Radio Review #42 – Rise of Augustus

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(2013 – Hurrican)

 

“I used to rule the world….seas would rise when I gave the word….”

 

In 2012, designer Paolo Mori released one of my favorite games of that year, Libertalia. A pirate-themed card game where players all have the same deck of crew members and must place one crew member out each turn to fight against one another. A game in which all players have knowledge of which cards their opponents have in their hand, but a matter of strategically deciding when to play a particular card. It is one that I hope to compile a review for in the future.

Since then, I’ve looked forward to Paolo’s newest release, which happened to be a runner-up to this year’s Spiel des Jarhes award, Rise of Augustus. In Rise of Augustus, players will each act as representatives of the Emperor, vying for the supreme title of Consul, which is voted upon by the Senate each year. To do this, players will attempt to gain the favor of the different Senators, as well as control various Providences around the Empire to increase their own personal power. Legions controlled by the player are mobilized according to the different types needed to influence these Senators and Providences, and when these objectives are completed, special rewards and bonuses can be collected. Victory Points gained from Senators, Providences, and special bonuses are totaled at the end of the game, and the player with the highest is awarded the title of Consul.

 

 

Components:

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– Objective Cards

 

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– Mobilization Tokens

 

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– Legion Markers

 

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– Reward Tokens

 

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– Mobilization Token References

 

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– Cloth Bag

 

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– Scorepad

 

 

 

Setup:

There are close to 100 different Objective cards in Rise of Augustus, made up of both Senators and Providences that players will try to gain. To begin the game, these Objective cards are shuffled together into a draw pile and placed face down.

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The top 5 Objective cards are drawn from the deck and placed face up in the center of the play area. These will represent the Objectives that are available to players once they have completed a previous Objective.

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Next, each player will receive 6 of these Objective cards from the top of the draw deck. Of these cards, they must choose 3 of them and discard the rest from the game. These 3 chosen Objective cards will be the 3 starting Objectives that each player is trying to conquer. They are placed directly in front of each player, face up.

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Each player also receives 7 Legion markers that players will place on the various Objectives in order to attempt to complete them. Certain bonuses may allow players to add more Legion markers to their group of 7, therefore the remaining Legion markers are placed in a pile to the side of the play area.

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There are 3 sets of Rewards that can be earned in the game. Resource Rewards (Wheat and Gold), Objective Quantity Rewards, and Objective Set Rewards. The various tokens for these bonuses are placed in the central play area above the available Objective cards.

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Finally, each Objective card requires certain types of Legion mobilization in order to complete. These Mobilization tokens are placed into the cloth bag and will be drawn throughout the game. This bag is then given to the start player, and the game is ready to begin. After setup, the play area should look something like this:

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Gameplay:

 

1.) Drawing Mobilization Tokens

Each Objective card is made up of various Mobilization icons along the left side of the card that a player must assign Legion markers to in order to complete that particular Objective. There are 6 different types of Mobilizations in the game, and these will be represented on the tokens drawn from the bag during the game. Some Mobilization types are more common than others, as seen below. Pictured from left to right, there are:

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– 6 Double-Sword mobilization tokens

 

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– 5 Shield mobilization tokens

 

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– 4 Chariot mobilization tokens

 

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– 3 Catapult mobilization tokens

 

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– 2 Medal mobilization tokens

 

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– 1 Dagger mobilization tokens

 

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There are also 2 Wild mobilization tokens. I’ll cover these a bit later in the review, but for now just know that these can represent any of the previous mobilization types when drawn.

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Taking a look at the Africa providence Objective card, we see that it requires Legion markers to be placed on 5 mobilization areas of the card. 2 Double-Swords, a Shield, and 2 Daggers are required in order for this card to be considered complete.

 

During each Round, the current start player will draw Mobilization tokens from the bag one at a time. With each token that is drawn, each player will be allowed to place 1 of their Legion markers onto any of the current Objective cards in front of them. A player can only place 1 Legion marker on a single space for each token drawn. Therefore, if a Chariot token is drawn and a player has two different Objective cards that both contain a Chariot space (or even a single Objective card that contains multiple Chariot spaces), the player must choose a single Chariot space amongst these to place the Legion marker on.

