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Flashback Friday - Alhambra

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Flashback Friday - Alhambra - Love It of Hate It?

Game Information

Game Name
There Will Be Games

Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

Alhambra, winner of the Spiel des Jahres 2003, is considered by some to be one of the "Big Three" German style family games that propelled Eurogames to the forefront of hobby gaming. The other two being Settlers of Catan and Carcassone.

We can quibble over whether or not Alhambra deserves to be included among the "Big Three," the extent of its influence, and its role in the trend of naming games for places. However, we cannot deny that at one point in time it was a game that every hobby gamer knew. It was one of the go-to games that you could slap down on a table and just start playing, because everyone had played and knew the rules. 

Although Alhambra has remained in print for over a decade and spawned 6 expansions, as well as the Alhambra Card Game, it seems to have faded in popularity. Where once the answer to the question, "What games introduced you to hobby gaming?" typically included Alhambra, now the answer is more likely to include Dominion or Pandemic. 

Has Alhambra not held up over the years? Or is it simply that Alhambra is not available at Target? What do you think? Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?


There Will Be Games

Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

Articles by Shellie

Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie

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quozl's Avatar
quozl replied the topic: #301693 13 Sep 2019 11:58
I played this once or twice when it was new. So boring!
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #301695 13 Sep 2019 12:39
I think that I played Alhambra once back in the day, when a couple of my friends were all into the Eurogames. Those days are a bit of a blur, because all of those low-interaction games with drab themes tend to leave only trace memories.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #301700 13 Sep 2019 13:03
Ha ha, I remember this was hard to get for a while- a SDJ winner in 2003 without an English edition or US publisher.

It’s a good game, it has that vintage Sackson/Randolph kind of feeling. Not sure if it was really SDJ material and in retrospect it seems like one of the lesser SDJ titles. Never played any of the expansions.
jpat's Avatar
jpat replied the topic: #301701 13 Sep 2019 13:17
It's mildly entertaining. It's sort of like El Grande only in the sense that it has a big-box version and a lot of expansions but they're rarely if ever played, it seems like. It has a fun spatial and tile-orientation element and an interesting thing going on with the money, but it's like a lot of these games 20 or so years into the board game renaissance: it'd be perfectly fine to play, but there's also no particular reason to.
RobertB's Avatar
RobertB replied the topic: #301703 13 Sep 2019 13:36
It was a big hit at the game club when it came out. For me, it was merely okay. I'd buy it for $5 at a garage sale, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #301705 13 Sep 2019 13:56
Jeeze. I really like Alhambra. It's one of my favorite Euros, especially when played naked (i.e., no expansions). There's two or three different factors in every decision that are all in opposition with each other, it's relatively quick and easy to teach. For the genre I think this one hits on all 8.

The expansions just add glop to the mix, a bunch of additional options that take the edge off the game. Unfortunately the only way to buy it now is the "Big Box" version which means everyone is paying double what they should be.

This was an early Tanga buy for me. Remember Tanga? It's what everyone hated before there was Kickstarter.

Yo Sagrilarus, Oct 16, 2006 at 10:47 PM

Thank you much for your purchase from Tanga.

You will soon be the recipient of 1 The Palace of Alhambra and your order number is 61. The order has been received on Mon Oct 16 19:46:07 PDT 2006 and your credit card has been charged $15.99. Your order will typically ship out within three business days so thank you in advance for your patience and your undying love.

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I paid $15.99 for this game. Those were the days.
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #301706 13 Sep 2019 14:29
Yeah, I don't get the hate. I've only ever played base Alhambra but it's perfectly fine. The currency system in it is pretty great, actually.
Chobabot's Avatar
Chobabot replied the topic: #301707 13 Sep 2019 14:32
I found it to be boring and my wife HATED it. She found it to be too constrictive.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #301708 13 Sep 2019 14:48
I can't say we still play it (the original version) BUT we'll bust out the dice game version for some easy to digest
YAHTZEE riffing fun.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #301711 13 Sep 2019 15:45
To summarize this thread:

Alhambra in 2004: rate it a 10, even top ten.

Alhambra in 2019: a weak 7.
mc's Avatar
mc replied the topic: #301713 13 Sep 2019 17:16
My partner got me this game as a present, an incident which made me start putting lists together. I didn't ask for this, it's boring, and the theme makes no sense, were my main thoughts.

Over the years I've come to appreciate it though. It's far from my favourite game but I'm happy enough to play it. It's a tight little system - exact money, playing for the majorities. I've looked at the expansions and most seem to dilute it, although with the kids we play with a "Vizier's purchase" house rule so once a game they can reserve a tile and save the despair, but that's as far as you'd want to go, I think.

Granada, with it's less set scoring has always interested me but I've got no desire to chase it up.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #301714 13 Sep 2019 17:59
Tanga, where bad games went to die, LOL.