Alhambra Board Game Review


The Alhambra Board Game was created by the legendary Wolfgang Kramer and is played with two players, but can be adapted to work with up to six players. The game was first released in 2003 and has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award in Germany. The game pits two players against each other as they try to build the most beautiful palace (the Alhambra) out of tiles that correspond to different elements they must collect such as gardens, pavilions, towers and walls. Players score points through completing structures and by achieving an advantageous position on the board.

The game’s art-style is based on a variety of Moorish architecture from Spain’s Islamic period, which gives it an appropriate historical context for the theme. Additionally, the iconic tile-laying mechanism adds extra strategy and skill to the gameplay experience – something that has helped propel the title ever since its release. Even today, more than 15 years after its initial debut, it still remains a popular board game amongst both casual gamers and advanced board game connoisseurs alike.

Game Overview

Alhambra is a strategic game based on the construction of an Arab palace. The main objective of this game is to collect and assemble dozens of different tiles by investing wisely in the limited funds available at each turn. This award-winning game can be played with two to six players.

At the beginning of the game, each player will be given five currency cards and a small pool of additional money that they can use throughout the game. Furthermore, twelve “master builder” tiles will be placed in random order on the table, representing tiles that will be used in creating the Alhambra palace.

Gameplay revolves around taking turns choosing from four possible actions: buying tiles, reserving tiles for later purchase (or returning them for extra coins), trading money between active players, or exchanging a set number of currency cards for more coins. The first player to successfully construct their own Alhambra using all their collected tiles wins!

In a typical round within Alhambra, each player takes turns purchasing available tiled from master builder piles which represent four different types of buildings (such as walls, towers, pavilions and gardens). Players must decide which buildings will optimally complete the required walls while accruing points through card exchanges and tile placement decisions. After all players have taken their turns, any remaining tokens are replenished along with new currency cards so that play can continue until one person successfully finishes building their own Alhambra.

Core Mechanics

Alhambra is a board game created by Dirk Henn, where players compete to construct the most impressive fortress from city tiles and walls. The goal of the game is to build a complex and elaborate city layout that earns the highest score at end of play. The core mechanics of Alhambra involve collecting resources such as coins, price cards, and additional building materials to purchase the necessary components for each player’s fortress. During each turn, you can either purchase more building tiles, fill in gaps in your existing structure, or take actions that give special bonuses.

The main components of Alhambra include building tiles (which represent walls, gardens and towers), coins which are used to make purchases of them, price cards which have different prices assigned to them based on the piece you aim to buy, energy cubes which allow players to execute a specific action , and jokers which act as wildcards that can be exchanged for nearly any type of tile. Players are also given buttons at the start of play; these buttons are collected when coins are spent at certain points throughout the game and grant bonus victory points at the end.

The game has subtle nuances built-in; it is up to each player’s strategy and tactics on how they should best utilize their resources towards victory. At higher levels, players will benefit by opting for more expensive pieces for their cities later on in the game instead of making smaller purchases early; doing so will maximize their chances for earning victory point bonuses from buttons collected during play.

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How to Play

The Alhambra board game is set in Andalusia, Spain and involves the construction of an ancient palace. This classic strategy game is a blend of tile placement and resource management. The objective of the game is to build the most elaborate palace complex (Alhambra) while also trying to maximize your points by strategically expanding throughout the city.

To set up the game, each player is assigned a playing area with spaces to place their walls, towers, and gardens. Each player will receive two items from each currency: coins, gems, silk fabrics, and carpets; as well as all 12 colored “building tiles” (walls, towers and gardens). Players also receive 10 gold coins in their reserves.

Each turn begins with players taking turns drawing one of four different types of cards: gold coins, buildings or invitation cards. Gold coins are added directly to a player’s reserve whereas building tiles are placed on that player’s play area (in positions marked by red arrows on their playing boards). Invitation cards dictate available move options in terms of how many walls or towers can be purchased at any particular storehouse or how many units may be exchanged for money between two players. After purchasing buildings or exchanging money with another player (at agreed amounts), each turn ends with players adjusting their score according to purchased items and deducted coins from acquiring those items.

Points are accumulated through building structures such as walls, towers and gardens as well as bonuses for having more than one item from any given currency type at any given time (e.g., having 3 pieces of silk fabric in your reserve would give you two bonus points). The game ends when all building blocks have been spent and a final scoreboard tally reveals the winner based on highest points earned during gameplay.

