Imhotep was a servant to the Egyptian king Djoser, and something of brainiac – physician, architect, engineer. In the game, you recreating his achievements as best you can, via the slightly less-glamourous medium of loading boats with stone, and choosing when – and where! – to ship them.
The board goes centrally, showing the five different destinations: the Market, Burial Chamber, Obelisks, Pyramid and the Temple. Over six rounds you’ll be supplying these areas with stone blocks via boats: every round a number of different-sized boats are made available to load and ship.
Players have a supply of blocks in their own colour, and you begin with three blocks at your disposal, stored on your sled. Each turn you have three possible actions: Load your sled (add up to three blocks to your sled from the supply) load a block onto a boat, or sail a boat to a destination of your choosing (assuming no other boat has sailed there already). You need to load your sled periodically, as you can’t load blocks onto a boat from an empty sled. You want to load the boats with your blocks, because when that boat sails and delivers the blocks the five destinations all reward you in some way for bringing them stone. And you want to sail the boats for the same reason…
Only sometimes you might choose to sail a boat that has none of your blocks in it, to take your opponents’ blocks to a place they really didn’t want them to go!
Delivering stone to the market gets you cards that have different uses. The burial chamber and obelisks both score points at the end of the game, the pyramid scores you points as it gets built, and the Temple might reward you with points, or blocks for your sled, or possibly a card, depending on which part of it you built. Boats always unload from the front, so choosing where to put your block can also make a difference to your reward.
Each round ends when all boats have sailed, and after six rounds the player with the most points is the victor.
Eeeeesh I’m pretty terrible at games like this. To my increasingly frazzled brain, five ships x many positions x five destinations x (?) opponents equals a lot to compute, and doing the computation feels too long and tedious to me. I tend to go with my gut, and my gut tends to let me down – it’s not great at computation either. But that’s not to say Imhotep is a heavy game, because it isn’t – the rules are very straightforward and easy to follow. And in fact without the whole juggling of possible outcomes the game would cease to be interesting. A really good game for those who like a lot of interaction and ‘screwage’.
High. You can be lining up a juicy ten-point swing in your favour, and someone else sails the boat to a destination where you score 1pt instead...
You can blast through a game in 20 minutes if you really feel like it, but some thought is worthwhile.
The rules are simple, but the brain-burning here is balancing your own advancement with when to 'sacrifice' a turn in order to sail a ship that deprives opponents of points.
Round cards (which say what boats are available) and market cards both come out randomly, but small changes in tactics give the game variety too.