Most players who develop more than a passing interest in Dungeons & Dragons (other tabletop RPGs are available) will find they develop a habit of collecting the shiny click-clack maths rocks. I mostly play online, but already have four full sets of polyhedral dice and three sets of Fudge dice.

You just get sucked in, and before you know it the targeted marketing is everywhere. Do you want ones with blood splatters? Liquid glitter cores? Heavy, metallic dice with rainbow edges? Novelty, oversized D20s? How about a D30? (for what?!) Or a D100? C’mon, percentile dice are for losers, get the real thing. Super strong, mains powered, dice with bonus clit sucking action (give it time)?

Nerds like tactile plastic apparently. We gather these prizes to us like dragons who are really into hydro-carbons. Unff. However, this can get really expensive. Therefore today, I’m going to talk about a lovely box of cardboard and sexy, sexy plastic that is very reasonably priced, beautifully weighted, wonderfully finished to a smooth shine, in a range of pleasing colours. Today, we discuss Azul: Summer Pavilion.

Summer Pavilion is the second of (currently) three Azul games, designed for 2-4 people. This time around, players take turns to draft tiles from a number of “factories” (they’re cardboard discs). They can take as many of one colour from a factory as well as a single tile of the wild colour for that round, if it also shares a factory (the number of factories used will depend on the player count). Now you have tiles of your own, tiles to fiddle and fondle and make patterns next to your player board as your wicked opponents take their opportunity to touch other tiles (they should be yours, all the tiles should be yours to feel and fondle).

Each factory starts with four beautiful tiles and any unclaimed after the first choice are moved to the centre of the play area. Even at this early stage, strategies can start to form. Do you want to take tiles from the next factory, or take from the middle? Will taking from one factory put enough of a single colour into the centre that it becomes an irresistible bounty of blessed tiles for the next, covetous player?

Once all the factories, and the centre are clear the first player (the one who drew from the centre first in the previous phase) will place a tile on their board. Boards are separated into seven coloured flowers, each divided into 6 numbered petals (alternatively, there’s a junior version of the game, just flip over the board and use any colour to fill any flower, two games in one). To place a tile on their board, players must pick a colour, and decide how many tiles of that colour (or the current wild colour) to spent in order to place one down. For example, spending two tiles allows the number two space to be filled, with the second tile being placed in a box (to be recycled back into circulation later).

Once everyone has placed all their tiles (or stored up to four of them for the next round) the factories are refilled from the bag, and the next round starts. This is a precious time, where you have your hand in a bag full of these glorious tiles and you can feel them cascading over you, filling you with absolute pleasure.

As the six rounds progress, the wild tile changes and the bag becomes more empty. When it’s finally drained of its precious contents, all those tiles in the box are placed back in.

Been having trouble finding the colour you want because it was all coming out at the beginning of the game? Now may be your chance to complete a set.

Scattered around your player board are a number of symbols. If you place tiles to completely surround these, you’ll be allowed to take 1-3 tiles (depending on the symbol) of your choice from the centre of the score board. This is the only time that the player order for placing tiles actually matters (get in early, take those high value purples, crush that tile touching tyrant). Spaces are then immediately filled from the bag.

Scoring is pretty simple, placing a lone tile is one point, tiles placed next to an adjoining tile get a point for each they’re slid sensuously in next to. Completing a flower of a single colour (or the central flower which can use any colour) will grant you an immediate bonus as shown on the score board. Additionally, filling every space marked with a one, two, three, or four will gain you a progressively more valuable bonus at the end of the six rounds.

Azul SP is a fairly quick game, and can be completed in about 20-40 minutes, depending on player count. Ultimately though, you probably won’t want to play with other people, you’ll want to strip naked, draw flowers on yourself with eyeliner, and feel the glorious tiles against your flesh, the way nature intended.

Pros:

  • Tiles sound lovely as they swish around in the bag, awaiting your touch.
  • Feels delightful against your skin, each touch of tile sending shivers of pleasure through you.
  • Very reasonably priced.
  • Surprising level of strategy, especially with higher player counts.

Cons:

  • How dare you suggest these tiles aren’t perfect.
  • I will destroy you if you touch my precious tiles.
  • The player score markers are brown, white, grey, and black. Lack of vivid colour means I often forget who is who.

Final Score: 10/10

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