Strategy and Tactics

Alhambra is a very popular strategy game that involves players building an elaborate medieval palace using tiles with patterns on them. The objective of the game is to build the largest and most appealing palace.

Strategy plays a big role in Alhambra and the different strategies can give specific players an advantage. One common strategy is for the player to focus on collecting two money sources during each round, as having money allows for more powerful moves later in the game such as constructing walls around your Alhambra or buying valuable bonuses. Also, it is important to try to use as many tiles related to various colors as possible since these count for end-game points.

Another key strategy to consider when playing Alhambra is minimizing risk; often times there will be higher cost moves at the offering that represent a potential great benefit but can have greater consequences if not played properly. Therefore, it is important to take calculated risks while balancing the advantages and disadvantages of taking certain action pieces over others.

Finally, another important aspect of playing Alhambra successfully comes with being able to recognize patterns such as certain shapes or colors on tiles that may give you an opportunity to purchase additional victory points at a discounted cost.. Thus, it is important to keep all these strategies as options throughout the game as they ultimately contribute towards improving your overall odds of winning.

Pros and Cons


• The Alhambra board game is a great family game with easy-to-learn rules and deep strategy.
• It can be enjoyed by players ranging from children to seniors, as the simple rules make it easier for those who may not have experience in board games.
• There are several versions of the game, so it is possible to find one that best suits your group’s preferences.
• The game promotes creativity and planning skills, as players must think ahead of their opponents when placing tiles into their Alhambra gardens.

• The game requires a bit more time than simpler games like Monopoly or Catch Phrase, so those looking for shorter play sessions may not find it ideal.
• Some players may feel overwhelmed by the large amount of choice presented by the different tile designs and paths they can take.
• The box can be large and heavy, making it impractical to transport if you’re attending events such as family gatherings or office parties.

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Alhambra Board Game offers a wide array of gaming variations to enhance the fun and strategizing. For example, by randomly shuffling the seven city tiles and placing them on their respective spaces on the board at the start of each game, you can vary your strategy giving different results each time. You may also alternate between “easy” rules (where you get any building piece available as long as you have enough money) with “hard” rules (where you can buy only a building piece presented at that moment).

The game can also be manipulated in terms of length. Short games may last seven rounds or less and longer ones up to twelve rounds. In fact, some players choose infinite variation – where instead of jaywalking away money for unused building pieces, further city tiles are added in every round until there are no more left in the box.

Alhambra Board Game is a very flexible game where players must always anticipate their opponents’ moves. Even when playing with the same people over and over again, Alhambra never shows same result twice given its variants and its unpredictability. With all this variability it is an ideal game for both casual gamers and more seasoned strategists!


Overall, the Alhambra board game is an exciting, thoughtful strategic game that will provide hours of entertainment for all ages. Its simple yet intricate rules make it easy to understand and play, making it a great choice for game nights with friends or family gatherings. Players can expect plenty of strategy, puzzle solving, and money management; but much like many other Euro-style games there’s no decisive winner and its end result is not always certain. The strategic decisions leading up to the game’s conclusion will be challenging and rewarding, making every play session unique. Additionally, the replay value of the game is increased by its two different sets of money cards (soft currency and hard currency). The artistic direction of this classic combo makes this a great addition to any collection! There are definitely some drawbacks such as long setup times and lack of player interaction; however Alhambra’s creative design along with its production value make it well worth considering as a fun option for your gaming night!


Despite its complexities, those who are familiar with the game, including experienced players and beginners alike, have praised it for its strategic pleasure. As with any game of this type, there are a few ways in which the Alhambra Board Game could be improved and enhanced.

One way to improve the game would be to include more varied tiles to choose from. Having more detailed pieces throughout the board would provide an even greater sense of strategy and complexity that many gamers desire. Additional components like special effects or bonus cards could also help bring additional levels of excitement and an extra element of surprise to each round. Players may also benefit by setting up features that allow them to skip over less difficult sections and jump straight into more challenging portions of the game.

By making these little improvements, playing Alhambra can continue to offer a great deal of entertainment and thrills for family members and close friends. Those who appreciate strategizing will find themselves partaking in hours of puzzling fun as they attempt to construct their respective palaces and build from their scoring points. Moreover, it creates an excellent opportunity for sit down occasions among cherished family members or trusted gaming partners that can help strengthen social relationships while indulging in enjoyable activities together.

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