Glazed Pavilion is the brand new expansion for Next Move Games’ hugely popular abstract strategy, set collection, board game Azul Summer Pavilion. Designed by Michael Kiesling, this is an expansion of two halves. The glazed name comes from the plastic overlays included in the expansion, with more pavilions in the form of additional newly designed player boards. However, is this a well thought out expansion or one to glaze over? Let’s find out!
As soon as you take the plastic overlays and new boards out of the boxes it is clear that the overlays are designed better than in the equivalent expansion for the original Azul, Crystal Mosaic. In that expansion there were some minor alignment issues that are thankfully not present this time; with the overlays perfectly working with the new and original boards. Note that there is an orientation to use them, so you just need to align the pattern below on the player board with that of the overlay. While the player board overlays don’t clip around the board, like the overlay for the central board, they neatly sit over the top and stop players being able to accidentally nudge the tiles already placed. These do the job nicely without being flashy, to the extent after a few rounds you half forget they are an addition.
The new boards not only add different layouts of the stars, there are also new fountain bonuses to trigger. These work in the same way as the windows, pillars and statues: in terms of filling the four spaces around the fountain triggers the same free 1 tile bonus as the pillar. In addition to the in-game benefit there is also a new way for players to earn points. For each set of pillar, statue, fountain and window a player completes they score a bonus of 12 or 15 points – depending on which central board side is used. Much like the bonuses for covering all of the 1s in the base game this isn’t enough to win the game outright but is plenty to potentially swing the scores in your favour – making it another distraction from completing the stars.
One of the issues with Azul Summer Pavilion was that in every game purple was the first wild colour, and thus the purple star was the highest scoring. This was just one way that the game lacked variety, not to the extent the puzzle got boring but playing multiple games back to back did sometimes end up feeling samey. The new central board mixes this up, with each side having a different ordering for the wild tile colours. Also varying between games are the points on offer for covering all of the 1 – 4 spaces. The core gameplay is unchanged by these tweaks but still having the change allows the game to stay fresh for longer – making it a bit of a shame that it is in this expansion and not the base game.
As a fan of Azul Summer Pavilion the biggest flaw with Glazed Pavilion is that the additional content doesn’t fit into the base box. It can be put in the box but not without substantially lifting the lid (lifting it by around an inch). The Crystal Mosaic expansion for the original Azul seamlessly fit into the box by ditching the insert. This unfortunately doesn’t work due to the tower, unless you are willing to flat pack that each time you pack away. This is of course not an expansion breaking issue but a slight nuisance when it comes to storing them.
As unnecessary as the new boards are, they are a great excuse to get the game back to the table. The new fountain features adds a new way to get a bonus tile, adding another angle of choice into the mix when placing tiles onto your board. Then, there are the bonus points on offer related to these new fountains, as part of a set, making decisions of where to place tiles harder. The overlays work very well at keeping all of the tiles in place even if you drop tiles onto it or nudge it. Therefore, the overlays perform as well as to be expected, it’s just a slight shame they don’t clip around the boards slightly more or fit into the base box. Overall, Azul Glazed Pavilion is an expansion for those that get Summer Pavilion to the table a lot. It isn’t focused on adding game changing content, instead focusing on a touch more variety. This is something rather welcome for Azul Summer Pavilion fans and coming with the extra flair of the functional, albeit slightly unnecessary, overlays rounds the expansion out.
(Editor’s Note: Azul Glazed Pavilion was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The expansion is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)