Monday, June 03, 2013

Ave Caesar!: An Introduction to Augustus

In a previous post, I introduced the nominees for the 2013 Spiels des Jahres awards and commented briefly on the history and character of this influential award.  At that time, I also noted that, in upcoming posts, I would comment on several of the titles that were nominated -- this is the first of those posts.  Today, I want to say a few worlds about Augustus -- a two to six player game, designed by Paolo Mori and published by Hurrican Games.

At it core, Augustus is really an innovation on the classic bingo mechanic.  At the start of the game players will be given several objective cards -- each of which has a number of symbols running down the left-hand side of the card.  The game comes with card board tokens which match these symbols and those tokens will be randomly drawn from a draw string bag and revealed to all the players.  It's important to note that there are more of some types of tokens than others, so you can't be guaranteed to that the symbols you need will be drawn from the bag.  However, if a token is drawn which matches one of the symbols on your objective cards, you will be able to place of your legionary tokens on that symbol.  When you've placed legion tokens on all of the symbols on an objective card, you'll yell 'Ave Caesar!' and you be able to score that card -- often receiving a particular benefit for having done so.  The game ends when on player has completed seven objectives -- at which point scoring takes place and the player who earned the most victory points will be declared the winner.

I have played Augustus some half-dozen times now and I am pleased to report that the game is well deserving of its nomination -- indeed, it stands out as one of the best "gateway games" that I have played in a very long time.  In the first place, it's easy to learn and to play and it has a theme that should prove palatable to almost anyone.  As such, it's the kind of game that you could use to lure your non-gaming friends and family into the wonderful world of cardboard, I meant to say the board gaming hobby!  Further, despite being easy to learn and quick to play, there are still meaningful decisions to be made and, as such, it proves satisfying for more experienced gamers as well.  It is also a gorgeous game that has been made from top-notch materials.  The artwork on the both the front and back of the objective cards is particularly beautiful.  Most importantly of all it's just fun to play!

Overall, this is a fantastic game that I can heartily recommend.  But if you want to get your hands on a copy you'd better move fast!  When last I checked there was but one copy of Augustus left on the shelf -- and given its recent popularity this title could be tough to acquire in the coming months.  So head on down to the store and see if you can add Augustus to your collection.

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