Imhotep is a game by Phil Walker-Harding, published by Kosmos. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of master builders in ancient Egypt. They will need to transport blocks of stone to various building sites using the ships at port to carry them. They will need those stones if they plan on erecting monuments to gain points. In the end, the player that can prove themselves worthy enough by earning the most points will be declared the winner.
To begin, the 5 site boards are placed in the middle of the play area in the order as shown in the rulebook. For the first couple of games, it is recommended to use the A sides of these, as these are a bit easier for beginning play. The scoring track board is placed to the right of the site boards. The 8 ship tokens are placed above the site boards. The round cards are separated from the market cards. The market cards are then shuffled together and placed face down in a draw pile to the right of the market board. The 7 round cards that correspond to the number of players are removed from the stack of round cards. The remaining ones are returned to the box. One of the 7 round cards is returned to the box along with the other cards. The cards that remain are then shuffled together and placed face down beside the ship tokens. Each player will choose a color and is given the supply sled token of that color. If there are less than 4 players, then the remaining supply sleds and stones of that color are returned to the box. The player colored stones are placed to the right of the boards to form the stone quarry. Each player will take 1 stone of their color and place it on the 0/40 space of the scoring track. The first player is chosen. That player will then receive 2 stones of their color from the stone quarry, placing them on their supply sled token. The second player receives 3 stones of their color to place on their supply sled token. The third player will receive 4 stones and the fourth player receives 5. Play now begins.
The game is played over 6 rounds. Each round begins by turning over the top round card to see which 4 ship tokens will be available for that round. These tokens are then moved to the left side of the site boards. Next the top four market cards from the draw deck are revealed and placed face up on the market board. Each player will then take their turn which consists of performing 1 of 4 actions. Those actions are to get new stones, place 1 stone on a ship, sail 1 ship to a site or play 1 blue market card. The first action is to get new stones. To do this, the player simply takes 3 stones from the stone quarry and places them on their supply sled token. It should be noted that a player’s supply sled may only hold a maximum of 5 stones. So if the player already has more than 2 stones already on their supply sled, then they will only take the stones to fill the empty spaces and will lose any extras.
Another action the player may take is to place 1 stone on a ship. To do this, the player simply takes 1 of the stones from their supply sled and places it on an empty space on any of the ship tokens that have not already sailed to a site. It should be noted that if a player has no stones, or there are no more free spaces on any ship, then this action may not be taken.
Yet another action available to be taken is to sail 1 ship to a site. To do this, the player simply chooses 1 of the ship tokens and moves it to a chosen site board. There are a few things that must be considered before moving the ship. First, it must already be loaded with at least the minimum required number of stones as shown on the bow of the ship token. Next, the site that the player chooses to move the ship token to must not have another ship already docked there. Once the ship has been moved, it’s load of stones are unloaded from front to back. Each site has different rules in regards to what each stone’s owner will receive for each of their stones that is delivered. For instance, the Market allows the player to take a face up Market card from the board, while the Pyramids, Temple, Burial Chamber and Obelisks all earn the player points, at varying times, for each stone. The points rewarded and timing on when each player is rewarded is given on each specific site board. One more thing should be noted, a player does not have to have a stone of their color on a ship to be able to sail it. Once the ship has been moved to a site, it stays there until the end of the round. Only 1 ship can occupy each site.
The last action available for a player to take is to play 1 blue market card. To do this, the player must first have a blue market card. It is then played, resolving the text on it, before discarding it onto the discard pile. Each player is only allowed to play 1 blue market card per turn.
The round continues with players taking turns until all 4 ships have been sailed to one of the five sites. When this happens, the round ends immediately. Once the round ends, the temple is assessed and each stone that is visible from above earns the player 1 point. After points are awarded, players prepare for the next round by returning the 4 ship tokens to the top of the boards with the others. Next any market cards that are still on the market board are placed onto the discard pile. A new round will then begin. One thing of note, any stones that were already placed on a site board or a supply sled token will remain in place.
To start a new round, the next round card is revealed from the top of the stack. The four ship tokens that are shown on the card are placed to the left of the market boards and four new market cards are drawn from the stack and placed face up on the market board. The player to the left of the player that sailed the final ship in the previous round becomes the new starting player. Play then continues in turn order as explained above.
The game continues until 6 rounds have been played. Once the sixth round is finished, the game ends and scoring occurs. The stones in the burial chamber are assessed first and points assigned as indicated on the site board. Next the obelisks are assessed and once again points are assigned. Certain market cards will earn extra points, as will any unused blue market cards. Players add up all their points and the player with the most points is the winner.
