Imhotep Review

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Imhotep

  • Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
  • Publisher: KOSMOS
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 10+ but I can see this being as young as 8+
  • Time to play: 40 Minutes

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Hey folks! Back again with another game review! This time, we’re heading to Egypt! We’re becoming builders of Egypt! Architects of the pyramids. We’re cutting stone, shipping it, and then building the monuments of Egypt.

First, a little history. Imhotep, which the game is names after, was vizier, sage, architect, astrologer, and chief minister to the second king in the third dynasty. Djoser. Imhotep is believed to be the architect of the oldest existing hewn stone step pyramid located necropolis of Saqqarah.

Okay, little history lesson is over. Imhotep the game is an area majority, set collection, and delivery game. It is played over 6 rounds. The player with the highest points win.

Components

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Imhotep comes with 120 wood blocks, 34 market cards, 21 round cards, 8 ships tokens, 5 double sided site boards, 4 supply sleds, and 1 score

  • Ships – Show spaces for how many stones can fit on it, and then shows how many stones are needed to ship it out.
  • Market Cards – These change scoring, are used for set collection, and can be played to do two actions in one turn.

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    • Red Cards – Immediately place one of your stones from the quarry at the location when drawn.
    • Green Cards – These give you bonus points at the end of the game for every 3 stones you have at the target location.
    • Purple Cards – At the end the game, you’ll get points based on how many of these you have collected.
    • Blue Cards – These are one use cards that are used in place of your action on your turn. Each one lets you take two actions.

Set Up

To set Imhotep up, first determine the number of players for the game.

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For the first couple of games, set the 5 site boards up using the A side.

  1. Set the scoring track board to the right of the site boards.
  2. Set the 8 ship tokens near the board.
  3. Shuffle the market cards and place the face down deck next to the market board.
  4. Depending on the number of players, you’ll use the round cards that match players. Remove one card without looking at it, then shuffle the remaining 6 cards. These will tell you what ships to use for a round.
  5. Each player selects a color. Takes the supply sled board and take one of the wooden blocks of the same color. The rest of the blocks go to the right of the site boards to form the quarry. Place your color wood block on the 0 space of the scoring track board.
  6. Select a first player. They get 2 stones of their color and places it on their supply sled. Next player gets 3 stones, then next player gets 4 stones, and last player gets 5 stones.

Game Play

Each round begins with drawing a round card. This tells you what size ships are used. Next you fill the market board.

On a players turn, they preform one of the four different actions. Get new stones, place 1 stone on a ship, sail 1 ship to a site, or play 1 blue market card.

  1. Get new stones – Take 3 stones of your color from the quarry and place them on your supply sled. You can’t have more than 5 stones on your supply sled.
  2. Place a stone – Take a stone from your supply sled and place it on any empty space on a un-sailed ship.
  3. Sail a ship – Ships will have a number of stone icons on the front of them. This is the minimum number of stones the ship needs to sail.
    • A player sailing a ship docks it to an available site board. The stones are then unloaded in order from front to back of the ship. Each site board has different rules for what the stones do when unloaded. Important note about sailing ships, you don’t need to have one of your stones on the ship to sail it.
  4. Play a blue market card – These cards are usually a combination of two other actions. Once played, the card is then discarded.

The round ends after all 4 ships have sailed. Finish scoring any site boards. Move you score marker up that many spaces.

Remove the ships from the site boards. Draw a new round card, place those ships to the left of the site boards and play another round.

Here’s a breakdown of each site board.

  • Market – Draw market cards.
    • A – For each stone placed here, the owner of the stone immediately takes a face up market card.
    • B – When placing cards at the market, the bottom right space gets 2 face down cards. When you deliver stones here, you can take any face up cards or look at the face down cards. Pick and keep one and discard the other.
  • Pyramids – Stones delivered here gain immediate points.
    • A – Starting at the top right corner, stones are placed and players gain points equal to the number covered. The pyramid is completed column by column and stones are placed in the next available space. Side A has 3 levels to the pyramid.
    • B – There are 3 separate pyramids. Players get to select what pyramid their stone gets placed. These score points just like side A, but there are three spots that gives you points and lets you take a special action.
  • Temple – Place stones on this site from left to right. When you run out of spaces, you move back to the first spot and stack the stone on top.
    • A – Score at the end of the round. Get a birds eye view of the temple. Players score 1 point for each visible stone of their color.
    • B – Score at the end of the round. Instead of 1 point each, the stone will score the symbol it’s next to. These symbols include 1 point or 2 stones from the quarry, 2 points, or draw a market card.
  • Burial Chamber – This is scored at the end of the game. Stones are placed in columns and the column needs to be filled before moving to the next column.
    • A – You earn points at the end of the game for each of your connecting stones.
    • B – Players who have the most of their stones in a row at the end of the game earn points.
  • Obelisks – You earn points by stacking your stones to build obelisks.
    • A – At the end of the game, the player with the tallest obelisk earns the most points.
    • B – When a player stacks 3 stones here, they immediately place them on the free space with the highest points total. That player scores those points immediately.
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White player focused on the Pyramid, Gray player focused on the burial chamber, while black player focused on Obelisks.
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As you can see, each player wasn’t that far off from each other at the end of the game.

Final Thoughts

Imhotep’s components are top notch! The boards and the ships have a nice thickness to them. The cards are the smaller sized cards. I usually don’t like the smaller cards, but they work with the size of the site boards. My favorite component of this game is the wooden block. When I was first reading about this game, I didn’t expect the stone blocks to be this size. They add a nice tactile feel to the game, and then add that little extra to the visual appearance of the game.

Imhotep’s game play is is simple to explain, but it can take a bit to get the strategy down. I like that when it’s your turn, you have one of four things to do. This seems simple, but when you start to look at the options you’re forced to decide on immediate or end game plays. A well played end game strategy can get you caught up and surpass other players. Like wise, if you can get those high point values for immediate gains, you might push yourself far enough up that it’s hard to catch up. I liked that you didn’t have to have your stones in a ship to sail it, as this lead to some take that in the game. Oh, you loaded that two stone boat with both your stones? Well, hope you wanted them to go to the obelisk! It can happen more in two player games, but still found this enjoyable in those situations. Speaking of sailing ship, I liked that the placement of your stones matter at some locations. This added an extra layer of thought when placing them. You could place it second in line to get that perfect placement on the pyramid, but then everyone else might place their stone behind yours, making it the first to be unloaded. Totally throwing off your game plan. Then the site boards being double sided just adds to the replay of this game. Lastly, I liked all the different scoring options. I like it when a game gives players different options that all feel like valid strategies. This also makes it feel like there’s little sub games at each site board.

Overall, Imhotep is a fun game with many options while playing. It’s thinky, but not overly so that it cause long turns. It’s an easy game to teach that I would consider this a gateway game. It’s one you can break out with friends and family, explain the rules, and then start playing in about 5-10 minutes. If you like the idea of shipping out resources to build monuments and score points, I suggest looking into this one. Imhotep gets the Everyone and their Grandmother Games approval for family friendly fun.

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