Aldabas: Doors of Cartagena

  • Designer: Nat Levan and Joshua J. Mills
  • Publisher: Grand Gamers Guild
  • Players: 1-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Time to Play: 30-45 Minutes

Hey folks! I’m back with a preview for a Kickstarter. It’s called Aldabas: Doors of Cartagena and it’s from Grand Gamer Guild. You can find the Kickstarter campaign here.

One of the first thing I notice about a home is the front door. And if that front door has an elaborate door knocker, it’s even better! Aldabas are decorative door knocks. In Spanish colonial times, aldabas in Cartagena Colombia were used to announce your job and your social status.

Grand Gamers Guild sent me a prototype of the game. As with all Kickstarters, actual components may vary with the finished product.

In Aldabas, you’re looking to get the most points at the end of the game by building your block with professionals, adding doors that give you points at the end of the game, gaining coins, and having the most influence for each the professions.. Once a player has completed their block, the coin supply has run our, or the deck has depleted and the dock can’t be replenished the game ends. The player with the most points is the winner.


Image taken from Kickstart campaign page.
  • 81 Door Cards
  • 56 Coin Tokens
  • 4 Vault Tiles
  • 1 Dock Board

Set Up

  1. Place the dock board in the middle of the table.
  2. Put 12 coins per player in a general supply. This is usually near the dock board.
  3. Shuffle the door deck and give each player 5 door cards.
  4. Give each player a vault tile.
  5. Place the door deck to the right of the dock board.
  6. Players now select one door from their hand to place secretly under their vault.
  7. Players now can keep or discard any door cards in their hand. For every door card a player discards, they get to take one coin from the supply.
  8. Deal 5 face up door cards to the dock board.
Here is the vault with one card secretly under it, the player keeps 2 cards in hand, then discards two cards for 2 coins.

Game Play

Select a player to start. On a player’s turn, they must take two actions. They can preform different actions or the same action twice. Below is the list of actions.

Take two coins.

A player takes two coins from the general supply.

Buy one door.

Claim one door from the dock board to your hand. Play any cost listed above the door card. Coins can come from your purse or vault and go back into the general supply. Slide all the door cards on the dock to the left and fill the right most spot with a new door.

Place one door.

A players block is a imaginary 4×3 grid of spaces. Your vault and the secret door inside of it is the start of your block.

Select a door card from your hand and place it in your block following these rules. After placing the door, activate the power list on it and any power of doors to the left or below the newly placed door.

  1. A door can not be placed above, besides, or below a door of the same color.
  2. A door can not be placed if the spot to the left or below is empty.

End of a players turn.

At the end of a players turn, they must discard down to 7 cards in their hand. Play then passes to the player on the left.

End of game.

The game ends when one of the following things happen. When the end game is triggered, the current player finishes their turn, then all other players get one last turn.

  1. The supply of coins runs out.
  2. A player finishes their 4×3 block.
  3. The dock can not be refilled because the deck has run out.


When scoring, follow this order to get your total points.

  1. Score 2 points for each coin in your vault. Then move the coins to your purse.
  2. Score each profession. Go through, and each player counts their influence for each profession in their block, each profession in their vault, and lastly counts each coin added to a door of that profession in their block. The player with the highest and second highest influence scores accordingly.
    1. Soldiers – Highest influence gets 3 points per noble in their block, second highest influence gets 1 point per noble in their block.
    2. Fishers – Highest influence gets 1 point per influence left in your hand, second highest influence gets 1 point per 2 influence left in your hand.
    3. Nobles – Highest influence gets 1 point per coin in your purse, second highest influence gets 1 point per 2 coins in your purse.
    4. Clergy – Highest influence gets 1 point per 3 influence in their block, second highest influence gets 1 point per 5 influence in their block. Coins on cards in your block count towards this influence.
    5. Builders – Highest influence gets 1 point per non-building in their block, second highest influence gets 1 point per 2 non-builders in their block.
  3. The player with the most total influence in their block gets 3 points.
  4. Score on-going abilities.

The player with the most points wins! In case of a tie, the tied player with the most coins in their purse is the winner.

Final Thoughts

Aldabas is a fairly quick and puzzly card game. The components I used were the prototype, so I can’t comment too much on them. I do like the box cover and the art of the door cards. The Kickstarter is a no stretch goal project. This means that there won’t be any unlocked parts of the game as it increases backers. It’s nice to see some projects do this for the game. It means that they stand behind their game without feeling like it needs to add more and more stuff to be complete. They also think that the quality is good enough for the game. What about if you back it now instead of later? Well, they do address that. If you back now, you get the base game, but deluxe components as well. From the looks of the kickstarter, it includes chunky wooden coins, 3 new profession or suits for the game, and foiled box art.

Aldabas game play is something that feels familiar and intriguing at the same time. I really like that a player has 3 different actions they can do on a turn. It seems really simple, but there are a lot of thinking through the actions. You can take coins from the supply, but if all the coins are gone the game end will trigger. Okay, I’ll buy a door then. Well, what door are you going to buy. Then you start looking around at the other players, and trying to figure out what you need to get majority influence in a profession. Then if you want to place a door, you’re trying to decide on a couple of things. First, what profession do you want to increase your influence. Then, what ability do you want to preform and where to place the door. Next, it’s what order do you want your abilities to fire off. It’s a lot to think about! I love it! I really like the games that seem so simple, but takes a while to understand all the moving pieces. That’s what you’re getting in Aldabas. A puzzly, easy to play game with a ton of options in your actions.

The restrictions to the door placement reminded me of Sagrada. Where you can’t have the same color next to each other. It just adds to the puzzle of your block. You’re picking up cards and trying to plan your future moves, either by color, ability, or profession. The first game I played, I played a couple of the doors that had me draw 3 coins, and ultimately that ended the game sooner. So the next game I picked that up, and tried to balance taking coins from the supply and buying doors.

Scoring was a bit of a walkthrough the first time playing. You’re going through the list of professions and scoring each one. So the first game you’re trying to get and win each profession. It makes sense, win more majorities and get more points. That’s what I thought. It wasn’t until scoring that first game that I realized the strategies in how to win. I thought I was doing pretty good until we got to scoring the nobles. One player shot up nearly 20 points. Then I realized you want to focus on a strategy and try to build upon that.

Overall, Aldabas is a nice tableau card game with different paths to victory. It’s one that will keep you coming back for more and discovering new strategies. It’s one I would back on Kickstart to get the deluxe components and the extra professions. There are 8 days left on the kickstarter found here.

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