Azul is the perfect game for art-lovers and strategists alike. Set in the royal halls of a Portuguese palace, this game pushes you to embrace the interior decorator inside of you in an effort to please King Manuel I with your tile-laying skills. With gorgeous tiles and fast-paced gameplay, Azul is a beautiful game that you won’t soon forget.
The Story of Azul
The highlight of Azul comes from its wonderful theme and intriguing backstory. Azul is named after “azulejos”, the beautiful white and blue ceramic tiles that were first introduced by the Spanish Moors. When the Portuguese king Manuel I visited the Alhambra palace in southern Spain, he was captivated by these stunning tiles and demanded that they be used to decorate his royal palace back home. As the player of the game, you’re one of the tile-laying artists tasked with the challenge—are you up for it?
Pieces of the Game
Azul also stands apart from the crowd thanks to its gorgeous playing pieces. Each player gets their own playing board fitted with a tile wall and score tracker. The tiles are made from a shiny and attractive resin that makes placing them on your board incredibly satisfying. The game also comes with several different tile repositories, which are cute little decorated disks that hold the tiles you have to choose from.
All of the components of the game are made from sturdy and attractive materials that make Azul a game of supreme elegance. Instead of using flimsy cardboard or peeling stickers, Azul really invests in the visual and physical elements of the game. You’ll remember Azul for years to come thanks to their impressive attention to quality and detail.
Laying the Tiles
The game goes on round by round, with players taking turns collecting the tiles from the repositories and placing them in a row. Players will take all of the tiles of the same color from a repository, continuing until all of the tiles have been collected. At the end of each round, players will then be able to take tiles from the row and use them to fill their board and win points.
You can earn points for placing the tiles in specific patterns or completing certain sets on your playing board. You’ll have to choose your tiles with care, however, as any unused tiles will cause you to lose points and move further away from winning the game.
Azul has come out with several sequel games that expand on the premise of the initial game without losing any of its artistic splendor. In Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, players lay down windowpanes in a beautiful stained glass window instead of building an intricately tiled wall. The translucent pieces and double-sided player boards are even more beautiful and fun to play with than the initial game.
Azul: Summer Pavilion is another sequel game inspired by history, although this one is based on a story that never came to be. After King Manuel I completed his royal palaces, he ordered the construction of a summer pavilion (but died before it began). In this sequel game, players take on the roles of master artisans who lay tiles, build stars, and earn bonus tiles for special tasks.
Build Your Pattern and Please the King with Azul
Azul is suitable for ages 8 and up, with simple rules that you can explain in a matter of minutes. It can be played by 2-4 players, which makes it well suited for small groups and families. Because the game has such a unique aesthetic element to it, it’s the perfect romantic game for a date night or anniversary.
Playing time lasts 30-45 minutes, but it’s fun enough that you could easily play a few games back to back without getting bored. In a world full of unimaginative and aesthetically lazy games, Azul really stands out for its attention to detail and its unique theme. Players will have an excellent time stepping into the role of artists and creating their own beautiful picture. After only one play of this dynamic game, Azul will have you considering a career in interior design!