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Subject: As an "intro" game rss

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Eric Lord
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I was having guests over. I knew they liked playing light board games (hear: scategories, monopoly and trivias), but forget about theme-heavy dungeon crawlers or complicated mind-exhausters. Still, I wanted to introduce them to something a little more..... you know what I'm talking about.

While Alhambra had always been there at the FLGS, it had never jumped in my hands the way other games tend to. After much discussion with the owner, I was down to three choices: Scotland Yard(I know, I should have this one already..), Thurn and Taxis and Alhambra. I put aside SY for theme reasons (girlfriend's opinion matters..) and T&T seemed like there was little to no player interaction.

I was looking for something that pleases all. Alhambra is good for that.
But boy did it ever turn out to be a party-killer. The only game I own that draws more silence is Bazaar.

So the guests arrived, had a beer, chatted, how are things? Good for you. So, you said you wanted to play a game? I've got one you might be interested in.

Luckily, explaining was done right before I felt they would get suspicious. Oof! One point for Alhambra! Simple, clear, less than 10 minutes for explaining rules AND including a few basic strategies.

So we began. Now, I had tried the game before, with my girlfriend, and it seemed alright. That's probably because we're used to chatting and playing at the same time. The non-gamers, though, had 100% of their attention on counting who had how many of what and how many of what did they need to have more this than he has of that.

First point-counting: My lead was horrifying in terms of building points. I was in the thirties and everyone was lagging behind. Luckily, we counted walls and I had very few points there. I decided to slack a bit. I know, might be ethically wrong, but hey..

Second point-counting: I was still strong, but my girlfriend took advantage of my slacking and passed me. Which was good in a "ooh tides can turn!"-kinda way. The non-gamers were still lagging.

Endgame counting: Surprise! One of them actually bought all purple and white available (he had finally understood the whole "don't necessarily buy EVERYTHING strategy) and ended up winning.

Conclusion: We all had an OK time, but it never lifted like in a bunch of other games. Next time, I'm trusting my initial judgement and going for Catan.
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Billy McBoatface
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Lexington
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I haven't played T&T, but your "too little player interaction" comment is one I use with Alhambra. It's complexity level and luck level make it all right for a gateway game, but as you found, it doesn't encourage players to directly interact. The most you can do is take away somebody's lead in gardens. That's why I like Settlers so much as a gateway...you are forced to talk to your other players, and you can directly help (by trading with them) or hinder (by dropping the robber on them).
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Joe Grundy
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Nice to see my feeling on this replicated. Not really a great intro game, I think. There's no dialog generating aspects to this game... it has a low social factor.
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Eric Lord
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wmshub wrote:
I haven't played T&T, but your "too little player interaction" comment is one I use with Alhambra.


Mmhmm, my thoughts exactly. I forgot to write it, but that's one of the main things I wanted to add.
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Wasp Factoryman
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We really enjoy playing Alhambra and frequently see it hit the table to much applause. I'm not sure what you mean by little player interaction. We have played 2-player Ticket to Ride Europe and found it dreadfully 'uninteractive' and consequently stale and boring (of course the new Switz board for 2-player is an excellent amendment). Alhambra never fell into this catergory. It always provides excitement and fraught finishes throughout its many twists and turns.
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Eric Lord
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Well, I do agree that it's a good game. We've played it a few times since and it's good fun, even with two players. I think this is definitely one that gets better and better with every play.

The problem we had here was that it ended up being a bad intro (or gateway) game. Our guests spent the whole duration calculating and waiting. Now I'm afraid they won't feel like trying anything more complicated or a notch heavier.

In our situation, it turned out to be a bad choice. But it's still a very good game.
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