If the overlays were the only components of this expansion, I would be really disappointed. However, there is a second component. There are four new boards that present new challenges for experienced Azul players. In the base game there are two options: one where the tile pattern is completely laid out for you, and one that is completely blank where you create your own design (following the appropriate placement restrictions). With this expansion there are four new double-sided boards in addition to the plastic overlays. One side has a few tiles specified and the rest left blank. It’s a medium step between having everything versus nothing laid out ahead of time. But I like the second side even better! On that side there are again some predefined tiles but there is a score multiplier (x2) on them.
When you score that particular tile you add up the horizontal and/or vertical score and then double it! It adds a more strategic element in that you get to decide when you’re going to try to fill that specific colored tile. The longer your horizontal and vertical combinations are, the more valuable the multiplier becomes. But wait too late, and you might get blocked by the other players just when you want to play that color!
If you look carefully the penalties for tiles on your floor are also different. In the base game the first tile subtracts a point from your score, as does the second. The more tiles that you have landing on your floor the worse the penalty gets. Look carefully at the image above. 🙂 The first tile is still minus one point, but the second one is free! New strategies!
Overall First Impression
I would give this expansion a three star rating (out of five). I give the new boards a 4 and the plastic overlays a 2. I think what I am going to do is create my own smaller score cubes and see if that helps with the new overlays…otherwise I will probably just ditch them altogether.
List price for this product is $15. I paid closer to $12. Given that I am looking forward to the challenge provided by the new boards I feel that it was money well spent. Azul gets played quite a bit at our house and is one of the frequently requested games when I bring things to work. But I don’t like the plastic overlays as they are currently provided. I will post back later after I experiment with a smaller wooden cube and see how that goes.