Playing time: 45 minutes
Cost: £25 (ish)
Alhambra is a game in which you collect money (in cards of four different colours), buy tiles showing garden buildings, and then use these to create your own Alhambra garden. You score points for having the most of particular types of buildings, added up at three times during the game.
It’s a pretty straightforward game which is easy to pick up. Although it is competitive, it doesn’t require all players to be concentrating at exactly the same time. Each player is focused on building their own Alhambra from their own tiles in front of them, and unless you are carefully memorising the value and colour of the money cards your opponents are picking up*, you can happily give the baby your full attention between turns.
The fact that the money is in card form rather than coins makes it particularly suitable for parents of older babies and toddlers – no small coin pieces to choke on. However, it can be hard keeping all your cards in one hand, and even harder to pick them out and use them with just that hand. If you’re breastfeeding, hide your cards behind a strategically placed book or on the chair next to you. Although there are counters to keep track of players’ scores, which are the right size to be swallowed by curious babies, it would be easy to keep score using pen and paper instead.
I realise that this review sounds a little flat. Actually, Alhambra is an old favourite of mine, and I really enjoy working out how to arrange the tiles so that I can get both the longest external wall and the optimal number of buildings. It’s a comfortable, reassuring game.
Summary: reliable and interesting, and requires surprisingly little attention between goes.
* I don’t know anyone who actually does this. I certainly don’t, and I quite often win.