Dive Into the Beauty of the Moors with Azul

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 Sequels

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!

 

How to Play Azul

All Paths Lead to Enlightenment and Fun With Tsuro

Few games include such beautiful tokens or such a heartbreaking story as Tsuro, the 2004 tile-based game that has drawn in countless players.  With simple and fast gameplay and an entertaining background story, Tsuro is a board game that will stand out in your mind for years to come.  As the board fills up and the small carved tokens follow their winding roads, Tsuro is sure to leave you desperate for another round.

The Story Of The Dragon

One of the most beautiful parts of Tsuro is its Asian spiritual theme, as the lines that you travel along are meant to represent the roads leading to divine wisdom.  The story behind Tsuro is that of a Dragon and Phoenix tasked with overseeing these paths.  One day, Ares drove the Phoenix away and turned the Dragon into a war general.  Now the Dragon seeks to follow the winding paths back to his true love, the Phoenix.  Can you help him succeed?

Laying Down The Line

At the beginning of the game, each player is given a token that must follow the path to enlightenment.  Gameplay involves laying down tiles in front of your token to keep it on the board and continue its path.  After you lay down a new tile on the 6×6 grid game board, you will move your token as far as the path takes you.  The more tiles you lay down, the faster the board begins to fill up, leading you down a path that may be your downfall.

The End Of The Road

The aim of the game is to try to keep your token on the board longer than your competitors.  The way to do this is to use strategy to ensure your token follows the correct path while you try to divert the other players’ tokens to force them out of the game.  If you reach the end of the board or end up running into someone else’s token, it’s game over for you.  Only the wisest and most strategic can achieve true enlightenment.

When there are three or more players, the Dragon tile is used to help extend gameplay.  Once you run out of tiles, the next player takes the Dragon tile to signify that they will be the first to draw from the deck of unplayed tiles left over by eliminated players.

Alternate Editions Of Tsuro

Calliope Games published Tsuro in 2004, and have since created many different versions and spinoffs of the game.  The first was called Tsuro of the Seas, created in 2012.  This fun spinoff adds new boat-shaped player pieces as well as dangerous daikaiju tiles that will automatically remove anyone who lands on them.  This spinoff game also comes with a larger game board measuring 7×7 instead of 6×6.

Veterans of the Seas is an expansion of Tsuro that adds four new types of tiles.  These tiles range from whirlpools to tsunamis that require you to roll a die to avoid.  There’s even a Star Wars themed spinoff called Asteroid Escape, which takes the water bound game and launches it into outer space.  Instead of riding boats and navigating around whirlpools, you’ll be flying spaceships and dodging asteroids!

Tsuro: The Game Of The Path

Tsuro is a beautiful and simple game that is easy to learn.  Suitable for ages 8 and up, Tsuro is a great way to introduce your kids to board games that have a story behind them, which are often much more memorable and entertaining than simple games like Scrabble.  Game time also lasts around 15-20 minutes, which means that it’s not too much of a time investment to work in a game or two in an evening.

Tsuro also fits anywhere from 2-8 players, allowing you to enjoy the game both with a large group at a party as well as an intimate night in with your partner.  Inspired by the romance of the Dragon and the Phoenix, Tsuro is sure to ignite the romantic passions of lost love—just so long as you don’t knock the other player off the board first!  Dive into Tsuro and follow the path to divine wisdom and enlightenment.

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