Reef: Explore the Beauty of the Ocean

Coral reefs are some of the most spectacular and beautiful parts of our ocean’s ecosystem. But while a coral reef may take thousands of years to grow, the board game Reef allows you to build your very own reef in a matter of minutes. Reef is an abstract strategy game for kids and adults alike that combines card playing with pattern building for a fun trip below the sea. With colorful pieces and simple yet entertaining gameplay, Reef is an excellent game for families.

Building Your Coral Reef

The game of Reef comes with a box of colorful plastic pieces of coral that you have to stack together to build a beautiful multicolored reef. The fun of this board game comes from having to arrange these pieces into dazzling patterns that earn you extra points. Each player will get their very own starting reef to begin with, which is represented by four pieces of coral that go in the center four squares of their board. 

Players will also start with several point tokens and two cards that they can use to collect more coral and build their reef into a big and beautiful display. Any cards not given out at the beginning of the game will go in the center of the table for players to choose from throughout the game. The game ends once all of the pieces of coral from one color have been taken or once all of the cards have been drawn.

Take a Card, Play a Card

Each turn you have two choices: you can either take a card from the center of the board or you can play one of your cards. To take a card from the center, you’ll either choose between the three face-up cards on the table or you’ll draw a random card from the deck. 

To draw from the deck, however, you must sacrifice a point token, assigning it to the lowest-scoring of the three face-up cards. This then acts as an incentive for other players to choose that card in a later turn.

Each player is allowed up to four cards in their hand. The cards are split into top and bottom sections, which give you instructions to perform in that order. When you play a card, you must first take from the coral supply the two coral pieces displayed on the top of your card and put them on your reef. You can either put them on a blank space on your reef or stack them up to 4 pieces high.

Once you’ve added the two pieces of coral to your reef, you’ll look at the pattern that’s on the bottom of your card. If that pattern appears anywhere on your reef, then you will earn special points in the form of tokens. These patterns can include different colors of coral as well as the heights of the stacks, so it’ll take a bit of planning to try and make the right match.

Reef Expansion

Reef comes with one mini-expansion board game called Reef: Kings of the Coral. This mini-expansion will provide each player with two fish that they can use to boost the points of their patterns. Whenever you score for having a particular coral pattern, each fish that’s present on the formation will earn you an extra point. However, you can’t lay down a piece of coral wherever a fish is present, so be sure to strategize where your little slippery friends will swim!

Reef: Take a Trip Down Under

Reef is suitable for 2-4 players, as it comes with up to four little coral reef boards. It’s also suitable for ages 8 and up, which makes it perfect for parents to play with their kids or for kids to play together. Playing time lasts around 30-45 minutes, which should be short enough to keep the attention of younger players.

Reef is pretty easy to learn and is an excellent way to introduce kids to pattern building and strategy. It also provides enough room for long term planning that adults can feel stimulated while playing it. Buy Reef today and enjoy the beauty of the deep blue sea!


Calico: Calling All Cuddly Cats!

Board games offer us the opportunity to see who can be the most strategic, the most conniving, and the most knowledgeable. But have you ever played a board game that required you to be the coziest? Calico is a tile-laying board game that gives you the goal of sewing the coziest quilt possible in order to attract some super cuddly cats.You’ll sew in patches of various colors and patterns in order to earn the most points and win the hearts of felines everywhere.

Sew It All Together

Each player begins Calico with a playing board that represents a quilt that they have to sew. The patches of the quilt are arranged in hexagonal spaces, which come in six different colors and patterns. Players begin with two random tiles from the bag, while three tiles get laid out in the center of the table for players to choose from.

Three spaces on your quilt will be used to place scoring tiles. You get to draw four out of six scoring tiles, selecting whichever three you’d liked to place on your board at the beginning of the game. These scoring tiles will set your objective for the rest of the board game, giving you unique placement rules and patterns to follow. 

You can earn extra points for the way you place the surrounding six tiles, earning points for things such as having three sets of two matching colors or patterns. If you satisfy both of the conditions on the scoring tile, then congratulations! You’ve just earned extra points. However, there will be some overlap with the six tiles that surround the other scoring tiles, so you’ll be hard-pressed to make too many of those combinations.

Attracting the Cuddliest Cats

In addition to the three tiles that sit in the center of the table as a central market, you also get three little cat tokens. You’ll pick these randomly from the twelve cat tokens of the game, and each will come with its own scoring rules and patterns. In order to attract these cuddly little cats to come take a rest on your quilt, you’ll have to satisfy their conditions.

