In just 3 years after the original release, this game seems to gain all possible awards from Spiel des Jahres to Golden Geek. Since then, it got 2 new games in the series, 43rd spot among top 100 games on BGG and the 1st among abstract games, and most importantly, the hearts of thousands of gamers.
Have you guessed today’s guest already? Let’s talk more about Azul.
What is it about?
Azul is an abstract light game where you will be creating a beautiful pattern of wall mosaic or azulejo. Azulejo is a Portuguese tradition of decorating houses and you can see straight away how similar the game duplicates the pieces of mosaic.
Azulejo-tiled bench (from Wikipedia)
In Azul, you’re decorating the palace walls with a beautiful mosaic pattern. The closer you get to build the whole wall, the more points you get. Or not. That’s where the charm of Azul comes. You need not only to repeat the mosaic puzzle but build it in the particular order that would give you the highest score all at the same time as you are trying to spoil opponents’ plans.
The rules are very simple. You pick up tiles of one color from palettes or the center (leftovers) and place them on your board to fill in lines with tiles of the same color. As soon as the available tiles run out, you move tiles from filled rows on the left side to the matching place on the right side and calculate points. The player with the most points wins once any player fills in a horizontal row on the right.
Azul is charming, beautiful, and simple. Every time wee sat to play Azul, I knew exactly how I could play better next time and next time. But don’t be fooled by the game’s simplicity., the puzzle of Azul is not easy to solve. The availability of tiles is constantly changing and your opponents are working hard to disrupt your game flow.
What I enjoyed
- The puzzle. To me, Azul is a perfect puzzle. An accurate explanation of the game would be: get the most combos within 5 rounds of the game. There’s a lot of ways how you can multiply the results of each tile placed on your wall which makes it a very challenging and exciting task, especially knowing you are competing with other players.
- Very simple rules. You can learn and explain Azul in less than 10 minutes. All you need to know is how to get new tiles and calculate points. Here’s a video explaining how to play this game in 4 minutes. I highly recommend watching it if you consider getting the game so that you can understand what it’s about and get ready to play as soon as you get it.
- Just beautiful and colorful. Without saying, Azul catches attention with its design work, components, amazing colorful tiles, and the box. Small plastic square tiles are made to resemble Portuguese Azulejo. Components alone will get attention as it’ll be exciting to show and play Azul with kids, family, and friends.
- Control of the game. This game has very little luck-based mechanics (perhaps, with the exception of drawing tiles to the factory circles at the beginning of the round). That means that you have a lot of control over the game and how it goes. The result and final scores are hugely dependent on your performance, strategy, and foresight during the game.
- Azul variations. Not only the base game offers a two-sided board for two different play styles, but also Azul has already released a family of games: Azul Summer Pavilion, Azul Stained Glass of Sintra, and Azul Crystal Mosaic Expansion (to the original Azul game).
- Can be played with families and kids. Many games can be played with families and kids, but Azul is that lightweight game that almost anyone can understand: from a 7-year old niece to your grandma. Azul can be the new Monopoly at your family table.
What could be better
- Theme (or lack of it). This game is an amazing puzzle and probably it’s enough for many gamers. When I play I love imagining myself discovering a new world or being in character and Azul doesn’t have that. Not every game can be and should be an “immersive experience”. The theme is not strong and there’s no narrative, as there’s narrative in a puzzle or sudoku.
- Might get repetitive. Azul brings up new mechanics and ideas to the table, but once you learn how it works, it might get repetitive. It’s a great light game to support a conversation and can be a great ice-breaker. The game also introduces a few ways to complexify and renew experience within the base game alone or adding the expansion.
Is this game for you?
Azul is a fantastic game that can go on any table. You can bring Azul to family dinners, as you can easily play it with children or elders. This game is very welcoming to both gamers and nongamers, it attracts attention with colorful components, very simple rules, and concepts.
I can easily imagine playing it with friends or non-gamers or giving it as a present to a family member that doesn’t usually play board games.
If you enjoy puzzle games and sudokus, you’ll absolutely appreciate the math and logic of this game. The game is charming, entertaining, and challenging at the same time. It does not over-promise and delivers exactly what it says: a perfect puzzle.
Azul is a great addition to any game collection and is an excellent way to introduce board games to people who don’t have much experience in gaming.
I’ve been playing as long as I remember myself. When I was a kid I dreamt of building my own games, and now I’m trying to make it a reality. Board games carry me away into a different world where I can be a knight, a researcher, a kingdom builder, or a zombie fighter. Love semi-coop and engine building games. Favorite game of all times: Dead of Winter.