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Jobby

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7
Go to the Azul page

Azul

8 out of 10 gamers thought this was helpful

It doesn’t matter what the theme is meant to be for Azul – the rules of the game don’t reflect anything that is really happening. It is a beautiful abstract. I don’t just mean the pieces, the gameplay is beautiful, too.
In this game, players are taking tiles from little groups of tiles and adding them to their board in rows. The restriction is that all the tiles taken must be the same colour and all the tiles of that colour must be taken. When added to the player’s board, the tiles must be placed in a row and all the tiles in that row must be the same colour. The rows have 1 to 5 spaces – if there’s no room left then the player will be penalised for extra tiles. At the end of the round, all of the full rows will have one of the tiles taken off and added to the main ‘picture’ on the board, a 5×5 grid. Once someone completes a row in the that ‘picture’ then the game ends.
It’s these restrictions that make the game so enjoyably brutal. You can see what you need and so can your opponents. They can then make sure that the tiles you want aren’t available leaving you with unwanted tiles that will lose you points. As the round goes on the options become less until you find yourself painted into a corner. But it’s a great feeling because all the players are in the same position.
Since Azul plays quickly it never outstays its welcome. In fact, I have sometimes felt surprised that the game ended so quickly!
Go get it – it’s lovely and it’s brutal!

8
Go to the Friday page

Friday

16 out of 17 gamers thought this was helpful

Pros
There’s a lot going for this little game. It’s simple enough to get your head around the basic concept but at the same time you really find yourself poring over some of the decisions that come up in the game. Many of the cards have special abilities when used as fighting cards giving another layer to think about. Combine that with the number of cards in the deck and you have a game that has a good amount of replayability.

Repeated plays do feel different. In one game you might find yourself spending a lot of life rapidly to thin out your deck because the first Hazards are simply too difficult. The following game might feel easier because that hasn’t happened but then a tricky hazard crops up later and spoils your plans.

Play can be very tense. You start off feeling confident with lots of life but you soon find yourself with only a couple of Life tokens left begging that the top Fighting card will be enough to defeat the Hazard! This gives the feeling that the game is a real challenge. When you do win against the game then you truly feel like you achieved something!

The length of play is good, too. It takes about 20 minutes to play a game so fits nicely into a lunchbreak if you’ve found yourself on your tod (as I have a few times 🙂 ). And if you think it’s all getting a bit too easy, there is a scoring mechanism of adding up good cards and taking off bad cards. This means a player can see if they are improving or not over time. If the game is still too easy then there are four levels to play at, making the game gradually more and more difficult.

Cons
There’s not many cons, to be honest. One might be the artwork; as I mentioned above I did walk past this game the first time I saw it. The art gave me no idea of how deep the game is. But once you’ve got playing the artwork is soon ok.

Secondly, there might be a slight issue with some translations. The rulebook is nicely laid out and gives plenty of examples but there were still a couple of rules that confused me the first time I played it. A couple of terms were used with slightly different meanings in the rules leading to some misunderstanding. I did have to check the rule about paying life when being defeated by a Hazard as I thought I still got to keep the Hazard afterwards! This is quite fundamental!

But those are small cons compared to the pros. This game is very good and I have already clocked up many games of it since acquiring it this year. I suspect there are many more games of Friday to be had by me. The only thing is: can you bring yourself to game solo? This almost feels like crossing a certain line of geekiness. That said, there are times that you just want to game and there’s nobody around!

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys board games in general, particular if they sometimes have problem getting enough people together to scratch that board game itch! Go on – give Crusoe a hand, you’ll feel a real sense of victory when he escapes from the island!

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