Published by: Kosmos
# of Players: 2 to 4
Imhotep is a game that relies on large wooden cubes that act as stone blocks to build various structures. I liked the use of 4 neutral colors that would be easy to tell apart by everyone including those who have issues with color blindness. The cubes are at least double the size of regular wooden cubes that come in games. This is nice due to the need to stack for certain locations. The game comes with 5 location boards that have a "b" side to change game play when you become proficient in the game. There are also reed boats that will hold various amounts of cubes. The game also comes with action cards that are your standard card stock. The rule book is very detailed and easy to understand. One read through and you should be able to understand and teach the game to others. While the components may be simplistic in style, they work well with the gameplay and theme, while also keeping costs down.
Imhotep is played over 6 rounds of play. Each round players will take turns taking one action and keep rotating players till all the boats have been assigned to a location. There are 4 actions you can take during your turn. The first action you can take is to collect 3 stone of your color and add it to your stone quarry tile that holds up to 5 stone. The second action you can take is to place a stone on any space aboard a reed boat that has not been assigned a location. The space closest to the front of the boat (right end) will have first priority when resolving locations. The third action you can take is to use an action card. These provide one time bonuses like being able to place a stone on a boat and assigning it to a location on the same turn. The last action lets the player assign a boat to a location. The boat must have at least the minimum amount of stone blocks aboard before being assigned and it can only be assigned to a location that no other boats have been assigned to that round. The boats that are used each round are determined by round cards that show which boats to use.
Once all boats have been assigned, everyone will resolve the locations starting with the top location. The market provides the player with a choice of 4 face up cards. The person with priority will pick first and then the person who placed the next cube on the boat will choose till there are no more cubes on the boat. After each round the remaining cards are discarded and 4 new ones are added. At the pyramid location players will place cubes in order of the boat in the next available spot and receive points based on that spot. You will start at the first column and place cubes down that column and then move to the next column to the right and continue as displayed. The Temple has players placing their cubes from left to right in a row of 4 or 5 depending on player count. Once the row is full, players will start placing on top of that current row. Points are scored by visible stone from the stones that are on top. For example in the picture above, white would score 4 and black would score 1. All of browns have been stacked on. Each round the temple will score points for the visible cubes. The burial chamber has players placing cubes in the same order as the temple, but these will not score till the end of the game. Players will receive points based on sets of cubes touching in a chain. The more cubes that share a side with another of the same color will earn more points. For example the picture above shows that white has 2 touching together and black has 3 touching together. White would get 2 points and black gets 6. Brown appears to have 7 touching and would recieve 19 points at the end of the game for that set. The last location is the obelisks. This location has players stacking cubes of their color in a tower. The player with the most cubes in their tower receives the most points and point values go down for each 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The player with the highest score after 6 rounds wins the game.
In my opinion Imhotep deserved the acclaim it received early on. Imhotep is simple to understand but provides lots of strategy and depth that will keep players coming back for more. There is a lot of player interaction in the game from what boat to put your stone on and what action should I take on my turn and thinking what your opponents will do. Rarely is there only one good option. There is plenty of risk/reward choices in the game like deciding to take 3 stone instead of sending a boat to a location. Some players may dislike some of the take that feeling that can happen from players assigning a boat to a location you do not want, but I found that to be a rare minority. The games I played were all real close in score. One game had all players within four points of the leader. The B side of locations adds extra variety and challenge. I think this is a game that will play well with all audiences. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Young, old, new, veteran gamer will all have a fun time. This is staying in my collection and will be making an appearance in my top games of 2016 list. If you have not played this yet, you are missing out.
+ Great gateway game for anyone
+Lots of strategy and risk/reward decisions
+Plenty of player interaction
+Fast to play, teach and learn
-Some may want flashier components
-Some may prefer something more challenging or in depth