Azul is the Spanish word for blue, and while there is some blue in this game the name remains somewhat obtuse, thankfully the gameplay more than makes up for it. Azul sets you up as mosaic tilers looking to tile a wall, or something, to be honest the theme is not the strongest and this is very much an abstract experience. But that doesnâ€™t stop it being a beautiful one.
The tile pieces in Azul are gorgeous, looking like fancy starburst sweets and feel great in your hands. During set-up you will lay on a number of round cardboard tiles representing the factories where you pick up the tiles you need. Onto each of these you place four random starburst tiles. On your turn you may take any number of those from the factory, as long as they are the same colour. Those left are moved off the factory into a central pile.
From that point on you may also take any number of the same colour tiles from the central pile and if you are the first to do so, you lose a point and get to be first player next time round.
Once you have your tiles you place them on to one of five staging areas. Each of the five staging areas has a different amount of spaces (from 1-5) and each can only hold tiles of one colour at a time. At the end of the round if one of these staging areas is full then you can move one tile from that area to the corresponding row of the mosaic discarding the rest. This is the only way you can discard tiles without penalty – should you take more than you need/can place then they will give you negative points.
You score points for placing tiles into your mosaic for each row and column of tiles you add to counting your tile in both directions. Youâ€™ll also get bonuses for rows, columns and filling all five spaces of one colour of tile.
Azul is a fantastic drafting game that looks great on the table and appeals to almost everyone I have played it with. Both Azul and it's sequels, Stained Glass of Sintra and Summer Pavillion offer easy to learn games that are not lacking in depth and planning. They would make great games for beginners and old hands alike and are the perfect gaming gift.