Azul vs Sagrada - Box and Components Feature

Azul vs Sagrada: Pros, Cons & Comparison

We just love drafting games and when it comes to drafting there are two games that are very highly regarded, Azul and Sagrada. Both share similarities but the experience is very different.

If you had to pick one though which one would be right for you and your family? Is it worth getting both? Don’t worry we have all the info you need to make the right choice in our Azul vs Sagrada article.


What You Will Find in Our Azul vs Sagrada Article


Big thanks to BoardGameRentals.co.nz for providing a copy of one of these games for review. As always, we provide our own unbiased perspectives on games we review.

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Summary

We think the right choice between Azul or Sagrada will depend on whether you prefer a more competitive and cut-throat game or one that has a little less direct competition.

Azul has more opportunities to mess with other opponents’ plans and directly cause penalties. There is also less luck in Azul other than the random tiles drawn from the bag each round. If you want a more competitive and cut-throat experience then Azul is probably the better choice for you.

Sagrada feels more like you are competing against your board and the window pattern restrictions than your opponents. There is also more luck involved due to dice rolls determining the numbers you have to work with each round. Scoring objectives, tools and window patterns are also randomised each game. If you enjoy a challenging puzzle but don’t want something directly competitive, Sagrada may be a better choice for you.

Azul

Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Next Move Games / Designer: Michael Kiesling

Pros

  • Rules are extremely simple and easy to learn
  • The depth in gameplay and strategy becomes more apparent the more you play
  • As the game progresses tile spaces become more scarce adding some tension to your choices in later rounds
  • Having two options on the boards for tile placement provides some nice variation in play
  • The components are beautifully produced.

Cons

  • The strategy can be hard to get your head around at first and may be frustrating for some
  • Some players may find the game a little cut throat.

Check out our full Azul review.

Sagrada

Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 14+ we think 8+ / Publisher: Floodgate Games / Designer: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews

Pros

  • Nice sense of progression and building tension as the game develops
  • Simple rule set that’s easy to teach
  • Challenging decisions and depth thanks to multiple constraints to consider
  • The tools add some nice options to get you out of a bind
  • Components look great, especially the colourful dice.

Cons

  • Solo games are overly difficult even on easy mode and this may put people off playing solo.

Check out our full Sagrada review.

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Core Gameplay Comparison

Azul

Azul vs Sagrada - Azul Game in play

In Azul you are charged with decorating King Manuel’s Royal palace with beautiful Moorish tiles. The more tiles you connect the more points are on offer. The winner is the person with the most points after the end game is triggered. The game ends once a player has managed to complete a full horizontal line in their wall space (5 tiles).

Drafting beautifully coloured tiles and creating patterns is the main focus of the game. Rounds consist of:

  • Factory Offer Phase: Selecting tiles of a single colour from one of the round cardboard spaces and placing on one of your 5 available pattern lines. If you collect more tiles than you can place on a pattern line, the remaining tiles will end up in the penalty ‘floor’ line. This is bad news and will result in points deducted
  • Wall Tiling Phase: For each completed pattern line you will move one of your tiles to the corresponding space on your wall tile area. This is where you can start to earn points. You will earn more points if your new tile connects to already placed tiles.

At the end of the game, you will receive bonus points for achieving certain objectives, like completing vertical or horizontal lines on your wall area, or filling all tile spaces for a certain coloured tile.

Sagrada

Azul vs Sagrada - Sagrada Game in Play

The goal in Sagrada is simple, create stained-glass window patterns according to scoring objectives that earn points. The glazier with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Unlike Azul there are a number of random elements to the set up that influence the game. These include:

  • Selecting a window pattern. Each player will receive two random window pattern cards and must select one. These will determine additional restrictions to your dice placement and their difficulty also determines how many Favor tokens you receive. Favor tokens allow you to activate Tools for a one-off benefit
  • Eeach player receiving a random private scoring objective
  • Three random public scoring objectives being selected and placed face up. These are the cards that will determine how all players will score points in addition to their private objective
  • Three random Tool cards being selected and placed face up. These tools can be used by spending Favor tokens for a one-off benefit.

Like Azul the main part of the game involves drafting, but this time you will be drafting coloured dice. The other difference is that once the dice are drawn, they must be rolled to determine what numbers are available.

There are a number of restrictions to placing drafted dice. Your first dice must be placed at the outside edge of your window frame and each subsequent die must be placed adjacent to an existing die, either diagonally or orthogonally (above, below, left or right). If that sounds simple there are a number of other restrictions you must respect. Dice cannot be placed next to each other if they are of the same colour or shade (the number of the dice is referred to as a shade here). If all of that weren’t enough your selected Window Pattern card has additional restrictions:

  • Coloured squares can only have a die placed that matches the colour on that square
  • Numbered squares can only have a die placed that matches the number shade on that square
  • Mercifully any blank spaces have no further restrictions.

Unlike Azul, there is a solo mode available in Sagrada. Beware it is very challenging, even on the easiest setting.

Gameplay Experience Comparison

Azul

Azul vs Sagrada - Azul Tiles and Bag

Azul is the simpler of the two games and can be learnt fairly quickly. My youngest daughter found it easy to understand the rule set at 7 years old. However, the strategy can be very challenging to master and as you play, you find the game has layers to it you didn’t see at first.

