Alhambra (board game)
Alhambra is a 2003
2003 in games
This page lists board and card games, wargames, miniatures games, and table-top role-playing games published in 2003. For video and console games, see 2003 in video gaming.-Game awards given in 2003:*International Gamers Award: Hammer of the Scots...

Tile-based game
A tile-based game is a game that uses tiles as one of the fundamental elements of play. Traditional tile-based games use small tiles as playing pieces for gambling or entertainment games...

 German-style board game
German-style board game
German-style board games, frequently referred to in gaming circles as Euro Games or Euro-style, are a broad class of tabletop games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, indirect player interaction and abstract physical components...

 designed by Dirk Henn
Dirk Henn
Dirk Henn is a German-style board game designer who was born in Bendorf, GermanyDirk Henn is best known for his game Alhambra, which won the Spiel des Jahres and placed 2nd in the Deutscher Spiele Preis in 2003....

. It was originally published in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 by Queen Games
Queen Games
Queen Games is a German publisher of tabletop games, based in Troisdorf and founded in 1992 by head Rajive Gupta, which specialises primarily in German-style, family-level games but has also published smaller numbers of both simpler, children's games and more complex, gamers' games.They have shown...

 in a language-interdependent version; an English-specific version was released in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 by the now-defunct Überplay
Überplay Entertainment was a board game publishing company located in St. George, Utah. As of April 2008, it had ceased operations. The company held three separate brands: Überplay provided family-oriented "Euro-style" board games; Inspiration Games developed games aimed at religious markets;...

. The game is an Arabian
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

-themed update, set during the construction of the Alhambra
The Alhambra , the complete form of which was Calat Alhambra , is a palace and fortress complex located in the Granada, Andalusia, Spain...

 palace in 14th century Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

, of the 1998 stock trading
Stock exchange
A stock exchange is an entity that provides services for stock brokers and traders to trade stocks, bonds, and other securities. Stock exchanges also provide facilities for issue and redemption of securities and other financial instruments, and capital events including the payment of income and...

 board game Stimmt So!, which in turn was an update of the 1992 mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 influence board game Al Capone; the original version was subsequently released as Alhambra: The Card Game.

Alhambra won the Spiel des Jahres
Spiel des Jahres
The Spiel des Jahres is an award for board and card games, created in 1978 with the stated purpose of rewarding excellence in game design, and promoting top-quality games in the German market. It is thought that the existence and popularity of the award is one of the major drivers of the quality...

 award, the Schweizer Spielepreis
Schweizer Spielepreis
The Schweizer Spielepreis is a Swiss board game award, awarded since 2002 in three categories: Family games, Children's games and Strategy games...

 for Family Games, the As d'Or
As d'Or
The As d'Or is a games award given out by a jury at the Games Festival in Cannes, France.From 1989 to 2003, a jury of journalists allotted Golden Aces by category to games presented by their editors. A special prize, the Super As d'Or, was allotted to the best game from any category.In 2004, the...

 and the Essen Feather
Essen Feather
The Essen Feather is an award for German-style board games, given at the Deutscher Spiele Preis ceremony at the Spiel game fair in Essen, Germany...

 for the year of its release and placed second in the Deutscher Spiele Preis
Deutscher Spiele Preis
The Deutscher Spiele Preis is an important award for boardgames. It was started in 1990 by the German magazine "Die Pöppel-Revue", which collects votes from the industry's stores, magazines, professionals and game clubs. The results are announced every October at the Spiel game fair in Essen,...

. Its success has led to the release of numerous expansion pack
Expansion pack
An expansion pack, expansion set, or supplement is an addition to an existing role-playing game, tabletop game or video game. These add-ons usually add new game areas, weapons, objects, and/or an extended storyline to a complete and already released game...

s and spin-off
Spin-off (media)
In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, or any narrative work, derived from one or more already existing works, that focuses, in particular, in more detail on one aspect of that original work...

 games, and is becoming Queen Games' flagship franchise.


The game consists of a deck of "currency cards" of various values in four currencies
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

Suit (cards)
In playing cards, a suit is one of several categories into which the cards of a deck are divided. Most often, each card bears one of several symbols showing to which suit it belongs; the suit may alternatively or in addition be indicated by the color printed on the card...

) and a bag of "building tiles" of various prices, as well as a number of boards (a currency market, a building market, a reserve board for each player and a scoring track). Six of the building tiles are "Alhambra tiles;" these are taken out of the bag and one is given to each player. Each player is then dealt currency cards until the total value of cards in their hand is greater than or equal to twenty. The currency cards are shuffled into five piles, and the two special scoring cards are inserted into the second and fourth piles. The five piles are then placed in order to form the currency deck. Four currency cards are drawn and placed on the currency market, and four building tiles are drawn and placed on the four spaces of the building market. The set of tiles connected to a player's Alhambra tile is called their "Alhambra."