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The player will continue to draw Mobilization tokens from the bag until 1 of the 2 Wild tokens is drawn. At this point, players may choose to place a Legion marker on any single available space on their current Objective cards. After the Wild token is drawn, all previously drawn Mobilization tokens (including the Wild just drawn) are placed back into the bag and passed to the player to the left. This is now the new start player and this player will begin a new Round by drawing the first Mobilization token from the bag.

Since players are limited to only 7 Legion markers at the beginning of the game, it is possible for players to choose to move a Legion marker from 1 Objective space to another when resolving a Mobilization token, so long as it matches the token drawn. This can be done amongst any of the current Objective cards that a player has in front of him.

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Player A currently has all but 1 of his Legion markers placed on one of his current Objective cards. He wants to save this last Legion marker for when a Dagger token is drawn, since it is the most rare token. Placing a Legion marker on the Dagger space of his Thracia Objective card would complete it.

 

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The next mobilization token drawn is a Catapult token. Player A chooses to move a Legion marker from his Senator Fidenas Objective card to the available Catapult space on his Osroene Objective card, instead of using the unplaced Legion marker.

 

 

2.) Completing Objectives

When Legion markers have been placed onto all available mobilization spaces of an Objective card, that Objective has been completed and is placed into the play area between the player‘s current Objectives and the available Objectives in the center of the table.

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Each Objective card is made up of a few items that will be looked at when resolving its completion. The lower right corner of each Objective card shows how many Victory Points it will be worth when the game is over. A majority of Objective cards also have bonuses (listed along the right side of the card) that will be resolved when the card is completed. There are 3 different types of effects that a particular bonus can give; immediate effects, permanent effects, and end-game effects. Let’s take a look at some examples of these bonuses and what they do:

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Lets look at a couple of examples of immediate effects. The Gallia Aquitania Objective card is worth 5 Victory Points at the end of the game when completed, and will immediately allow the player to place 2 Legion markers onto 2 Dagger spaces on his other current Objective cards.

The Senator Maximus Objective card on the other hand, is worth 3 Victory Points at the end of the game when completed, and will allow the player to add 1 Legion marker to his supply. All players start with 7 Legion markers at the beginning of the game, so this effect would essentially give this player an 8th Legion marker to use for the remainder of the game.

 

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Now let’s take a look at a couple of permanent effects. The Pisidia Objective card is worth 4 Victory Points at the end of the game when completed, and contains a permanent ability of being able to treat any Shield mobilization token drawn from the bag as a Chariot mobilization token.

Likewise, the Senator Fullo Objective card is worth 5 Victory Points at the end of the game when completed, and contains a permanent ability of being able to treat any Chariot mobilization token drawn from the bag as a Catapult mobilization token.

 

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Finally, let’s take a look at some end-game bonuses. The Lycia Objective card has a “?” listed as the total number of Victory Points it is worth at the end of the game. This is because the number is contingent upon the type of bonus it has. According to it’s bonus, this Objective card is worth 3 Victory Points for every Catapult icon amongst all of the player’s completed Objective cards, including this one. This Victory Point amount is capped at 12 Victory Points.

The Senator Piso Objective card will give 2 Victory Points for every Senator Objective completed by the player, including this one. There is no cap on the number of Victory Points obtained in the case of this bonus.

 

If more than one player completes an Objective card at the same time, players will resolve their cards in order according to the number listed on the bottom left corner of each Objective card, with the lowest number going first. Taking a look at the Lycia and Senator Piso Objective cards above, if two different players completed these at the same time, the player that completed the Lycia would resolve their card first, since the number listed is lower (28) than the number listed on the other player’s Senator Piso card (67).

Once an Objective card has been completed, placed in the player’s completed area, and any bonuses have been resolved, the player can then choose to add a new Objective card from the any of the available Objective cards at the center of the table. Once added, a new Objective card is drawn from the face-down deck and added to the remaining available Objectives to take its place.

 

 

3.) Collecting Rewards

After completing an Objective, the player has a chance to collect any possible Rewards from the center of the table. There are 3 different types of Rewards: Resource Rewards, Objective Quantity Rewards, and Objective Set Rewards.

 

Resource Rewards

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Although many of the providence Objective cards have various types of resources pictured on them, there are only two types of special resources that matter for Reward purposes. Wheat and Gold. When a player completes an Objective that pictures either Wheat and/or Gold, that player has a chance whether to see if they are awarded a Victory Point token worth 5 points to their supply.

