Family Board Game Review: Imhotep

Imhotep is a Egyptian themed game by Kosmos.  It is named for the first, and most well known, Egyptian master builder: Imhotep.  Over the course of the game players use wooden blocks as stones to “build” different ancient Egyptian structures. The game is designed for 2-4 players ages 10 and takes about 40 minutes to play.   Imhotep was also a 2016 Spiel des Jahres nominee.

Game Contents

  • 120 Wooden Blocks, referred to as stones
    • 30 each of the 4 game colors: black, white, brown, and gray
  • 5 Site Boards
  • 1 Scoring track board
  • 8 Ship Tokens
  • 4 Supply Sled Tokens, in each of the 4 game colors
  • 21 Round Cards
  • 34 Market Cards

The components of the game are of good quality.  The wooden blocks are substantial enough to give the illusion of the stone block they represent.  The artwork of the board is beautiful and has the characteristic ancient Egyptian look without it looking ancient.  Instead the art has the aesthetic that the pharaohs might have seen during their era.

Gameplay

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

The objective is to build various structures in different ways to earn the most points.  Some points are awarded at the end of each round and some are awarded at the end of the game.  The are five locations to sail the ships are the Market, Pyramids, Temple, Burial Chamber, and Obelisks.  One action a player can take is to sail a ship.  There are different numbers of stones the ships can hold and to minimum sail.   Once all the ships have sailed and the stones placed, then the round ends and points needing to be added are calculated before resetting for the next round.  One of the places to said to is the Market and any player whose stones are sailed to the Market earns cards that can give them bonuses at various points of the game. At the end of the 6th round final points are counted and the winner is determined.

Family Game Assessment

Imhotep has an alluring aesthetic to draw in younger gamers.  Ancient Egypt has a great deal of appeal to a wide range of ages.  This is a game that is easy to learn, but has a deeper strategy that is much more challenging.  Initially the age rating of 10 and up seemed a bit old to me since the game is so easy to learn.  However, as I played through the game it became apparent how the deeper strategy comes into play and adds a rich layer and unexpected complexity to the game.  That being said, since the game mechanics are easy to learn I feel that this game could scale slightly younger to be about 8 and up, especially with savvy gamers.This is also a wonderful gateway game to bring to the table with inexperienced games especially if the Egyptian theme is appealing to them.  Again, being easy to teach and not having overly complicated mechanics will make the game much less intimidating.

Conclusion

Imhotep is a a very family friendly game.  The game can scale younger to involve slightly younger members of the family.  The younger player may not be able to discern the strategies involved, but they should easily be able to follow the mechanics of the game.  This is a beautiful addition to any family collection and can be enjoyed by players with a range of skills.

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