Strategic Depth: Beginner/Intermediate
Setup Time: 5-10 mins.
Play Time: 40-60 mins.
Players: 2-4 (Best with 3-4)
Mechanics: Area Control/Area Influence, Modular Board, Set Collection.
Production Info: 2016 | Kosmos |Phil Walker-Harding
In Imhotep, the players become builders in Egypt who want to emulate the first and best-known architect. It is a fairly simple area control game where players are attempting to build monuments that will stand the test of time. Players can take 1 of 4 actions on each turn. Each player can gather stones, place them on ships for delivery to building sites, to trade at the Market for cards that provide special abilities, or offload the stones and build the monuments. Players gain points by not only having the most of their stones at a building site but by having stones placed in specific arrangements at the building sites.
Imhotep is played over six rounds with each round changing with the ships that are used. It is a game all about timing, correct placement of stones, and area control/influence. You will all be competing to be the best builder of Egypt and scoring the most victory points through various methods.
- The Good -
Imhotep is actually a rare game because of the strategic element with the ease of gameplay. There is not a lot of luck with this game which is a huge reason to absolutely love this game. It's an easy game to teach and for new players to understand with only 4 actions to choose from each turn. Everyone has loved this game so far because of the tactical strategy combined with an easy understanding of the rules. Experienced gamers will really enjoy this "gateway game".
The structure of the game is very simple with only 5 modular boards, a deck of cards, cubes of each color, and ships to place. Since the structure is so simple it speeds up the setup of the game which is important for non-gamers. I have taught this game to several groups of friends and they have all really enjoyed the game even if it looked intimidating at first to then. Everyone has enjoyed it because the gameplay is quick and precise. The limited actions really help for decision making and speed of play which again is important for beginners. The structure and gameplay make this game intriguing for beginners and experienced gamers which is not always easy to find.
The replayability is excellent because on each modular board there is an A and B side. I would recommend just playing with the A side the first time as the B side is more complex. I have done all A side, B side, and then mixtures of the two sides. I really enjoy the B side after playing several times with the A because of the complexity. The replayability is limitless because of the market cards, the modular boards, and players making different choices with their stones every game. You cannot have the same strategy because each round only 1 ship can sail to each port which then increases replayability as well.
- The Bad -
This can also be a very good element to the game if you like cutthroat play. I know some people have an issue with not being able to control their own future moves. In this game, your opponent could sail your ship to another port to make you lose points. I typically do not like cutthroat games but I find it enjoyable in Imhotep. I have a hard time finding many things wrong with this game so that is why I addressed the cutthroat play so that families can be aware of it and not everyone enjoys that element.
Once again, I had a hard time finding con's to this game, but boxing would be one when analyzing it. There is plenty of space in the box but it's only one big space and the box does not need to be that big. I really like when games have compartments for all the pieces and this game does not have that. I would still rather have poor boxing structure than a lackluster game. Maybe they will make some improvements to a new version or after the expansion comes out. I added some of my own plastic bags to help keep it organized which I really do not like when I need to use my own bags for boxing.
- Overall -
Imhotep is an absolute blast to play from start to finish. The gameplay is a perfect mix of strategy and interaction among players. I can teach this game in 5 to 10 minutes and new players can really understand the game mechanics just after one round. This is very rare for such a strategic game because the mechanics are quite simple but your choices will have a huge impact. Also, you have to pay attention to your opponents moves to try and figure out the best path. This game is easy to teach but highly strategic with small amounts of luck which that combo is hard to find. Beginner players can also play this game without having a very good strategy. It’s one of those games that you can just play and enjoy yourself without having to overthink every move. This game can actually take a while if you have people who like to think of every possibility. I recommend putting a time limit on those players because this game could take 2 hours if you think of every move. The game is more enjoyable at a faster pace and with players trying to manipulate their opponents scoring. The large cubes along with the Egyptian theme seem to increase the enjoyability of this game. The cutthroat play was a surprise to me and every person that I have introduced this game to have loved that aspect but I know many people who would not. You can really affect your opponents moves in this game and messing up their future plans. However, what’s brilliant about this game is that you are never receiving negative points, just fewer victory points than you could have received. Imhotep has a family-friendly weight, clearly written rules, excellent theme and interaction, game pieces are high quality and simple. There is a reason why it was a finalist for Spiel Des Jahres in 2016 and I would have picked this over Codenames. It’s one of my favorite games to introduce and play with friends and family.
The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rulebook which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.
- Setup Overview -
- Depending on how many players are in the game you will use one of three sets of seven round cards. You can determine which set of seven cards to use based on the number of heads located on the bottom of the back of the cards. These round cards are used to tell you which ships to use during each round of the game and you only use 6 of the 7 cards.
