Olà, folks. Today we’re going to talk about the game Azul. It’s an abstract tile drafting game. In Azul, we’re royal palace tile layers. See, the king visited a palace in Spain and feel in love with the Moorish decorative tiles. He just had to have them in his palace. So, grab your trowel, grout, mortar, and tiles because we’re going to lay some tiles. I think we need a little Moorish.
Azul is a game for 2-4 players. It takes about 30-40 minutes to play. It comes with 4 player mats, a blue bag for the tiles, one 1st player tile, 100 tiles (20 tiles for each of the 5 colors), 4 black wooden score cubes, 9 factory mats, and the rules.
You’re trying to score the most points to win in this game. You do this by completing your player board pattern. Next to your pattern are 5 rows with empty boxes in them. They range from 1-5 boxes in these rows. Before the game starts, place all the tiles in the blue Azul bag. Then, without looking at the tiles, pick 4 tiles and place them on each factory mat. Then, place the Player 1 tile in the middle to represent the street. Now you’re ready to start the round.
Each player will take turns picking one type of tile from a factory or the street and then collect all those tiles. If picking from a factory, then the type of tiles not chosen will go into the “street” thus emptying the factory. The player then picks a row for only this color to fill. Then the next player goes and this process goes on until all the tiles are gone. The first player to pick tiles fro the street also gets the 1st player tile. They will get a negative point for this, but next round they are the first player to select tiles. It’s an interesting way to change who goes first. After the first selection of the street tiles, other players can pick from the street with no negative effects. I guess this represents the same concept as the first slice of cake phenomenon. No one really wants to serve themselves the first slice of cake due to judgment. However, after the first slice is eaten, then others join in on the cake.
Once all tiles are gone, the round ends. Starting with the top most completed row, slide one tile over to the pattern. You get one point for each tile placed. You also gain points for tiles that connect to the tile placed. Once the game gets going, you can start racking up the points.
You also can get negative points for any tiles you pick up and cannot place. This is done by picking up too many tiles to fit in a row. There are some exceptions to what tiles you can collect and place in your rows. If a certain tile color is already placed on your pattern for that row, you cannot place it in that row when drafting. Only like tiles can be placed in your drafting row as well. So this gets harder and harder as the game goes on. You’re limiting yourself with what you can get.
Once a player has completed a row in their pattern, the game is over. Everyone totals their points and adds any bonus points. You get 2 points per completed row, 7 points per completed column, and 10 points when all tiles of a certain color are completed.
How do I like this game? I love the look and the simplicity of the game. It’s easy to teach and easy to play. There’s strategy to what tiles to take and when. Keep an eye out for other players and what they have completed. I’ve stalled a game by taking tiles needed to complete a row, thus ending the game. It often came down to bonuses at the end. There’s some different thoughts with my gaming group and how to go for tiles. There’s trying to collect all of one color, starting in the corner, or trying to complete rows as fast as you can.
My grandma was able to play this game and enjoys it. The only thing she needed help with was the scoring aspect. I’ve played this game with friends and family. Everyone I’ve played this with likes the look of the game, and the action of picking up and placing the tiles. It’s simple and elegant. This game was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres this year. I can see why. It’s beautiful and quick to pick up. It’s a great intro game for drafting mechanics. If you haven’t played this yet, I highly encourage you to try it.