Most people would agree that it is very hard for abstract board games to make a way through this world. Players often prefer games that are dripping with theme, allowing them to escape into a completely different realm. So, when Azul vs Sagrada become popular in the market, there’s definitely something special about these games.
Below, we will discuss further about Azul and Sagrada. While they seem to be similar, these games are actually different enough to offer different kinds of experience. What we will discuss below includes:
• How to play Azul and Sagrada
• The gameplay experience of each game
• The strengths of Azul vs Sagrada
• The weaknesses of each game, if any
• Which board game that is generally better and more recommended
Azul: How to Play
Well, although Azul is said to be an abstract board game, it actually has a theme. In this game, you take the role of a tile-laying artist who is tasked to decorate the walls of Portugal’s Royal Palace of Evora. But, as you may have expected, that’s pretty much just an excuse for the tile-laying gameplay (see also: Carcassone vs Catan). One thing for sure: although the theme sounds flat, the gameplay of Azul is entirely fun and enjoyable!
Azul is designed for 2 – 4 players. The recommended player age is 8 years old or over. One game averagely takes about 30 – 45 minutes to complete. Players take turns in picking up colored tiles to their personal boards. Later, you get points based on how you place your tiles to decorate your wall – extra points for special patterns and completed sets. However, unused tiles will score negative points.
To start a new game, you need a number of circular Factory Boards on the center of the table, depending on how many players that are in the game. Then, put the 20 tiles of each color into the draw bag. Each player randomly draws and places 4 tiles on a Factory Board. Now, the game is ready to begin. The game progresses over multiple rounds. Each round consists of three phases: factory offer, wall-tiling, preparing the next round.
On your turn, you can take tiles from one of the Factory Boards or the center of the table. Note that you have to take all tiles of the chosen color from the location. For example, if you want to take a blue tile from a Factory Board and there are actually two blue tiles on it, you have to take both of them.
If you take from a Factory Board, the tiles that you don’t take are placed on the center of the table. If you take from the center, you only need to take all tiles of the chosen color and leave the rest.
Additionally, if you are the first to take tiles from the center, you can claim the starting player tile and place it on the leftmost of the floor line on your personal board. You will be the starting player for the next round.
After you take tiles, you must place them on ONE of the five pattern lines on your personal board. If a pattern line already has tiles, you may only place tiles of the same color there. When all spaces of a pattern line are filled, it is considered complete – so, if you still have some tiles of that color, you have to place the excess tiles on your floor line, from left to right.
In the later rounds, you can’t place tiles of a color in a pattern line if the corresponding line on your wall already has that color. Once you have taken and placed tiles, the next player may take their turn. The Factory Offer phase is continued until all tiles from the Factory Boards and the center of the table have been claimed.
In the Wall-Tiling phase, you need to move tiles from your pattern lines to your wall. All players can perform this at the same time, without taking turns. You have to fill the wall tiles from top to bottom. Move one tile from every completed pattern line into the space of the same color in the wall’s corresponding line. A tile is scored immediately when it is placed on the wall.
For scoring, if there is no tile adjacent to the newly placed tile, it gets 1 point. If there are adjacent tiles, you count all the horizontally and vertically linked tiles (including the new tile) and score that many points.
All other tiles from the pattern line are placed back into the box lid. However, the tiles of incomplete pattern lines should remain in place. The tiles in the floor line are also removed and placed back into the box lid, but, before that, you need to subtract the indicated points of the floor line from your score.
Preparing the Next Round
The game ends when at least one player has completed a horizontal row on their wall. However, if the game hasn’t ended, you should prepare for the next round. Refill the Factory Boards with 4 random tiles again from the draw bag (when the draw bag is empty, refill it with tiles from the box lid). The player who owns the starting player tile starts the new round.
At the end of the game, you can get bonus points. For each completed horizontal line on your wall, you get 2 points. For each completed vertical column on your wall, you get 7 points. If you have 5 tiles of the same color on your wall, you get 10 points from that color.
Azul: Why It’s Fun
When comparing Azul vs Sagrada, some people notice that Azul is relatively simpler and easier to understand. Azul is very easy to teach to beginners, so everybody can jump into the game quickly. Yet, despite the simplicity of the rules, the game still has plenty of depth for strategic and tactical gameplay.
