The following review is straight from me KM3 Reviews Geeklist. If you want more information about the methodology used in the review please check out my Geeklist. KM3 Reviews - Play, Parts, and Practicality: Purchase or Pass?
The overall score is indicative of the game's rating for those interested in owning it. The "Play" rating is strictly for the gameplay.
Play (60%) – Essence & Experience
Logged Games – 3 plays with 2 players, 1 play with 3 players, 2 plays with 4 players (6 logged plays total).
Mechanics – Bingo, Card Drafting, Set collection.
Theme – Roman Empire.
Gameplay – The objective in Augustus is to be player with the most points after 7 objective (Bingo) cards are completed.
Thematically, players are motivated representatives of Augustus, formerly Gaius Octavius (adopted son of Julius Casear). Players are seeking out the title of Consul. In order to receive the title of Consul, players must gain the support of influential Senators and take control of key provinces. The mobilisation tokens and legionnaires in the game represent the favors necessary to influence the Senator, or take control of the province, in question.
At the start of the game, players receive six bingo cards and keep three of them. After, the designated first player, known as the “town crier”, begins blindly pulling tiles out of a bag and announcing what the tile is. A player may place one, and only one, of their legionnaires on a tile matching that symbol. Once all players place their legionnaire, players may declare Ave Caesar (Bingo!). A player declaring Ave Caesar takes off all of their legionnaires, resolves the effect of the card, gains any bonus objectives if they qualify for them, and then draws a new card from the 5 available. A new objective card replaces the selected one. In case of a tie, the player with the lowest numbered province resolves their objective card first. After, the town crier continues drawing more tiles, rinse and repeat. If a joker is drawn, all players get to decide which symbol they can place their singleton legionnaire on. Once the joker is finally drawn, the next player in clockwise fashion becomes the town crier, places all of the tiles back in the bag, and begins blindly drawing. Play continues until someone has completed 7 objective cards. The player with the most points after 7 completed objective cards is granted the title of Consul and is declared the winner.
Thoughts – Augustus, or Rise of Augustus depending on game edition, is a nice twist on Bingo. Augustus is one of the latest games from designer Paolo Maori (Libertalia, Vasco da Gama, Batman: Gotham City).
Mechanically the game is simple. Draw a token and hope you match it. The decision making comes when you have multiple matches, as you can only place exactly one legionnaire at a time. The fact that you only get 7 legionnaires to place at the start of the game intensifies this decision making. Strategically there are many avenues to Augustus. Players can elect to complete quick and easy objectives to shorten the length of the game, or attempt to do the opposite. Players can receive additional bonus points by completing certain combinations of objectives, completing objectives with certain resources on them (gold/wheat), or having completed a certain number of objective cards. Needless to say, all of the decision trees in the game mesh well, and the fact that they are all influenced by the draw of a tile makes the game even more impressive.
Currently I haven’t played the game enough to decide whether all paths to victory are balanced or not. My suspicion, at this point, is that senators are typically weaker than provinces, especially if you don’t get the right combination of them. The fact that there are 88 objectives cards makes me think that Senators will not be viable in the majority of games. Senators are worth the least in terms of colour objectives, and from my initial impressions, their victory point values seem to have a lower ceiling on average than provinces. Playing this with the upper end (5 or 6) on the player count probably makes this more of a non-issue, as you’re seeing significantly more objective cards.
The theme in Augustus is pretty pasted on. The legionnaires, senators, and provinces only exist to maintain the illusion of a Roman theme, when in truth the game is really just prettied up Bingo. Luckily, most players won’t be calling out the drawn tile like a normal monotonous Bingo caller would. The game goes by quick enough, and players agonize over decisions enough that the theme is able to mesh with the mechanics, as to not deter from the game itself.
Play Score – 3 out of 5. After six plays with the game I’m feeling left that Senators are, on average, weaker than provinces. Even if this isn’t the case, the existing disconnects between theme and mechanics cement my play score. Much is left for the imagination to fill in, regarding the theme and the mechanics of the game. Players can easily feel like they’re just playing a modified new take on Bingo, rather than an immersive Roman Empire game. The game is still fun, just a little lessened because of this.
