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Subject: Why Do People Like This Game? rss

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Joe V
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pomomojo wrote:
themanfromsaturn wrote:
'I agree with the OP and I agree with you about the limitations of the game, but it's still fun with the right group that wants that type of game.'

Cheers, Paul, but isn't that statement true of any game? For me, that just begs the question "Who is this game for?" It resembles a Euro, but fans of hardcore strategy will be disappointed, and it's lightweight, but I don't see where the appeal is for casual players, who generally see games as a social activity, and value fun and interaction.



Yes, that statement is true for any game. Which, I think, is the strength and weakness of the original review. The OP made it clear he plays games for the interaction and that he didn't like Alhambra because it didn't have the sort of interaction he craves. That was helpful for those who identify with his tastes. However, he then goes on to say that the game is awful and he can't imagine why anyone would enjoy it and doesn't mention the player count of his game. Then a bunch of us chimed in and explained why our groups have enjoyed it and the type of interaction it does offer.

Yes, this is not a party game for the super casual gamer who would generally prefer to watch TV, nor a deep Euro. But I have found there is a fairly large group of gamers who enjoy exercising their minds a little but don't care for the medium to heavy games after a day of work. My wife loves Alhambra. The rules are easy to remember so she doesn't have to relearn them each time we play. Setup is pretty quick. There's enough luck involved that she can hold her own against more serious gamers. It's the same general audience that loves Ticket to Ride (though liking TTR doesn't necessarily mean you'll like Alhambra).


Actually, I never said that in the review. In the review I was very careful to make sure the audience knew that these were my opinions and my tastes. At the end I even say explicitly my own personal motivation for playing board games and how Alhambra conflicts with that. I don't begrudge people their tastes, but I do show disbelief as to how many people like this game and how it can routinely get rated more highly than games that are, once again only in my opinion, several powers of ten better than Alhambra. It's more bafflement than anything else. You are probably referring to the title. And that was a genuine question. Before I was pretty clueless as to what it was that made people enjoy this game and now I have a bit more insight into that.

I had, by my count, eleven different people disagree with me in some way shape or form. Four of them were enlightening, yourself being one of these, five were irrelevant or made an argument that didn't make sense to me or just didn't contribute for one reason or another, one person got fresh (God bless them, I'm sure they think they're witty), and another person contributed nothing but a laughable attempt at insulting me.

One person here confirmed my disliking for this game. The numbers just don't make sense to me and further prove my point. When I dared to lay a hand on Alhambra an entire phalanx of people formed to tell me I was wrong. With most games there will at least by a split with people who like it and people who don't. But not with this one. It would be one thing if the game were perfect, but it isn't. Even its supporters in this thread have admitted that it's only truly good with a very limiting variety of player counts. Games should at least be GOOD with all player settings. Countless players can overlook this and yet I've seen dozens of players on this site shouting "Don't buy this game!" about Parthenon just because of a relatively minute mechanic in the game that more or less equates to a tie-breaker. If a game is "only good" with 2-3 players that is usually a DEATH sentence. Games like that don't leave play testing! Alhambra and a handful of other games have turned into this cult of personality and I'm trying to figure out why. And I don't think quick setup is really a good reason to love a board game. It's a pretty sad day for a game if the publisher advertises one the front "It sets up easy!"

Maybe it's just me. I could be a nutjob. But I really can't see what makes Alhambra so special that people are willing to overlook flaws that, for other board games, would be fatal.
 
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Joe V
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EvanMinn wrote:
terminus467 wrote:
rogerramjet3361 wrote:
This is one of my favorite games, however, I only play with 2 players. As already mentioned, the lower number of players the less randomness in the game, and your plans for your next move don't get thwarted as easily.

I disagree on the game having no interaction. When my opponent takes the tile I really want, or when I am able to pull off getting a color majority and reducing my opponent to second place in points - to me this is interaction.

I do think if played with more than 3 players the OP might have a point. But as a 2 player game, it's great.

But here is my problem, by definition that is not what interaction is. When I trade goods with someone in Parthenon or Mare Nostrum: That's interaction. In Imperial 2030 when my country blows up another country's tank: That's interaction. What you're saying is akin to me saying that players interact in Monopoly because they get money from the same bank. Now there are plenty of better examples of player interaction in Monopoly, but that's almost analagous to what you're saying. Your situation is a little different because what you do at least impacts them. But it's still not interaction. If I leave a glass of water out on a table and someone spills it then I've IMPACTED them... but I'm not interacting with them.


There's direct interaction and indirect interaction. Your premise seems to be that only direct interaction is interaction and indirect interaction is not interaction.

That's fine if that's what you think but you can keep saying it over and over until you are blue in the face but you are going to have a tough time convincing most people that the definition of interaction should be limited solely to direct interaction and that indirect interaction shouldn't be considered interaction at all.


