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Classic WGR review originally written March 17th 2007:Overall: an excellent tile game, unique gameplay, fairly quick, lots of fun.
Players complete to build the best Alhambra (big palace like structure with lots of diff buildings). This is done buy playing tiles. Each tile represents a building in the Alhambra. There are 8 different coloured buildings. Players score points for having the most of a colour of building in their Alhambra in three different scoring rounds.
Players take turns doing one of three actions. They use money in hand to buy new tiles, they take new money into their hand, or they rearrange their Alhambra. If when buying new tiles the players plays exactly the right price they get an extra turn. When taking money they can take any number of cards with a total of 5 or less, or one card with a total of 6 or more.
Alhambra's are built by laying tiles. Players start with a plaza and add around that. The building tiles often have walls on them, these make building interesting, as all buildings must be placed so that a person on foot from the plaza could get to them, so no walls blocking the path. The walls also serve another purpose, they are worth points during each scoring round. With 1 point awarded for each wall section in a chain.
Excellent packaging and full sized cards. I love games where everything has a place when putting them away for the night, and you don't have to worry about bits falling all over the place. I also love decks of cards that are card sized. More unique gameplay. The one thing that stuck out the most about my last few games, were the fact they are very different from what's out there. This was a tile game that didn't feel like Carcasonne. Very competitive. You will spend a lot of time trying to decide if you should take the tile you need, or take a tile you know your opponent will want so they can't have it. Same with the money. Pretty quick to learn, it's a bit hard to explain but the rules are short and quick to learn once playing. It won't take more then 2 rounds to get it.
The wall rule seems hard to remember. The fact that walls need to go next to other walls or blank spaces when building your Alhambra seems to get forgotten. Contrived 2 player rules. It's a good game two players, but you have to toss in a third imaginary player and give them tiles. It changes the feel of the game quite a bit and as mentioned just seems contrived.
For everything I like about the way everything packages up for this one, I hate the box size. I am getting really sick of companies putting out games in odd sized boxes that don't fit well on shelves with your older games. I miss the days of Avalon hill when everything was a standard size and everything looked great next to each other.
Another welcome game for my collection. This is my second Queen game and I am very impressed by their presentation and packaging (except for the dumb box size that doesn't fit well on shelves). An excellent tile game, even better then Carcasonne and Tigris and Euphates.
My thoughts now, over 5 years later:
Well I think the fact that we decided to break this out for a Gaming in the New Year party to welcome in 2013 is a great indication that this game is still getting play at my table. I still really enjoy this one. I'm still not a big fan of the two player rules but I love it with three or more. It plays just as well with 3 or 6 players. I also find that that 'odd' wall rule isn't as hard to remember as I found at first. Now many years later some of the mechanics in Alhambra are still unique, which is cool to see. It also looks like Queen Games might have read my review since the box has been changed to a more traditional shape on the latest printing. I think my only regret regarding this game over all those years is that I don't break it out enough and I never actually picked up any of the really cool looking expansions.