Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

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Priptonite
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Priptonite »

DoctorFianchetto wrote: 21 March 2024, 00:22 I just finished your first video, great content! Your explanations and examples are exemplary and I'm learning a lot.

One thing I noticed about your play is that your middle row tends to be neglected, which I find interesting because the limited wisdom I have encountered is to fill the top three rows as much as possible. However you focus more on the top two rows and the bottom two rows.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy the other episodes! Please feel free to post any criticisms as well. I think I could've done better on Episode 2 but Episode 3 is solid (I hope).

And you're right! I also learned to focus on the top 3 rows and would almost always play round 1 based on which row 3 I could get. But as I climbed I noticed that my higher level opponents were doing things like taking 2 black on row 4 in their first move, which seemed crazy to me. But the idea here is that if you don't develop your 4th and 5th rows relatively quickly, your opponent will have more opportunities to stick you with big negatives or prevent you from ever finishing your column. It's less of a concern at lower levels where your opponents will either not know how to punish you appropriately or be in the same situation themselves.

That being said, I don't want to propose that there is only one correct way to play Azul or that my strategies are the best strategies. Perhaps all of the 800+ ELO players would laugh at my approach to the game :) But I do know they are sufficient to reach Master, and if you are someone who has followed the conventional wisdom and are struggling then hopefully they show you a different way to play the game.
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DoctorFianchetto
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by DoctorFianchetto »

Priptonite wrote: 21 March 2024, 00:52And you're right! I also learned to focus on the top 3 rows and would almost always play round 1 based on which row 3 I could get. But as I climbed I noticed that my higher level opponents were doing things like taking 2 black on row 4 in their first move, which seemed crazy to me. But the idea here is that if you don't develop your 4th and 5th rows relatively quickly, your opponent will have more opportunities to stick you with big negatives or prevent you from ever finishing your column. It's less of a concern at lower levels where your opponents will either not know how to punish you appropriately or be in the same situation themselves.
Conceptually I find this difficult to understand, but that's why your content is so valuable!
Priptonite wrote: 21 March 2024, 00:52That being said, I don't want to propose that there is only one correct way to play Azul or that my strategies are the best strategies. Perhaps all of the 800+ ELO players would laugh at my approach to the game :) But I do know they are sufficient to reach Master, and if you are someone who has followed the conventional wisdom and are struggling then hopefully they show you a different way to play the game.
I understand there is not one correct play, but hearing the thoughts of a player much stronger than myself can only be a good thing. Much like chess, not even the best players are flawless, but their intuition and judgment is far greater than mine will ever be, so any opportunity to hear their thoughts is gold.

I've just started Episode 2 and in the first round of the first game (5:20) you play a move that seems suboptimal. You choose Yellow for row 2, losing 1 point for a discard. You could have played Blue in row 2 which contributes towards Column 2, gives you adjacency bonus, and you don't lose a point. Furthermore you could have subsequently played Yellow on the first row of Column 2. Was that an oversight or am I missing something?
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Priptonite
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Priptonite »

That is a mistake! My logic was that I didn’t want my opponent to be able to fill row 3, but had I taken the blue and they take the yellow for row 3, I would have been able to prevent them from getting row 2.

Blue was clearly better there, good catch.
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Effgee
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Effgee »

Great video! And love the discussion around management of first player tile. When I first started I did everything I could to avoid it and the negatives, then went through a phase where I jumped on it every chance I got, and now realizing that it's way more complex :-D
Keep those videos coming, looking forward to the tougher match-ups!
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Priptonite
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Priptonite »

Episode 4 is live! https://youtu.be/9UOWGcgJhgY

Embarrassing to upload this because I lost 2 of 3 games, but such is life :) I need to figure out how to explain things faster so I don't get into time pressure. I hope it's still informative as we get to discuss my mistakes this time :)
Reish Galuta
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Reish Galuta »

I haven't watched episode 3 or 4 yet, but with regards to the focus on which columns.
1 and 2 are the most important because of adjacency points and the ability to finish full rows.
It is much less common to be able to fully finish row 3, so while it technically about as important as row 1 for total adjacency points (row 2 is the most important because it has adjacency above and below), it goes down in priority due to the higher tile requirements.

I used to also work as hard as possible to always finish 1,2,3, and take 4 and 5 as they came. But like Prip said, once I noticed how common it was to take 2 black on 4 for a first move I shifted gears.
That said, weird layouts will lead to weird games and you'll have to be flexible.

I'm enjoying watching your thoughts and priorities. Your instincts and priorities are different than mine, so it's important to get a broader base of thought.
My list of priorities are:
1. Single tiles that are needed
2. Colours that are needed by both me and my opponent
3. Colours I need.
4. Colours my opponent needs.

And all that while making sure I can finish my 1&2 every round (and try to block the opponent from being able to do so).

Before watching your videos I placed less of an emphasis on the strict adjacencies of the 1&2 for myself and my opponent, now I'm paying more attention to them in general, if only to prepare for what my opponent might do :)
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Priptonite
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Priptonite »

Thanks for the comments, Reish! Glad to have even fellow Masters watching :) Do you think the adjacency bit has been helpful?


Episode 3 is good but maybe skip 4 haha. I think I need to practice playing and explaining at the same time. A few cases of losing my train of thought and making bad plays.
Reish Galuta
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Reish Galuta »

I think my play has improved with the extra attention to adjacency. My rating has been going up at any rate.

You said you weren't a gray wall player, and I think the two are connected.
In gray wall adjacency is a much lower priority to consider since it's not really blockable until the later rounds.
After getting used to gray wall (and learning what mistakes _not_ to make), I find I'm stronger on gray wall than on coloured. I tend to finish higher in gray wall tournaments. Though that might be partially due to me being really bad at figuring out non-standard openings when the distribution is wonky in R1, I have to go first, and there's no clear path to columns 2-4. On gray board I don't need to worry about that.
Reish Galuta
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by Reish Galuta »

With respect to the playing and talking at the same time, you could record yourself playing and then add commentary afterwards.
If that's too much work, maybe try finding the right move first, and then explaining what you were thinking of after deciding. That way you don't confuse yourself talking through too much before choosing, and you can also use your opponent's turn to keep talking about it. You can even choose your play, and then take 20 seconds to start talking about it before committing it. It looks like your problem is panicking when you are almost out of time and hadn't thought about what you were actually going to do yet.
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DoctorFianchetto
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Re: Competitive Azul - Beginner to Master Video Series

Post by DoctorFianchetto »

Reish Galuta wrote: 02 April 2024, 10:31 With respect to the playing and talking at the same time, you could record yourself playing and then add commentary afterwards.
If that's too much work, maybe try finding the right move first, and then explaining what you were thinking of after deciding. That way you don't confuse yourself talking through too much before choosing, and you can also use your opponent's turn to keep talking about it. You can even choose your play, and then take 20 seconds to start talking about it before committing it. It looks like your problem is panicking when you are almost out of time and hadn't thought about what you were actually going to do yet.
I second recording first and commentating afterwards, perhaps make light notes during the game if you have time. Great suggestions.
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