Like Sagrada, every decision you make early in the game will restrict your options in later rounds and ratchet up the tension progressively. The difference in Azul is that there are more opportunities to actively interfere with your opponents plans.

It can be very cut-throat, especially near the end of each round where large numbers of left-over tiles can accumulate in the centre of the play area. If you plan it right you can take the tiles your opponent needs and leave them with tiles that result in large penalties. This is something my daughters are very good at. If you have sensitive kids, they might find this kind of play frustrating but it also provides some good player interaction.

The other thing that enables players to interfere with their opponents is that every player has the same scoring objectives. It is clear from the outset what players need to achieve. So, you know exactly what’s required to deny your opponent points.

There is another layer in Azul related to the end game. The game ends once a player completes a full horizontal line. There is some strategy in ending the game as quickly as you can if you believe you have a good enough lead. My wife is an exceptional Azul player and is a master at timing the end game well and leaving me without time to catch up.

In terms of player count, Azul is a lot of fun at all player counts and there is little down time. Each draft affects your options so it keeps you engaged in the game between turns. In a two-player game it feels like it is more cut-throat as your drafting has a direct impact on the other player and vice versa.

When it comes to components Azul is very well produced. The coloured tiles are a stand out and are nice and chunky. They look great when the game is in play.

Overall Azul packs an incredible amount of depth in to such a simple game. You must balance your own goals with awareness of what your opponents are trying to achieve to be competitive. If you don’t mind a more competitive game where there is more opportunity for interference between players then Azul could be for you.

If you do end up liking Azul there are a subsequent games in the series you might like to try, including:

  • Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra (Review)– The second game in the Azul series is a little more complicated than the original and adds some additional layers. This time there is a glazier to consider that adds additional constraints and bonus points each round for completing patterns of certain colours. Another exceptional instalment in the Azul series.
  • Azul: Summer Pavilion (Review) – The third game in the Azul series is a little less cutthroat than the previous games. It now features a separate tile placement round and the ability to earn bonus tiles. We think this has a lot of depth but doesn’t add much in the way of additional complexity.

Sagrada

Azul vs Sagrada - Sagrada Dice and Favor Tokens

Sagrada has a little more complexity than Azul. For starters there are more constraints to consider when placing your dice, there are also Tools available that can be used for one off benefits. While my youngest daughter grasped most of Sagrada’s rule set confidently, she still struggles a little with the Tools and needs some help on occasion. I find as long as I remind her what they are when she is a bit stuck she is fine.

Sagrada is a challenging game, just like Azul and has some good depth. The difference though is that it feels more like you are competing against the game and the constraints of your board than your opponents. It feels a little like an evolving puzzle you are trying to solve. My daughters enjoy puzzly, drafting games and just love Sagrada.

While the dice others draft has an impact on you, it is very difficult to cause a lot of direct harm to your opponents in Sagrada. There aren’t really any large penalties that can be inflicted like Azul. The Tool cards can also get you out of a bind if you are really stuck. This may make it more suitable for more sensitive children as they will not feel under pressure by other players interfering with their plans.

There is also a little more luck involved in Sagrada. Even in the game set up there are randomised elements that determine your private scoring objectives, the window patterns you can choose from and the tools available for the game. This provides a little variation from game to game. Clearly the dice also add some luck to the drafting phase. My son finds the luck of the dice in particular quite frustrating, while I actually enjoy that aspect of the game. There’s something about chucking lots of pretty dice that brings a smile to my face.

Sagrada ends after 10 rounds and there isn’t any tallying of scores until the end. Often you have no idea who is in the lead until after the end of the game. This is probably a good thing for younger players or new players who can enjoy the game without feeling like they are behind and worrying about the scoreboard.

Any player count from 2-4 works well with Sagrada. I really don’t have a preference in player count as down time is low and there isn’t a lot of player interaction anyway.

The components are also well produced in Sagrada. The colourful dice are a stand out and look great. The player boards are colourful, thick and sturdy. The whole package just looks great in play.

Overall Sagrada offers a great challenge and rewards planning ahead to make the most of the dice in front of you and constraints on your window pattern. It feels more like you are playing against your board than your opponents and it isn’t as cut-throat as Azul can be. Players wanting a less competitive experience who like challenging puzzles are likely to enjoy Sagrada. Beware the solo mode in my view is too difficult for casual gamers and could be frustrating for some even on the easiest level of difficulty.

Final Thoughts

Both Azul and Sagrada are fantastic games and offer some great depth for games that at their core have simple rules. So, what does our whole family think? My wife, youngest daughter (7) and I love both games and would happily play either. They both present a nice challenge but offer a different experience.

My oldest daughter (10) loves Sagrada but really doesn’t like Azul. For some reason Azul didn’t really interest her as much. Sagrada’s combination of number and colour puzzle layers really appealed to her and she was immediately a fan.

My teen son really enjoys Azul but doesn’t like Sagrada. He isn’t a fan of luck in games and really doesn’t care for the luck of the dice in Sagrada.

By now you should have a good handle on which game seems right for you and your family. If they both sound good to you, getting both is a great option. I think the experience is different enough between them that there is room to have both of them on the shelf.

Azul

Sagrada

We hope you enjoyed our Azul vs Sagrada article. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game, please leave a comment below or get in touch through our contact page. 

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. 

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