Date played: October 12, 2019
Gist of the Game: Make a stained glass window by combining dice colors and face values. Dice are rolled and players take turns selecting. In a two-player game, dice are chosen using the following player order: 1-2-2-1, so that later players are not completely disadvantaged. No two dice of the same color or value can be placed next to one another (but can be placed diagonally). Play proceeds over 10 rounds. Players try to complete a pattern provided on pattern cards (with a range of difficulty levels). There are “public objectives” that all players can achieve over the course of the game and “private objectives” that are unique to each player. There are also tools that can be utilized by spending favor tokens (players receive a number of tokens commensurate with the difficulty of the pattern they are trying to complete) (we never utilized these in our two playthroughs, so don’t have much to say about how they work). The player with the most victory points (public objective points + private objective points + favor tokens – empty tiles). A one-player variant exists.
Color Commentary: Ok. Now, I love me some tile-laying games, and this is basically tile-laying plus puzzles, so I’m all on board, but the premise (making a stained glass window) is kind of hokey. And I think Azul has a similar premise. How many stained glass games does the world need? Now, if they were stained glass bears, maybe I’d be singing a different tune. But regular, run-of-the-mill stained glass windows? Booooring. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this game. We played it incorrectly the first time and didn’t “roll” the dice, so we gave ourselves free reign over which point values we wanted. I exploited the public objectives like whoa in the first round, which centered on combinations of dice values (5+6) and (3+4). Then we realized we weren’t supposed to do that, and the game became considerably more challenging. It can be hard to balance the public and private objectives plus the placement restrictions. M struggled with this dynamic, but improved over the course of play.
M’s Thoughts on Strategy: There were a lot of things to keep track of, which I found difficult. This was so overwhelming that without a few more playthroughs to fully get the hang of it, I couldn’t devote any attention to counterstrategies, although there is plenty of room for them, where you poach dice that your opponent needs (or, at a minimum, could use).