Imhotep! Imhotep! Imhotep! A Double-Take Review of... Imhotep!

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Today we're going to roll up our sleeves and get to work. What are we working on? Well, we're building some of the biggest, baddest, stone structures the world has ever seen. Of course, we recommend you leave Brendan Fraser out of the equation. Imhotep is an area-control game where players taking stones from a quarry, loading them on ships, and sailing them down the river to be used in the construction of some of the most iconic wonders in Egypt. So, is Imhotep a brick house, or does it leave us screaming for our mummies? Let's find out!


chunky!

chunky!

The Components

  • A mess of Stone cubes (4 sets in 4 different colors)
  • Site boards (These are double sided, with different variations of scoring)
  • Round cards
  • Ship tiles
  • Player sled tiles
  • Market cards
  • Score tracker

 

The Setup

Each player takes their sled tile, and places one of their colored stones on the score tracker. And all of the used stones go into a supply making the quarry. Decide what side of the Sites you're going to play with (each is double-sided), and place them in the center of the table. Deal out 4 Market cards on the 4 spots of the Market location Then, starting with the 1st player all players take 2-3-4-5 stones and place them on their sled tile. You shuffle the 7 round cards, flip the top one over, and then place the boats out for the first round according to the revealed round card. Then the starting player is ready to take their turn.



The Gameplay

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Imhotep is played over 6 rounds. A round ends when all of the boats have sailed and the stones on them have been unloaded. How do we get to that point? Easy. On a players turn, he or she takes a single action.

The available actions are:

  • Take 3 Stones from the quarry and place them on your Supply sled.
  • Place 1 Stone from your Supply sled on to any Ship that has an empty space (going front to back)
  • Sail a Ship. Once it sails, all the Stones are unloaded from front to back, and the player whose Stone it is decides where it is played, where applicable.

Each Site represents a different construct of ancient Egypt (Pyramids, Obelisks, a Burial Chamber, a Temple, and a Market Place). Let's take a quick look at the locations.

(We'll just cover the A side here, which is the basic side.)

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Market - There are four spots on the Market, and players select a card in the order that their Stones are unloaded from the ship. The Market cards let you do things such as immediately place a Stone on a Site, score points at the end of the game, collect cards for points, or break the game rules in other ways. They're powerful. 

Pyramid - Stones are unloaded from front to back, and onto the board to build the pyramid from top to bottom, and from left to right, scoring points based on the  the grid.

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Temple - The Temple scores at the end of the round. This one is spacial, because you only score the Stones that are visible from above at the end of the round. 

Burial Chamber -As you build the Burial Chamber, you'll place Stones down. At the end of the game, players score points based on Stones that are touching orthogonally. 

Obelisks - When you drop off a Stone, you'll be building an "obelisk" of only your Stones. You'll score at the end of the game, based on the height of your obelisk. 

You start that all over again, unless it was the 6th round. Once the last Ship sails in the 6th round, you tally final scores and determine a winner!


The Verdict

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Firestone--This is a good, lightweight game with an easy decision tree (stock, load, or ship), but with enough angst in that decision to feel like a long lost Reiner Knizia game. 

Jeremiah--I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I like games that encourage player interaction, and Imhotep is packed full of those moments. This game can be as nice or nasty as you and your game group want it to be, but there are always opportunities for revenge, so be careful when choosing to make enemies!

Firestone--I love that there are two sides to each Site, so there's definite replayability. And those other sides are different enough that the game really changes based on the combination of sides you're using. 

Jeremiah--The components are pretty cool. I love the chunky, big stone blocks, and the artwork is spot-on for the theme. Interactive mechanisms aside, I think the way you're actually constructing the structures on the table is both clever and super enjoyable to see. It's a nice visual representation of actions that are often abstracted in a euro.

Firestone--Yes, those chunky Stones are visually great, and it's very satisfying to sail the Ships. That attention to the aesthetics only helps to bring in the audience for this Spiel des Jahres game: families. 

Jeremiah--Imhotep is super accessible, which is why it got a Spiel des Jahres nomination a year ago. Nothing is clunky of cumbersome here--it's just a solid game that you can DEFINITELY play with your more casual gaming friends!

Firestone--Yeah, this is solidly in the family and nongamer categories for me. We've played it as a filler on game night, but it's just too light to pull out as often as the other filler options we have. But it works GREAT as a family and nongamer game. (I will say that some of the available expansions ramp up the complexity, and make this more viable as a solid gamer's filler.)

I should also note that it's probably not at its best with 4. With 4, the feeling that you lack control is profound. This will definitely upset gamers, but could also frustrate nongamers. It's not bad with 4, it's just that it's probably best with 2 or 3. 

Firestone's Final Verdict--I love tension in games, and Imhotep has tension to spare. It's about balance, and timing. The Spiel des Jahres nomination was well-deserved, and it's been a big hit every time I've pulled it out. Imhotep is solid as a Stone.

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--I like Imhotep a lot! It checks a lot of boxes, and is a game I'm going to play quite a bit! Little-to-no downtime? Check! Lots of player interaction? Check! Easy learning curve? Check! Fun, clever mechanics!? Check! Imhotep works for families, and in my opinion a lot of gamers as well! I highly recommend it!

Theology of Games would like to thank Kosmos Games for providing a review copy of  Imhotep to Jeremiah. This in no way affected our opinions of the game. 

What do you think? Have you played Imhotep? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. And thanks for reading!