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As seen above, the Objective card on the left contains Wheat. The Objective card on the right contains Gold. The Objective card in the middle contains neither of these two.

 

The first player to complete an Objective that contains a Wheat will automatically receive the Wheat Reward token (this works the same way with the Gold token). This player keeps this token in his supply until another player has a number of Wheat pictured amongst his completed Objectives that matches him. If this is the case, the token is given to this new player. Therefore, the player that obtains the token must stay a step ahead of everyone else vying for its control. The players that have these Resource Reward tokens at the end of the game are awarded the 5 bonus Victory Points (or 10 if they’ve obtained both).

 

 

Objective Quantity Rewards

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These are Rewards that are given to players according to the total number of Objectives they have completed throughout the game. They are available as follows:

 

– Completing 2 Objectives can award a player 2 Victory Points.
– Completing 3 Objectives can award a player 4 Victory Points.
– Completing 4 Objectives can award a player 6 Victory Points.
– Completing 5 Objectives can award a player 8 Victory Points.
– Completing 6 Objectives can award a player 10 Victory Points.

 

These Rewards can only be obtained as soon as the player has completed the corresponding number of total Objectives. It’s very important to note however, that a player may only obtain 1 of these types of Rewards during the entire game. Therefore, if Player B chooses to take the 6 Victory Point token, no one else will be able to obtain it. At the same time, Player B will not be able to obtain any other Objective Quantity Reward token since he has already taken one. There is an interesting risk/reward element to this type of Reward bonus.

 

 

Objective Set Rewards

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These are Rewards that are given to players that are the first to complete specific types of Set amongst their completed Objective cards. Unlike the previous Objective Quantity Reward tokens, a player can obtain as many of these Set Rewards as they are able. These Set Rewards are available as follows:

 

– The first player to complete 3 Senator Objective cards is awarded 2 Victory Points.

– The first player to complete 3 Green Providence Objective cards is awarded 4 Victory Points.

– The first player to complete 1 of every type of Objective (Green, Orange, and
Purple Providences, as well as a Senator) is awarded 6 Victory Points.

– The first player to complete 3 Purple Providence Objective cards is awarded 8 Victory Points.

– The first player to complete 3 Orange Providence Objective cards is awarded 10 Victory Points.

 

 

 

4.) End-Game Conditions

A game of Rise of Augustus ends at the end of any Round in which a player has completed their 7th Objective card. At this point, players will:

– Total the number of Victory Points from all collected Rewards.
– Total up the number of Victory Points listed on their completed Objectives.
– Total the number of Victory Points gained by end-game card bonuses.

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The player will the highest number of Victory Points wins the game and is considered the new Consul of the Empire.

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Thoughts:

At its most basic mechanic, Rise of Augustus is a game built on elements of chance. Yet, unlike a game such as Bingo, which has no player controlled or strategic components, Rise of Augustus focuses on grouping those elements of chance into a risk/reward system, based on which Objectives they’ll try to complete and in which order.

The order that Objectives are completed in the game is the main strategy that players will focus on. Players will race against each other to be the first to complete certain types of Objectives in order to obtain the various bonus Rewards in the game. But also, and maybe even more importantly, the special abilities given from each resolved Objective card can help a player pull ahead if they’re able to organize how they resolve them efficiently. For instance, completing an Objective early on in the game that allows you to add an additional Legion marker to your supply for the remainder of the game would be of utmost priority, whereas it may not be too valuable as a reward later in the game. And of course not all Objectives are equal. Choosing all difficult Objectives because they earn a ton of Victory Points and give powerful special abilities will also mean that they are harder to complete. Having 3 Objectives that all require a Dagger Mobilization token is probably not the best of ideas. Balance is key, especially when it is a race against time via you other opponents.

Rise of Augustus is extremely easy to learn and set up. While some players that enjoy stricter control of their tactics won’t take much liking to the various chance elements found here, the game does a good job of allowing players the opportunity to make decisions and plan out their opportunities. The strategy may be on the light side, but it is one that is enjoyable and will appeal to many, especially ones that enjoy set collection aspects in their games. Its also important to note that Rise of Augustus plays equally well with 2-6 players, as gameplay is simultaneous amongst all players.

 

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