Alhambra - Board Game Box Shot

Alhambra

In Granada, one of the most impressive building projects of the Middle Ages has begun: the construction of Alhambra. A palace, fortress, and a small city — all-in-one — Alhambra is made up of the world’s most beautiful gardens, pavilions, chambers and towers. The most prominent builders in all of Europe and Arabia want to demonstrate their skills in building Alhambra.

Employ the most talented teams of builders to construct your Alhambra. Hire stonemasons from the north and gardeners from the south, who all want a fair wage and insist on being paid with their native currency. With their help, towers can be constructed, gardens designed, pavilions and mezzanines erected, and manors and royal chambers built. Compete against your opponents to build the greatest and most impressive Alhambra.

User Reviews (11)

Filter by: Order by:
Player Avatar
5
8
37 of 38 gamers found this helpful
“Stock game in disguise”

This is a fun “stock” collecting game. Most people wouldn’t categorize it as collecting stocks, but I think that is clearly what the main goal of the game. When the first scoring round comes up you have to have the majority in a type of tile, on the second, you need to be first or second, and at the end of the game the top 3 are rewarded. If you aren’t scoring majority in some of the tile types you aren’t going to win. That is why I consider it a stock game.

The other aspect of this game that makes it interesting is that you have to be able to build your Alhambra (I think that was a city in Spain) in such a way that the tiles you buy can be added on. If you buy a tile and can’t add it, you don’t get credit for it. The tiles have sides with or without walls which makes things tricky at times. You also get points for the longest wall you create.

This game gets worse as you add people. With all 6 players the tiles you saw at the end of your turn will most likely be all different on your next turn. Then it turns into more of a timing game, if the right tile comes up on my turn I’ll do well, if not I lose. I think 3 players is the best for this game. The 2 player game has a good mechanic by adding a 3rd phantom player. This player gets a pretty even number of tiles and jumps into his place for majorities in scoring rounds, but doesn’t score walls. He usually doesn’t win, and probably should be in last place every time, but he does add a good twist that would otherwise ruin the 2 player game. If you are playing with more players, especially 5 or 6, get the vizier’s favor expansion. That can help break up the timing factor, but I would still recommend playing with 3.

I gave this game an 8 because I enjoy playing it, with 3 players (sometimes 4), and I would never turn down a game if offered. I enjoy building up my Alhambra as well as having to pay attention to the tiles others are collecting.

 
Player Avatar
6
I'm Completely Obsessed
Viscount / Viscountess
Champion
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
9
41 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Great fun - for a few.”

Alhambra is one of the first games I ever purchased when I got into the hobby. I still love the game today, despite the new shiny things I’ve collected since.

Alhambra is a fairly simple game, mechanics-wise. On your turn you either take money or purchase tiles. If you purchase via exact change, you get another action, otherwise you end your turn and you never receive change. The trick is that there are 4 tiles available and each requires a different type of money. Managing your hand of money cards is key.

With 3-4 players, the game runs great. Buying and placing your tiles to have the majority in each color and extend your walls is a fun method of scoring. With more players, unfortunately the game suffers severely. You might as well walk away between your turns, because everything out will have changed by the time it gets back around to you, making future planning pointless.

One problem my group tends to have is that they tend to get easily confused by the tile colors and the money colors. Meaning someone will attempt to purchase a blue tile with blue money, and then realize that the blue tile is on the orange space and they don’t have the cash for it after all. It is especially bad in low light situations, like the cafe my Meetup often gets together in.

I docked a point from the components because the insert they put in the box to sort the tiles and keep the tokens held in place is horrible – even with the box rubber banded shut, whenever this game comes out everything is inevitably jumbled up inside. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t a royal pain finding the courtyard tiles in the mess of building tiles.

Some of the expansions make this even more fun, but that’s another topic.

