Lets look at the Azul family of games. A group of games that combine heavy tactile playing pieces with a draughting/placing mechanic. You may at first think they are all basically the same, this is not the case, each of the three base games has a very different feel when played.
A modern classic that has won many industry awards, it remains very popular. Its all about tiling a wall, we love this game as the pieces are bold and tactile to handle. Players take turns drafting coloured tiles from a central group of suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they’ve placed their tiles on their wall, following an pre-established pattern. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets. Tiles that are wasted or not used can harm the player’s score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins. There is a second version on the reverse of the player boards, enabling free hand play, that is more difficult than it seems.
At 34 pounds it may seem expensive, but we worked out that we have played it for well over 200 hours at home. And when we realised that this works out at about 17 pence an hour for entertainment, its peanuts. This is the version we recommend to inexperienced and novice gamers looking for something more, they don’t seem to be disappointed.
Stained Glass Of Sintra
Stained Glass is the second game in the Azul family, using a similar draughting system to select tiles, it imposes stiffer penalties for getting it wrong as well as the opportunity to massively increase your score with care and foresight. This time you are constructing stained glass windows. Because of the randomised selection of the window pieces you are setting out to fill, each game is different. Again its main pieces make it very tactile and visually satisfying.
The third game in the series. Back to tiling, but interlocking star shaped motifs rather than square walls. Your score can be improved by completing full stars, and all of the areas in all of the seven stars with the same (low) difficulty rating. And completing some areas will enable you to take extra pieces from a central supply during the placing stage of your turn. Both the diamond shaped pieces and the way that you have to use large numbers of them to place in some parts of the stars, make this a different game to play. We like it a lot.
Crystal Mosaic Expansion
This adds new new player boards for each player, each with different objectives. It also adds plastic overlays to help in keeping the playing tiles securely in place. We enjoy this one a lot as well.