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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Imhotep) rss

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Michael Carpenter
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For the Meeple, by the Meeple


SUMMARY




Imhotep is a competitive board game in which 2-4 players compete to most impressively match the master builder of ancient Egypt, Imhotep. To do so, players attempt to builder send their own stones to the work sites of four major ancient Egypt projects: the pyramids, the burial chamber, the obelisks, and the temple. Players may also use the aid of the market to improve their efforts on these projects. The difficulty in this objective is that all players are using the same ships to sail their stones to the sites so planning is vital and sacrificing your own progress to hinder another builder's progress is a must at times.



THE BOARD




The board in Imhotep is made up of the five locations that builders can send their stones. Each location has a specific way of scoring or using the location. However, each location also has an A side and a B side to allow for variable setup. You may mix and match A sides with B sides to allow for as much variety as possible. For your first game it is recommended that you use the five A sides to get accustomed to the base function of each location. Each player also has a personal sled for their own stones that functions as a small player board. Both the boards for the sleds and for the locations are solid and sturdy.



THE COMPONENTS





Depending on how many players are in the game you will use one of three sets of seven round cards. You can determine which set of seven cards to use based on the number of heads located on the bottom of the back of the cards. These round cards are used to tell you which ships to use during each round of the game.




While the cards look very nice, they are a tad flimsy and do not bounce back to their original form real nicely.



There are also thirty-four market cards. Players use these cards four at a time in the market place location of the main board in each round. There are four types of markets cards in the game, some will help you immediately, some will help once throughout the course of the game, and some will adjust your score at the end of the game. These market cards are of the same quality as the round cards.



There are eight ships in the game as well. Each ship has a distinct number of locations on it ranging from one to four. While difficult to see in the picture below, each ship also has a symbol at the front of the boat that tells you how many stones must be in the boat before it may be shipped. The larger boats require more stones before being shipped than the smaller boats, thus adding to the strategy of placing your stones.



There is also a scoring track and one hundred twenty nice chunky cubes used as the stones in the various projects. The cubes in Imhotep are considerably larger than your standard cubes in most games and make for a really nice appearance on the table as the projects are being built.


THE GAMEPLAY


Below is the setup for a four player game. Once a start player is decided that player takes two of their stones and places them on their shed. The player to their left takes three, the next player four and the last player fills all five spaces on their sled.




Players should make sure the first round card is revealed from the appropriate set of seven and should place the four designated ships next to the blue side of the main board that has cut-outs where the ships may dock when sailing to each location.



On a player's turn they may take one of four actions: Get new stones, Place one stone on a ship, Play one blue market card, or Sail one ship to a site.

Get new stones: If a player chooses this action on their turn they take up to three stones of their choice from their quarry (the cubes that are not in play) and places them on his or her sled. If a player only has room for one or two stones on his or her sled they may only take that many stones on this turn.

Place one stone on a ship: If a player chooses to take this action the player takes one stone of his or her color from their sled and places it on any of the boats that have not been shipped. The player does not have to place the stone in the front-most open space on the ship. This is because at some of the sites placement of the stones is based on the order of the stones in the ship. This aspect of the game is crucial to the success of the players because several of the sites score points based on where the stones are located.

Play one blue market card: The blue market cards that can be taken from the market give the players some type of one-time advantage. This advantage can be used as the action on a player's turn and they typically allow you to perform the other actions as part of the advantage given by the card.

Sail one ship to a site: If a player chooses to use this action on his or her turn the player selects one of the ships that have not been sent to shore, and has the appropriate number of stones in it, to sail to one of the sites. This is done by moving the ship into the cut-out docking area of the site. A player does not have to have any of their own stones on a ship to sail it to shore. This is the meat of the game.

The five locations of the main board are the Market, the Obelisks, the Pyramids, the Temple, and the Burial Chamber.

Each location has a side A and a side B and each side has a slightly different way of scoring points. For this review I will only be covering side A of each location.

The Market: When a ship arrives at the market each player that owns a stone on the ship may take one card from the market. The player that owns the stone in the first space of the ship may choose a card first, followed by the second stone, and so on. Depending on the color of the card chosen the player may need to play a red card immediately, play a blue card on a later turn as their action, or hold onto the purple and green cards until the end of the game. If a player has more than one stone on the ship they may take one card for each stone, still following the rules for the order of selection.



The Obelisks: When a ship arrives at this location players that own any stones on the ship may take their stones from the ship and stack them on their corresponding space on the Obelisk site. The player with the tallest obelisk at the end of the game will score the most points for that site and points will be given in descending amounts for second, third, and fourth. Different amounts of points are given according to the number of players.



The Pyramid: When a ship arrives at this site the stones are placed in order of their location on the ship. The front-most stone is placed in the top left corner of the 3 x 3 grid when the first ship arrives at the site. The second stone is placed directly below the first stone. Placement of the stones continues downward for all three of the spaces in the first column and then placement continues over to the second column, following the same downward order. Each space in the pyramid has a number of points it earns the player that places a stone on it. These points should be scored immediately on the scoring track.





Once all nine spaces of the bottom layer of the pyramid are filled four stones will be placed on top of those nine stones to create the second layer of the pyramid. Once the second layer is complete a final stone is placed on top of the pyramid to complete it. Stones placed in the second and third layer will also score points for where they are placed and will follow the same rules for placement. Any stones delivered to the pyramids after the pyramid is completed will score one point each.




