Augustus came to my attention as it's one of the nominees for the SdJ this year. I am always on the lookout for a good mid weight game that I can play after a weighty game or something I can play with my kids.
Augustus fits the bill nicely. Its been nicknamed the Roman Bingo game and its easy to see why. The base mechanic of the game is Bingo, but instead of crossing off numbers on a grid you are sending your roman legions to take control of provinces or gain favour with the senators.
Opening up the box you get a score pad, a large stack of cards that show the provinces or senators, a bag of red centurion meeples and a number of tokens that fit into a cloth bag.
Setup is easy, every player gets 7 centurions and 6 random cards. From these 6 cards they must each choose 3 to put into play and the rest are discarded. Picking which cards to keep takes a little bit of thought but as the game is quite light and pretty quick its not a great loss if you make a mistake. 5 cards are then drawn to make a pool in the center of the table.
Each of these cards is broken down into different areas. On the left is a number of symbols, these match the tokens that are drawn from the bag. To score the card you will need to have a centurion on each of these symbols. Some are more common than others, for example there is only 1 yellow dagger in the bag compared to 6 crossed swords. On the right there maybe an icon that tells the players what happens when they score the card. This can range from adding gaining extra centurions to removing centurions from other players cards. Finally at the bottom of the card there is the number of victory points the card will score at the end of the game.
So you can see, its nice to have a balance of cards and maybe pick ones that work together.
The tokens are then put in the bag and someone starts drawing. Each time a token is drawn its type is announced, each player may then put a single centurion onto a card each time they have a symbol that matches. Once a card is filled they shout out "Ave Cesar" or "Bingo" and they remove the centurions and activate the cards effect.
There are 2 joker tokens in the bag, each player can determine what it represents to them, then all drawn tiles are put back into the bag and shuffled. So the bag is re seeded several times during the game.
They then get to draw another card to replace the one they have just scored. Now, there are a number of bonus tiles that users can score. These are scored when certain conditions are met, such as 3 green provinces or one of each colour. There are also some bonus tiles that you can only grab when you have scored that number of cards, if you miss it you can't go back. So there is a little bit of a push your luck while you are holding out for the higher scoring bonus tiles.
Play continues until someone scores 7 cards. Victory points are totaled up and the winner is announced.
Augustus is a light game, you have to think about the cards you are trying to score and making sure you grab the bonus tiles when you can. A game normally takes 30 minutes, so you can get a couple of plays in quite easily.
So far its been enjoyed by family and gamers, I think its got a good chance of winning the Sdj this year. If its not this then it will be Hanabi which is another of my favorites.