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Featured Game: Azul Summer Pavilion

The third in the award winning Azul line, Azul: Summer Pavilion is, arguably, the simplest to learn and the cleanest in terms or strategy.

Head to 16th century Portugal to design the most amazing summer pavilion for the king in this abstract strategy game for 2-4 players. You’ll be collecting and placing brightly coloured tiles as you compete to have your design noticed.

Only the artiest of artisans can prevail in this cutthroat world of grandiose architecture, so get ready to design the brightest, best, palace of all.

Why we love it

Azul: Summer Pavilion is a game of two parts, repeated over the course of six rounds. Part one is the drafting part, where players take it in turns to collect sets of same coloured tiles, either taking from one of the factory tiles and pushing off any uncollected tiles, or from the middle where those unwanted tiles end up. Where Summer Pavilion differs from the original Azul here is in one very important way: wild tiles. Every round one tile is ‘wild’ and counts as any other colour, so when drafting you can take a wild tile along with a set of another colour. This adds a depth of strategy but flexibility that original Azul was lacking.

Then there’s the placement half, unlike in the first Azul, in Summer Pavilion you make all of you placement decisions once every tile has been drafted from the middle. What I love most about the placement part of this, is the opportunity to score extra bonus tiles through clever decisions, if you surround a pillar or a window you’ll get to pick a tile from a section in the middle. Again, it adds a little flexibility.

You’ll repeat the above two steps five more times, each round with a different bonus colour. Score points for adjacent placements during the game but make sure you’re keeping an eye on working towards some of the massive end game bonuses.

At its heart, Azul: Summer Pavilion is not a complicated game, though it can be a little fiddly at first, it doesn’t take a long time for even newer gamers to start to understand how it fits together. That being said, it’s not a game of obvious strategy. You’ll need to react to the decisions of other players, and plan around the directions they’re going in, plus working with the luck of the draw.

All that, and its got those thick, bright plastic diamond pieces that are just an amazing quality, so satisfying to move around your board and make for a beautiful finished product.

Who’s it best for

Great at 2-4 players, this is one of those games that changes slightly depending on player count. With four you’ll find it’s a slightly more chaotic and unpredictable experience, whilst two lends itself well to a tight, cutthroat game.

As a nice, lightweight strategy game, Azul: Summer Pavilion is a good fit for those with less gaming experience looking to try their hand at the more strategic games. However, as the strategy is fairly dependent on the skills of your opponents even seasoned gamers will find an interesting level of strategic depth within Azul: Summer Pavilion

Loved it? Now try…

Azul, the one that started it all! Draft tiles and fill rows in this abstract game.

Sagrada, Like Azul, but with dice

Century Spice Road, A little bit more complex, game of spice collection to score points

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