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Subject: Alhambra in Japan Game 3 rss

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Angry Augury
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While visiting my girlfriend's brother and his fiance, they asked me to bring Alhambra so we could play it again. They had tried it a couple times before and really liked it so I think everyone was interested in getting back into it. Because of this, I decided to add more options from the Big Box to shake things up.

Set Up:

Base Game + Magical Buildings + Change + Diamonds + Camps + Vizier's Favor

Player Order:

Green - Brother's Fiance
Yellow - Girlfriend
Blue - Me
Orange - Girlfriend's Brother

This was the first time for us to use the Camps and Vizier's Favor but Change and Diamonds are now a staple for our games. Unfortunately, two of the four starting tiles were Camps and I think that caused a lot of hesitation to make any purchases. So each turn went by with people taking Currency Cards and leaving the buildings where they were. Finally, I bought one of the Camps, putting it in the reserve for later in the game and Green bought and placed the first game tile: a Garden, appropriately enough.

To our surprise, the first scoring card came up right after that so Green was the only player to get points thanks to that lone tile.

Fortunately, after that scoring round, the pace picked up with a lot of purchases. By now we all had a ton of Currency in our hands so the buying was a bit of a frenzy. This really made the Vizier's Favor a useful tool to grab up some hot property as it likely would not last a whole turn cycle. Yellow, Orange, and I used our Favors once during this second scoring round.

I ended up placing my Camp (with arrow pointing down) at the top of my Alhambra but I sadly capped it off with a bottom wall only three tiles deep. I regretted that for a long time but it turned out that my Alhambra would never grow wider than three tiles deep for the rest of the game.

When the second scoring card came up, we were all finally on the board. All the players grabbed a decent chunk of points thanks to the shopping spree this round but I managed to get a 20 point lead over second place thanks to having snagged the most Chambers and Towers, plus a decently constructed wall and the 3 points allotted to me by the Camp.

During the final, and longest, scoring round, things got a bit more intense. Now I had to keep an eye out to make sure the other players didn't surpass me in Chambers or Towers as Orange in particular had two very well placed Camps giving him a nice chunk of bonus points.

My girlfriend, Yellow, who usually wins the games of Alhambra when we play, was having a rough time this game. Her usually neatly designed walled city was a bit of a jumbled mess. I think the addition of the Camps was throwing off her typical design style. However, she did manage to get three Camps lined up in a step-like order leading to a lot of overlapping bonus points.

At one point during the start of this round, I managed to buy out all the tiles on the board for just about all of my money which really expanded my Alhambra in a good way. After that, I had to play slow and build up my funds again, as well as prep my Vizier's Favor for another use in the future, which I did make the most of. Orange also got a second use out of his, taking one of the Magical Buildings when it appeared.

Finally, with the building tile bag emptied, Orange bought a Seraglio for himself to extend his already massive wall and to bring the game to a close. This worked out against him as he ended up with the most currency of EVERY color, which gained him great buildings in the final auction including a tower that could have tied him for second place of Towers but, thanks to that last Seraglio, he had no open space to add these new additions so they were wasted.

Our final Alhambras looked like this:

Me - 1 Blue, 1 Red, 1 Brown, 5 White, 3 Green, 5 Purple, 2 Camps (+10) (20 Walls) 128 Points
GF's Brother - 3 Blue, 4 Red, 2 Brown, 3 White, 1 Green, 2 Purple, 2 Camps (+9) (22 Walls) 109 Points
Girlfriend - 2 Blue, 1 Red, 4 Brown, 1 White, 3 Green, 3 Purple, 3 Camps (+15) (7 Walls) 108 Points
Fiance - 2 Blue, 1 Red, 3 Brown, 4 Green, 2 Purple, 1 Camp (+5) (16 Walls) 80~90 Points (Didn't take note.)

This session was really fun and I liked the addition of the Vizier's Favor. The Camps added an extra level of strategy in planning the Alhambra but the addition of the new tiles does add to the playtime of the game. The other players had fun, too, except my girlfriend was upset to come in third place behind her brother by just one point. Oh, the sibling rivalry.

I'm wondering if I should add in the expansion that randomizes which buildings are worth the most points. It may add just enough randomness that forces players to try to be balanced in their purchases. It would certainly change things up a bit.
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