Almadi is all about a Sultan wanting his trusted advisers to build the new realm of Almadi in order to honour his wife Sheherazade. Now it doesn’t use the word Grand Vizier, but I guess everyone kind of skirts around using that job title. ‘Oh, you’re the sultans chief advisor? Oh, but you’re not Grand or the Vizier? But what about that snake staff you have? Or the wonderful eyeliner? Or the talking parrot? Oh, you want me to go away? Ok..’
So let’s just leave it that you’re important in a not-usurping-the-throne kind of way, definitely not an architect of destruction and you’re certainly not seeking the diamond in the rough to find some dirty lamp you can give the once over to.
Almadi is all about the tile laying and planning. It’s a game that rewards the final game state rather than a points as you go Euro and so your aim is to lay tiles into a form that groups tiles together, or has them linked in a way that you score the maximum number of points for your vision of your realm of Almadi.
It’s very very easy to learn to play. You’re simply taking a tile from one of the rows of supply numbered one to four and your placing that tile in the same row on your own game board. Each of the tiles will contain either an icon that represents an action that you can take or an arrow that triggers the action if it is touching an action icon. Some of the icons like the Mosaic and Stall cards will come into play on final scoring. Rubies give you points at the end of the game based on the number you collect, while objective crescent moons give you the chance to pick up valuable objective tokens that will give you more scoring opportunities. The most useful icon is the genie, which allows you to move any of your previously placed tiles and place them elsewhere in your current tile set up, gaining any new effects that you create. If you want to spice things up, you can bring in character cards that give asymmetrical powers to the players and increases the options for tweaking the state of your individual game realm.
So while Almadi can seem relatively straightforward, what makes it work well is the restriction of the number of available tiles that can be chosen, and playing with more players mean that sometimes you can be left with dealing with the best of a bad choice and making do with what you have on offer. I like the restrictions of the tile choice, it’s a clever touch that makes you think on most of your turns as you try to plan ahead and often you sacrifice picking the obvious choice for the sake of picking a genie just to allow you to get your house in order. Hats off to Mathieu Bossu and Francois Gandon for including handy player aids to remind you not only what each of the effects do, but more importantly the end game scoring, as there is a fair bit to remember and contemplate as you build your realm. Once players know what they are doing, the game can rattle along at a decent pace as players pick their tiles, and there would be nothing worse that that ‘halting the game for a rules check’ moment.
Victor Dulon has picked some strong colour choices while illustrating Almadi, and once you approach the end of game state, there is a rainbow of colour in front of you for the collection of palaces, stalls oasisessiseises (I think that’s right) and palaces. The mosaic tiles look wonderful and combined with the stall cards and plastic jewels, Almadi has a colourful and charming presence on the table. Bear in mind that because everyone will have their own realm to deal with, it’s going to take up a reasonable mount of space on the table. especially at the higher player counts. In its favour, you’re not going to be spending hours at the table with Almadi, though it might take some math skills to work out your final score (It won’t, I’m just thick).
Almadi is a colourful looking tile laying scoring wonder that doesn’t take long to learn but has enough complication to it to keep point salad fans happy. It won’t take up an afternoon to play and has some interesting mechanics to keep it fresh and keep it coming back to the table. Pleasantly surprised by this one. Delicious.
Designer – Mathieu Bossu and Francois Gandon
Illustrations – Victor Dulon
Graphic Design – Fabrice Del Rio Ruiz
Development – FunnyFox
Translation – Board Game Circus
Hachette Games can be found on https://www.hachetteboardgames.co.uk/
Funnyfox Games can be found at https://funnyfox.fr/en/#ANCRE3
This review is based on the final retail version of the game provided to us by games distributor Hachette Games. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.