Azul: Summer Pavilion Is Smarter, Brighter And More Fun Than The Original

Azul: Summer Pavilion Is Smarter, Brighter And More Fun Than The Original
Image: Kotaku Australia
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Azul: Summer Pavilion is the perfect game for newcomers: it’s simple to learn, fun to play and very easy on the eye. It’s also a rare sequel that surpasses the original.

Azul is an iconic game, and one that should be part of any good board game collection. But Summer Pavilion embraces everything good about that game while creating a more fun, dynamic experience.

You won’t waste a minute setting up your tile-laying adventures in this version of Azul, and you’ll find yourself playing feverish round after round simply because the tiles are prettier, the rewards are greater and the strategy is deeper this time around.

No matter your level of board game experience, you’ll be able to jump into Summer Pavilion and have a great time. Just watch out for other players — this is is one game where you can’t take your eyes off the prize.

How to play Azul: Summer Pavilion

azul summer pavilion review
Image: Kotaku Australia

Azul: Summer Pavilion is a simple tile-placement game where players are required to collect different coloured tiles to set on their individual mosaic boards. Each round, players will pick from a number of ‘warehouses’ holding red, yellow, orange, green, blue or purple tiles and claim any number of same-coloured tiles for their mosaics.

In addition, a ‘wild tile’ set each round can be nabbed by wily players to help build out their mosaics.

While there are particular rules about what tiles players can grab and where they need to be placed, the basic premise is this: you need to complete the most stars on your mosaic by gathering from a pool of coloured tiles.

For each star tile you place, you gain points on a score tracker — and creating patterns or completed stars will lead to great success.

But it’s not as straightforward as just collecting stars. It’s likely you’ll have to fight other players along the way, too.

The competitive experience

azul summer pavilion review
Image: Kotaku Australia

What’s very cool about Azul: Summer Pavilion is that it gets deeper the more you play it. While the base game doesn’t appear to include a lot of strategy, the longer you play the more tricks you’ll uncover — and the more tricks you’ll face from your opponents.

While Azul: Summer Pavilion can be played as a fun, team-based game, you can also push your competitiveness and try to block other players at every turn. If you notice they’re starting to hoard tiles of a particular colour, you can attempt to nab the same ones and disrupt their star-making process. You can also be strategic about your choice of picking from the ‘warehouse’ tiles or the tiles from the centre of the board.

Whichever player grabs first from the centre will need to move their score tracker backwards, so it’s a good idea to wait and plan your strategy based on your opponent’s movements. Strike at the right time, and you could snake your way to victory.

These little quirks means a relaxing, fun game can instantly become a death match against wily players. It also means you’ll want to hide your strategy as you play. Start slow, plan your moves and decide exactly which colours you want to pursue.

Without a strategy, you won’t be able to complete any stars — and that’ll impact your overall score.

Really, you can choose to play Azul: Summer Pavilion any way you like — but the competition can get dangerous if other players have a keener eye than you. It means simple tile placement turns spicy, fast.

Final Verdict

azul summer pavilion review
Image: Kotaku Australia

Azul: Summer Pavilion builds on the unique tile-laying aspect of the original game in stylish fashion — to the point where I’d actually recommend picking it up over the base game.

The competitive aspect of Azul makes the entire experience a joy, but when you pair it with a gorgeous, colourful set-up and solid-feeling tiles, you’ve got a game that’s endlessly appealing. Whether you’re somebody who enjoys a quick-witted battle or just a relaxing time playing board games, Azul: Summer Pavilion has something for you.

Its four player limit means it’s not the best for party settings (and you won’t be able to play it solo) — but it’s great for sitting down with a smaller group of mates and playing through at your own pace.

Azul: Summer Pavilion is fantastic, and you should have a great time regardless of whether you win or lose. It’s available locally for $50.

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