Sometimes, we’re in the mood for a dumb, light game that doesn’t make us think very hard, but is still fun. There’s a ton of games out there that fit this bill, like Temple of Chac, Rampage, and Epic Duels, but the difference between Rise of Augustus, from Asmodee, and those games is that those games don’t bore the living shit out of us. The reason I got this is primarily theme and that I played it once and wanted to see if it would be better over time or if the kids might dig it, but as it turns out, I pissed away $25.00 because no, it doesn’t get any better, although the kids claim to like it yet have not asked to play it in months, despite it being at eye level when sitting at the dinner table.
Maybe I’m not being completely fair; it’s not a bad game, really, it’s just that after a couple of times playing it, you realize that it pretty much amounts to sheer, dumb luck. Yes, you can have overarching strategies and go for certain goals, but at the end of the day, most of those goals are only possible when the right cards and chits come into play at the right time, neither of which you have control over. So, while it pains me to say this, I must: this game is just too damned random.
I guess I should explain how this game works a little before tarring an feathering it too badly. Basically, there’s some cards with victory point values, and sometimes extra bonuses, which have little icons that match chits in a bag that are pulled every turn (read: Bingo). You have little wooden centurions which you may place on the icons when they’re pulled from the bag (read: Bingo). If you get all the icons filled, you score that card (read: Bingo) and can choose one of the several face-up cards in the tableau to take for later completion.
You can move the centurions off of cards or off of icons onto other cards and icons when an icon comes up, so there’s some pressing of thy luck there, and there is some strategy as well, because there’s also these tiles which earn mega points if you achieve the goals, such as having three cards completed from a certain continent, or having the most wheat icons on completed cards. That said, it’s totally fucking random, and you never know what cards will appear, so you can’t plan on those mega point cards ever getting completed. Further, some of the cards are really overpowered, because the ones that give you more centurions to place are basically the best ones because the more centurions you have, the more cards you can concurrently attempt to fill and score.
I’d almost say this is a family game where you can play with little kids, and I mean six year olds, and they can have a good time with the little soldiers and whatnot. I think it would even fit in as a decent little filler game with a Euro-leaning group. There are some cards which allow you to steal other people’s cards, so maybe the Euro-boys might not like it because you can mess with their precious stuff. I just don’t know what to say about the game, because I know there’s a target demographic for it, and I think it’s probably the same people who like mainstream, non-hobby games, but for us, a really diverse group of people who like all kinds of games, we just didn’t really like it because you really didn’t have much control over anything, and worse, it just wasn’t really interesting enough to keep our attention.
The cards and art are of a good quality, and the little centurions are cool little wooden meeples-with-spears who look nice, so it’s a fairly pretty game, at least. The color scheme on some of the mega point cards, which matches the goal card icons, can be really busy and confusing, which did make things harder to play than they needed to be. Other than that, though, the game is so incredibly simple to play and explain that you can’t really knock anything off for that particular problem. It also looks pretty cool on the table.
In the end, it’s a game that I’m sure has a market, but the Circus is clearly not it. My wife liked it a bit, but rates it a consistent, strong meh-ven, and my eldest daughter really liked it pretty well, but when pressed, she couldn’t fully elaborate on why she did, other than that she really liked the look and setting. Pretty much everyone else didn’t like it very much at all, so as of today, I am trading it for a copy of Machi Koro, which I hope to enjoy with my family and “light Circus gamers”. It can’t be more yawn-inducing than this.
Why Augustus Deserves To Rule:
– The components are really quite nice
– The game’s setting is really well adhered to
– It’s very fast and very simple to play
– There is some nastiness and fuckery involved, but it’s not consistent
Et Tu, Asmodee?:
– There’s simply not much strategy available
– Luck is the key word to describe the main game mechanic
– The “press your luck” mechanic is the only interesting one in the game
– It’s incredibly dull and mostly dry
I really wanted to like this game more, but sadly, I didn’t. Neither did most of the Circus. It’s not a bad game, really, but I think that it’s really designed for families with smaller to early teen children, because of all of the Circus who played it, the kids liked it the best. It’s absolutely not a “gamer’s game”, and while I love the setting, the theme is really pasted-on and irrelevant to gameplay. It’s basically a superultra-light civilization game that isn’t all that grand or interesting. Definitely try before you buy, even at $25.00 retail, because with the right people, this might be an enjoyable time-waster.
Learn more about Rise of Augustus at the Asmodee page, here: http://us.asmodee.com/ressources/jeux_versions/augustus_3.php