Arraial is Portuguese for a mega street party full of colour, music, eating and good times. It’s certainly an interesting theme for a game.
In this game the theme mainly comes through in the colour and art on the components. The illustrations are fluffy and fun and bright and vibrant, but the game play boils down to a Tetris like puzzle.
Each player starts with a board representing their street, which they want to attract the most revellers too. There is a central roundabout on a square board that you will place your street against one edge of. This is important because the roundabout dictates the orientation of the pieces you will place into your street.
On your turn you have three actions to take and can choose to take a piece from the roundabout or rotate it one quarter. In the first two rounds you must take at least one piece from the roundabout and in the last round at least two pieces.
As you place pieces onto your board you are trying to create complete lines, as in Tetris. When you do, you add a neutral meeple to a banner on the top of your board which means that they will potentially be adding to your street at the end of the round. Also, if you connect two pieces of the same colour you get a meeple of that colour. If it is the largest area of that colour across all players you also take control of a double meeple of that colour. At least until someone surpasses that area.
At the end of the round the banner will descend two spots. If it hits your party goers you lose it and any neutral meeples on it, other wise they get added to your party. The winner is the player that has the most meeples in their street!
Building your Arraial is interesting thanks to the scoring system and the roundabout. You are constantly asking yourself whether it is better to build a big blue area to claim the double meeple or instead building lots of blue doubles to claim safe single meeples. Arraial is one of the best Tetris style games on the market.