Azul: Queen’s Garden

The palace of Sintra is already decorated with glass and beautiful mosaics, and now the king wants you to redesign the garden for his lovely wife Queen Maria of Aragon. You will use bright colors, birds, flowers and ornaments to try to create the most prestigious garden!

2-4 players, ages 10+
Playing time: 45-60 minutes
Designer: Michael Kiesling
Artwork: Chris Quilliams

Publisher: Plan B Games
https://planbgames.com/en

Azul: Queen’s Garden uses the drafting mechanic that the Azul series is known for, but has adapted it just enough to create a new game with more depth.
Unlike the previous games, players not only draft tiles to build the gardens, but also collect garden expansions to place the tiles on. When taking new tiles or expansions, you either take all available tiles of the same color or with the same symbol.

The second possible action is to place the tiles and extensions from your supply in your garden. Depending on the symbol, the cost varies from 1 to 6, and this is paid for by discarding tiles with the same symbol or the same color as the tile you wish to place.
Completely surrounding benches, statues and pavilions earns you jokers, and these are very useful for building the expensive tiles.

At the end of each round, 3 different goals are scored which are determined by the central wheel on the scoreboard. At the end of the game, you receive additional points for groups with the same symbol or color, and bonus points if you’ve managed to make groups of 6.

The Queen’s Garden is definitely the thinkiest game of the Azul series so far. The collecting of tiles to your own supply and placing them or either paying them to place other tiles feels similar to Azul: Summer Pavilion, although you are now limited to the space available on your player board. Then again, the planning and matching to score points feels a bit like the original Azul, although timing is more important for the intermediate scoring, and there are a lot more points to be earned at the end of the game.
Just like the previous Azul games the game comes with bright, colorful tiles and pretty soft eying artwork. The player boards are thick paper sheets instead of cardboard, but that didn’t really bother us while playing.

For me personally this new Azul feels like a step up in terms of complexity, yet the gameplay feels very familiar if you’ve played the other games before. If you’ve played and enjoyed the previous games of the series, I can definitely recommend this one. But if you haven’t played any other Azul game before and want to look into it, I’d suggest you start with the original Azul.

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