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Overview

Alhambra is a German-style board game or Eurogame, and is an Arabian-themed re-imagining of the stock trading board game Stimmt So! which in turn is a re-imagining of the mafia influence board game Al Capone. Instead of influencing mafia families or buying up profitable stocks, the aim in Alhambra is to control the most powerful, well-rounded and well-defended palace. The premise of the game is based on the fabled Moorish Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.

Like the real Alhambra palace, the goal of the game is to create the most inspiring palace/fortress ever, containing many buildings all featuring different styles of architecture. The palace will also need to be properly defended by sturdy walls. The style of the game is primarily a draft game, where both the buildings as well as the currency required to buy them are revealed at random and could be scooped up in an instant.

Balance your limited resources and strategic benefits as you build the greatest Arabian palace and fortress in Alhambra. Efficiently spend your cash in 4 different currencies to buy up various building extensions. Use these extensions to grow your Alhambra from around your central fountain. Ensure that your palace is protected by sturdy walls, and dominate your competitors in all the different architectural styles.


Game Play

Players earn scores at 3 different times in the game, which are fairly evenly spread out. At each scoring event, players earn points if their Alhambra contains either the most or second most number of buildings in each of 7 architectural styles. To make things more challenging, each of the 7 building types award different amount of points.

Players will need to decide whether they want to fight others in order to get majority in the most valuable building types, or go for the less rewarding types hoping that they won't face much competition there.

Every round, each player has the option of either buying a building, or taking a currency card. You buy buildings by using 4 different currencies. There is a board with 4 slots, each representing a currency. These slots are filled by building tiles from a bag (like in Scrabble) at the start of each round. While the board slot tells you what currency to use, the building tile itself will tell you how much it costs. So if a 9 cost building tile appears in the yellow currency slot, that tile will cost 9 in the yellow currency.

Other than buying building tiles, you can use your turn to collect currency cards. Each turn, there will be 4 randomly revealed currency cards of different types and values, and you are allowed to take either 1 currency card, or any number of currency cards with a total value of 5 or less. And contrary to conventional wisdom, taking a currency card with a high value might not be the best idea. The thing is, if you manage to buy a building tile using a combination of currency cards totaling the exact cost of the building, you get to perform another free action. So what do you do with the building tiles that you buy? Each turn that you buy a building tile, you must either place it in your Alhambra, or in a reserve section (You will need to use another turn to grab the tile out of the reserve).

There are a few rules regarding the placement of these tiles. They must be connected to your existing tiles, and their edges must match their neighbors. So an edge with a wall must be placed next to a tile whose connecting edge is also a wall. Similarly, open edges must be placed next to open edges. In addition, you must be able to walk from your central fountain to every building tile in your Alhambra, and you can't walk through walls.

There is a fair amount of strategy involved in the game. Firstly, you will need to decide which of the 7 architectural styles you want to focus on, and that will depend on what your opponents are doing. In terms of individual building tiles, the tiles with walls generally cost less than those without.

Buying them can be risky though, as you might end up enclosing your Alhambra and be unable to expand. However, you also score points depending on how long your longest continuous wall is. And you have to consider all these while bearing in mind that the scores will be tallied at 3 specific scoring events.


Conclussion

Alhambra is a pretty easy game to learn, since its mechanics are very straightforward and there isn't much that you have to worry about or keep track of. It is also a reasonably fast game, and can be played in about an hour. It serves as a great party game or as an introduction to the more sophisticated strategy board games.