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Azul

An imagine of the board game box and components for Azul from Plan B Games


  • Plan B Games
  • Age Rating: 8+ 
  • Players: 2-4
  • Timeframe: 30-45 minutes
  • MSRP: $39.99
  • Style: Abstract Strategy/Drafting

Introduced by the Moors, “azulejos” (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese, when their King Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles.

– Plan B Game

Azul is an award winning game designed by Michael Kiesling that took the gaming world by storm in 2018.  This is an abstract strategy game where players compete as artisans hired to decorate the walls of the Royal Palace.  Players must plan ahead and carefully draft the correct quantity and style of tiles in order to achieve the highest score all while being careful not to create waste for the next round. 

Contents

  • Complete Rule Booklet
  • Linen Bag
  • 100 Multi-colored tiles 
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 9 Factory Display Boards
  • 4 Scoring Markers
  • 1 Starting Player Marker

Gameplay

Azul is played over a series of rounds, each round consisting of three steps.  During the round, players take turns drafting beautifully colored tiles from factory supply disks to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they’ve placed their tiles on their player board to help decorate the palace walls. Extra points are scored for  completing specific patterns and completing sets. Any wasted supplies harm the player’s score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Setting Up The Game

Players start by laying Factory Display disks in the center of the table.  Colored tiles are placed in the linen draw bag, and the starting player places four randomly drawn tiles on each disk.  Each player gets a player board and score token.

Play in Rounds

Each round consists of three steps. 

First is the “Factory Offer” – Players may either choose one set of tiles from a Factory disk in the center of the table or tiles that are already in the center.  If a player chooses a disk, they take all the tiles of one color from the disk and discard the rest in the center of the circle. If a player takes from the center, they must take all tiles of a single color/pattern.  The first one to take from the center becomes the starting player on the next round. After the player selects their tiles, they must place them on ONE pattern line on their player board. Players may only place tiles of the same color/pattern on a single line.  Once that line is full, it is complete, and extra tiles go on the floor line (which count against your score). After a player has chosen and placed their tiles on their player board, it’s the next player’s turn. Play continues like this until all tiles have been claimed from the Factory disks and center of the table.

Next up is “Wall-Tiling” – During this phase, players move tiles from their completed (full) pattern lines to the wall area on their player board. Players perform this simultaneously.  Starting at the top of their pattern lines, players move one tile from each complete line to the corresponding tile on the wall in that row. Players score each tile immediately.  All of the remaining tiles from that pattern line are placed in the game box. Any tiles left in incomplete rows remain until the next round. The scoring portion of this step is where all of your strategy and pre-planning pays off (or not). 

Lastly, players Prepare for Next Round – This step is fairly obvious.  Players follow the instructions for refilling factory disks and prepare for the next round.  Play continues in rounds until all one player completes a horizontal row on their tile wall. Here are additional points to be earned at the end of the game based on pattern completion choices.

Is it a Family Game?

This game is designed for players eight and up and has very simple rules that are easy to explain and understand.  The game pieces are sturdy, pretty, and easy to manipulate (the tiles are a LOT like Starburst candies). There is no reading involved which makes it great for young players.  However, we found the seeming simplicity to be deceptive. The strategy and choices you make have a huge impact on your overall score and make the game much more complex. There are so many different ways to play which ensures the game does not get stale.  You can play specifically to obstruct your opponents, you can play casually and only worry about your own player board, or you can play the long game to score high via combos in the end. Younger players often miss these options and may get frustrated by low scores. 

Conclusion

This game is visually stunning, easy to set up and clean up, easy to understand, and is quite challenging.  The different choices and options accommodate differing playing styles and it is clear that the design of the game was well thought out.  While the game does have a theme, it does not carry through the game or effect gameplay. It is very similar to abstract strategy game along the lines of Indigo, Tak, Seikatsu, etc.  We do feel that there is plenty of replay value to this game and can clearly see why it won so many awards.


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