Gardens of the Alhambra

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Cost: as part of a set which is around £80

Last year, we went to Essen for the trade show which happens every October, and we picked up a Big Box Of All The Alhambra Games Ever. I exaggerate only slightly, as it was indeed called the Big Box and contained Alhambra (the original), Granada, Gardens of the Alhambra, and travel Alhambra. We still haven’t played the travel game.

Of the four, Gardens of the Alhambra is the simplest. The board is laid out with little diamond-shaped buildings, and players place larger tiles in the spaces between them. The tiles show differing numbers of yellow (lemon), purple (lavender), green (palm) and orange (um, orange) trees and the players are trying to surround the highest value building with their type of tree.

It’s pretty straightforward, but also allows huge potential for players to completely screw each other over. Most of the joy of the game comes from the fact that in surrounding one building with your own trees, you are accidentally-on-purpose ruining another player’s chances with the neighbouring building.

The fact that it’s easy makes it a good game to play while looking after a baby. It doesn’t have any very small pieces, just tiles and some large counters for scoring, so it’s relatively safe for grabbing babies. There are no cards to keep hidden. However, unless you’re playing it aggressively (which probably means quickly), it can get a bit dull.

Summary: good enough and fun enough, but there are more exciting games out there.

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