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Game Overview: Imhotep: The Duel, or Tombs to the Left of Me, Obelisks to the Right

W. Eric Martin
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Egypt: The land of intense staring
I'm gearing up for previews of 2020 game releases, but we're in kind of a lull at the moment, so I thought I'd highlight a fine design that seemed to come and go with little notice: Phil Walker-Harding's Imhotep: The Duel, which KOSMOS released in German at SPIEL '18, then in English in July 2019.

Imhotep: The Duel is another example of a larger game boiled down to its core, then presented as a smaller package for those who want more of the same, yet different. For the most part, in the game you either place a figure on one of the spaces in the 3x3 game board, or unload a boat that has two or three figures standing in front of it, with the owner of those figures claiming those items. You'll get stuff, your opponent will get stuff, and ideally your stuff will best theirs.

The conflict in the game derives from your desire to place more figures on the board (so that you'll get more stuff when a boat is unloaded) versus your eagerness to unload this boat to ensure that you get this item before your opponent unloads that boat to give you a less desirable item instead. How this happens is that each figure is in line with two boats, so your figures are not guaranteed to get the items you want since they will be used by whichever boat in their path unloads first. More stuff versus better stuff — that's a far less catchy title, but it's a fair assessment of the dilemma you face while playing.

I've played Imhotep: The Duel six times on a review copy from KOSMOS, and my overview video below delves into more detail of how the game works and why its central dilemma might feel so familiar to you — beyond it being used in the original Imhotep game, of course.

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