Azul is My Favorite Game That I Don’t Own in 2018


Today marked my tenth play of Azulthe abstract board game of choosing tiles to make pretty walls. (My younger daughter skunked me, 65-40.) Ten plays in a year is pretty good for any game, but what makes this such a milestone?

Azul is fun, but so are lots of other games. To get lots of repeat plays, a game also has to be family-friendly and short. Azul succeeds on these counts too. It usually runs 30 to 60 minutes, and all you need to do is pick a few tiles to add to your wall. Anyone can do that, and given today’s score it’s clear my kids can do it better than I can.

But there’s one other important factor: availability. You can’t play the game if it isn’t on your shelf. (Unless it’s on your phone. Or your Switch. Or… but digital isn’t quite the same thing.) I own enough games that I don’t think about that often, but Azul represents an experiment: how much enjoyment can I get out of a game I don’t own?

This Post Isn’t Really About Azul

I spend a lot of time at libraries. The library systems in Finland are excellent, and the Tampere library system is one of the best. And not too long after I moved here, I ran into a pleasant surprise at my local branch:

Get your red-hot games here!

Many libraries have embraced the idea of having more than books, but Finnish libraries go all-in with sheet music, games, and other resources. I’ve even seen exercise equipment and umbrellas for loan. There are game shelves in several locations around the main branch, and while some of them are dominated by family fare —

The family game shelf in
the children’s section

— I’ve also seen titles like Terraforming Mars and Scythe. The library keeps up with new titles too. We recently checked out Carcassonne Safari, which debuted at this year’s Essen Spiele. The pieces weren’t even punched yet.

We’ve checked out Azul a couple of times, enjoyed it, and returned it. I’m not sure this is a cure for my board game acquisition disorder, but it’s nice feeling I don’t have to own everything I like. It’s something I’ll be considering carefully as I look at my current collection and consider what games I want to have in 2019.

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Copyright 2018 The Roaming Designer

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