Players then take turns, during which they may perform one of the following actions:
  • Draw currency cards – either one card of any value or multiple cards totalling five or less.
  • Buy building tiles – by discarding currency cards totalling the value of the tile or greater. Each space on the building market has a currency type next to it; all cards discarded must be of that suit. If the value of cards discarded exactly equals the price of the tile, the player gets another action. Tiles must be placed in the reserve board or attached to their Alhambra (players do not have to place tiles in the order they were purchased however).
  • Move a building tile - either from their reserve board to their Alhambra, from their Alhambra to their reserve board, or swap two tiles (one from their reserve and one currently in their Alhambra).

Currency cards and Building tiles are then added to any spaces on the Currency market or the Building market.

Some tiles have walls along one or more edges. When players add tiles to their Alhambra, it must be possible to trace a path from the new tile to the fountain that was their start tile, remaining within tiles and without crossing any walls. It is also not permitted to create "holes" such that all four sides of a gap are closed in.

When the scoring cards are drawn from the Currency deck, or when the there are fewer than four buildings remaining to be sold, scoring occurs. Each player scores one point for each wall segment in their longest wall. The player with the most of a given building card type scores points according to that type; in case of a tie, points are split between players. More common building types are worth more points, and building types are worth more points in later scoring rounds. In the final scoring round, the player with the most of a given currency type takes the tile of that currency type and may add it to their Alhambra before scoring.


Due to the original game's popularity, there are, as of April 2009, five expansion packs, termed "extensions," to Alhambra, each of which adds four "modules" to the game. These modules may be played together or separately and modules may be combined from different expansions. The extensions are designed by both Dirk Henn
Dirk Henn
Dirk Henn is a German-style board game designer who was born in Bendorf, GermanyDirk Henn is best known for his game Alhambra, which won the Spiel des Jahres and placed 2nd in the Deutscher Spiele Preis in 2003....

 and Wolfgang Panning and are named for one of its modules. These are, in order of release:
  1. The Vizier's Favor (Die Gunst des Wesirs, 2004)
    • Winning the Vizier's Favor introduces a vizier
      A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

       for each player. The vizier may be used to play out of turn. A player's vizier may be brought back into play by skipping their turn.
    • The Bureau de Change
      Bureau de Change
      A bureau de change or currency exchange is a business whose customers exchange one currency for another. Although originally French, the term bureau de change is widely used throughout Europe, and European travellers can usually easily identify these facilities when in other European countries...

      introduces special cards to the deck. These special cards allow players to mix currencies when buying tiles.
    • The Bonus Cards introduces cards which are given out to each player at the start of the game. The cards grant its player a bonus if they possess the tile on the card in their Alhambra.
    • The Worker's Hut introduces worker hut tiles. Worker hut tiles are free for the taking, but ends a player's turn. They score only if other tiles of the same colour are adjacent.
  2. The City Gates (Die Tore der Stadt, 2004)
    • The City Gates introduces six city gate
      City gate
      A city gate is a gate which is, or was, set within a city wall. Other terms include port.-Uses:City gates were traditionally built to provide a point of controlled access to and departure from a walled city for people, vehicles, goods and animals...

      s and six city gate cards to the deck. A player may during their turn pick up a city gate card, which allows them to, at a later point in time, place a city gate. City gates, which are placed on walls, allow buildings to be separated by walls while still being accessible - as if the wall did not exist.
    • The Diamonds introduces a new currency into the game: diamonds. Diamonds may be used in place of any currency when buying tiles but may not be combined with other currencies when doing so.
    • The Camps introduces eight camp tiles, which are bought as with other buildings. However, camps must be separated from the city by a wall, and may not be adjacent to each other if there is a wall in the way. Camps score points for every building tile in the direction of its walls.
    • The Characters adds ten character cards representing persons. These character cards, once uncovered, are immediately auctioned off to the highest bidder and grant the winning player different abilities, some of which are used once, some of which may be used repeatedly.
  3. The Thief's Turn (Die Stunde der Diebe, 2005)
    • The City Walls adds eight city wall cards to the deck, which allows the player to add wall segments to tiles without them. Walls added in this manner, however, cannot be removed for the remainder of the game, and may not have city gates built on them.
    • The Thieves adds 12 thief cards, which are given to the players at the start of the game. A player may play a thief card between turns (except before their own turn) and take a currency card matching the type of thief card played.
    • The Change adds coins to the game. Whenever a player overpays for a building, half of the difference is refunded in coins of random currencies. Coins are worth one unit of their particular currency, and may be used with cards to buy buildings.
    • The Street Trader adds traders and circular trader tiles. Trader tiles are given to each player at the start of the game, and are placed adjacent to any tile. If a player builds in the location of the trader tile, they may place a trader of a matching colour from the trader tile to the building (or exchange a trader for one of another color), and the trader tile is moved. There are three traders on the trader tile at any given time. Points are awarded based on the number of traders in building tiles.
  4. The Treasure Chamber (Die Schatzkammer des Kalifen, literally "The Caliphs' Treasury," 2006)
    • The Treasure Chamber adds treasure chests to the game. There are three treasure chambers, each containing four chests. At any point in the game players may buy the chests in one chamber, and place the chests on buildings in their Alhambra matching the colour of the chests. Players gain additional points for the number of chests in their Alhambra.
    • The Master Builders adds Master Builder cards, which are given to players at the start of the game. Master Builder cards may be used either as currency or may be discarded to move a building tile.
    • The Invaders adds invasion cards and scout cards to the game. Whenever scoring occurs, an invasion card is drawn. Players lose points for each building tile on the edge of their Alhambra without a wall in the direction specified by the invasion card. Scout cards may be used to look into the next invasion card, and may be taken whenever a building of the same type is bought.
    • The Bazaars adds bazaar
      A bazaar , Cypriot Greek: pantopoula) is a permanent merchandising area, marketplace, or street of shops where goods and services are exchanged or sold. The term is sometimes also used to refer to the "network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen" who work that area...

