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Gaming in the Library: Abstract Games

Get your game on at the Library!


Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora, Portugal.

In the game Azul, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player's score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Players: 2-4, Time: 45-60 minutes


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Chess is one of the world's oldest board games. The earliest records of a chess-like game can be found in India dating to as far back as the 6th Century, AD. It spread through the Middle East and was played in Europe by the 10th Century.

Players: 2, Time: variable


You think chess is an old game? Go is even older. One of the most popular board games in East Asia, Go has it's roots in ancient China. Some scholars claim the game is over 4,000 years-old. It was most likely "invented" between 2,000 BC and 1,500 BC. The earliest mention of Go (圍棋 (wéi qí)- "surrounding game") appears in the "Analects" of Confucius (551-479 BC), while the earliest physical evidence is a 17×17 Go board discovered in 1952 in a tomb of the former Han dynasty (206 BC- 9 AD). Go is played with black and white stones on a square, wood board. The board is divided with 19 vertical and 19 horizontal lines.

Players: 2, Time: 30-180 minutes


Hive is a very addictive, insect-themed, strategy game where the objective is to capture your opponent's queen bee by completely surrounding it. Hive has no set up, the game begins when the first piece is played, and can be played on any flat surface. 

Players: 2, Time: 30-45 minutes


The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadows of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don't forget that the sun revolves around the forest. Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis! Players plant and shape the ever-changing forest as they cultivate seeds and plan their strategy. The goal is to take trees through their life-cycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun's rays. Players must carefully pick where and when to sow as the richest soil grows the strongest trunks, and the trees left in the shadows are blocked from the sun.

Players: 2-4, Time: 60 minutes


As a skilled artisan in Sagrada, you will use tools-of-the-trade and careful planning to construct a stained glass window masterpiece for the Sagrada Familia. Players will take turns drafting glass pieces - represented by dice - carefully choosing where to place each one in their window. Windows have unique color and shade requirements, and similar dice may never be adjacent so placing each die is more challenging than the last. Gain prestige by adapting to the preferences of your fickle admirers, and of course, by adding your own artistic flair while completing your glass masterpiece.


Players: 1-4, Time: 30-60 minutes


Every year the Emperor walks through the imperial gardens to greet the spring, every year he stops beneath the sakura trees, and every year you try to paint his picture. Artists from near and far will step over their rivals to be closest to the Emperor as he reaches the cherry blossoms, hoping to paint a portrait that will please him. 

Sakura is a strategy game of pushing your luck, and pushing your friends. Each player will simultaneously decide how far to move both their character and the Emperor. The player closest to the Emperor when the Cherry Blossoms are reached will gain a huge amount of prestige, but if you push too far you risk bumping into the Emperor and walking away in disgrace.

Players: 2-6, Time: 30-45 minutes

Tsuro of the Seas

In Tsuro of the Seas, you will sail the treacherous waters of the Mystic Seas in an engaging game of adventure and suspense! As the captain of a mighty ship, you will navigate the seas by placing wake tiles to direct your vessel. Take great caution to avoid your opponents’ ships… and the dangerous daikaiju (monsters) lurking under the surface. Guide your ship with a steady hand and be the last captain sailing to survive the Mystic Seas and win!

Players: 2-8, Time: 30-60 minutes