Pros:
Simple to learn
Plays fast (With up to 4)
Tile laying is fun
Minimal luck

Cons
Luck becomes huge with 5+ players
Down time also becomes an issue with 4+

 
Player Avatar
9
Critic - Level 5
Professional Advisor
Professional Reviewer
Marquis / Marchioness
7
55 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“An alternate gateway game”

In Alhambra, you’re competing to build the best new palace (Alhambra). To do this, you will buy and position different buildings. The difficulty lies in there being four different types (colors) of currency. A given building (drawn randomly) can be built for a certain type of currency. Throughout the game, you will be managing not only your hand of cards (currency), but also arranging your palace based on the buildings you buy.

On your turn, you may do one of the following:

Buy a tile and place it
Take money
Redesign your Alhambra

If you’re ever able to pay the exact cost for a building, you may take an additional action. There are four buildings to choose from (one for each color of money) at any time.

There are six different types of buildings. When you buy a building, it will have some number of walls (0-3) along its edges. You must place buildings so that the building name is oriented so it can be read. You are also required to always be able to walk from one room to any other, without leaving your palace (all buildings (tiles) must be built so that walls don’t block it off).

There are 3 scoring rounds, the first two of which are seeded in the currency deck, and will come up somewhat randomly. The last is when all the buildings are gone. In the first scoring round, the person with the most of a given type of building in their Alhambra gains points. In subsequent scoring rounds, 2nd (and finally 3rd) place points are also awarded. This means you’ll need to decide during the game which building types to go for. Do you specialize in one or two, or try for fewer points in a number of buildings? There’s also a final bonus for number of consecutive walls around the outside of your Alhambra at the end of the game.

Alhambra is a relatively quick game that I’ve found works well with introducing people to modern boardgaming. It also holds up for more casual gamers who are looking for a little depth, but mainly want to have a good time.

I place Alhambra in the category of games with Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, and play it with the same groups I play those with. It’s relatively easy to learn (only a few straight forward rules). It allows more players than Settlers or Carcassonne (before expansions) as the base game supports 6 players. Of this group of games, my family prefers Alhambra. Try it and see for yourself why it won the German Game of the Year award (Spiel des Jahres) in 2003 (an award both Settlers and Carcassonne previously won).

 
Player Avatar
9
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
8
40 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“More Than Carcassonne With A Twist”

Alhambra is the 2003 winner of the “Spiel des Jahres,” Germany’s top gaming award. Based on the designer’s previous Stimmt So, it is a tile-laying game with resource management aspects. Its theme is simple. In Granada, 1278, each player brings together a team of European and Arabic artisans to build the finest, and largest version of the Alhambra, Spain’s most beautiful palace. Of course, they want to be paid in their native currencies.

Designed for two to six players aged eight and up, Alhambra’s components are all high quality. The Starter Tiles are marked with the famous Lion Fountain, while the Building Tiles are marked with various gardens, manors, mezzanines, pavilions, royal chambers, and towers, plus a number indicating their cost. The Money Deck is divided between four color-coded currencies: blue colored Denars, green Dirhams, orange Ducats, and yellow Florins. The Tile Reserve boards show the Scoring Cards’ information and give space to hold tiles in reserve.

The Building Market board is the game’s heart and is marked with four tile spaces, each adjacent to a symbol for one of the four currencies. After a slightly complex set-up, a player can do one of three things on a turn. He can take Money cards to spend later. He can buy a Building Tile, paying in the correct currency, indicated by the symbol on the Building Market. A purchased tile can be added to the player’s Alhambra, or placed on the Reserve Board. If the “exact” amount is paid for the tile, another turn is gained! A player’s third action is redesigning his Alhambra using his tiles in reserve.

Tiles are placed to according to simple, but strict rules. They must align correctly, and adjoining sides must match, some tile sides having walls. An Alhambra’s design can be as sprawling or as compact as a player wants. Generally, the cheaper the tile, the more difficult it is to place. Scoring takes place when the Scoring cards are drawn and at a game’s end. Points are awarded for having the most of each building type, plus the longest wall. The player with the most points is the winner and has the finest Alhambra.

Alhambra offers simple tactics, but difficult decisions. Does a player buy and lay the tiles needed to score, paying over their value, or take Money Cards to have the exact amount needed to gain extra actions? But buying now may deny a player a decent card that may go to his rival! Dominated by strong random elements of tile and drawing, Alhambra lacks any real interactive element, participants almost playing self-contained puzzle games and coming together only at the Building Market.