The Burial Chamber: When a ship arrives at the burial chamber each player that owns a stone on the ship must place his or her stone in the burial chamber. Again, the order of placement is determined by where the stones are located in the ship. To place stones in the burial chamber the first player places his or her stone in the top left space of the burial chamber (assuming it is the first time a ship has arrived at the burial chamber). The second stone is placed directly below that stone and so on until the first column is full. Players then repeat this process in the next column.




Points are scored in the burial chamber based on how many stones a player has touching one another. The player scores 1 point for a single stone, 3 points for two stones, 6 points for 3, and this continues upward for all possible numbers of connected stones. Player may score for more than one connection as well. In the image above the gray and white players would each only earn 1 point for their single stones, the black player would earn 6 points for the L-shape of three stones and 1 points for the single cube in the bottom left corner for a total of 7, and the brown player would score 6 points for the L-shape of three stones, 1 point for the single stone in the top right and 1 point for the single stone located diagonally from the L-shape for a total of 8 points. Stones do not count toward a connection if they are not adjacent to another stone in the connection. The scoring of the burial chamber happens at the end of the game.

The Temple: When a ship arrives at the temple all players that own at least one stone in the ship must place the stones in the temple. To do so, players follow the typical order of placement based on location of the stones in the ship. However, for the temple, stones are placed across the five spaces of the temple from left to right. Once all five spaces of the temple are filled players should begin filling in the secondf layer, again from left to right. Players calculate the points for the temple at the end of each round. To calculate the score of the temple player should look at the temple from an aerial view. All stones that are visible from an aerial view score the owner 1 point each. Therefore, stones on two different layers may score points at the end of a round.

At the end of this round the brown player would score 2 points, the white player would score 1 point, and the black player would score 2 points.



At the end of this round the brown player would score 1 point for the stone on the second layer, gray would score 2 points for two stones on the second layer, and black would score 2 points for the two stones on the first layer that are still showing from an aerial view.



Play continues each round until all four ships have been sailed to sites. Only four of the five sites will have a ship at the end of each round.



Once this is done players must make sure to score the temple, then reset the board for the next round by drawing a new round card and placing the appropriate ships beside the board, then place four new cards in the market. Play continues for seven rounds. At the end of the seventh round players account for any end of game scoring the green and purple market cards may allow then score the burial chamber and the obelisk sites. The player with the most points on the scoring track wins the game.



FINAL THOUGHTS


I really enjoy Imhotep. While this game does not break into new areas of gaming it does do a lot of things we are used to really well. Player interaction, take-that (in a sense), cards that provide an advantage, three-dimensional aspects, all of this has been done but the way Imhotep combines these things makes for a brilliant experience. The game just makes you feel like you are playing a game. You do not feel like you are doing work in this game like some games can make you feel, but instead lets you relax yet make interesting decisions.

Even though there are multiple things to consider on your turn, your turn typically goes very quickly, one action and you're done. The trick is, this one action must be done intelligently because in a four player game a lot may change by the time your turn comes around again, even if it does come around quickly.

I love that there are multiple ways to approach this game. Some players are aggressive and try to dictate where the ships are going, some players make sure to deliver stones in abundance, some players try to accumulate a lot of market cards for the end of the game, and some players simply try to balance it all. There is a recognizable strategy for almost any player in this game. With that said, the strategy is not incredibly deep. You do need to know what your opponents are doing and while you may have a strategy in mind, the landscape of the ships and sites can change drastically between your turns so it almost feels more tactical than strategical, or even a bit of both.

Families will love this game, the parents will love the decisions it offers and the kids will love the building aspects and the ease of play. Serious gamers could enjoy this game but I think it will settle in with families when all is said and done. The fact that each site has two sides will allow for some repeat plays and the mix and match will take that a step further but I think it is the fast pace, short length (30-45 minutes) and the overall feel of this game that will likely make it a favorite for a lot of families.

Give this one a try for sure if you play a lot of games with your family! Definitely worth it.



Rating: 9/10


If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple

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John Rudolph
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How about with only 2 players? Worth the buy?
 
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Michael Carpenter
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Putzmanrudy1 wrote:
How about with only 2 players? Worth the buy?


I would say it probably isn't the best two player game. It works, but it seems to diminish the excitement of the mixture of having to choose whether to place or sail. It can fall into that rut that two player games have where one player develops an advantage because of player order. It is isn't the worst culprit of this but I would suggest not buying it for two players specifically. Just my opinion though.
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Brodie
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MariettaTennis wrote:
Putzmanrudy1 wrote:
How about with only 2 players? Worth the buy?


I would say it probably isn't the best two player game. It works, but it seems to diminish the excitement of the mixture of having to choose whether to place or sail. It can fall into that rut that two player games have where one player develops an advantage because of player order. It is isn't the worst culprit of this but I would suggest not buying it for two players specifically. Just my opinion though.


Having played it for the first time just last night with only two players, I have to agree. I didn't like it with just two players for the turn-order reasons you mentioned, but I look forward to trying it with 3 or 4 players.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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I think you'll see an improvement in three and a really enjoyable game at four. Keep in mind, it is pretty light and good for families. If you are playing it with a gaming group you may not enjoy it as much as I do with my family. Enjoy!!! Let me know what you think.
 
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Carlos C
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Putzmanrudy1 wrote:
How about with only 2 players? Worth the buy?


In have been playing 2p and is worth it. You have more control over what is happening so you can play more strategically. The stone order is still important for the pyramid and the Chamber. You will be sailing faster and the Obelisk A) will be a pressure zone.
 
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