4 identical decks, each made up of cards numbered 1-8, plus action cards, in 5 different colors, are all that comes with Aura. Those 4 decks make up a casual card game for beginner and hardcore card players alike. The goal? Have the most cards left at the end of the game by forcing your opponents to discard cards. There’s a catch, every player knows what color cards you’re playing, which gives them a chance to defend themselves. In Aura you have to bluff and outwit the other players to come out on top.
Setting up the game takes no more time than it takes to shuffle a deck of cards. Each player shuffles their deck and places their Aura card at the bottom. This card is used as an indicator for when a player’s deck has run out. The game ends when one player has gone through their deck twice. Each player draws 8 cards and play begins.
A turn in Aura conists of the Active Player playing 2-5 cards face down. The cards have to be all the same color, or completely different colors. Then all the other players play cards to try and block the cards played with just the knowledge of what colors were played. Once each player has placed their cards everything is flipped over and resolved with the following rules.
- A card blocking a same-color card will only block if its number is higher. Action cards beats 8s.
- Every color has a color that automaticaly blocks it. Red trumps Purple, Purple trumps Green, Green trumps Beige, Beige trumps Blue, and Blue trumps Red.
- Chained cards (cards of the same number) will break through any block as long as at least one card in the chain is unblocked
- Action cards are resolved starting with the Active Player.
- Return (Red): You may return any cards to its owners hand
- Double (Green): All discarding is doubled for all blocking players
- Trade (Blue): Trade this card with any one in the discard pile
- Reverse (Purple): Blocked cards are now unblocked. Unblocked cards are now blocked
- Block (Beige): All cards are blocked
- If the Active Player has all their cards successfully blocked they make take one extra free turn, though they do not draw cards for that turn
Each player then discards the number of cards they did not block from the Active Player. Cards may be discarded from their pile, hand, cards played as blockers, or from any combination of those sources. Players then draw back up to 8.
Once a player’s Aura cards shows up in their deck they shuffle what cards they have left, place the Aura card on the bottom, and continue playing. The game ends the first time a player’s Aura card shows up for a second time. The player who has the most cards left in their deck and hand wins the game.
Aura comes in a sturdy box containing an insert that holds 4 deck boxes, each with a player deck inside. The deck boxes themselves are pretty flimsy, but get the job done. The cards are made of a wonderful stock and contain simple, vectory imagry alongside their number and text. Each card’s accent color is the color that trumps it, making it easy to keep play moving without constantly having to check the rulebook for the chart. The purple is a bit too blue to really be considered purple, but it doesn’t really effect play much since the actual blue is really light.
Aura is one of those games that sounds fairly more complicated than it really is once you sit down to play. Once you play a hand or two the rules become painfully clear, and you’ll be left wondering how you didn’t pick them up as soon as you first read them. There’s a lot of strategy when it comes down to what cards to play, chaining cards, when and how to use actions, and how to best block when you’re not the active player. Play time seems to run on the high end of the scale, with most games with more than two players actually taking closer to an hour than 40 minutes. That being said it doesn’t feel like the game drags on too long. The different card combinations and interesting ways to use the different action cards keep each turn feeling fresh and exciting.
It’s a game I’m certainly enjoying, though not everyone in my house agreed. Also, while I love the box and insert, I’m thinking of condensing the packaging down a bit so the game travels a bit easier.
At $25, Aura is a pretty good deal, too! It’s a game I’d certainly recommend to fans of traditional cards games. Those who don’t enjoy those types of games may want to take a pass, or at least give it a shot before adding this one to their shelves.
A copy of Aura was provided free for review by Breaking Games