Despite a lack an interactive element, Alhambra is still pleasing to play, in turns frustrating and gratifying as fortunes can change within a turn or two. The nicely spaced scoring rounds also allow players to catch up with their rivals. Beautifully and cleverly designed, Alhambra is a light and enjoyable game that is easy to learn and a pleasure to play.

 
Player Avatar
8
BoardGaming.com Beta 2.0 Tester
Went to Gen Con 2012
BoardGaming.com Bronze Supporter
Advanced Reviewer
8
37 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“A Classic, & Instant Buy for Me”

Alhambra is a fun euro styled economy/building game where you are the designer of a great city. Published in 2003 this game won the 2003 Spiel des Jahres in the same year. I was introduced to this game when I made my first visit to my local game store’s game night, which now I love to go to as much as possible.

Game Play:
At the start of the game everyone is given a fountain that acts as the center of their city. All of the sections that added to your city must be built from this fountain, and the must also be facing the same direction as the fountain, that being up right.

Along with your fountain you are also given money at the start of the game. Money in this game is in card form and there are four different currencies. Each player is dealt their money cards until they have an amount of twenty. This could come in three cards, or nine, so every player has a different amount of cards, but about the same value as you could go over. The player with the fewest cards starts the game; an interesting mechanic.

On your turn you can do one of three actions.
1) You can buy an building for your city. This purchase can be added to your city directly or to a reserve you have to be added later. When adding to your city there are a few rules you must follow. You must be able to walk to your addition from your fountain, it must face the same direction, and it must be have walls consistent with those around it. Meaning if it has an inner wall, the adjacent piece should also have an inner wall. This makes more sense when you can see the piece.

Another interesting mechanic is that if you purchase your piece with the exact amount needed, then you earn an additional action. This can be repeated until there are no pieces left to purchase.

2) You could also take money from the money pile and add it to your hand. An interesting mechanic here is that you can as many cards as you want, as long as you do not break a currency amount of five. So you take a Two and Three in two cards, or a nine. It’s your choice, but remember, if you get the exact amount when you buy you earn another action!

3) For your final action you can take a piece from your reserve and add it to your city or swap another piece out.

Scoring happens at the end of three rounds. Points are awarded to each player based on who is the leader in a certain type of building that has been added to their city. The first round it is only the leader, then the second it’s the leader and second place, and so on.

Each building type has a certain value. The purple towers are the most, whoever has the most of these will be rewarded the most points at the end of the round. These pieces are also the most expensive. The red city pieces are the cheapest pieces to add, but they are also the least in point value.

The game ends when you are down to four city pieces. At which time all four pieces are offered on a selling block and auctioned off. Another fun mechanic.

Pros:
• Its nice to have a game that can be played with 2-6 players. Most game top out at 4-5, this one fills that hole.
• The game is pretty easy to teach and starts with little set up.
• It offers unique mechanics that you won’t find in many other games. To me this is what truly sets this apart.
• There are a butt load of expansions out there. If this is a game you truly love, you can go crazy with it. I have not played any of them yet, but I know they are out there.
• Its also nice when anyone can sit down at this game and win. Some games you have to play a few times and get the hang of it. Not so with Alhambra.

Cons:
• I know that this game has been reprinted, but the one that I have, the designers must have looked at the box and the pieces and thought, “How can we NOT get these pieces to fit in this box.”
• I wonder about the replay value, and there is not very much interaction. You could easily sit through an entire game and not say anything to another player. In this area it is somewhat like Ticket to Ride. It is only when your desire is taken from you that interaction will occur. If you are in a race for first for a certain city type, you will see lots of interaction, but if not, it’s a bit more quite.

Overall:
The first time that I played this game I knew it was a hit for me. It is easy to see why it won the Spiel des Jahres, and so many other awards. With a number of unique mechanics, easy to learn, and quick game play this game has what it takes for greatness. And with the number of expansions, I would imagine the publisher agrees.