That is exactly my premise. Indirect interaction is an oxymoron. If you are interacting with someone, by definition it is direct. Indirect interaction is equivalent to saying dry water. It's just not a thing. Two people interacting with the same object are not interacting with each other. And if two people are racing and one of them passes the other, they aren't interacting. They could be having the same race on opposite sides of the planet and it would work the same exact way.
 
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Peter Schell
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I agree with the reviewer. Our experienced game group played this once and found no enjoyment in it for the same reasons given by the reviewer.

The group enjoys both strategic and occasional light, chancey games but Alhambra was completely charmless and pointless.
 
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Evan Stegman
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terminus467 wrote:
EvanMinn wrote:
terminus467 wrote:
rogerramjet3361 wrote:
This is one of my favorite games, however, I only play with 2 players. As already mentioned, the lower number of players the less randomness in the game, and your plans for your next move don't get thwarted as easily.

I disagree on the game having no interaction. When my opponent takes the tile I really want, or when I am able to pull off getting a color majority and reducing my opponent to second place in points - to me this is interaction.

I do think if played with more than 3 players the OP might have a point. But as a 2 player game, it's great.

But here is my problem, by definition that is not what interaction is. When I trade goods with someone in Parthenon or Mare Nostrum: That's interaction. In Imperial 2030 when my country blows up another country's tank: That's interaction. What you're saying is akin to me saying that players interact in Monopoly because they get money from the same bank. Now there are plenty of better examples of player interaction in Monopoly, but that's almost analagous to what you're saying. Your situation is a little different because what you do at least impacts them. But it's still not interaction. If I leave a glass of water out on a table and someone spills it then I've IMPACTED them... but I'm not interacting with them.


There's direct interaction and indirect interaction. Your premise seems to be that only direct interaction is interaction and indirect interaction is not interaction.

That's fine if that's what you think but you can keep saying it over and over until you are blue in the face but you are going to have a tough time convincing most people that the definition of interaction should be limited solely to direct interaction and that indirect interaction shouldn't be considered interaction at all.


That is exactly my premise. Indirect interaction is an oxymoron. If you are interacting with someone, by definition it is direct. Indirect interaction is equivalent to saying dry water. It's just not a thing. Two people interacting with the same object are not interacting with each other. And if two people are racing and one of them passes the other, they aren't interacting. They could be having the same race on opposite sides of the planet and it would work the same exact way.


Well, good luck with getting the world to change the definition of interaction to suit you.

It is a real thing in gaming, in science, in business, etc..

You can live by your own made up definition of interaction but don't be surprised when people point out that is not what most of the world thinks.

click here to see the rest of the world considering indirect interactions to be a real thing
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Runcible Spoon
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terminus467 wrote:
I was working under the radical assumption that a game should be at least halfway decent no matter the player count. Oops.


You are correct this is a bad assumption to make.

Player count is so important that all game entries on BGG have a table that users can contribute to regarding their own feelings about the best player count.

Specifically the question, regarding player count, asks:

Quote:
How many players do you recommend for this game?


Note that: "Not recommended" is an option which is strong evidence that your assumption, "a game should be at least halfway decent no matter the player count" is not strongly supported by the BGG community at large.

Each user of BGG is free to contribute to, and interpret, those results as they see fit. I agree with some of those ratings, and disagree with others and each BGG user is free to do the same.

EDITS:

I decided to add one other thing which shows I am actually sympathetic with your larger concern regarding player count. If we change your assertion to say something like "The game should be decent with the player counts listed on the box by the publisher" then I too would (and sometimes do) feel slightly aggrieved by bad claims on the publishers part. And in the case of Alhambra, 2-6 is a joke. 5p and 6p are crummy experiences, 4p is better than those but still not good. 2p and 3p are the sweet spot IMHO but many others just think 3p is the sweet spot (fair enough, not everyone has to agree with me).

I prefer 2p because that is where you have the most control over what happens in the game, but some don't like "Dirk" the auto player (fair enough but it doesn't bother me).

LATER EDITS: typos
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Romain Jacques
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Or, I can run ahead of you, take the cake before you get it, yell neener neener or Ha Ha! at you.

Steve, if you do that, I will kick you in the balls.
 
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Dan C
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You realize this is a whole genre in gaming, right? - The Everyone-Takes-From-a-Common-Market-in-the-Middle-of-the-Table-and-Builds-Their-Own Fiefdom genre.

Other games that belong in this category: Agricola, California, Glen More, Vikings, Zooloretto, et.al. These also have a similar level of interaction to Alhambra, so you'll want to avoid them as well.
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Rich Charters
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My son and I had a great time playing Alhambra 2P. It's a light game, but moves quickly. There is some frustration when you can't get the tiles you want, but there is gererally a way around the difficulties. It's a great family game. I would recommend it.
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Steve Duff
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terminus467 wrote:
Well... no, in the second one the only way you're interacting with me is by talking to me. You didn't shove me out of the way or trip me or anything. You have provided an excellent example that seems to be counter to your argument.


