?
The basic gameplay is completely unchanged, as the majority of the game is completely solitaire - one player is drawing from the bag, while the others fill in their boards. The only differences come from the competition for the goals in the centre. With two players it's very zero-sum, and there are more goals available for each player, so both players will probably get quite a few. With more players there is more competition for them, and you're more likely to end up racing for the same one as an opponent. The only race I see regularly in the 2 player game is often for the 5/6 cards completed ones - if one player gets the 5 card one, and then races for the end, it can be quite easy for the other player to get shut out completely, which is a big swing on points.
The other aspect to this is the relative importance of VPs from the cards and from the goals. In a 2 player game goals can be quite important, and it's key to make sure you get at least some. With more players you're going to get less goals, and so sometimes getting points from high-scoring cards is more effective.
There is also a higher turnover of cards in the middle in a multiplayer game, which makes it easier to do the goals for three oranges/purples - in a 2 player game these can be hard to achieve, as often not enough of them are drawn for them to be possible. In a multiplayer game you get through a lot more of the deck, so you're more likely to see the cards you need - although there's still no guarantee you'll get to draft them!
This game has an almost identical feel regardless of the player count. The competition for goals does make the multiplayer game a little more tense - and also a little more frustrating at times - but the gameplay itself is so solitaire that it works fine with just 2.
We've played relatively often Augustus as a 2 player game and I know gamers, who play this game frequently with only 2 players.
So, definitely a good choice for 2 player light game as well.
Totally agree. Only the fourth game in history my wife will play with me.