When comparing Descent: Journeys in the Dark vs Azul, the Slant community recommends Azul for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Azul is ranked 38th while Descent: Journeys in the Dark is ranked 46th. The most important reason people chose Azul is:
Apart from the initial setup, luck plays little to no role in the outcome of this game. You have to try to predict the moves of your opponents while simultaneously thinking about your own moves, in order to win. For example, if you're trying to collect the full set of same-color tiles, you need to be aware if other players are doing the same. There are 20 tiles of each color, and if all players are trying to collect the yellow ones, there might not be enough in rotation for all to succeed. You get points from placing tiles, and various combinations give you more points. You can lose points if you don't think ahead, and you can also take risks where you lose a few points to gain many more.
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Pro Blends competitive and co-operative game play in one game
The premise is pretty unique in that one player takes on the role of an overlord while all other players act as the heroes who attempt to clear the dungeon. The overlord and the heroes play against each other in a turn-based setup.
The overlord is the one responsible for controlling the monsters and other pitfalls that the heroes will face. The overlord also has access to many powerful spell cards which can be played during their turn. The heroes work together to clear the dungeon of monsters and work towards the victory condition for their quest.
Since the main evil force is player controlled, it creates some really interesting situations not often seen in other boardgames such as monsters being able to play strategically and dealing with spell effects that aren't random.
Pro Accessible and easy to learn game systems
While the actual rule book may not be the most organized manual in the world, the gameplay systems themselves are very simple to grasp, even for new players. Thanks to being both intuitive and easy to follow, anyone can join in on the fun.
Descent uses basic dice rolls for most actions, and how many actions you can take per turn are clearly defined based on your hero class. Movement along the board is handled in a grid like fashion with each tile denoting a certain distance. There is never any second guessing of whether or not you're in range to help a friend or attack an enemy. If you can roll dice, follow a tile based board, and understand a few simple rules, you can easily play this game.
Pro Engaging and replayable full campaign mode
Each 60 to 90 minute game consists of a single quest, however there is a campaign mode where heroes can take on a series of story quests while also learning new skills along the way. This is a great mode for that true epic adventure feeling. If you find a hero you enjoy, you can grow and develop this character over time similar to a standard RPG game. Additionally, no two campaigns will ever be the same. There are 8 different classes to select from, and you can pick and choose the quests you do, which adds a lot of replayability.
Pro Appealing, clean presentation
Everything is laid out cleanly on the board so it's easy to keep track of the action. Each player has their own cards with all usable actions and skills neatly presented. All heroes and monsters have game pieces that can be moved around the board, so it's easy to be aware of your surroundings and plan your next attack. The health system uses special token pieces that are used to keep track of your health. Being able to see your health physically raise and lower to keep track of your damage taken is a nice touch.
Pro Can play solo with the mobile app
There's a mobile app called "Road to Legend" that lets you play this game solo. The app works by taking over the overlord role. It even has multiple difficulty settings so you can get as much of a challenge as you crave. It's a great way to play when you have no friends available for a gaming session.
Pro Bitesized quests for quick fun
Each short gaming session consists of one quest with its own victory condition and two encounters. They are quick to play when you're looking for something fun to do for an hour or so.
Pro Lots of expansion packs to keep the fun going
The makers of this board game have added over ten expansion packs which feature new monsters, quests, campaigns, heroes, and re-balanced mechanics. Even after you've extensively played the vanilla game, there's plenty of ways to extend the fun and keep playing a game you enjoy.
Pro Tactically rich
Apart from the initial setup, luck plays little to no role in the outcome of this game.
You have to try to predict the moves of your opponents while simultaneously thinking about your own moves, in order to win. For example, if you're trying to collect the full set of same-color tiles, you need to be aware if other players are doing the same. There are 20 tiles of each color, and if all players are trying to collect the yellow ones, there might not be enough in rotation for all to succeed.
You get points from placing tiles, and various combinations give you more points. You can lose points if you don't think ahead, and you can also take risks where you lose a few points to gain many more.
Pro Aesthetically pleasing
The game itself is very beautiful. Azul was inspired by the tiles at Alhambra. The design is bright, upbeat and colorful.
Pro Variety of strategy and patterns keep the game from becoming repetitive
There are multiple ways to get points. For example- aiming to get all tiles of the same color or getting the most columns.
If the preset pattern has become too familiar, you can use the other side of the board to create your own pattern. It's completely blank, so you can come up with multiple possible patterns.
Con Physical quality isn't the best
The game cards and board are flimsy and wear down rather easily. After only a few games, the wear and tear will be noticeable.
Con Disorganized rulebook
It's usually easier to find the information you need with an internet search since the rulebook itself is tough to navigate. It's arranged alphabetically by rule rather than organized in a manner that would align with the game flow.
Con Rules can be confusing
While the game systems themselves are rather easy to pick up and learn, some phrasing on the cards and within the rulebook is a bit cryptic, which may result in confusion when first starting out.
Con One player will always have to be the "bad guy"
Unless using the mobile app, which may very well ruin immersion for some, there is an evil overlord role that needs to be filled by a player. This is the player that makes decisions and takes actions for all the monsters. As such, this can be the source of many arguments. It can get especially bad when someone feels like they are being constantly targeted or singled out by the overlord.
Con Scoring system can be confusing
Scores are counted at the end of each round (when there are no more tiles left in the factory). It's confusing for the following rounds, because you have to count each single tile only once. The scoring system is also confusing in the way that it counts tile combinations. For each adjacent tile, you get an extra point for the row and for the column. It takes a little practice to get use to it.
Con Minor design flaw may cause you to lose a piece right out of the box
When you first open Azul, you'll have to push out the cardboard pieces from a larger sheet of cardboard (as is often the case with many games nowadays), which is not a problem. However, one of the game pieces- the 1st player token- is not easily noticeable at first. Some users have accidentally thrown out this piece in the trash.