Even though I didn't shove you or trip you, you're still cakeless. And that is interaction, despite your insistence it doesn't exist.

themanfromsaturn wrote:
The absence of knowledge of what the other players are holding as well as what will be drawn to replace your choice confounds any real ability to block one another, except by luck.


? The tiles are public knowledge, you know exactly what effect blocking will do. There's zero luck in it. If I have 4 brown and you have 3, my blocking you by taking that brown tile before you do can be a game changer. Nobody is talking about taking money to block. You take the tiles, that's where the points come from.
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Fraser
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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terminus467 wrote:
... I like hard-core strategy...


That statement right there is a good reason for you just to walk away from Alhambra. Some games are hard-core strategy, some are not and Alhambra is definitely not. It is also pretty low on the direct interaction scale. It can certainly be argued that it has indirect player interaction, but you prefer direct interaction.

Two very good reasons for you to walk away from this game.

I know players who don't like any form of direct interaction, I am not one of them, and they do like this game.

Horses for courses and all that.
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Jeff A
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Hehe, fun thread to read.

Anyway, OP, I know how it is to be ganged up on when you call a certain game bad. I had the same experience when I made a post on how I don't like Eclipse because it is too random. T

here too other people had a different idea on what randomness actually is and also sought to convince me that in a game where 80% of the game is decided by random chance, one could overcome horrible tile draws, and horrible dice rolling by simply choosing the right tech. That is of course if the tech you need happens to be chosen in the random drawing and doesn't get taken by someone before you since it happened to be the only one of it drawn. I always seem to end up sitting there for the worst 5 hours of my month. Anyway I digress.

People need to get over the fact that different people have different opinions. I doubt that you actually think indirect interaction doesn't exist, just that isn't as fun for you.

I think of indirect vs direct interaction like this.
Direct interaction in a game is a battle between armies, where indirect interaction is the political and economic wheeling and dealing that sends those armies to war and keeps them supplied. Both can be fun, but not everyone enjoys being a soldier and not everyone likes politics.

Anyway, I rather like Alhambra, it is very light and I would almost label it gateway. Yeah you cannot steal a building from another players city, but there are some fun aspects to it. I have regularly played it with 4-6 people and have always had ok to great times.

I always think that a game matches someone's tastes perfectly if they can lose terribly and still have had at least an ok time.
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Life's Short, Play Naked!
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Kingsix wrote:
People need to get over the fact that different people have different opinions. ... I always think that a game matches someone's tastes perfectly if they can lose terribly and still have had at least an ok time.


I enjoyed reading this thread, and as I rarely read threads on BGG and even more infrequently post, clearly this thread has done a good job captivating me. Of course, that's my opinion. If you think it didn't captivate me, well, heh, that's your opinion.

I'm sure plenty of threads have this theme in them. To each his own. (And for those of you of the politically-correct, gender-neutral vibe, "to each his or her own"!)

But yeah, I am absolute crap at my favorite games (i.e. Power Grid, Puerto Rico, 7 Wonders, Caylus, Dominion, Race for the Galaxy), at least in terms of winning. ... So why do I play them? Because the mechanics are cool, because the games are mentally stimulating, and even because some of them do in fact have great art and quick set up/take down time! Plenty of light gamers love that last "because". And seeing as I'm asking for this game for Christmas, I'm glad to know that a lot of light gamers like it.

OP, you did a good job backing up your opinions. Everyone else, you did a good job reacting insightfully. Now if you'll excuse me, I need some cake.
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patrick mullen
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I play board games for interaction, but I don't require that all of that interaction be codified into rules. I can see why that might be important to you - but there are games with far less interaction than Alhambra. You can keep pretty good track of what color money people have, which can inform your choice to buy a tile they may need using less than exact change or save up. Also, do you really need that tile for your city, or are you just trying to keep it from your opponent?

Indirect, sure, and I can see how you might not like this style of play, but at our table the trash talk and "oh no, that was my tile" masks any lack of direct interaction options.

I don't think Alhambra is the best game ever, but it's high on my list. It has been fun every time I've played, it's quick to teach to new players, and it has a fairly fixed time limit which is pretty rare for these kind of games.

I also can't seem to find a way to win, making me feel it leans more on strategy than luck.

