Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The other 4 colours aren't worth mentioning:- Azul

Game: Azul

Publisher: Plan B Games

Designer: Michael Kiesling

Year: 2017

Azul is a 2-4 player abstract game in which you play as tile layers decorating the Royal Palace of Evora. To do this you will take turns drafting the decorative tiles in order to fill your player boards. Each tiles has a specific location where it must go, and placement matters as certain patterns net you bonus points at the end of the game. But be careful, if you get greedy and take more tiles than you can use you break them and have to lost points.

Each player in Azul gets a player board with a 5x5 grid on it that they must fill as the game goes on. The grid is laid out so that each tile type appears only once in each vertical and horizontal line. Point scoring is reminiscent of Quirkle. When you place a tile on your grid you earn points based on the lines it now forms, both horizontal and vertical if applicable. For example if you had a single tile by itself then you would score 1 point, but if you added a second tile below it then that tile would score 2 points. This scoring mechanic gives the game a good sense of progression as you fill in gaps and score larger and larger points. 

A game of Azul set up ready to play, in a 2 player game you use 5 discs, but more come out as the player count increases.

The drafting of tiles is done very simply. At the start of each round a number of round discs (varying on player count) are each filled with 4 tiles. On their turn a player must choose one of these round discs, take all of the tiles of one colour from them and place them in one of the horizontal columns to the left of their 5x5 grid. The remaining tiles are placed in a central pool which players can opt to take from in exactly the same way as they would from the discs. Rounds end when drafting pool is completely empty at which point the players consult the columns on their player board. Each column relates to one of the horizontal lines on the 5x5 grid, and they vary from needing 1-5 tiles to complete. If they are complete then you take one of the tiles off and place it onto your grid, score points, and place the rest in a tile discard.

A player board at the end of a round ready to score. First the top blue tile will come out, scoring 1 point, then the azul tile will be placed scoring 4 points as it's in both a horizontal and vertical line of 2. The black and red lines aren't finished so neither are placed, but the blue line at the bottom is complete so a blue tile will be placed scoring 1 point. Finally 1 point will be lost for the azul tile at the bottom of the board that couldn't be used.

The first thing that I noticed about Azul was how gorgeous it is, there has obviously been no holding back on the quality of the components in this game. The box looks classy enough to sit proudly on any coffee table, the bag that holds the tiles is printed with an intricate mosaic pattern. As for the tiles themselves 3 out of 5 have intricate patterns on them, while all of them are chunky and weighty enough to easily handle. Azul is the most beautiful abstract game I have ever played. Of course on the downside this component quality does come with a cost associated with it.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s incredibly rewarding. The drafting mechanics give a good amount of player interaction despite the completely separate playing areas. You’ll rarely find that your opponent has completely cut you off from achieving your goals, but you are forced to be flexible based on the tiles available. There are rewards for complete lines and collections of a colour at the end of the game which can cause dramatic swings at the end of the game. Azul is a solid, quick drafting/strategy game that I highly recommend.

7.5/10

Azul was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is be available for an RRP of £39.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

No comments:

Post a comment