Everybody Must Get Stones--A Double-Take Review of Imhotep: A New Dynasty

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It’s time, once again, to head back to ancient Egypt, where we’re master builders, contributing to the great pyramids. We reviewed Imhotep a few months ago (check out that review here), and today’s review is the expansion: A New Dynasty. It adds new cards, and bunch of new Site boards! Is this expansion an oasis in the desert, or is it just a hot mess? Let’s find out!

 


THE COMPONENTS

  • 55 new double-sided Site boards

  • 4 Chariot figures

  • 1 Imhotep figure

  • 14 Market cards

  • 7 Prophecies of the Gods cards

  • 4 Obelisk cards

  • 24 Tomb tokens

  • 15 Obelisk tokens

  • 8 Scarab tokens

  • 8 Coin tokens

  • 5 Scaffold tokens


 THE GAMEPLAY

Basically, we’re just going to describe the new Site boards, and then give our opinions of each of them.

Market: Luxury Market—Each player starts with two Coin tokens. When a player delivers a Stone here, a player can take a Market card, as usual. But now you can also take a neighboring card at the same time, by paying one of those Coins. Because of this, it’s possible there are no more cards left in the Market. In that case, the player draws blindly off the top of the draw deck.

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Market: Black Market—When you set this board up, you place one face-up card on the top two spaces, and three cards face-down on each of the two bottom spaces. When a player delivers a Stone here, that player can take one of the face-up cards, as usual, or take the pile of face-down cards from one space and choose one of those cards—returning the other cards to the space, still face-down. Other players that turn can still choose those piles, but they’re not refilled until the end of the turn, and they’re not cleared away—though cards left on the face-up spaces are cleared at the end of the turn.

Jeremiah—I think the cards are undervalued/underappreciated in Imhotep. They’re a great way to make up for getting hosed when someone sails your stones to a Site that is practically useless to you. The Black Market is a great way to mitigate the losses and really cranks up the value of going to the market. I like it!

Firestone—Both of these are good Sites. I’m also a big fan of those Market cards, and I see the Black Market getting used every time it’s out.


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Pyramid: Scaffold—You’ll take the five Scaffold tokens, shuffle them face-down, choose one at random, and return it to the box face-up. Then place the four remaining tokens on the draw space on this Site board, and turn up the top token and place it in the space for it. For each Stone delivered here, the owner of the Stone gets points, Stones from the Quarry, and/or Market card from the draw pile. Place the Stone on the next free space of the Scaffold token. Once the token is full of Stones, there’s an interim assessment, wherein the player with the most Stones on the token gets 3 points. (For ties, both players get 1 point.) Then turn over the next token and place it on the Stones from the previous token—so you’ll be creating tiers of tokens and Stones. Once you’ve used all the tokens, then Stones delivered here yield 1 point.

Pyramid: Corridor—This board uses the Imhotep figure, which you’ll place on the top left space of the corridor. Every Stone delivered here is placed on the next open space after Imhotep figure, going clockwise, and the player gets the indicated number of points. Each time a player takes Stones from the Quarry as an action, he can decide whether to leave the Imhotep figure on its current space or move it to the next empty space, clockwise. If all spaces are filled, then additional Stones delivered here are worth 1 point.

Jeremiah—The Scaffolds have gotten more play in the Isley household. But both options are great. Although I’m a big fan of the original version of the pyramid in the base game.

Firestone—Thematically, I don’t really think the Corridor works for the Pyramid, but mechanically I like it. We usually choose the Scaffold, though. We like the various items you get, so it seems to open the game more than the other options.


Temple: Temple of Ra—It’s very much like the regular Temple in the base game, except there are new and different bonuses visible from above.

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Temple: Arena—Each player gets a Chariot figure in his or her color, which is placed on the starting space on that Site board. Whenever you deliver a Stone here, you place the Stone on the next empty space, and then move your Chariot the number of spaces shown on that space. If your Chariot would land on an occupied space, it moves to the next open space. At the end of each round, the player whose Chariot is furthest ahead earns 2 points, and the Chariot in second place earns 1 point. At the end of the game, each player earns points equal to the number on the space occupied by his or her Chariot. If all Stone spaces are occupied, Stones delivered here move the Chariot one space, and if you’re already at the finish space, you earn 1 point per Stone delivered here.

Jeremiah—The Temple of Ra is a nice little variation on the original Temple, and that Arena is a great change up, especially if Imhotep gets a lot of your table time.

