During a recent www.minaturemarket.com visit, I saw there was a new arrival of Alhambra: The Dice Game. By the time I had gone back to the page later that day, it had already sold out. Luckily, I live near Six Feet Under Games and it was in-stock there, so I grabbed the last copy on the shelf.
I should note at this point that I had done no research on Alhambra: The Dice Game or even played Alhambra prior to making the purchase. I bought it because I figured it must be good since it sold out so quickly, and I wanted an excuse to use my new dice tower. At a retail price of $20 USD, I figured it was worth the gamble.
The nice part about Alhambra: The Dice Game is that if you do own Alhambra, it can be added onto it as a supplemental game. Since I do not own Alhambra, I’ll be reviewing the dice game as its own entity and gameplay. If you want to play it as an addition to alhambra, you simply flip the game board over and use the extra instruction book provided.
ATDG is for 2-6 players, comes with a double-sided playing board, wooden markers, cardboard chips, 8 white dice, 1 black die, and a leather dice cup. The pieces feel like the standard Euro components, not cheap, but nothing extraordinary. The leather cup feels well-made and the stitching looks nice. In my instance, I received 1 extra white die, I’m not sure if this is on purpose in case you lose one or if I just won the dice lottery. The box seems pretty large for what it needs to hold (e.g. wooden markers, a cup and a board), so I may end up trying to find a wooden box to store it in (see making custom boxes).
Gameplay is a mixture of luck of the dice and strategy of trying to determine the best buildings to invest in. You get up to 3 rolls to try to get as many of the same colored buildings as you can. The more of the same colors you can get in the least amount of rolls, the better. Once you’re done rolling, you mark how many dice of what color building you got and in how many turns. If your opponent(s) rolls the same number of buildings in fewer rolls, they take the lead for that building type.
As there are 6 sides of each die, you can invest in 6 different colored buildings. Once you’ve used up all of your turns, the round is over and if it’s round 1, 3, or 5, you total up scores. If you had the best rolls for a building color, you can choose to take 2 building points or 1 building point and then take 1 bonus chip.
Chips can be used as points at the end of the scoring rounds, to alter building points, rolls, etc. You often have to do the math to determine if you’d be better off taking the bonus chip, or trying to secure your place in the lead. Going from left to right, the buildings are worth more points, and the gap between 1st and 2nd place scoring gets larger as the game progresses.
Overall, Alhambra: The Dice Game is a nice standalone game if you enjoy dice rolling. If I end up buying Alhambra, I’ll write an additional review of how it plays as an expansion. The game itself is well-made and the gameplay is a fine mix and luck and strategy. The box is a bit bulky for what it needs to hold, so you may want to invest in smaller storage for it if you’re running out of board game storage space. If you have a chance, definitely check it out.