Azul is a drafting game in which players are tilers, each seeking to tile a mosaic wall. The wall-tile pieces are very attractive, so the game has a delightful look to it.
At set-up, the circular ‘factories’ are laid out, with tiles randomly placed on them.
This display of factories is where players can collect the tiles they need.
In the tile collection phase, players (by turn) take as many tiles from one factory as they wish: of one pattern. Those not taken move from the factory into a central repository. Players may instead take any number of the same pattern tiles from the central repository.
Players place their new tiles on to one of five pre-tiling rows on their personal board: they’re getting a supply to hand, ready to fix to their wall. Then to the next player.
Play proceeds thus, with all players collecting tiles from factories or the repository until none remain. Their aim is to fill pre-tiling rows with tiles of the same pattern. But taking too many tiles may lead to penalties later!
Once all tiles have been sourced, the game moves to the wall hanging phase, when players are trying to build the mosaic in accord with the layout that’s showing on the ‘wall area’.
If one of a player’s pre-tiling areas is full, one tile can be taken to add to their mosaic: discarding the rest. Points are scored as tiles are placed into the mosaics, with bonuses for placing matching tiles that touch, and for placing all tiles of one pattern.
The game proceeds through tile sourcing and tile fixing phases until someone completes a full row on the wall – just the one. Then comes final scoring.
Other versions have been devised
- quite an abstract game, in that it’s all about seeing chances to establish tile-patterns
- can be learned quickly
- little setting up
- certainly is replayable
- strategic thinking develops with play
- some luck involved, in drawing tiles randomly to place in factories
- nicely competitive