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Game review: Imhotep is an exciting block building experience of creative placement

Posted December 9, 2016

Nominated for the coveted 2016 German Game of the Year, Imhotep is the perfect combination of strategy, simplicity and fun. Two to four players compete as rival architects in ancient Egypt by placing stones on various building projects.

Each player has his own set of colored stone blocks. The blocks reside in a communal quarry and must be gathered in order to use. Each player also has a personal supply where quarry stones can be housed, but there is only room for five blocks of stone. Gathering stone from the quarry at the right time is a key part of this game's strategy.

The board is made up of five building projects, a scoring track, the quarry and some cards that indicate how many boats are available each round and what will be available in the market.

A central strategy to this game surrounds the use of boats. Each round, different boats are available to carry stones to the different building projects. Some boats carry one, two, three or even four stones. Each project can only receive one boat of stones each round and stones are taken off in a certain order when they arrive. Where to place a stone, use a boat, or when to get more stones from the quarry make this game full of tough decisions.

The building projects each have their own specific rules for scoring, and the project tiles are double-sided for added variety. For example, the pyramid project accepts stones in a certain order to build the pyramid, but each stone in the project scores different amounts of points. The temple project on the other hand only has room for five blocks, but one player's blocks can be covered by another player's blocks by stacking. At the end of the round, each block on top scores a point, but those underneath do not.

One of the best parts of this game is how quickly each player's turn alternates. On a turn, a player takes one simple action and then the next player is up. Everyone stays involved and engaged at the table. It's a product of a well-designed game.

My favorite place to bring stones to is the market. Each round, four market cards are available at the market project. These cards let a player break the rules by placing additional stones on other projects, taking extra turns, getting free stone from the quarry or earning points. This can help a player vault ahead to win the game.

After six rounds, the game ends and the scores are all tallied. Some building sites score every round, immediately or at the end of the game. However, it's the player with the most points at the end of the game who will win. Points are also scored by collection cards from the marketplace, so it's not always easy to know who is in the lead until the final round is done.

Good board games involve all players, are easy to learn, require tough strategic decisions, are easy to set up, don't last too long and are fun to play again and again. Imhotep meets all of these qualifications. That's why it was nominated for an award. It's that good and would make an excellent gift for the holidays. Investigate the game further at Kosmos Games website.

Email: rmorgenegg@deseretnews.com

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