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Granada -- at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, one of the most exciting and most interesting projects in Spain of the Middle Ages begins: the building of Alhambra. The game is easy to learn: only few rules and you're ready to play this exciting game.
Players: 2 - 6
Time: 45 - 60 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 1,064 grams
Language Requirements: Game components contain some foreign text, possibly requiring occasional reference to rules translation. An English translation of the rules is provided.
- 6 start tiles
- 54 building tiles
- 1 building yard
- 1 scoring track
- 12 score markers
- 108 money cards
- 2 scoring cards
- 6 holding boards
- 1 cloth bag
Average Rating: 4 in 1 review
Alhambra is one of those cleverly designed strategy games in which several key mechanisms are tucked into relatively easy to learn set of rules, combining to create a very challenging and satisfying gaming experience.
4 different currencies. Since tiles must be purchased using the currency indicates on the display card, this can be rather frustrating. However, it forces players to make some difficult choices, determining whether to pick up new currency in hopes of the desired tile still being available next time around, or to settle for a lesser choice with another currency in order to maintain momentum (or prevent its purchase by an opponent). Added to this is the bonus for an 'exact' purchase: having the right card or combination of cards to pay the exact purchase price of the tile, entitles the player to make yet another purchase immediately. I've seen players buy as many as 3 tiles in a single turn this way, which isn't as difficult as it may seem if one fills one's hand with a lot of currency cards. Of course, to do so means avoiding early purchases, which can give opponents a healthy headstart.
Tile type & progressive scoring. Another choice to be made is whether to concentrate on one or two specific tile types in order to score high in those types, or to spread purchases over numerous types, hoping to compensate for low scores in each type through the cumulative effect of competing in 4-5 tile types. The strategic choices can be rewarded by what one might describe as a 'progressive scoring' system, which rewards more players with points each scoring round. In this system, only the first place tile holders in each category score the first round, but the second highest holder can score in the second round, and the third highest in the third. This means one must constantly study the opponents'Alhambras and the available purchases; a couple of good tile purchases by opponents can cost you a lot of points if left unchecked.
The Wall. And of course, there's the exterior wall that's built around one's Alhambra. Since each section of the contiguous outer wall is worth a point, this adds another option to consider when purchasing a tile. A well-developed wall can bring in an additional 9 or more points if done well (and with a little luck). A tile may be more valuable for what it adds to the wall, than it is for what it adds to your tiles of that type.
The combination of these facets in Alhambra makes for some tense gaming. We've played with 4 and 5 players, and I would say 4 is preferable, but 5 still works very well. Our group hasn't found the downtime to be particularly cumbersome, as vigilant players will watch to see what currency cards opponents are collecting.
Add to this the excellent game components, and Alhambra is a one of the better strategy games to hit the hobby in the past year. If it were a bit less dependent on the draw of tiles and currency cards, and featured a bit more player interaction, I might rate this as a 5-star game.
All in all, I highly recommend it.