 
Player Avatar
8
Intermediate Reviewer
Vanguard
Tinkerer
Novice Advisor
8
29 of 32 gamers found this helpful
“Nice and balanced with a few twists!”

This is one of those beautiful eurogames with a simple set of rules that provides hard choices. You buy buildings of different colours (and different value when it comes to victory points) and try to fit them in your city. The problem is that one or more edges of the buildings consist of the city wall, and the building must be added to the existing city so that a wall edge of one tile does not meet a non-wall edge of another tile. To get it even trickier, the walls must not divide the city in two parts where you cannot access all tiles (the walking-around-the-city-rule). It sounds pretty easy, but it’s amazing how hard it can be to plan and fit the tiles in your city.

At some points in the game you score victory points for the different building types, and when that happens you should have the most of that kind (or at least be second best or in the end third best). You also try to get as long city wall as you can for additional points.

To make it even trickier you have to keep track of four different currencies. At all times there is exactly one building available that can be bought by a certain currency. Your choice is mainly to either pick up some more money or to buy a building. An extra twist is that if you can buy a building for exactly the correct amount you get another action. Therefore, just having big bills in your hand is not necessarily a good thing.

We’ve played this with quite a few different people, and hardcore gamers as well as casual social gamers all fell for it. I really recommend it, and although I havn’t tried any of the zillion expansions I think the basic game does great on its own. Try it!

 
Player Avatar
9
USA
Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
7
59 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“Building my palace one tile at a time... takes a long time.”

Hello, my little pumpernickels,

Today, we are going to talk about a little game called Alhambra.
Alhambra is one of the first Euro games I played… oh so long ago. Along with Ticket to Ride and The Settlers of Catan, it is an excellent “gateway” game. It is easy to teach and learn, so it works well as a Euro introductory, but its ability to keep you interested long-term may depend on using the expansions. Let’s take a look at what you get, so you can make your own choice…

How to Play…

You start the game with a number of money cards that total at least 20 in face value (number of actual cards may vary). Four money cards are displayed face-up on the game board and replenished from a draw pile. Four tiles are placed in four slots representing four different architects using yellow, green, blue and orange to differentiate the card slots (only necessary for money exchange). These are replenished as well. Each turn, you may take money from the bank, buy a tile (using money in matching color), or rearrange your Alhambra.

In Alhambra , the goal is to build the best palace in Granada, Spain. You do this by purchasing tiles from the game board and placing them in your own area. Tiles represent pavilions, seraglios, arcades, chambers, gardens and towers. Tiles come in at cost of 1 through 9, which translate into VP later… so pay attention my lads.

Some interesting rules:

1) A player may take any number of money cards from the bank as long as the total value does not exceed 5… interesting? Well, there are cards that are worth more than 5… but, you need to have different colors to get what you want sometimes, and…

2) If you buy a tile with exact change, you get an extra turn. Eureka!

3) Starting player is decided by the first person to 20 with the fewest cards. No arguing over who was the last person to build a Spanish palace, thank goodness.

4) There are three scoring rounds. In the first round, the player with the most building tiles of a particular type gets points (ties are split). In the second round, the two players with the most and second most score. In the final round, first, second and third most totals score.

5) For scoring, and other added rule is you get points for the longest contiguous wall.

There are other rules about tile/wall placement, etc. that work into your strategy as well. You can also set aside tiles for later use, but it is not recommended unless the tile is fantastic, as you lose a turn if you are just moving a tile from your reserve.

Conclusion…

The game can play from 2-6 players. However, the more players you have the longer the wait time. Alhambra is very susceptible to Analysis Paralysis. I’d recommend 2-4 players for maximum enjoyment (3 is best). Also, the game is relatively sparse of interaction… other than taking what someone else needs. You are building in your own sandbox. Carcassonne has much more interaction, because you are playing on the same “field”. How you feel about this game may depend on how much interaction you feel a game should contain.