As you go along in the game, you’ll place one tile and draw one tile each turn, always keeping a hand of two tiles. You must always draw from the three tiles in the center, replacing them from the bag as you go along. There isn’t much competition with the other players until the end of the game, as you’re mostly focused on sewing the best quilt you can rather than disrupting the other players.

Buttons, Patterns and Cats Galore

You earn points throughout the game by satisfying the requirements of your scoring patterns, attracting cat tokens, and earning buttons for your quilt. In order to add a button to your quilt, you must place three of the same color in adjacent spaces, which earns you a matching colored button. If you manage to get a complete set of six buttons, then you earn a special rainbow button for your quilt.

There are some hexagonal spaces that are built into your Calico board on the surrounding edges of your quilt, which can help you to make matches and attract your furry feline friends. Once everyone’s quilts have been completed, you’ll tally up the points from the scoring tiles, cats, and buttons to determine the winner.

Embrace Your Cuddly Side with Calico

Calico is playable by 1-4 players. It’s just as good as a single player game as it is a game for small groups since your main objective is simply to earn the most points. Calico is suitable for ages 13 and up, so teens and adults alike can enjoy the fun of the cuddly little cat tokens. Playing time for Calico lasts around 30-45 minutes, which makes it a decent board game for weeknights or parties.

Calico is a great pattern building game for people who are more into abstract strategy than crushing the competition. The cat tokens are obviously the selling point of the game, as you’ll do whatever it takes to fill your board with these cute creatures. Buy Calico today and enjoy the coziest board game you’ll ever play!


Azul: Channel Your Interior Decorator

If you’re a fan of art or interior design, then Azul is the game for you. Set in the lavish palace of King Manuel I of Portugal, Azul puts your interior decorating skills to the test to see who can build the best pattern for the palace walls. You’ll have a blast with the delicate, intricate little tile pieces as you pick and choose which ones will help you make the best design. An expert combination of aesthetic appeal and complex strategy, Azul is a masterpiece of a game.

The Beauty of Azul

Perhaps the best part of the game of Azul comes from its origin story. Azul is based on azulejos, which were white and blue ceramic tiles introduced to Spain by the Moors. When the Portuguese King Manuel I was on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, he couldn’t help but be captivated by the beauty of these dazzling tiles.

In fact, he was so overcome by the beauty of these azulejos that he instantly ordered for his own palace back home in Portugal to be decorated in the same way. This is where our game begins, as you the player become the tile-laying artist charged with embellishing the king’s royal walls.

Collecting the Tiles

Azul is incredibly simple to learn, setup, and play, so you’ll be able to dive right in. Players start with their own individual boards and scoring markers. A ring of discs sits in the center of the table, each holding four randomly drawn tiles and one white tile for players to choose from. Players will take turns pulling tiles from one of the discs and adding them to their boards.

When you select the tiles, you must choose all of the tiles of that color from the disc to add to your board. You’ll fill in each row of your board with one color at a time. If the row is full by the end of the round, then you can move it onto the patterned scoring wall on your board.

Building Your Pattern

This is where the game gets interesting. You get to choose how you place the tiles to decorate the palace, with certain patterns and sets scoring you extra points. This part of the game allows your inner artist to come out as you try and earn as many points as possible while still building something of beauty.

Beware of taking tiles you cannot use, however, as this will harm your score. If there are no free rows in which to place your tile or you’ve already completed a row with that color title, then you’ll earn negative points. 

The key to the game is to make sure you’re able to fill the rows on your player board while planning out your long term strategy for decorating the palace. The game ends when the first player completes an entire row in their patterned scoring wall.

Azul Spinoffs

Azul has two spinoffs that have similar gameplay but employ different yet equally beautiful components. Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra turns you into a window-builder as you craft an elegant stained glass window of your own design. This game comes with beautiful double-sided window panels that offer an infinite number of potential combinations.

Azul: Summer Pavilion tasks you with decorating the king’s summer pavilion, a task which was never actually completed in real life. This spinoff offers a bit more complexity to the game that can make it a worthy upgrade for fans of the original Azul.

Azul: Embellish To Your Heart’s Content

Azul is playable by 2-4 players, so it’s definitely best for small groups or for one-on-one games. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, mostly because of how simple the game is to play. However, it’s definitely got enough complexity that adults won’t tire of it.

Playing time for Azul lasts 30-45 minutes, which allows you to get a hang of the game in case you’re interested in playing multiple rounds. All in all, Azul is the kind of game you’ll want to play multiple times in order to nail down your winning strategy. Buy Azul today and let your artist be free!


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