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Azul by Next Move Games Review

Theme and What is it?

You have been invited by the King of Portugal to the Royal Palace of Evora. The king, after a visit to southern Spain, has fallen in love with the beautifully laid tiles of the Alhambra palace. You have been tasked, by the king, to enhance the palace walls with your beautiful Moorish tile laying skills. Will you impress the king and be crowned Royal Tile Layer?

Azul is an abstract tile laying game where players compete to earn the most points and the title of Royal Tile Layer. 

Gameplay Mechanics

Azul is a tile laying game where players draft tiles from “factories” and place them on their boards.  After a number of rounds, the players then use a tile from each row to fill in their wall and score points.  During the round, be careful what tiles you choose.  If you draw too many tiles of the same type, they will “fall off your table and break on the floor”.  This earns you negative points.  The game plays over a series of rounds with players taking turns drawing tiles.  Once the supply is exhausted, each player then transfers one tile from each row over to their wall and tallies their points. 

Initial Impressions

Azul caught my attention right away when I saw it on the shelf. I loved the patchwork look of the box and the color scheme. It was even better when I got home and played it for the first time. The colors are bright and vibrant and the directions were straight forward with clear examples.

Game Build Quality

I only have one complaint with Azul and I will get to that in a minute, so first let me gush. The components of the game are amazing. The tiles are beautiful, smooth and colorful! They are some of the nicest pieces I have seen in a game. Plus, they look fantastic once they are all laid out. The layout board is made of thick cardboard and the printing is high quality which makes the colors pop. The bag you draw tiles from is a high quality burlap material and it aesthetically matches the game. 

Onto my one complaint…I wish the player boards had indentions to place the tiles and the score marker. Once the slots start to fill up, it can get a bit messy for my OCD tendencies. This really takes nothing away from the game, but it sure would help my slight neurosis to have everything all lined up. 

Artistic Direction

I found Azul very therapeutic to play. The detail and thought that went into the design of Azul is beautiful. The color scheme and layout melted together into a refreshing, relaxing game. 

Fun Factor

I have played this game at least a dozen times, and I still want to play it again and again. It’s a game I introduce to new gamers, and I have never heard a complaint. It moves at a steady pace as the players contemplate future moves, but it is not heavy enough to stop the group from talking and enjoying each other’s company.

Age Range & Weight

Azul is rated 8+. Like most games rated for players this young, there will be those who understand the strategies and can keep up with older players, and those who struggle with seeing future moves. Younger players might just pick their favorite color or style of tile and be frustrated with final scoring.  My feeling is that 10+ would be more inclusive and most players above that age range would have the processing capacity to make complex decisions.  This is an easy game to teach and an easy game to learn, but don’t let fool you.  Azul has depth and rich gameplay. Players will need to forecast their moves and plan strategies to score as many points as possible. 

Conclusions

You have probably seen Azul all over the place this year. It’s no wonder, it has incredible gameplay paired with amazing art. There are so many things to like about this game that it appeals to all different types of gamers. 

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