‘Alhambra’ board game review
By Ed Appleby, Senior Columnist
I find that most Eurogames take a lot of inspiration from very specific places and events in history, and not the kind of big events that you would expect—be it building power grids in modern Germany, to building rail lines during the early ages of steam in Germany. In fact, a lot of games take place in Germany. Let’s see what was happening in Medieval Spain.
Alhambra (2003) is a tile placement game for two to six players designed by Dirk Henn and published by Queen Games. In the game, it is 1278 CE and you are tasked with constructing the sprawling fortress of Alhambra in Granada. You purchase buildings using one of four different currencies and place them in such a way that all sections are accessible by foot. Points are scored three times during the game, with players scoring based on who has the most of each type of building.
Alhambra has a lot of thematic and mechanical similarities to Carcassonne (2000)—which also involves constructing a massive medieval Mediterranean fortress using tile placement—just with economic considerations in place of worker placement mechanics. The three scoring phases in Alhambra occur somewhat randomly during play and add a significant amount of chance and luck to the game.
I felt that Alhambra lacks some of the gravity of its peers. It isn’t rigid enough to utilize long-term strategy, and it lacks the complexity that would allow multiple ways of winning. In the end, Alhambra feels more like a footrace with too much luck involved. Though I wouldn’t call Alhambra a bad game by any stretch, I just feel that there are better games with better mechanics out there.