I caught the Ancient Egypt bug in childhood, and blew through countless books and resources in my quest to learn all I could about this fascinating civilization. My little sister and I even created our own board game. Thames & Kosmos did, too, and that’s my family got to review in June! Today you can read all about the Imhotep board game and see if you’d like to give it a try, too.
Some quick background: although little is know about the Egyptian builder Imhotep, his fame reached legendary proportions in the years following his death. He is famously credited with designing first step pyramid, which is no small feat.
In the board game which bears his name, each player gets to be a builder. In six rounds of game play, players must carry stones from the quarries by boat to their construction sites. The goal of Imhotep is to fashion five monuments and take your place as Egypt’s preeminent master builder.
The game includes stone cubes, ships, a scoreboard and rule book, construction site boards, a market board, and round cards. Up to four people can play:
GAMEPLAY: As a player, you do one of the following four actions on your turn: procure new stones, load them on a ship, row to the building site, or play an action card. The goal is to get the most stones into construction because this is how points are counted. Sounds easy enough, but since everyone’s vying for top dog position, they can thwart each other at nearly every juncture. Strategies include loading ships with more stones of your color, timing the delivery of stones just right, and sailing ships to a destination that benefits you and not your opponent.
The turns move quickly, so that eliminates thumb-twiddling. Younger players will especially appreciate that aspect. For each round, new cards are turned up at the market, offering more opportunities to earn points.
Imhotep successfully combines strategy with luck, the former being more important and the latter making a small (but sometimes surprising) difference. Additionally, the construction site boards are double-sided, offering more building options for future games.
Ultimately, if you get your blocks in the right place, in the right order, at the right time, you will become Egypt’s greatest architect!
AESTHETICS: With the stone cubes and movable ships, Imhotep has appealing tactile elements. And the artwork is beautiful. I have passed on many otherwise appealing games because of poorly done graphics. Imhotep gets 5 stars in this area, with high-quality, authentic graphics that capture the mood and mystery of ancient Egypt.
And the building aspect is not just theoretical; you actually use the cubes to build miniature structures!
A New Dynasty Expansion
Once you’ve got a couple of games of Imhotep under your belt, it’s easy to add the expansion. There are new tools in the market, new site boards, wooden figurines, and 5 styles of tokens (scarab, obelisk, tomb, coin and scaffold). All the additional elements give you over 1,000 ways to play Imhotep. A game guide is also included in the expansion. Our favorite component? The chariot figures that you can race around the arena for bonus points!
SUMMARY: Imhotep did not disappoint, and I’m so happy since the Egyptian theme is so dear to my heart! Although suggested for ages 10 and up, our 8-year-old Samuel picked it up with no problems in just a few rounds. All of us love the steady pace of game play and the fact that you’re constantly keeping an eye on what other players are doing. Everyone’s actions can effect each other, adding some really good tension. The visual appeal of sailing ships around and watching the monuments grow stone by stone is undeniable. The double-sided boards add yet another welcome addition, in that you can choose to play with your favorite monuments. And finally, we can wrap up Imhotep in 30 or 40 minutes, making it ideal for family game nights. Oh, and we found that it’s definitely much more fun with more than 2 players.
AWARDS & HONORS
2016 Spiel des Jahres Nominee
2016 Toy Insider Holiday Toys Award
2016 Parents Choice Gold Award
Shop for the Imhotep game and expansion kit
at Thames & Kosmos online
Retail Price: $39.95
Have you tried Imhotep yet? Are you a lover of ancient Egyptian history, too?