For anyone familiar with Azul, winner of the 2017 Spiel des Jahres award, the tile-drafting mechanic of Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is instantly recognisable. What you do with your tiles, however, is a different story.
Stained Glass on Sintra - The Game
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra (created by Michael Kiesling) is a standalone game for two to four players – it is not an expansion to Azul. Thematically, players are competing to create the most impressive stained-glass panels for the Portuguese palace of Sintra. In turn, players draft coloured glass from a central pool of glass factories to gradually complete their design.
If a section of the design is completed, it is scored and then turned over to reveal a different combination of colours. If completed a second time, it is scored again and then discarded to the box.
Sounds simple enough but, of course, there are constraints on both the drafting and the placement of tiles, and there are also bonuses to aim for when scoring panels and at the end of the game. And, of course, you’ll need to keep an eye on what your opponents are trying to do.
To summarise the drafting of glass, there are nine glass factories (in a four-player game) each offering four pieces of coloured glass drawn randomly from a bag. In your turn, you can select ALL glass of ONE colour from ONE factory. Any remaining glass pieces in that factory are moved to a central pool.
If preferred, you may select ALL pieces of ONE colour from the central pool, and the first player to do so also claims the first player marker – but also takes a penalty.
You must then allocate your glass to matching positions in your design. Your design is divided into vertical panels, and all glass must go to the same panel. Any excess pieces are treated as breakages – for which you accumulate penalties. Your choice of panel is indicated by a glazier token and you can only place glass into the panel your glazier is currently working on, or a panel to the RIGHT of that panel.
In the latter case, you move your glazier to that panel and he starts the next turn there. Thus, gradually, your options diminish as your glazier approaches the rightmost panel. To give yourself more options, you can reset your glazier to the leftmost panel – but skip a turn for doing so.
There are a couple of ways to gain bonuses when you score a panel. Firstly, one colour earns bonus points during each round of the six rounds of the game. Secondly, when you complete a panel, you score points for that panel AND re-score any previously completed panel to the right of that panel. This encourages you to plan the order in which you try to complete your panels. At the end of the game there are further bonuses to be claimed.
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra should take around 40-50 minutes for a complete four-player game.
Final Thoughts on Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
Stained Glass of Sintra is mechanically simple, relatively short, and very engaging and should appeal to non-gamers as well as gamers. It’s the type of puzzle game that people seem happy to start again as soon as they’ve finished.
Your decisions are often skewed by what you think your rivals are trying to do, and the game offers a couple of end game bonus variants that increase replay-ability – in addition to the variability of your window design and the way tiles come out of the bag. The game has nice components and play moves along at a good pace without too much downtime.