Azul: stained glass of sintra
Publisher: Next Move Games
Designer: Michael Kiesling
Artist: Chris Quilliams
Player Count: 2-4
Age Appropriateness: 8+
Playtime: 30-45 Minutes
The thematic feel created in this game is quite serene. We have gone from ceramic tiles to stained glass, but we have not left Portugal! You may not be a Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel, but you will still have an artistic feel while creating beautiful stained glass windows in the palace of Sintra.
"Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, challenges players to carefully select glass panes to complete their windows while being careful not to damage or waste supplies in the process. The window panels are double-sided, providing players with a dynamic player board that affords nearly infinite variability! Players can expect to discover new unique art and components in Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, including translucent window pane pieces, a tower to hold discarded glass panes, and double-sided player boards and window pane panels, in addition to many other beautiful components!"
What We Think
Gameplay & Rules
I feel that Azul SG brings a uniqueness to the table that is just enough to differentiate itself from the first Azul game. To start off though, Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra uses the same basic mechanics of tile drafting and placement from Azul its predecessor with a significantly different application. Instead of having a single board players will now have 8 double sided window panes made of cardboard strips to place tiles on. The arrangement of these window panes can really change the gameplay, just as long as players don't accidentally mix different pane colors which are found on the edges of the panes and match the board below it. Players will have two actions they can take, but may only take one per turn. You can either take a tile or reset your glazier representing by a little meeple dude matching the color you choose in the beginning. You are only allowed to place tiles either on the pane that the glazier is at or any to the right of it. You are never allowed to place any tiles to it's left of glazier. When you place a tile in a pane, you move your glazier to that pane. As stated before, your second action is to reset the glazier to the furthest left pane possible. Furthermore, you must always move the glazier as far as it can go to the left. This prevents players from always moving and not taking tiles. This move will have to be done in certain instances, but also is a good move to use in order to avoid taking broken glass or the first player token that give you negative points. Possible negative points are much higher in Stained Glass of Sintra than it was in the original Azul. Azul has max negative at -14 while SG has -18, but you must restart if you surpass this horrible goal and add it to your total. Similar to Azul, any time you do an action causing you to have extra tiles not able to be used (broken glass), you move down a column which gradually increases your loss. This makes taking the first player tile a bigger decision since you can net more negative points in this game. The scoring is a little different as well. Both have end game bonuses, but in Azul you score each time you are able to lay a tile, and that is not the case in Azul SG which requires the entire pane to be first filled. When you complete a pane, any one of the tiles you chose is removed and put below the pane onto your player board. One of the biggest differences in this version is that there is a set round limit compared to the end game situation being the first completed horizontal row. Each game will be a set six rounds and each round has a special tile to help people pick tiles in relation to it to score extra points during that round. At the end of the sixth round, the last tile is removed from the tracking column and the game ends. In regards to bonus scoring, if the tile matches the color of the tile in the tracking column then you score bonuses points equal to how many of that color are in any window panes you are scoring that round. Each round has a random color chosen to award bonus points on the score tracker board. If the tile doesn't match the round tile, you score no bonuses for that. You then score the column based on it's location and for every pane to it's right that already has at least one tile placed on the player board. Each pane's point worth is displayed at the bottom of the panes. Once the game ends you will have end game bonuses that depend on how you placed your bottom scoring tiles around 4 central points along with any leftover tiles you have on the panes.
Components & Art
These stained glass pieces look so tasty, errr, I mean pretty. Therefore, you may need to explain to children not to try to eat these lifesaver look-a-likes. My wife and I get hungry for candy during each playthrough! However, I do have a few grievances with the components, that I think could have been improved upon and made this game even greater than it is now. All of these grievances really do not have much effect on gameplay, with these criticisms dealing more with preference. The cardboard panes and player boards are nice and thick but the edges of the panes where they are supposed to connect to the player board aren't reinforced at all. Those edges will wear down quickly after playing many games that require flipping and constantly rearranging them. This could be remedied with some sort of board to place these cardboard pieces on to allow more stabilization. This stabilization would also cure the problem of accidental board mishaps that I tend to do a lot when playing. Usually it is when I am flipping one of the panes, but I have also done it when grabbing for tiles which ends up with my tiles moving around the panes causing some short confusion. The tiles I enjoy quite a lot as I joked earlier about how tasty they look. Also, the tiles have an individualized indent for each color which is pretty cool. The scoring track sheet is another component that could use upgrading. It is made with thin paper with a winding score tracker on it that is easily disoriented with slight bumps to the table or board. The cube spaces on the tracker to track the score are exact size of the spaces and they don't stack very well. You'll have to move the cubes quite often which causes real issues when players are on the same score or close to each other while trying not to slightly bump the board. Finally we have the container thing for the dice, which visually goes greatly with the theme. It does a great job keeping the table cleaned up from all the broken glass. However, it doesn't fit in the box very well and there isn't really an option of breakdown storage for it unless you put it under the tray. I decided to remove it completely and use it as a decorative piece on my desktop area.
Here at Green Akers Games we love games. It sometimes can be difficult to be a reviewer since almost every game has at least something to love about it! So what we like to do is simply let our readers/viewers know if we think this game is a game we’d choose to pay for, play, and recommend to others without hesitation. A 3 out of 3 is a perfect score while anything less means the game has missed the mark somewhere in our eyes! Please keep in mind, our perception of or feelings about any game should not trump your feelings about that game. We believe that if a game interests you that you should at least give it a shot! Utilize your local FLGS or local gaming group to test out games before you decide to go all in!
Azul SG gets a 3/3 from us. I would recommend this game this game to anyone as wonderful gateway game into the world of abstract board games. I have played this game so many times with my wife who almost always comes out the victor. I may not win very much, but it is great to have found a game that allows me to bring my wife into the tabletop realm. The component issues I mentioned above are the only issues I really have for the game. Even with these issues, I don't believe they are so disappointing it would keep me from purchasing this game for its current price. They will cause annoyances occasionally and they may not even bother some consumers. I would also have no problem paying for it at it's current price point or pulling it out of the closet on the regular to play! Especially with the price of the game and its predecessor dropping almost everyday it seems. Please remember, just because we like the game does not mean YOU will since not every game is for everyone. However, this tile placement, set collecting, pattern building game will be a great addition to you collection! Even if you already have the first Azul!
Below is a link to buy Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra as well as a link to BGG to see more reviews and content. We’d also love you to join us in the comments section with your thoughts. Create a member profile and let us know what you think!