This game doesn’t have a ton of pieces, but what it does have is a lot of theme and fun. First off there are the cardboard pieces. These include the ship tokens, supply sled tokens, site boards and scoring track board. Each of these is very thematic looking. The different ship tokens vary in size from having room for one stone or up to four. Each one looks like an something you might see floating down the Nile river. The supply sled tokens are player color coordinated and have spaces for five stones. The spaces appear to be on a wooden platform that is supported by logs to be rolled from the quarry to the port to be shipped. The site boards are the most artistic looking and have various Egyptian looking artwork that fits in beautifully with the theme. I especially like the look of the obelisks and the burial chamber boards. Each of these is double sided with an a side and a b side. The a side is a bit easier and is suggested for first time players. The scoring track board looks like a simple stone pathway that is numbered up to 40. Any player making more points than that will have to continue going around the board. Next there are the market and round cards. These are quite as detailed as the other pieces but still have a nice piece of artwork that looks like what it’s supposed to represent. For instance, the statue looks like an Egyptian statue. The round cards simply show which 4 boats that the players will be using during that round. The last pieces that this game contains are the stones. These are wooden and are painted in one of four different player colors; either white, brown, gray or black. There are 30 of each color, which adds up to a bunch of blocks. These are bigger than your average wooden cubes. As a matter of fact, they look like they ate a few of those smaller ones. That’s just how big these are. Finally, inside the game box is a nice cardboard insert with lots more of that amazing looking artwork. It isn’t an organizer, just simply a cardboard piece with a space in the middle to dump all the pieces into. Still, it looks really cool. Needless to say, I really like how cool this game looks. Each piece seems to bring out that theme of stone building in Egypt quite well. I like how impressive each piece looks on the table and it is one that will draw you in from across the room. That said, there’s always room for upgrades. Sure the box is a bit too big for all the pieces that the game comes with and it could use an insert, but that’s not really a big deal. There are plenty of clear zip closed bags included to hold everything separately. One thing that stands out to me is the artwork. Over on Etsy, a company named MeepleForge has created some very thematic looking buildings and ships that can be added to the game to really up the beauty of the game. I look forward to being able to take a closer look at these very soon. Till then, I’m enjoying the look and feel of this game as is. It’s a well designed and great looking game.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is very well designed. It has a ton of pictures and examples throughout. The first couple of pages consists of showing off the components and explaining how to set up the game. The next 2 pages are the actual rules, which are explained step by step in a very detailed manner. The next page is dedicated to the designer and gives all the people that contributed to the game. The other half of the book is for the different site boards and cards. Both the A and B sides of the site boards are explained rather thoroughly with some very good examples. The back cover explains all the market cards and how each one of these works. The rulebook also contains a Wrath of the Pharaoh variant that makes the rules a bit harsher. The rules themself are quite simple but the book provides plenty of information on how to play the game and how each piece works. I’m very impressed with the look and feel, as well as the overall design of this one. This is absolutely one of the best rulebooks that I’ve come across this year. The only thing that I wish this rulebook had is some rules for playing the game solo. That would have made it perfect. As it is though, this one is a cut above the rest. Grade A+
9 out of 10
This is a very thematic and fun game. The Egyptian theme is very much ingrained into the game. Every bit and piece tells the story behind the game in a way that is easy to recognize. As someone that has always been in love with Egyptian history, architecture and art, this one really fills all of my wants in one game. The game is fairly simple but has plenty of strategy to it as well. Knowing where to place your blocks and when to sail the boats is as big a deal as choosing the site to dock those boats. I found that many times I’m trying to think 2, 3 or even 4 steps ahead, only to have my plans derailed by an unplanned ship docking or a ship sailing before I was ready for it to. That’s one thing that I love about this game. Your strategy has to be very flexible. Even though you’re thinking about what you’ll do on your next turn or two, you may find that you have to adjust that strategy and go for something different because of your opponent’s movements. I also like how that the game can grow as you learn how to play it. After a couple of plays, you can up the difficulty by switching over to the B sides of the site boards or you can use the variant that’s included in the rulebook making things even harder. I really think that playing through these levels of difficulty make it an easy way to learn and transition into the expansion, which will be covered in a later review. This is a game that I wanted to play ever since I first saw it on BGG. The artwork and theme really drew me in, but it’s the gameplay that has kept me coming back to play again. Yes you’re vying to get the most points, but to do that you have lots of different routes that you can take. Needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed this one as I fully expected to. I think that fans of area control games will really enjoy this one, especially those that like the Egyptian theme of the game. This is one that I would highly recommend. Overall this is a great looking game that the whole family can enjoy.
9 out of 10
Imhotep is a game of monument building and area control in ancient Egypt. It’s not a game that takes a long time to play. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes. The components for this game look great and the artwork is superb. The Egyptian theme is well executed and is one that I truly enjoy. The rulebook is well designed and is one of the best I’ve seen this year. The game itself is a lot of fun and is very easy to learn. The fact that after a few plays, you can increase the difficulty by using the B sides of the site boards is great. You could even randomize each one making the game different each time you play. The replayability is very high with this one and it’s a great game that the whole family can enjoy. This is one that I highly recommend. It’s a great game that’s fit for a Pharaoh.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Kosmos at their site for North America below.