Azul is an abstract strategy game designed by Michael Kiesling and was released by Plan B Games in 2017. This is a relatively new game but it has won a number of board gaming awards, so we were eagerly anticipating playing this game! We are so pleased yet again to be able to review this fantastic game through Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club.
The game is based on Portuguese tiles called azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles). It originated in Portugal 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 immediately ordered his own palace to be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora. This game might look easy but it is very deceiving! It requires plenty of planning and thinking. It gets players thinking ahead and also to consider whether they are willing to take the risk.
In the box, it comes with 100 square resin tiles, four player boards, nine factory displays, four scoring black markers, starting player marker, linen bag and instructions. This game is recommended to play between two to four players, aged eight onwards.
To set up the game, each player gets their own player boards and scoring markers. Incidentally, we found the scoring markers too lightweight and would often move when we accidentally touched the board. So we had good old fashion pen and paper in hand to record the scores. Place all the tiles inside the linen bag and mix it well. Randomly draw out four tiles and place them on the factory displays.
To play the game, each player takes turns to draft the coloured ties from the suppliers (factory display) to their player board. Players play over multiple rounds and each of which is composed of three phases: Factory Offer, Wall-Tiling and Preparing the Next Round.
Later in the round, players score points based on how they have placed their tiles to decorate the palace. There will be extra points scored for specific patterns and completing sets whilst wasted supplies will harm the player’s score. The next round will start with the player with the starting player marker. The game ends right after the player who completes a horizontal line of five consecutive tiles on the wall. To win, the player with the most points on the score track wins the game. It might sound simple but it can be quite frustrating if you don’t plan it well. I have had many times where I missed out the opportunity to fill my pattern lines!
For advanced players, you can use the grey side of the player boards to play. The rules are exactly the same in the normal game, except that when you move a tile from a pattern line to the wall, you may place it on any space of its corresponding wall line.
I like the concept of this game of using those stunning tiles as it is quite different from many other strategy games. In this game, I am like a designer but I must be tactical and react fast to take risks before losing my chance to seize those tiles! I would recommend this challenging and unique game. It is available to buy from good game retailers, online stores and Amazon.
Disclosure: We are members of Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club. We received the sample for the purposes of writing this review, however, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.