FTW Staff Picks - Imhotep

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 


Genre: Area Control

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Player Size: 2 to 4 Players

Game Length: 40 minutes

For fans of: Ticket to Ride, Splendor, CATAN

"Take that"; a phrase popularized into a defining characteristic of many board games. When you think "take that", you often think of the times in CATAN, where an opposing player would intentional build a road just to block you off. Or even that time in Ticket to Ride, when an opponent decided to steal the final connecting route you need to complete a 20+ point ticket. It's not for everyone, but for those that appreciate a small dose of venom in their games I'm happy to introduce you to Imhotep.

Imhotep is the kind of game where less is often more. Players attempt to accumulate points over 6 rounds by dominating the five different sites of the game: Market, Pyramids, Temple, Burial Chamber and Obelisks. Players use their individual stones which set sail on four randomized ships each round. Each ship requires a minimum number of stones before docking. Once a ship reaches that minimum, any player including one without any stones on the ship, may dock the ship at any site. Once all four ships have been docked the round is scored. The player with the highest score at the end of 6 rounds is declared the winner. 

Performing an action in Imhotep is mandatory. This means even if something is to your detriment, you have to do it. Being able to dock ships without requiring a stone on it will result in some nasty words tossed around the table. Imhotep is not the kind of game where you can carefully plan something and expect it to follow through. Contingency is arguably is the most important aspect of the game. You have to be willing to accept that you can't win at every site. Investing in Market cards can make it a bit easier to make striking moves, but even still you'll have to take losses in the early game to do so. Oh, and if you feel that the game is a bit too familiar, you can flip the sites over to their B-sides which have completely different mechanics. We always appreciate good value.

Imhotep lives in that special, select group of games that scales very well from 2-players and up. Each turn feels important for the future, and it's always tough to really tell if you're ahead. Best of all, learning the rules is very quick. The playtime is tight because players are just taking a single action and then letting things play out. Carcassonne and Splendor are two games that we consider to be near-perfect experiences for the type of games they are. Imhotep is one of the few games that conveyed a very similar feeling to those two - which to us is saying a lot!

Earl OliverosComment