All in all, I think it is a good game to introduce new players to gaming. It’s lack of evilness is appealing to those who do not like competitive games, and even an experienced player can’t really destroy your chances by stealing a tile they think you need (unless they are way ahead and have the luxury of taking several). I also think the expansions add a lot of value to the game, and recommend forking over the extra dough to get the Big Box. You will thank me once the base game starts to get a bit stale.

Happy Gaming!

 
Player Avatar
5
Advanced Grader
Plaid Hat Games fan
7
21 of 25 gamers found this helpful
“Simple turn based fun”

So Alhambra, what to say….. Ok, coffee in hand lets begin.

This is a turn based game with no interaction between turns, this is fine of course however it does mean that playing with your non gaming friends or auntie Flo can result in a level of frustration as the game’s pace becomes much reduced, impaired like a kick to the shin.

This aside the mechanics are very simple, your go is – take a card(s) or a tile or move tiles about. Thats it – even auntie Flo can cope.

In Alhambra cards are money have have values 1-9, the tiles are different buildings for your Alhambra, each tile has a purchase value. A market board sits in the middle of the table offering each player one of four tiles or four money cards each turn, the tiles sit on one of four colours which correspond to the four colours of the money cards so blue money for tiles on the blue space, green for green etc. if you can produce money cards of the right colour to the exact value of the tile you get another go, if not you can pay over the odds, you still get the tile but the gold toothed smiling merchant has taken you for a ride – live with it, it happens.

There are three scoring rounds, two during the game and one at the end which spring from the money card deck to decide who is leading based on who has more of each of the coloured building tiles.

The game takes about an hour or nearer to two if Auntie Flo is present.

This is a game for the family, a steady game which gives you a simple option for your gaming friends. It didn’t disappoint me but it didn’t blow me away either – its just well, good.

So a welcome addition to your gaming cupboard but not one that is likely to jump out as your favourite.

 
Player Avatar
1
 
13 of 29 gamers found this helpful
“Fun game that is easy to learn”

I lucked out and received Alhambra in a trade I made online. Little did I know this one would become one of the games my friends and I play the most. I’ve played both two and three player games and I feel it is a lot of fun with either number. I’d like to play with more players but just haven’t had the chance. The strategy element of the game is very good and you need to keep an eye on what your opponents are building or saving for. My only problem with the base game is that while each game is different, the play style really doesn’t change so it’s slightly one dimensional and can possibly lead to stale game-play.

 
Player Avatar
6
Arrowhead
Knight-errant
Time Well Spent - Games
7
12 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“I have a lovely palace”

Alhambra was my second “gamer game” I learned. It is an interesting game, about building your palace in Granada. With 4 different types of currency, it is sometimes hard to build it the way you want to, but the game is lots of fun. There is nothing to do when it is not your turn, but the mechanic of “buy one piece and place it” makes turns go quickly. Alhambra is a simple game to learn, with much more strategy locked into its mechanics than at first glance. My strategy was to always have the longest walls, and it seemed to work out well for me.

One of the best things about Alhambra, is its historical inspiration. I am a history guy by nature, and playing the game has led to looking closely at the history of the Spanish Moors and their exquisite palaces. I think this is a game which is improved by some background knowledge, and it adds an appreciation of what you are doing in the game when you understand you are not just building some random garden. I highly recommend doing some digging into what the Alhambra means and its place in history.

Enjoy the game, it goes by quickly.

 
Player Avatar
5
Gamer - Level 5
Zealot
Critic - Level 3
Novice Advisor
7
7 of 38 gamers found this helpful
“A beautiful and fun game that...lacks something”

It’s difficult to exactly define what Alhambra lacks, but for me it keeps it from really shining.

Perhaps there just aren’t enough options. Perhaps its a bit too random. Perhaps its just not thrilling enough. I can’t really say.

If you cornered me and demanded a straight answer, I’d say its problem is that it’s just a bit too tedious to really shine. Games are supposed to be fun, and this one just isn’t fun enough for me.

When you think of it, the game is really about currency exchange and city planning, and I’m sorry, but it really feels more like ‘work’ to me, and not a game.

 

Add a Review for "Alhambra"

You must be to add a review.

× Visit Your Profile