Azul: A puzzly mosaic of beautiful tiles

I'm Meeple Lady, and I love board games.

Azul: A puzzly mosaic of beautiful tiles

Azul: A puzzly mosaic of beautiful tiles

Even though I played Azul twice at BGG Con 2017, I didn’t buy it until I saw it at my local game store back at home. It’s a great puzzly game with fantastic components. Judge me if you want — I love, love pretty games. But I’m not going to love a game just because it’s gorgeous. It has to have some substance, too. I’m not that superficial. Sheesh.

Azul’s box is just as gorgeous as the game inside.

Azul is a 2-4 player game, which plays about 45 minutes, where you’re laying down tiles to create a beautiful mosaic wall. Each player gets a player board, and the round factory displays are laid out in the center of the table in a circle, with #1 tile in the center. Fill each factory display with four tiles randomly drawn from the bag.

This is the setup for a 4-player game.

On your turn, you grab all of one color of tiles from one of the factories. All the other tiles that didn’t get picked get moved into the center of the table. As more tiles are moved over to the center of the table, that also becomes a location from which you can pick.

On my turn, I take all of the same type of tiles from one location. In the left factory, I want to grab the two turquoise tiles.
Then the two other tiles I didn’t get picked move to the center.

You place the tiles you just selected on one of the five pattern lines on the left side of your board, starting from right to left. If a pattern line already holds tiles, you can only place the same type of tile in the line. Once the line is full, you must place excess tiles at the bottom of your board, which will then count for more negative points at the end of the round.

After taking the two turquoise tiles, I can place them on any line on the left side of my board.

The round continues until there are no more tiles left. Then comes the “wall-tilting” scoring phase. If a line is complete, you slide the right-most tile to the right side of the board, which represents your wall, to the space that corresponds with that same color. Then remove the rest of the tiles from that line and place them into the lid of the game box for now. Do this with every single line on your game board.

Since the line was complete, at the end of the round, you slide the tile over to the wall side.

As you slide the tiles over to the right side of the board, you score them. It’s one point per tile it’s touching horizontally and vertically. The key to the game is building your pieces together, so the tiles can score more often and each movement is worth more.

Lastly, if you have any leftover tiles on the bottom of your player board, those count as negative points. And if you took the first player marker, the #1 tile — because you were the first person to take from the center of the table — then that’s also a negative point because you have to place that tile at the bottom of your board.

Game play continues with another round, as you fill up the factory displays with more tiles. As the rounds continue, you get more limited in where you can place your tiles. Once a specific tile is on the right side of the board, it can no longer be placed on the left side. This is the cool puzzly aspect of the game.

On future rounds, your space becomes limited because you can’t start a line with a particular tile if that tile is already sitting on the wall side.
Gain more points by building you wall off of tiles that are already on your mosaic.

The rounds continue until one person has placed five consecutive tiles in a horizontal line. That triggers the last round. Scoring continues like previous rounds, plus end-game scoring: gain 2 points for each horizontal line, gain 7 points for each vertical line, and gain 10 points if you have all five tiles of the same color placed on your wall.  The person with the most victory points wins the game.

There’s also a variation to this game on the other side of the player board. That side’s wall is blank, which means you have to fill in your wall on your own but still following the rules that the same tile can’t appear in the same row or column. I haven’t played it this way yet; it seems like it would make the game unnecessarily harder. And I think the game is perfect as it is.

 

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