       tiles to the game. Bazaars, when drawn, are placed next to the building market, and may be bought (with exact change only) for the same price as the building of the corresponding currency type being sold. Bazaars score only in the final round of play, and score a point for each adjacent or diagonal building matching the colours on the bazaar.
  5. The Power of Sultan (Die Macht des Sultans, 2008)
    • The Caravanserai adds special Caravanserai cards to the game. Each player may buy up to two Caravanserai (which cost less if their Alhambra is more diverse). Caravanserai cards provide income to the player, and appreciates in value the longer they are unused.
    • The Art of the Moorish adds culture counters to the game. Culture counters are obtained when a player builds at least two buildings of the same cost. During a player's turn, a player may choose to develop culture, in addition to the existing actions. Victory points are awarded during normal scoring based on the number of times that culture was developed as well as the number of buildings of the same cost that has been built.
    • The new Score Cards changes the relative score values of the six basic types of buildings in each of the three scoring phases.
    • The Power of Sultan adds Sultan cards to the game. Sultan cards may be bought as with any other building. Once bought, a special die is rolled, and the building type corresponding to the rolled value (or the building type opposite to this value) is marked. When a new building is drawn, players who have marked the particular type of building may use the Sultan card to immediately claim the tile and use it.


The success of Alhambra has also led Henn to release or re-release some other games under the Alhambra name and Moorish
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

  • The Gardens of the Alhambra (Die Gärten der Alhambra, 2004) is an updated version of the tile-laying board game Carat
    Carat (board game)
    Carat is an abstract tile laying German style board game designed by Dirk Henn and published in 1993 by Queen Games and db Spiele. In 2004, after the success of Alhambra, Queen Games released an updated version of the game with an Arabian theme called Die Gärten der Alhambra.- Gameplay :The game...

    , originally released in a more abstract form by db Spiele in 1993.
  • Troisdorf (2005) is a limited, re-themed edition of Alhambra, with identical rules, set in and only sold in Troisdorf
    Troisdorf is a town in the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis , in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.-Geography:Troisdorf is located approx. 22 kilometers south of Cologne and 13 kilometers north east of Bonn.-Division of the town:...

    , the town in which Queen Games is based.
  • Alhambra: The Dice Game (Alhambra: Das Würfelspiel, 2006) is a die-rolling game
    Dice game
    Dice games are games that use or incorporate a die as their sole or central component, usually as a random device.-Collectible dice games:Patterned after the success of collectible card games, a number of collectible dice games have been published...

    , broadly similar in play to Yahtzee
    Yahtzee is a dice game made by Milton Bradley , which was first marketed by game entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe in 1956. The game is a development of earlier dice games, such as Yacht and Generala. The object of the game is to score the most points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations...


Xbox Live Arcade

A video game version
Alhambra (video game)
Alhambra is the cancelled Xbox Live Arcade version of the popular board game designed by Dirk Henn for the Xbox 360, and developed by Vivendi Games, and was to be the third designer board game to be released on Arcade, the first two being Catan and Carcassonne.The game was cancelled by Vivendi "due...

 was being developed by Vivendi Games
Vivendi Games
Vivendi Games, formerly known as Vivendi Universal Games, was the holdings company for Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment. Vivendi Games was founded as Vivendi Universal Games after Vivendi bought Universal Studios in the early 2000s...

 for the Xbox 360
Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

 console system via Xbox Live Arcade
Xbox Live Arcade
Xbox Live Arcade is a type of video game download distribution available primarily in a section of the Xbox Live Marketplace, Microsoft's digital distribution network for the Xbox 360, that focuses on smaller downloadable games from both major publishers and independent game developers...

, but has been indefinitely postponed.

External links

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