Azul is a completely awesome game, even if it doesn’t have a strong theme. The gameplay is very challenging. When grabbing a tile, there are many factors that you need to consider, such as what colors that you need to complete the wall and the position of the row for those tiles.
At the same time, you can also see what tiles that your opponents are going after. There will be a competition when multiple players are aiming for the same color. When you take tiles of a color now, the tiles of that color may have been taken by the other players when your turn comes back. Players may try to force their opponents to pick up unusable tiles.
On top of the deep and challenging gameplay, the tiles themselves are beautifully crafted and aesthetically pleasing. Seeing the tiles fill up the wall is very satisfying.
Sagrada: How to Play
At first, Azul vs Sagrada may look similar because they both are about tile drafting and wall/window crafting. However, Sagrada is actually quite different. Sagrada has additional mechanics that bring more twists into the game. In this game, you are an artisan who is tasked to construct a stained glass window for Spain’s Sagrada Familia.
Sagrada is designed for 1 – 4 players. It is recommended for ages 12 or over. One game takes about 30 – 60 minutes on average.
Sagrada goes through ten rounds. Each round consists of three steps:
• The first player randomly picks several dice from the dice bag and roll them to set up the draft pool. The number of dice depends on how many players that are in the game. You need two dice for each player, and then add one more dice.
• Starting from the first player, players take turns performing these actions which can be in any order:
◦ Use a tool card which enables special abilities, but for a price.
◦ Draft a die from the draft pool and place it in their window.
• When the first player has taken a second turn, the round is ended.
There are several rules for placing die on your wall. If the space is white, you can place a die of any color and any number there. If the space is colored, you may only place a die of that specific color there. If the space is numbered, you may only place a die of that number there.
Additionally, the first die on your window must be one one of the edges. Each subsequent die should be placed orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to an existing die. However, you may not place a die adjacent to an existing die of the same color or number. Your window only has 20 spaces, so plan carefully.
Different windows may have different complexity levels, rated from three to six. You get as many tokens as the complexity rating, and you can use your tokens to buy tools that allow you to break the rules of the game.
Each game uses random public objectives which will score bonus points at the end of the game. Each player also has a private objective which is unknown to the other players. However, all private objectives are about adding up the values of a color in the game.
The next round is started by the next player in a clockwise direction. At the end of the game, your final scoring is counted based on the public objectives, your private objective, and your remaining tokens. You will also get negative points for any open space in your window.
Sagrada: Gameplay Evaluation
Sagrada is not a complicated game, but the rules are somehow not very straightforward. This is mostly because of the tile placement rules and the hidden private objectives. As the effect, new players need some time to actually grasp the flow of the game.
Sagrada can be a very fun game because of one unique aspect. There is some mind game, due to the hidden private objectives. You don’t really know what tiles that your opponents are going after. Unfortunately, since the private objectives are pretty much similar, you will quickly realize that it is only about figuring what colors that they are after.
A private objective will be your biggest source of points. Private objectives often give greater points than if you complete a row on your window through the utterly difficult tile placement rules. Because of this, the game quickly becomes boring.
Comparing Azul vs Sagrada
Azul and Sagrada both require some planning and thinking. You need to place your tiles carefully in order to actually fill up your wall or window and get the highest points. At the same time, players may also try to disrupt their opponents’ plans.
Of the two, Azul feels more streamlined and elegant. It is relatively easier to understand. On the other hand, Sagrada may feel a bit overwhelming due to the complicated tile placement rules.
In terms of gameplay, both games can be challenging, but Azul also wins here. The scoring feels fair for all players. There is no hidden information, and all players can clearly see each other’s progress. On the other hand, Sagrada is not as fun because of the heavy reliance on private objectives, which lack variety.
Azul vs Sagrada
|Key features||- For 2 – 4 players, 8 years old and over - 30 – 45 minutes of gameplay - Relatively simpler and more streamlined - Open information for all players - Generally feels more challenging||- For 1 – 4 players, 12 years old and over - 30 – 60 minutes of gameplay - A little bit more complicated - Has some mind game due to hidden private objectives|
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Between these two games, Azul is the winner and is more recommended. It is more streamlined and elegant, and new players will find it easier to understand. At the same time, it offers a great depth for strategy.