(Anton, Lisa, Eric, Rich)
The tabletop baseball series finished. Paul H. went home while Walt joined us to make 7. We split into two groups. One group chose Alhambra from the MVGA game cabinet. This 2003 Game of the Year winner has been popular at MVGA; it's tied for third on our overall popularity list. The club copy is the English language version with brighter colors and green money. The original German version had red, orange and yellow money that was hard to distinguish when your attention flagged, so I like the English version best, even though there are no language issues that affect game play.
Lisa and Eric started the game with fists full of small cards while Rich and Anton had only four cards each. Rich started and was able to buy tiles early. We all found exact purchasing options, so that our compounds soon had five or six tiles each. Rich had a big wall started while Eric had several disconnected sections. Anton had few wall tiles but was collecting greens and whites. Lisa bought four purple towers in her first six purchases, giving her a monopoly on purple but few prospects in other colors. Scores at the first scoring: Rich 16, Lisa 8, Eric 7, Anton 3.
In the second third of the game, we extended our compounds. Rich, Anton and Eric competed for red, brown, white and green tiles, and Rich and Eric each got a purple tower to tie for second; it doesn't matter how far behind the leader you are when the scoring card comes up. Rich's wall was now well into the double digits, but his opponents simply could not connect. Scores at the second scoring: Rich 50, Eric 32, Lisa 30, Anton 24.
We had a bit of a lull during the final third of the game; our hands had run down and we took time to restock. There were a number of over-payments on the part of Lisa and Anton, and when we finally ran out of tiles, the auction delivered tiles to Rich, Eric and Lisa, but Lisa had no room to place hers. Eric had built his wall up to 12 and had edged Rich out in purple, brown and white, but it wasn't enough to catch up, given Rich's larger wall and his lead from the second scoring.
Final scores: Rich 120, Eric 111, Anton 78, Lisa 69.
Eric's rating: 8. When you first play Alhambra you think it's a game of luck with no control, but there's more control than you realize. It can still be frustrating when you can't get the tile you want (or even worse, when the tile you have your eye on is bought before your turn by a player who is overpaying for it,) but it's quick and the luck is tolerable in a game of this length.