Firestone—The Temple adds some fine variety, but the Arena is great. You can’t ignore it, because not moving gets you -4 points, and the other points ramp up, so by the end you’re really working out ways to get into this place.


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Burial Chamber: Burial Mound—Stones delivered here earn the players points at the end of the game. You can get points for more than one area of Stones. You can get a maximum of 4 points per Stone, regardless of how many levels you’re connected to. Once it’s completely built, each additional Stone delivered here scores 1 point.

Burial Chamber: Tomb—For this Site you’ll use the 24 Tomb tokens, which you’ll mix up facedown. At the start of each round, turn up four Tomb tokens and place them on the spaces to left of the tomb entrance on the Site board. When you deliver a Stone, select one of the tokens, return it to the box, and place your Stone on the tomb space with the matching number. At the end of the round, return unused tokens to the box. At the end of the game you get points for connected Stones of your color—just as with the regular Burial Chamber. But if you haven’t delivered any Stones here, you’ll lose 4 points.

Jeremiah—The Tomb feels a lot different than most locations in the game. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s a bit more setup and randomness to it.

Firestone—Yeah, that Tomb takes some serious maneuvering to get good points, but I love the puzzle. The Burial Mound is a fun visual puzzle, too.


Obelisk: The Great Obelisk—For this board you’ll need the 15 Obelisk tokens, and each player gets the Obelisk card in his or her color. Each Stone delivered here is placed on the next free space on the path, and then the player gets the Obelisk token shown on the space, which is then added to the player’s Obelisk card. Players are trying to construct an obelisk with as many rows as possible, because at the end of the game, players get 2 points complete row. Once this site is full, additional Stones delivered here are worth 1 point.

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Obelisk: Alley—When you deliver a Stone here, you’ll decide which Obelisk you want to work on. You pick a free space and place your Stone there. You must place additional Stones on this space until the Obelisk has reached its specified height. Only then can you start working on a new Obelisk. If all the Obelisks are full, additional Stones are worth 1 point.

Jeremiah—So. The most base version of the Obelisk is a tad broken in my opinion. It is definitely where you send a boatload of your opponents stones to die. You sort of give up on winning it, and let them gain the small point advantage and you try to make it up elsewhere while totally piling up huge amounts of their stones that basically do nothing for them. It’s a mean strategy, but a viable one all the same. I thought these new Obelisk features were much more measured and balanced. Kudos!

Firestone—Broken seems to be a bit of an exaggeration… But yes, I find both of these Obelisks more interesting that the base game’s versions.


Whew! Well that’s all the new Sites.

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There’s one more expansion module included with this: Prophecies of the Gods. You’ll shuffle these up and draw three face-up, placing the remaining back in the box. Each player also takes the three Scarab tokens in his or her color. Twice during the game each player may make a Prophecy that they will have fulfilled the specified task on the card by the end of the game, and they show this by placing a Scarab token on that card. Players get differing points depending on how early in the game they place their token.

Each player can only place one Scarab per Prophecy, and you can only make one Prophecy in Round 1 or 2, one in 3 or 4, and one in 5 or 6. It is possible to lose points for unfulfilled Prophecies.  Unused Scarab tokens are worthless at the end of the game.

Jeremiah—To me these felt a little added on/tossed in. But they do add a touch more depth to the game, just a small thing to keep track of aside from just planning out which action you’re taking for the next turn.

Firestone—Yeah, it feels strange to have a bunch of new Site boards…and then this one other thing. But where else was he going to put this idea? I like it, though. It’s a few more rules, and some things to track, but not overwhelming.

Jeremiah’s Final Verdict—There are a few things that make for a perfect expansion: 1) It doesn’t completely change the game and make the game feel totally different. 2) You can’t really see playing without it. Thames & Kosmos have accomplished that here. The new locations and modules add replayability and depth to the game, but Imhotep remains intact and a really fun game. Since it’s already modular in nature, there’s no reason to not include these new locations while choosing which ones to play (either randomly or by choice)! Imhotep is a long-standing favorite in our home, and it just got even better!

Firestone’s Final Verdict—Part of Imhotep’s charm is its simplicity, so I was afraid this expansion would mess with that. Thankfully, it adds plenty of variety but not complexity—which is perfect. These new boards are fun, and obviously ramp up the variability a ton. And those new Market cards have some very cool ideas. A New Dynasty is a terrific expansion.

Theology of Games would like to thank KOSMOS for providing review copies of Imhotep: A New Dynasty. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.

 Thanks so much for reading!