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If you feel that life is getting a little mundane and wish to gain new experiences and explore unchartered areas, a rendezvous with board games might just be what your doctor will prescribe.
It is one such arena which may pleasantly surprise you with its diversity, its ability to stimulate your mental energy and put those resting grey cells to use. It is also an entertaining way to get to know little factoids about cultures across the world.
Board game hobbyists among you will already be aware about these two board games-Azul and Sagrada that will be undergoing comparison under our gaming lens.
And the newbies will be sure to Google about the origins of the themes once they finish a round of these mind-boggling games. For these amateurs, here is a quick brief-up about these two games, followed by a point-by-point comparison to help them unlock the key to board game macrocosm with their first pick.
Azul : Decorate the Portuguese mosaic wall
Azul is a tile-laying quick placement game where you decorate the Portuguese wall with the tiles that come in a bag, to create a beautiful mosaic.
Of course, the tile-laying is based on carefully crafted rules and is not subject to the player’s whims and fancies. A point in case being that a player cannot choose a row to place the tile if a similar tile exists in the row on the wall.
The player board of this game contains the victory point track, the pattern lines, the floor, and of course, the wall. The game begins with the factory tiles being placed with four randomly drawn tiles from the bag. It proceeds with each player either selecting the same colored tiles and pushing the rest to the center, or collecting the same colored tiles from the center.
The collected tiles then are placed on the individual player’s board. The excess tiles are placed on the floor. The game comes to an end when a player manages to complete an entire row and the player with more victory points is declared the winner.
At the end of the game, the scores are tallied according to the rules regarding the tile placement.
As the variant to the game, the players can also play at the backside of the board which has blank tiles with no printed colors. This variant allows greater flexibility and freedom to the players in tile placement.
Sagrada : Design the Barcelona windows
Sagrada is a dice placement game to complete the beautiful, empty Barcelona windows that come with it. Each player in this game is dealt Private objective cards and given favor tokens to activate the Public objective cards and tool cards during the game. The dice are then drawn from the bag in a blind draw.
The rule is to take double the number of players plus one number of dice in a blind draw from the bag. This means that a four-player game shall require a random draw of nine dice.
The gameplay occurs over ten rounds and the dice placement is restricted to certain rules. For example, the first die has to touch the edge of the window and each new die has to be adjacent to an existing die. There are also colors and number restrictions.
And the end of the game, the score is tallied with the help of the Private and Public Objective cards and the remaining favor tokens. Empty spaces give you negative points. The Player with the maximum Victory points wins.
Azul vs Sagrada : Comparison
The Theme and Aesthetics
Both the games have an aesthetic appeal to them. The theme of Azul is derived from ‘Azulejos’, the wall tiles that are seen all over Portugal. Sagrada finds its inspiration from the beautiful stained windows of Barcelona.
Both the games ingrain these alluring themes into their presentation without seeming forced and this provides an exquisite and eye-catching appeal to them. However, for the sake of comparison, a half extra point can be granted to Azul for the funky bag that carries its tiles.
The Desirable Player Count
Azul is a board game that works in reverse to ‘the more, the merrier’, scheme of things. It works best as a two-player game as it tends to increase the cutthroat competition.
Sagrada, however, manages to excite even at higher player counts, while still limiting the downtime of playing the game. This is not to say that either of the games loses its charm if the player count is reversed.
The Re-playability Factor
Sagrada takes the lead with respect to the re-playability of the game. This is partially because of the multiple factors which stir up randomness in it, ranging from the five-colored dice to the three sets of the card, not to mention the secret bonus card. The tool cards allow you to spin the beads and twist the game according to abilities that are narrated in the tool card.
It takes a while to wrap your head around the plethora of elements that can change the narrative of this game within a couple of moves. Azul, in comparison, have more simplified rules.
That is not to say that Azul is a game that cannot be enjoyed multiple times. The game board can be enjoyed on the front side as well as the backside which allows for more combination of tile placement as it does not have a pre-set pattern of tiles.
The Randomness Magnitude
Sagrada takes the cake when it comes to turning on the randomness quotient. It starts with the blind draw from the bag with the possibility of acquiring any of the five-colored beads of yellow, red, purple, green, and blue color. This has to be permuted with the possibility of multiple numbers that can show up on the dice that build on the randomness of the game.
A uniqueness that is particular to Sagrada is also the three sets of cards that come with it. The bonus card gets you extra points if you have similar colored dices on your window and the end of the game scoring cards also add to your score if you have the stated combination of dices. For example, at the end of the game, if you have a complete row of all five different colored dice, you get extra points for it.
The icing on this board game cake however is the tool cards, which bring in the spinning beads and allow you, carry out random instructions printed on the tool cards, which cements the unpredictability factor in the game till the very end.
The randomness quotient on Azul is mostly confined to blindly drawing tiles from the bag to fill up the discs. Also, unlike Sagrada, you cannot get a different score for the same combination of tile placement in different games according to the scoring cards. So the rules are a little more simplified and randomness follows a more linear pattern.
The Luck Element
While there are in fact certain aspects in Azul where a bit of fate can work its magic or spell doom, with careful planning, the luck element can be mitigated to a large extent.
On the other hand, Sagrada is heavily dependent on whether fortune favors you in the particular round of game or not.
Summing it up, if you like to be in control, or at least enjoy the illusion of being in control, Azul is the game for you. If you are the more ‘go with the flow’ kind, you can bet your money on Sagrada.
In case of Azul, you can keep track of the score throughout the game. However, in Sagrada, the scores are tallied only at the end of the game.
Sure, you can keep a mental count of each player in your head, but a bonus card here or there can totally jeopardize the count and can often spring unpredictable winners at the player participants.
The Ratings Clash
Azul is rated at 7.9 while Sagrada is at 7.6. Azul has also managed to grab the Spiel des Jahres award. This is also the reason why Azul is slightly more expensive among these two games.
However, at the end of the day, your individual tastes and preferences in board games should call the shots on who gets to be the winner among the two for you.
The comparison between these two awesome board games is only when you have a gun to your head to choose between the two board games .Having set the record straight here, both these games are family oriented and quick to teach games that are a must have in your collection if you are a board game enthusiast.