You asked why we like this game, this is why I like it. I know the feeling you have though where you play a well rated game and it just doesn't click. I have games I've played like this. Sometimes it clicks after a few more plays, and sometimes I just write it off. From what you've said this sounds like one you are just going to write off
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paul lewis
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we love this game, we have always loved this game, me especially. now i am not going to argue with anyone here, but just reply with a counter review.

i bought this game not long after it came out, and most of the time we played with 4 and it seemed to be quite random. but i kept doing very well and won a lot. i am fantastic at tile placement games and this has a decent mechanic for limitations on placement. i really like the fact that you cannot rotate tiles.

next the random draw adds an excitement factor, the drama can increase greatly when the board is refilled just before your turn. will it be the color you need? will it be a tile with no walls to help you expand out of a hole? the money draw can be the same way when looking for that certain color or denomination to come up. anytime you can draw more than one card is a great bonus. there is a huge drama and suspense factor that no one has seemed to mention.
i despise the 2 player version, anytime a game needs a non-player to make a game playable just kills game play. just say it does 3 to 6. now 3 and four are great player counts here, 5 and 6 have a lot of downtime.

there is strategy here. two big ones. the first is what most people do and try to collect just enough money to buy fast as possible. this works good but you can be shut out of the tiles you want when someone buys your tile.
the second is the hoard money until you can run the board several times. what you do is just collect money and never buy tiles until you have the cash to pay exact for everything on the board, in 5 and 6 player this can be great to get a sudden boost in tile count, and the strategy may even involve scoring nothing in the first scoring round.

now to something else thats a downer on this game. the set up of the money deck can be a bit tedious, but entirely necessary. and people must remember to deal money to players then set up the deck. when you add the expansions it can get even more tedious since you add more cards to the deck.

in short, best at 3 to 4 players, a very light strategy option, but a very social game. even without all the interaction debate.
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James Cheevers
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One of my favourite gateways for three players
 
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Dan C
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If you don't think Alhanbra is interactive check out the new Tabletop episode on YouTube. It's about as interactive as most Euros out there.
 
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Joe V
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saluk wrote:
I play board games for interaction, but I don't require that all of that interaction be codified into rules. I can see why that might be important to you - but there are games with far less interaction than Alhambra. You can keep pretty good track of what color money people have, which can inform your choice to buy a tile they may need using less than exact change or save up. Also, do you really need that tile for your city, or are you just trying to keep it from your opponent?

Indirect, sure, and I can see how you might not like this style of play, but at our table the trash talk and "oh no, that was my tile" masks any lack of direct interaction options.

I don't think Alhambra is the best game ever, but it's high on my list. It has been fun every time I've played, it's quick to teach to new players, and it has a fairly fixed time limit which is pretty rare for these kind of games.

I also can't seem to find a way to win, making me feel it leans more on strategy than luck.

You asked why we like this game, this is why I like it. I know the feeling you have though where you play a well rated game and it just doesn't click. I have games I've played like this. Sometimes it clicks after a few more plays, and sometimes I just write it off. From what you've said this sounds like one you are just going to write off

It felt like multiplayer solitaire. The effect that I can have on another player or that they can have on me is existent, but it is NEGLIGIBLE compared to the effect that luck of the draw has. My real question was more "How can this game be so highly rated next to games that are... just so much better?" And I think I've answered my own question: Alhambra is not the only game with this concept. But it is by far the most popular. I think its popularity is largely to do with the fact that it is a leftover board game back from when it and Catan were the only things to play and I think it's just coasting on that.

jedimusic wrote:
If you don't think Alhanbra is interactive check out the new Tabletop episode on YouTube. It's about as interactive as most Euros out there.


Dude... come on, you've got to be kidding. Puerto Rico, Imperial, Imperial 2030, Dune, Dominare, Courtier, Mercante, Tulipmania, Chicken Caesar, Glory to Rome, Hannibal, even in Seven Wonders you are GUARANTEED the ability to impact your teammates, Tzol'kin, even Kingsburg, Tigris & Euphrates, Smallworld, Magnifico, Lancaster, Troyes, Tammany Hall. I honestly can't think of a single board game that is considered a Euro that is LESS interactive. Unless you consider Nuns on the Run a Euro, which I certainly do not.
 
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Darcy Hartwick
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It's funny, I've played this game 4 or 5 times and felt it was a decent game with potential. Then I read the OP and found myself agreeing with his points, even though I still felt the game was alright. It's especially strange because excessive luck (usually dice) is my biggest gripe about games, and lack of player interaction is not an uncommon complaint either.

So why did alhambra still work for me?

I guess I actually see the game as more of a tactical decision making plus press-your-luck game. There are enough different angles of play that it doesn't feel monotonous or obvious. It is kind of annoying to pick up some money and learn by your next turn that a different colour should have been taken, or to see clutch tiles flipped only to be purchased before you get the chance, but by and large you can roll with the punches and optimize your turns or press your luck as you choose.

To me this is not too far off of seven wonders on the luck/strategy vector. Knowing what my opponents are doing can help - but I can't really plan very far ahead, and I'm making a decision each turn based on limited options - options which differ from what each opponent has seen.



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