- Give each player a sled board, these boards have spaces for 5 stones of a particular color – this color determines the player color.
- Each player will use stones of the color on their sleds. The starting player gets 2 stones in his or her color from the stone quarry and player to the left gets 3 stones, next player 4 stones, and the fourth player gets 5 stones.
- Determine which side of the construction sites you will use, A or B. Then place all the sites of that side out in the middle of the playing area.
- Shuffle the 34 market cards and place them face down as a draw pile to the right of the Market board.
- Have the 8 ship tokens ready above the board, as you will use 4 different ships based on the round cards.
- Place the scoring track board to the right of the site boards. Use this to keep track of all players' points.
- Game Play/Player Turns -
The game is played in 6 rounds. During each turn you have to select one of four actions to take:
- Get more stone (up to three)
- Place 1 stones on a ship
- Sail a ship to a site
- Play 1 Blue Market Card
Each player takes one action in turn until all ships have sailed and the round ends. After the end of the round, scoring occurs, put the now empty ships with the other ships, turn over a new round card and place the ships it displays to the left of the area boards. Play then continues with the next player.
Getting Stone from Quarry
This action lets you take three stones of your color from the quarry and place them on your sled. Your sled can hold up to five stones, so if you don’t have room for all three stones, you only get what you have room to hold instead.
Placing a Stone on a Ship
This action lets you take one stone from your sled and place it on any empty space on any ship that has not sailed to an empty port space beside one of the five area boards.
Sailing a Ship
You can sail the ship to one site board. You must follow 2 rules when sailing a ship.
1. The ship must already be loaded with at least the minimum required number of stones. The gray stone symbols at the bow of the ship indicate the minimum number for that ship. This number varies from ship to ship.
2. The site to which the ship is sailing must still have an open dock. In other words, no other ship can have sailed to it in this round.
The ship's stones are then unloaded by their owners in order from front to back.
Play a Blue Market Card
If you have a blue market card in front of you, you may play it instead of taking a normal action. You then perform the actions listed on the card and discard the card.
When all 4 ships have been sailed to the sites, the round ends immediately. Now the temple is assessed and then you prepare for the next round.
- End Of Game -
The game ends after 6 rounds. Then the final point assessment, or scoring, takes place. At the end of the game is when you score the burial chamber and obelisks. The decoration and statue market cards are scored based on what's printed on them. The unused blue market cards yield an additional value of 1 point each.
- Winning -
The player with the most points is the winner based on all the different categories.
- Tie Breakers -
The player with the greatest number of stones on his or her supply sled token is the winner. If this is also a tie, the tied players share first place.
- Great Instructional Videos -
Here are a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.
Can you take more than one action on your turn?
No, you only get one action per turn unless a blue market card lets you do two different things but still considered one action.
Can you place your stone on any space on a ship?
Yes, you can place the stone on space leaving gaps between stones.
Can you only take 1 stone from the quarry on your turn?
Yes, you can take 1, 2, or 3 stones from the quarry on your turn based on the space you have available on your supply sled.
What happens if I did not play one of my blue market cards when the game ends?
You get 1 VP per blue market card leftover.
For the red immediate market cards do you place a stone on a ship from your own supply shed or the quarry?
You place a stone from the quarry and not using your own supply.
During game preparation, is the intent that you play with either the same letter-side for all site boards (e.g. all B sides) or can the A and B sides be mixed together?
You can set up with all A, B, or mixed together. It allows you to play the game different every time
What happens if you turn out of stone from the quarry?
This is very rare, but you cannot take any more stones from the quarry if you run out.
Can you have two of the same green market cards for the end of game scoring?
Yes, you would then get double the points and can be very powerful.
Do you always get the stones from your own supply shed?
Yes, unless otherwise stated like with the red market cards.
For the market, what happens with the unused cards?
All the cards not used during that round are discarded even if no one landed at that port.
What happens at the end of the round?
Score the temple location as indicated on the board itself. Remove all ships and put them back into the supply. Discard all remaining cards on the market tile. Select new start player.
Which port sites do you score at the end of the whole game?
Burial Chamber and Obelisks
Which side should you start on for beginners?
Recommend starting all the site boards on side A.
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Highest Price: $39.95 (Sept. 9th, 2016)
Lowest Price: $17.99 (April 23rd, 2018)
Average Price: $23.64
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (07/29/2018)
Expanding The Game
Imhotep: A New Dynasty adds five new places, fourteen market cards, seven god cards, four chariots, and 56 tiles to the Imhotep base game. God cards let players predict the progress of different buildings, with them being rewarded at the end of the game if they're correct and otherwise being punished.
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