Step by step instructions on how to play Azul Board Game. Azul is a relatively new game with a 2017 release that has been really wowing people in the puzzle strategy space. Learning how to play Azul is easy, though some of the math gets a little intense. It is very quick and simplistic, but there are many options making for a difficult game to master. The perfect recipe for a board game. You can play with 2 – 4 people and games last about 25 minutes. This is our guide to how to play Azul.
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HOW TO PLAY AZUL – WHAT IS IT?
You are designing a palace and the king wants you to use the beautiful Portuguese tiles known as “azulejos” to do the job. Each player gets their own game card which represents their own personal palace. Communally in the center are many discs that represent tile factories.
The square grid on the right corner of each board is the space to fill in. The way to fill it in is by loading up a full row to the left with one color. At the bottom of the palace you need lots of details but as you move up you need less, which is why there is a five-row, then four, then three, then two and finally one. If you fill one of these, at the end of a round you get to move that color into your grid.
There are many rounds of this game. Each round of pulling tiles from the disc factories is going to go around the circle around 3 – 5 times, then tiles are moved, then a round of scoring happens and then you start all over again. It is very fluid but lots of scoring.
The way you get points if by having tiles in the grid. Each one by itself is worth one point, but if it is next to another tile, then each is worth two, and if it is by two then each is worth three points and so on. So it is key to set up groupings.
HOW TO PLAY AZUL – GAMEPLAY
Setup is easy when learning how to play Azul. Everyone playing gets a board and a score marker. The score is kept at the top of the board. You start with it at zero. Then you have to set up the communal disc tile factories. This has to do with the number of players you have. With 2 players play with 5 discs, with 3 players play with 7 discs and with 4 players play with 9 discs.
Each disc in play gets four random tiles placed on it (this happens every round). Use the giant cloth bag included to shake up, randomize and draw the needed titles. There is also a special “1” tile. This is worth -1 points but whoever gets it goes first the next round, a big advantage. Start by putting this in the middle, which will become the “junk” pile which we will get into.
So now that you are set up, someone kicks things off. The gameplay portion of how to play Azul kicks in. The first player to go has the option of taking all of ONE color from any of the available discs. That player then puts the 1, 2, 3 (rare), 4 (incredibly rare) tiles they just grabbed in one of the working rows on your board. These are the blank sections to the left in varying amounts of 1 – 5 spaces. Each of these rows can only have one color/type in it, and the tiles you grabbed can only go into one row (you can’t split them up).
The remainder tiles that were not chosen go into a middle “junk” pile where you put the “1” title at the start. This becomes another valid pile to pull from. Just like any disc, you can choose the take any ONE color type from the middle, but remember you MUST take all of that color. The only downside is that the first person to take from this pile gets the “1” tile.
You can get screwed by getting more tiles than you actually need to complete a row. If this happens, these fill up the bottom row on a card which will give you negative points. The more you fill, the stiffer the penalty. You have to weigh the pros and cons of all situations.
Once a player has made their choice and put tiles down, it now moves to the next player and then they get to choose from the available to take all of ONE color from a disc (or the middle). This continues until all the tiles are gone. It usually gets to the point where there are so many of one color in the middle that no one wants to take it and then whoever grabs last gets screwed, so something to keep in mind for strategy.
END OF ROUND SCORING AND RESET
In between each round, a lot happens. First, take a look at your worker rows. If you have filled one entire row, take one of those tiles and move it into that corresponding spot into that row in your grid. Congrats, you successfully added a tile to your palace, this is going to now score you points every round until the game is over. If you have not fully completed the worker rows, no worries, leave it as is and try and finish it next round.
Next is scoring, and this can get daunting because there is lots of math. As you can see from your grid, it is a 5×5 square. Each tile is worth one point, but if it is part of a row or a column with more titles touching it, it is then worth more points. Start in the top corner and go space by space. Every time there is a tile, calculate its points and then move to the next space. If it has one to the left and right (row of three) and one above it (column of two) it is worth 5 points (3 + 2). You take your total and then you subtract and minus points from the bottom. Move your scorekeeping piece at the top up the number of points you get that round.
As you go along, it gets harder and harder to fill rows but the points get more and more lucrative. And this leads to the most difficult thing you will encounter via this how to play Azul guide.
After you did all this, you put the extra tiles back in the bag, shake it and then put four fresh new titles on each disc. Whoever has the “1” title puts it back in the middle and that person will go first next round.
HOW TO PLAY AZUL – ENDING GAME
The game ends when a player successfully fills one row in their grid completely across. This does not mean that person wins, it just triggers that this will be the last round. So if you know you are behind in the score, probably not the best idea to complete a row.
When the game ends, you do the same scoring you have been doing, but in addition, there are some bonus points. For every row in your grid, you complete you get points, the same thing with every column and then finally if you get every space on your grid of one particular color you get a big bonus.
HOW TO PLAY AZUL – IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
You can only cover a tile spot once. Say you get the yellow sun looking title into your grid on the top row, well then you no longer can put the yellow sun title in that working row, because it is already complete. This is part of the difficulty of the game, it’s easy at the beginning, but you start running out of options the further you get in. Besides that, when it comes to learning how to play Azul, you should know what you need to know.
OR WATCH THIS VIDEO: How To Play Azul in 4 Minutes by Teach The Table
We hope now you can say you have mastered How To Play Azul Board Game. As long as you can get over the high level of math, this game is top-notch. It is one of the simplest but satisfying puzzle games to come out in a while and it won the most impressive board game award, the Spiel des Jahres, for a reason.
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