Strategic Depth: Beginner
Setup Time: 5 min.
Play Time: 30 min.
Mechanics: Puzzle, Set Collection, Tile Placement
Production Info: 2017 |Plan B Games | Michael Kiesling
Each player is an aspiring tile-laying artist attempting to impress the Portuguese king Manuel I as he searches for an artist to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora. Players must select tiles from various local factories with limited inventory in order to completed the King's desired mosaic design. The player who can work most efficiently and complete enough of their wall design to impress the king will ultimately be chosen to lay tiles throughout the entire palace.
- The Good -
Easy To Learn
Azul is one of those games that is very easy to pickup but not too easy to where you dread playing through it every time it comes to the table. Azul seems to have hit that perfect balance of taking a simple routine within a players turn and creating gameplay that is interesting and intense.
The components of Azul are fantastic. I'm so glad Plan B games decided to include actual tiles instead of the typical cardboard pieces most games have. With Azul being an abstract game, the component quality really helps heighten the experience while playing through each of the rounds.
Deep Strategic Thinking
While Azul may be an easy game to teach/learn, there is a ton of strategic thinking that needs to go on in your head if you are going to master this game. Every turn (and I mean every turn) needs to be thoughtful as you will be either helping or hurting the other players (or even yourself!) based on which tiles you decide to pickup from the factories. You also have to think ahead and anticipate which colored tiles are going to be high in quantities towards the end of a round. For example, if you don't have room for 6 blue tiles near the end of the round, you could be accumulating a large amount of negative points if you end up being forced to take them.
- The Bad -
Like all abstract games, the theme for Azul is weak and not very exciting at all to describe. I get a pit in my stomach every time I have to say, "Hey guys do you want to play this game called Azul? We get to pretend we are tile-layers and tile a wall!"
Luckily, this game is beginning to win a lot of very notable awards, so is something that can be brought up to help sway people's skepticism. However, if you place a ton of weight on a game's theme, this may be a board game you want to try out a few times before purchasing.
Azul uses individual scoring tracks housed on the Player Boards. There are a few downsides to the way this is designed. First, there is not a lot of space between the point indicator boxes. This means it is very easy to aciddentally knock/slide the point indicator cube and mess up the score. It is also a pain to keep track of who is currently in the lead since all the scores are not together in a centralized location. It is very interesting the game designer went this route as it is tremendously important to properly time when you might want to target ending the game given every player's current score tally.
- Overall -
Azul is one of the few Abstract games I actually enjoy playing. I'm not sure I can really put into words why I like it so much but there is something about the mechanics of the game's puzzle that really gets the gears churning in my head.
As of writing this, I have yet to win a game of Azul and yet I keep wanting to play it more and more. I definitely recommend including this board game in your collection and dare I say it may be the best Abstract game created to date?
The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rulebook which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.
- Setup Overview -
- Each player receives a Player Board and a Scoring Marker (black cube)
- Place the Factory display discs in the center of the board with 4 random tiles on each disc
- 2-Players: 5 Factory Display discs
- 3-Players: 7 Factory Display discs
- 4-Players: 9 Factory Display discs
- The first player takes the First Player Marker
- Game Play/Player Turns -
Factory Offer Phase
- Pick all tiles of the same color from a factory display disc or the center pile
- If the First Player Marker is available take it while picking tiles from the center pile (the marker goes directly into your Floor Line)
- If selecting from a Factory Display disc, move all remaining tiles to the center pile
- Place your selected tiles on ONE line in your Pattern Lines any left over tiles that do not fit must go into your Floor Line
- Go through your pattern lines from top to bottom
- Move the right most tile of each complete line to the space of the same color in the corresponding line
- Score points immediately for each tile you lay on your wall
- A tile earns a point for itself and each tile vertically/horizontally it connects to (similar to how you would score in a game of Scrabble)
- Move all remaining tiles in your completed row into the box lid
- Any incomplete rows in your Pattern Lines remain on your Player board for the next round
Next Round Preparation Phase
If no players have completed an entire horizontal line of the wall on their Player board you will continue to the next round.
- Refill each Factory Display disc with 4 more tiles from the tile bag
- If you run out of tiles, refill the bag with the tiles from the box lid
- Return the First Player Marker to the center pile
- End Of Game -
The game ends after the wall-tiling phase has been completed and a player has successfully laid an entire row of tiles across their Wall (5 tiles in a row).
- Winning -
The player with the most points on their score track wins the game.
- Tie Breakers -
In the event of a tie, the tied player with more complete horizontal lines wins the game.
- Great Instructional Videos -
Here are a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.
How do you score a column of 3 tiles with no connecting row tiles? Is it worth 3 or 4 (3+1) points?
A row or column of three tiles with no other connections would only be valued at 3 points.
Can you place a tile color in your Pattern Line if that tile color has already been tiled to your wall?
No, if you have already tiled a blue tile to your wall in row 3, no blue tiles can be placed in the row 3 Pattern Line. Instead they would be forced to be placed in the Floor Line for negative points.
Can you Tile your wall in any order you wish?
No, you must start at the top of your Pattern Line (row 1) and work your way down, scoring appropriately.
When do your score your tile points?
You score your tiles immediately after they are laid. Move your score marker as well.
Can you place tiles in multiple rows during a turn?
No, you may only place tiles in a single Pattern Line row during a turn. Any left over tiles must be placed into the Floor Line.
Do you score your bonus points?
Bonus points are scored at the end of the game after a player has laid a complete row of tiles on their wall. Bonus points are NOT counted on the Score Track during gameplay.
What do you do with the leftover tiles from completed rows that are not placed on your wall?
Left over tiles from completed rows in your Pattern Lines DO NOT go back into the tile bag. Instead they are to be placed in the Azul box lid until you run out of tiles stored in the tile bag.
What happens if you don't have enough tiles available to refill all the Factory Display discs?
You fill the discs as much as possible and continue playing
BUY THIS GAME
You have a variety of options across the web where you can purchase this game. We have an affiliate relationship with Amazon where they will give us a percentage of anything you buy on their site if you click one of our Amazon links on this site. This costs you absolutely nothing and is a free way to support our site so we can keep providing you great content and keep this website ad-free! Thank you for your support!!
Highest Price: $39.99 (Feb 25, 2018)
Lowest Price: $31.66 (Jan 1, 2018)
Average Price: $37.10
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (05/27/2018)
Expanding The Game
Below is a listing of ways you can enhance your experience while playing the board game Azul.
If you like how this board game plays, you'll definitely want to check out these great games which play similar.