A mosaic is a form of art where you create patterns using a lot of small square stones in different colors. In the board game Azul you are one of these artists who is trying to make the best mosaic. Try to acquire the stones you need and make sure that your rivals don't so they get loads of negative points. Can you create the most beautiful mosaic?
In the game Azul every player has his own personal player board on which a pattern has to be made, the pattern is the same for every player. On the left side of the pattern, there are rows where stones can be placed. A stone can be added to the mosaic when one of these rows is completely filled with stones of the same color. This is what you have to prevent on the boards of your rival mosaic builders. Tiles are drafted in a unique way, there is one common pool of tiles where everyone gets his tiles. But taking tiles influences the tiles other players can take, so choose carefully!
A round ends when there are no stones left in the pool and at that moment points are being counted for stones that can be added to your mosaic. After playing the last round and the points are counted, bonus points are awarded for complete rows or columns. The player who now has the most points is the winner of the game!
Azul contains beautiful and robust components. There are four player boards that are made of a thick and firm cardboards on which players will put their tiles. There is also a nice cloth bag in which you can keep the tiles and you can blindly pull tiles for a new round. The stones themselves are made from a hard plastic and are beautiful. They are big and easy to differentiate by color and the pattern that is printed on top. This makes the game also playable for colorblind people.
The disadvantages of these great components is that the price of this game is a bit higher than what you would expect for an abstract strategy game.
Playing the game
At the start of a round, tiles are being distributed to a number of circles on the table, the amount of circles depends on how many players there are. Each circle will get four random tiles from the bag. Starting with the first player, each player can now take a number of tiles from one of these circles. There are however a few rules you have to follow: You can only take tiles from one circle and you have to take all tiles in a certain color from this circle. All tiles that are left on the circle after taking your tiles are moved to the center of the table and these form a new circle. All leftover tiles from any other circle in the future will also be added to this new circle.
The tiles you took from the circle can now be added to your own player board. On the left side of your grid, there are five rows with one to five squares on them. You can place this number of tiles on these rows, however, each row can only have one color at a certain time. If you cannot place tiles you took, these are moved to the bottom of your player board and will score you negative points at the end of the round. Once all tiles have been distributed to the players, this round is over. For each completed row you have on the left of your mosaic, you can take one of the tiles and add them to your mosaic on the corresponding row, the rest of the tiles in this row may be discarded. You now score points according to the tiles around the newly added tiles on your mosaic.
After the points have been counted, the circles are filled again and a new round can be played. This goes on until one of the players can fill an entire row on his or her mosaic. The current round is played out and points are counted. Players now get extra points for each completed row or column on their board. The player who has collected the most points is the winner of the game.
Azul is a very simple game which can be thought to any player fairly quickly. both seasoned players and new gamers will enjoy this game because of this, it's quick, not that hard, but still has a lot of depth. You cannot master this game in a few playthroughs. Beware though, there is a lot of backstabbing going on in this game. Dividing the last tiles always gives a lot of negative points to players and if you play correctly you can easily give these to other players.
The components are also of an amazing quality, this game will survive a lot of playthroughs without taking a lot of damage. This does also come with a slightly higher price for an abstract strategy game.
We played this game with different groups, and everyone loved this game. If you ever have the chance to play the game we definitely recommend this!