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Azul: Queen's Garden - Board Game Review | The Tabletop Crier

Azul: Queen's Garden box


a review of the board game Designed by Michael Kiesling 

Players: 2-4    Time Investment: 60 min



Game Aesthetic


Strangely the component quality was all over the place in this game. The player boards and score board were made of a flimsy cardboard that was nothing like the original Azul game. On the other hand, the tiles were made of the familiar resin material that made you want to eat the pieces. The gray Joker pieces were of a cheaper material that made a high pitched noise when they clacked together in the insert. The thickest piece in the game was the rotating scoring indicator which I found an odd choice since you only interact with it at the beginning of the round.

Azul: Queen's Garden board game components in pastel greens
It may look nice from this angle
but there is a lot of low quality cardboard in here

Artwork by Chris Quilliams

The most attractive parts of the game were the tower art and the board game box. Everything else was as one would expect and nothing of note. They did really nail down the garden aesthetic with the pastel green palette, and that contrasted against the more vibrant colors of the tiles created a pleasing experience during gameplay. I do wonder whether you would actually be buying bugs or birds in a garden but I'll just leave that one alone.

Azul: Queen's Garden close up of garden expansions and tiles, in vibrant colors like purple, greens, and yellow
Relatively simple design for the player boards and
clean, easy to identify markings on the tiles

The First Turn


It's relatively straightforward to figure out what you need to do on your turn as you have four actions to choose from: acquire tiles and garden expansions, place a tile, place a garden expansion, or pass. While this may seem easy, in practice there is a lot more going on in each of these actions (except for passing, of course). You can only acquire tiles that have one thing in common but the rest of their features need to be different. Placing a tile requires that you have other tiles and/or expansions that follow this same logic, with the exception of using Jokers to do this. 

Rewards and Objectives

There are clear in-game point scoring options, end-game point scoring options and Joker resources to obtain depending on whether you can surround a fountain, statue, bench or pavilion. All of these rewards can help inform where you place tiles or expansions, as they will score based on color or pattern. The real challenge is in attempting to create several groups that can score multiple times throughout the game and at the end of the game.

Azul: Queen's Garden player board with cyan tile with bird pattern and yellow tile with tulips pattern.
These two tiles can be placed but not next to each other
as they do not have anything in common

Ability to Pivot

Unfortunately it will become difficult to navigate around incorrect tile or expansion placements and because of the strict nature of the game's puzzle it can force you to start over in a way. There may be times where the tiles drawn from the bag just aren't want you need and you need to change up what your original plans are. Even your opponents' choices can force you to pivot your approach and perhaps give up on scoring for specific groups. In fact, you may even get in your own way because all of the tiles and expansions in your storage are ones that you'd like to place in your garden. Yet gameplay mechanic restrictions prevent you from having them all.

Azul: Queen's Garden scoreboard with varying colors and patterns
At the center of the board is the in-game "end of round" scoring and
at the side and bottom of the board is the end game scoring

Game End

The game ends after all players have passed during the fourth round. Once the final in-game scoring opportunities are complete, the end game scoring starts with counting remaining Jokers, removing points for having remaining tiles or expansions, then evaluating all aspects of the garden like colors, patterns, and groups of 3 or more. For those with enough planning prowess, there are additional bonus points for each group of six, though the other side of the board has a variant for groups of four and five as well.