Review: Azul Stained Glass of Sintra – shiny stones are making a comeback
One piece of art will not make you a legend. It can be beautiful, it can be unique, but if you can not repeat it for other audiences, no one will know about you. This was at least a few hundred years ago, when there was no internet or other means of communication. All messages were transmitted only through written and spoken word.
Fortunately, not only we, but also designer Michael Kiesling, learned about the beautiful decoration of Sintra‘s fairytale palaces. He decided to build on his very successful logic Azul, this time with the subtitle Stained Glass of Sintra. Game comes out at the end of 2018 in the production of Plan B Games, with the illustrations of Chris Quilliams. Esdevium Games is responsible for the distribution.
Box is exactly the same size as his older brother, and a number of colors are shining on the lid, as is the case with every correct ornamental window, when the sun is up. Players initially prepare round tiles for the factory and their number is based on the number of participants in the game. The center table then needs also a counter of points that simultaneously wears the scale of the rounds. But players still have to take the color stones of all five available colors and place them on the individual round spaces in random order. The sixth remaining space is then filled with one drawn stone and repeats one color for a second time. All the remaining glass stones are prepared in a bag aside.
Individual players then get their own palace, which has a fixed bottom row of spaces. Above them, players randomly spread their set of eight pattern strips. Two-sided strips are used to randomize the game and setup is much more variable. Each of these tall cardboard tiles is composed of several colors spaces for glass. The strip to the left is then marked with a pawn of glazier. The starting player will now take bag with stones and will fill the individual spaces of the factory each with random four stones.
From that moment on, players will switch in turns, in which they can choose one of two options. The main thing is the opportunity to get stones from the joint offer – all beads of the one color on the selected factory tile. All stones of other colors are placed in the center of the table. As their number grows, the second option becomes more and more attractive. Its getting stones of one color from the center of a table instead of a factory display.
All of these acquired slides must be immediately placed in a mosaic on the fields of the same color. In doing so, player can always choose only one column for placement, and if some stones does not fit, because there is no place to lay it, its counted as broken. Such stone is thrown into the carton tower, where the broken glass is deposited. At the same time, however, he must raise his counter of broken glass one step down.
At the end of his turn, the active player moves the glassman’s figure over the just stacked bar on his board. In the following turns, he can only select columns to the right of this character. Then, before the turn really ends, player has to check, if he completed the whole set of stones in that stripe. If so, a player scores points for all the stones, that match the color on the current round space. He places one on his palace base and all the others are moved into the cardboard tower. Subsequently, he gets points ofr all the stones, that are in his palace located to the right of the completed mosaic.
Players then alternate in turn clockwise until the moment, when the supply of factory is completely exhausted. However, at any point in the process, a player may abandon his entire turn for the second option – moving his glazier back to the beginning of the entire palace, above the first column. After the sixth round, with six different offers of stones, players add points for the remaining stones, get penalty for broken pieces and bonuses for placing the stones in the palace. The player, who holds the most points, becomes the winner.
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is a dignified continuation of the Azul series. This time, the author takes us into the world of glass. And although there is enough change present in the box, one main remains – a great start-up drafting mechanism, in which players are gradually dismantling the stones from the offer. However, they have a little different interests and requirements, because the distribution and rotation of tall tiles at the beginning is random.
And yet there is an element of luck, that was not in the original Azul. This can be a disqualifying factor for a number of players, who love the original. This impact is increasing with the number of participants. But on the contrary, it significantly increases tension and variability in the game.
As a result, everyone needs the same stones, but the glazier character plays an important role. It moves constantly towards the right and by doing so, limits player’s choice in the following turn. Only sacrificing the whole turn will help the player and free his hands again. These moments of tactics and timing make the game really exciting. The character of the glazier is the most interesting thing in the whole new box.
It is a bit of a surprise, that this novelty is often compared to Sagrada. Games have a similar theme, but they are completely different. The new Azul is significantly more tactical and more demanding, than the apparent competition. While here are dice just as in Sagrada, here is a lot less chance.
Very interesting is also the scoring. Players now score only complete columns and need more, than one turn to create them. And because the rounds are not so long, offering different stones every time and glazier’s figure always moves quickly to the right, usually the completion of individual strips really takes some time. However, players must complete each column twice in order to have the highest score.
Also interesting are penalties for pieces, that you cannot place. They simply fall to the ground, which fits nicely with the theme. In addition, but for every such unsuccessful turn means loss of points, which may eventually decide to whole game. You need to be careful about this situation, especially in later stages, when columns are quite filled and each marker movement is adding a lot of negative points.
In terms of the number of players, it is definitely all about the golden and best middle, that is three players. There are more problems in the duel, where one successful player from the beginning only multiplies his point profits in the following rounds and runs away. It’s much harder to get the stones you want. Conversely, in four, the feeling of play is far more random, because there is a good chance, that interesting stones will disappear before turn gets to you.
Starting player always has the advantage. This position changes with each round and is won by one of the participants, who first takes the stones from the center of the table, outside the factory. On the other hand, biggest downside of the two variants is a significant reduction in player interaction. Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is a solo fight for each of the participants, without paying much attention to the others.
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra still belongs to an elite group of games that are not extremely complex and have the appearance and mechanisms, that can attract most players. Attention comes at first, but some players are then discouraged by coincidence or more emphasis on solo puzzling. Azul: Stainde Glass of Sintra is solid, but it’s probably not as good as the original Azul.
Azul: De ramen van Sintra / Les vitraux de Sintra, Azul: Die Buntglasfenster von Sintra, Azul: le Vetrate di Sintra, Azul: Les Vitraux de Sintra, Azul: Sintra üvegcsodái, Azul: Stained glass of Sintra / Les vitraux de Sintra, Azul: Vitrais de Sintra, Azul: Vitrales de Sintra, Azul: Vitráže Sintry, Azul: Witraże Sintry, Азул: Витражи Синтры, アズール：シントラのステンドグラス, 花磚物語：琉璃之光, 아줄: 신트라의 스테인드글라스
Review: Azul Stained Glass of Sintra – shiny stones are making a comeback
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is such a solo task for anyone to sit over. While the glass reserve and offer is common, players each have their own plans and tasks. The part is very variable, it contains exciting phase of drating glass tiles and very difficult situations with their placement. Scoring is, at first glance, a little more complicated, but ultimately, the rules are open to everyone. Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is a beautifully colored game, that definitely goes self-confidently in the trampled footsteps of its brother.