Board Game Review: Alhambra
game #7 of Katie's 100 board game challenge
You may notice the subtile of this article - "game #7 of Katie's 100 board game challenge". I wrote an article near the start of the year expressing my personal challenge I created for myself for 2023, to play 100 board games in 365 days.
Part of the reason for doing this challenge is because I recognized my collection with my fiancé has grown, and as it grows we continue to play the same few games over and over ... and sure enough, as I was going through our collection (trying to reorganize), I discovered a couple games where it's been over a year (maybe two) since we've played, ones that we really did enjoy at one point. One of those games: Alhambra.
I mentioned Alhambra to my Mom, so I actually brought it over and played with her (incorrectly - I totally forgot the 2-player rules and therefore we didn't play with Dirk the Dummy player, and I didn't take out extra money!). As we played, I remembered how much fun it was, and wondered why it wasn't something we taught my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
There are three scoring phases throughout the game - two in the middle, one at the end. The two in the middle help me prioritize what's important. For example, if I see my opponent already has a lot of green in the first round, I'm not going to waste my time getting green tiles until later, since only the player with the most of each colour gets the points for that colour. It's also nice not to rely solely on end-of-game points, because sometimes I do better in the beginning ... and then the walls mess me up later, and I have to spend a lot of turns rearranging my Alhambra.
The money part is the most interesting part of the game, for me. You draft the money, and you can choose one of any colour you want that's available face up (OR, more than one if the total value is 5 or less - so you can take a 3 orange and a 2 blue!).
Then, to pay for the tiles, the cost is dependent on where the tile is placed on the market. There's a space for yellow money, blue money, green money, and orange money. Each tile has a number in the corner, and that number plus the coloured money space the tile is on determines the cost. (This always throws off my Mom, and sometimes me - if the tile itself is green and the number is an 11, but the tile is on the blue money space, it actually costs 11 blue. Not all of the Alhambra tile colours match the money colours ... and I often wonder why they didn't choose 10 different colours, 6 for tiles and 4 for money.)
Building Your Own Alhambra
I enjoy games where you can kind of do your own thing. Players can still mess up your gameplay by taking tiles you want, but there's just something satisfying about working on your own Alhambra, designing it the way you want.
I'm giving Alhambra an 8 out of 10 - I do enjoy it, and would love to play it again with more people. There's just something about it I don't enjoy as much: the walls. It does add that extra challenge to building the Alhambra, but sometimes I'd just rather not deal with walls ... especially the tiles with walls on three sides! (Also, the money colours - I just think they could've avoided confusion with that one.) Other than that though, I really do love this game.
About the Creator
* 29, she/her, Canadian
* Reader, writer, lover of language
* Board game enthusiast, and wannabe board game designer
* Fiancée currently, Wife in May 2023
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