G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:
Incredible but true - QUUEN GAMES has released the fifth expansion for its best-selling award-winner Alhambra. In Die Macht des Sultans ("The Power of the Sultan") you will once again find four small modules, just like the contents of all other expansions so far. All expansions follow the same principle that only small details of the basic game are changed, but nevertheless this can modify the gameplay enormously. Of course, with a perfect game like Alhambra the question may be asked whether expansions are really necessary, but I always understood these expansions as nice add-ons that can be brought into play to add new aspects to the game- However, as an important rule none of these modules really destroys the basic game concept and so they only bring minor changes to allow the players to try new strategies.
- In the first module included with this expansion brings new scoring tables that replace the original scorings. Three scoring tables are randomly drawn out of the 18 cards at the beginning of the game. These scoring tables with the six building types are put aside a scoring overview. So the value of a building type is not only different from the original game but it changes with every scoring and in every new game. So, it is possible that for example a tower is the wealthiest building in the first scoring but only the fourth wealthiest building in the last scoring. This makes the scorings less predictable, and is a hard challenge for players who do know the basic game very well and are used to its scorings. Nevertheless it is a quite interesting alternative.
- In the module Die Karawanserei ("The Caravanserai") there are eight new disks that can be bought as building disks. The price of this caravanserei disks is determined by the number of different building types a player already has in his Alhambra. With four different types the caravanserei costs eight, with five four and with all six different building types the price is only two. Always at the beginning of his turn the player may move a token on this disk one step further. This gives him the ability to use the disk as money indicated as a symbol with the colour of the money and the value on every field of the disk. With advancing tokens the disks value increases. When the player has used the money, the token is put back on the first space of the disk again and the collection of money starts anew. The module is a typical example of the expansions, because it does not really take a hand in the game mechanism, but gives the players more possibilities to act. It works well, but you do not really need it to win the game.
- Die Künste der Mauren ("The Art of the Moors") is a little bit more complicated. A player who has two or more buildings with the same price may take a corresponding culture disk. He can do so for every price with two or more buildings. The hexagonal disks are placed at a docking strip, so that the value zero is on top at the edge of the docking strip. Then the player marks the number of his buildings with the price of the disk by putting a little token on the corresponding hexagon of the disk. If there are more possible hexagons, he places it on the one with the highest value. This token is adjusted with every change of the buildings in the Alhambra. Players with a culture disk have the possibility of a special action as they may develop the culture by rotating the disk by one position, but not further than the hexagon with the token on it. The number on the hexagon adjacent to the strip represents the victory points at every scoring of the game. Unlike the other modules I described before, this module is very important to have if you want to win the game. It is really a big advantage, especially if you are in a position to get and rotate the disk early in the game. Then you have a big advantage in all following scorings. I like this module best in this expansion.
- Last but not least there is the module Die Macht des Sultans ("The Power of the Sultan"). Three sultan cards are shuffled together with the first and third and two cards with the second stack of money cards at the beginning of the game. Once a sultan card is turned over, it is laid next to the building yard. A special building dice is rolled and the result (a kind of building) is marked on the sultan card. Open sultan cards can be bought like buildings for a price of seven. The card is put in front of the player and he then has a chance to re-roll the building dice if he wants to. Sultan cards give the player the possibility to get a building even when its not their turn. The only requirement is that the building is of the same kind like the building dice on the sultan card. The player then may take the building in exchange for his sultan card before another player can buy it the normal way. This can be quite helpful to get a very important building, especially in a multiplayer game. For few players the module does not make much sense, because the price for the card is quite high and the danger, that you otherwise might miss an important building is lower.
Overall, the fifth expansion of Alhambra is amongst the best of these expansion sets. All modules included match the basic game concept and only moderately introduce new game elements. Even if you are not fed up with the basic game and all of its previous expansions you should have a try. Players with all expansions then now have twenty different modules which can be added. This is quite a lot, but it is always interesting to try another combination of modules. I have a feeling that this might be the last expansion, because QUEEN GAMES now are selling the expansions together with the basic game in a very huge box. But you should not be too sad, because with all expansions you now have 2432902008176640001 combinations to play the game. That really should be enough for a players life. And who knows... Maybe Queen Games will hear the calls and send you another expansion one day. I wish you good luck!