Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by KOSMOS to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Imhotep: A New Dynasty
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Artists: Miguel Coimbra, Martin Hoffmann, Michaela Kienle, Claus Stephan
Main Game Mechanisms: Area Control / Area Influence, Modular Board, Set Collection
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Game Time: 50 minutes
Description: “In Imhotep, the players become builders in Egypt who want to emulate the first and best-known architect there, namely Imhotep.
Over six rounds, they move wooden stones by boat to create five seminal monuments, and on a turn, a player chooses one of four actions: Procure new stones, load stones on a boat, bring a boat to a monument, or play an action card. While this sounds easy, naturally the other players constantly thwart your building plans by carrying out plans of their own. Only those with the best timing — and the stones to back up their plans — will prove to be Egypt’s best builder.
Imhotep: A New Dynasty adds five new places, fourteen market cards, seven god cards, four chariots, and 56 tiles to the Imhotep base game. God cards let players predict the progress of different buildings, with them being rewarded at the end of the game if they’re correct and otherwise being punished.” ~From BGG
The new place boards are double sided (adding a C and D option for each of the 5 monuments) and add everything from chariot races to a Tetris-like puzzle and more. They can be used together or mixed with the A and B sides from the base game in order to customize the game as much as you’d like.
They also add god cards, which are a betting part of the game. You have 2 scarab tokens, which you can use in order to make a bet on things like how many cubes you’ll have in each area or if you’ll have the most cubes in a particular board area. Each game gives you 3 different god cards that you can choose to bet on. There is only bet spot for each of rounds 1 and 2, 3 and 4, or 5 and 6. The earlier you make a bet, the more points you’ll get at the end of the game if you’re correct (or the more points deducted if you’re incorrect).
Review: There are a lot of people out there that says Imhotep is a “mean” game. I’ve played mean games, and I’m not super fond of them – Imhotep is a fun game that involves you thinking ahead several steps to try and figure out what your opponents are going to do next. It’s as much about playing your opponents as it is about playing your turn.
I say that, because the expansion content takes that and “turns it up to 11” as they say. Each of the areas are really unique and, while it still maintains the feel of the base game (put blocks on boats, put boats on docks, profit), it adds another layer of strategy to the entire game. The chariot race was definitely a lot of fun, and I liked the scaffolding on the pyramid too.
Sarah really enjoyed the obelisk options, which included building a personal obelisk with polyominos on one side; the other side involves claiming an obelisk and building it to a specific height.
My favorite changes are the markets though – both the Black Market and the Double Purchase Market are absolutely fantastic. The black market adds more hidden information than the “B” side of the market from the original game (hooray!) and being able to buy two cards that are next to each other is a ton of fun too.
The god cards are a unique addition to the game, adding some strategic value to how you’re placing blocks and giving your opponents something else that they need to keep an eye out for when you’re placing blocks on boats. While it wasn’t very difficult to achieve the goals when playing at 2, it was still cool. I imagine when you’re playing with them at 4, they end up being a lot more interesting.
The new market cards are amazing! The extra sled, which gives you two additional spots for blocks, was an obvious addition that really made a difference to the game. Combine this with the Stone Ornament, which gives you points based on how many stones are on your sled at the end of the game, and you’ve got some solid scoring opportunities.
The Raft (you have to move two stones from your sled to the quarry; but then you can place another stone from your sled directly to a site) and the Loading Plank (you move one stone from your sled back to your quarry, but immediately sail a ship that has one of your stones to a place where another ship has already gone this round) are absolutely awesome to play with.
Phil Walker-Harding is fantastic at expansions, and this is no exception. His expansions to his game Cacao helped to give that simple game a lot more depth. With the Imhotep expansion, he takes his elegant and straightforward game and makes it something that you can really sink your teeth into as a gamer. I really liked Imhotep before; I love Imhotep now.
Try, Buy, Deny: If you enjoy the fun decisions and gameplay of Imhotep, then you definitely need to buy the expansion. It takes the game to another level, providing a lot more replayability to the game overall.
If you aren’t really enthusiastic about Imhotep, I don’t believe that this is an expansion that will change your mind. The main mechanisms haven’t changed, and while some of those places are way different than what you see in the original game, the methods of claiming spots at the places is not much different.
If you haven’t played Imhotep yet, then you want to be sure that you try that before you go ahead and purchase it and the expansion – it’s a fantastic game for people who enjoy its main mechanisms, but the style of game definitely isn’t for everyone!