Parts (10%) – Box & Bits
Box – The game box is 1.8” x 11.6” x 11.6”. The box is way too big for the base game. The game really needs another expansion to justify such a big box on the shelf.
Bits – The game comes with the following: 88 objectives, 48 legions, 23 mobilisation tokens, 12 rewards, 1 cloth bag, and 1 score pad.
Thoughts – For a game with a MSRP of $39.99, the game’s components seem to be a little lacking. The entire price seems to be wrapped up in the 100 custom art cards you receive. The wooden bits are good, as are the thick tokens and the cloth bag, but they don’t justify the $40 price to me. This game can be found online for around $25, which makes the bits more reasonable. I’ve found the addition of the score pad unnecessary.
Parts Score – 3 out of 5. This game desperately needs an expansion to justify the generous box size. The cards in the game are beautiful, but not enough to justify a $39.99 MSRP. The rest of the components are acceptable.
Practicality (30%) – Pass or Purchase?
Playability – Whenever this game gets tabled I seem to play it at least twice in a row, which is usually a good indicator about the playability of a game. As a 2 player game, Augustus is an okay exercise. As a 3 and 4 player game, Augustus takes new form and feels more fleshed out. I have not experienced the game with 5 or 6, but I feel like it would be more similar to the 3 and 4 player games.
Rules – This game can be taught to anyone within minutes. Bingo is already a familiar game to most, the only hurdle in Augustus is dissecting the cards. The rule book does an excellent job of teaching a new player how to set-up and play the game.
Cost – The retail cost of this game is $39.99. The game can be purchased online for around $25. A 3 to 4 player game should play in around 30 minutes. I’d say a pretty good estimate is 7.5 minutes per person, with no stoppages or slowdowns in playing. If purchased online, Augustus will take around 50 plays to reach the gold standard of $1/hr of entertainment, which seems a bit high, but given the replayability I think the game can reach that number of plays without feeling stale.
Pass or Purchase – The average board game weight on BGG is 1.7, placing it firmly in the light category. I recommend everyone interested in this title to check out the various walkthroughs and video reviews that are available to watch. This game can be taught to anyone.
• Gamers that enjoy lighter games: Confidently purchase, if not swayed by price
• Gamers that enjoy medium-light games: Confidently purchase, if not swayed by price
• Gamers that enjoy medium games: Play before purchasing
• Gamers that enjoy medium-heavy games: Play before purchasing
• Gamers that enjoy heavy games: Confidently pass
Practicality Score – 4 out of 5. Game length isn’t an issue, and there is plenty of replayability in the box. For the right price this game is a must own. Sadly that price isn’t MSRP. Clearly there are cheaper and more entertaining light games out there, but the 2013 Spiel des Jahres game of the year nominee is still a great one to own, if interested.
Overall Score – 6.6/10.
• Play (60%) – 3 out of 5 (1.8 x 2 = 3.6)
• Parts (10%) – 3 out of 5 (0.3 x 2 = 0.6)
• Practicality (30%) – 4 out of 5 (1.2 x 2 = 2.4)
How 'bout them Cowboys?!
Great review format! The programmer in me loves seeing all these numbers.
I also really agree with you on your assessment of the game. I think this game works best for a specific type of people: people who play games with their grandmas (or anyone who genuinely enjoys Bingo, grandmas are just the only people who come to mind). This game lets you play "Bingo" with them, while you still get to enjoy an actual game. It's a great "gateway" game for people coming from that "Bingo" genre of games.
I also play it a bunch with my toddlers, because they love pulling the tiles out of the bag, and matching what was pulled to a matching symbol on the card. Oh, also shouting "Ave Caesar!" when one card is complete!
I do really agree with you on the price-point for this game too. MSRP is WAY too high. I got it when I was doing a CSI order, and needed like $10 extra to get to the free shipping, and they had this on sale for $12! I felt like I was stealing it from them...
07/28/14 - Augustus is currently featured on CSI's deal of the day today for $14.99. Definitely worth that price.