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Subject: Alhambra: a review rss

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Ed Sherman
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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Alhambra has been out for a while now (it was the 2003 Spiel des Jahres) and has had several expansions -- I won't review the expansions this time out, only the basic game.

Alhambra is a reworking of Dirk Henn's earlier game Stimmt So, a stock trading game IIRC. It is a tile/laying majority control game at its heart with a little bit extra. Basically, you're buying tiles of several different colors to get majority control in those colors. However, there are a few interesting points:

1) When you buy a tile, you don't get change back. You do get a bonus (an extra action) for using exact change.

2) You don't get to move your tiles around whenever you want. If you want to move a tile, it goes into your reserve (one action) and then back into your play area (another action).

3) Scoring doesn't happen at set times, but when the scoring card comes up in the deck. (If you've ever played Union Pacific, it's the same thing)

It's an interesting game, and it combines quite a few mechanics pretty well. The problem is that it's a pretty fiddly game with a lot of downtime -- there really isn't anything you can do if it isn't your turn and the problem gets worse with more players. The box says 2-6, but I really wouldn't play this with five or six. I'm also not a big fan of the two-player version, which introduces a phantom third player so I'll say this 2-6 player game is really only a 3-4 player game for me.

Anyway, a decent game for the price (I got it on sale, but I don't know what it's going for now) but not the best SdJ winner in recent years. (My rating: 7/10)
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Jeremy Carlson
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Wheaton
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Nice review. Short and to the point, without the a lot of rules to clutter it up. This is the type of review I like to see.

I don't understand the "fiddly" thing, but that is not because of you. What do you mean by fiddly here?

I also don't find that there is a lot of downtime, because when someone purchase a tile, what is available to you changes. This makes you constantly think about what you are going to do (which is a reason I like Tikal so much).

I do agree about the number of players for the most part. 5 and 6 is not good, as it becomes way to chaotic. 3-4 is the optimum for this game. I personally like 2 players in this game, but I can understand why someone would not.

Again, good review.
 
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Ed Sherman
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First of all, thanks for the response.

I usually write reviews figuring that if you want to read the rules, you would just download them so I just give my impressions of the game.

Regarding the "fiddly" thing -- it's a poor word choice, but I find that Alhambra sometimes feels somewhat awkward in terms of how the game flows. Since the tiles up for sale change so much, studying them a lot doesn't often help because they might not be there when it's your turn. This if often made worse when one player is inexperienced and has to backtrack a lot to figure out what they want to do.

That said, I really do like Alhambra -- it does a lot of things quite well and is a great game for three players.
 
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Brian Cherry
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Obligitory Smart-Ass Comment Here
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hughthehand wrote:
I personally like 2 players in this game, but I can understand why someone would not.


I agree. I find the phantom player adds a sense of urgency to the game. without it, each player could concentrate on their preferred colors.
 
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