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Subject: First Impressions, Factor of Replayability (2p, Adult/Child, 3-4p) rss

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[PERSONAL GOAL: GG for Imhotep fan microbadge]

I am going to post my intial experience and impression review for Imhotep, where I played two 2-player games. I was impressed and the game a very efficient and clear design where I am certain I can outline all the unique strengths of the game regarding the following player scenarios:

[A] 2-player "expert" adult, indicating players who are expert strategians unlikely to make +/- 1 mistake regarding optimal move or choice during turn. Those who will carefully think about each move to a high degree and who opponent equally matches them, similar to a game of chess - no handicap.

[B] 2-3-player game with at least 1 adult and 1 child/teen or non-strategically inclined player (considered by default to be lesser in ability for sake of study, ex...) at least +/- 2 mistake or limited or unwilling in severely appraising all 5 game boards in both immediate-turn and long-term strategy.

[C] 3-4-player game.

I noted intentional design to accomodate all of these levels, and wold like to offer my review as well as my thoughts and later come back to finalize and offer advice and suggestions regarding, especially, what "A or B-side" game boards aka marketplace or building site boards to use for variety, replayability and different player scenarios. all would be fun, and this game is absolutely worth it after my first experiences, so I would like to share and document!

[Note I was going to do this under session reports, but I think it might be better served heard with forum reply capabilitity to update]
[Note I will paste my initial review here and expand with simply thoughts, perhaps better processed via forum replied in subsequent reply posts - any one else is free to chime in]

MY INITIAL FIRST IMPRESSIONS REVIEW

Very simple game to setup/play and as strategic as chess. For two-players who will make optimal and correct decisions each turn, it will be anybody's game down to the final two rounds and a couple points using the default "A-sides." Using a couple of the B-sides will likely change this (big positive in design) making things more open to luck or even more fated circumstance, allowing younger players and non-geniuses some breathing space. FANTASTIC efficient game design. Again very much like chess and a vast improvement beyond the minimal limitations of chess. Overall incredible amount of depth and replayability given the A and B-side boards, quality components. The only "knock" (pun intended) is that while the 3D building elements is also great, there is always the possibility of a spoiled sport knocking over the monolith or moving the game pieces (monolith goes crashing into burial chamber, etc) with a swift, accident brush. (Not a big deal but true, the trade-off for cool component building!) Otherwise untested with multiplayer of 3-4 players, as I just got the game and played twice, but it is apparent the games would be less intense or chess-like with the fuller capacity and no doubt brilliant providing even more replayable variation. INSTANT CLASSIC. Game time is not 30-45minutes. For two players, plan 1.5 hours at least. Not sure about multi-player but 2-3 for serious and smart players who are likely to take 1-2 minutes per turn leisurely to think about each turn move, 2-3 hours. You could fly by the game faster if you want to lose.

~XiphosLogic 29 Nov 2016
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Derek Thompson
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Perhaps we are really smart or really, really dumb, but 1.5 hours is insane. I have NOT played with two, only with 3 and 4, and no game has gone for longer than 40 minutes.

I agree that the game is super impressive and chesslike, though!
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Runcible Spoon
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This...

XiphosLogic wrote:
2-player "expert" adult, indicating players who are expert strategians unlikely to make +/- 1 mistake regarding optimal move or choice during turn. Those who will carefully think about each move to a high degree and who opponent equally matches them, similar to a game of chess - no handicap.


...and this...

XiphosLogic wrote:
Game time is not 30-45minutes. For two players, plan 1.5 hours at least.


...leads to me to think that this sounds like a case of mb.
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Carl Enns
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Yeah
I have played several games all at different counts and I think the longest game was perhaps an hour
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David B
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XiphosLogic wrote:
For two players, plan 1.5 hours at least. Not sure about multi-player but 2-3 for serious and smart players who are likely to take 1-2 minutes per turn leisurely to think about each turn move, 2-3 hours.



If I played a game of this and it took 2 to 3 hours, I would note the other players at the table and refrain from playing with those players in the future.
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Antonello Piemonte
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pfctsqr wrote:
If I played a game of this and it took 2 to 3 hours, I would note the other players at the table and refrain from playing with those players in the future.


well said, fully agree. FWIW, played this twice (4 players), each game took 30 to 40 mins top. Oh, and we all liked it very much.
 
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Michael Frost

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Played this game many, many times at all player counts and with wide variety of new and experienced players. Never gone longer than 45 minutes.

But when I teach it (which is pretty much every time I've played it), I do encourage players to have fun, not overthink the game, and avoid any AP. I always tell 1st time players, just play to learn the mechanic and have fun. And I make sure to motivate any player inclined to AP, reminding them that it is their turn. Keep this short, simple, but fun and challenging game moving.
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Clinton Rice
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Yeah, I really don't get the OP saying it takes 1.5h at least. That should only be the case if:

1) You're playing it wrong
2) Players are overanalyzing their options, or
3) You're engaging in another activity at the same time (like watching a movie on tv or taking a lot of phone calls)


I've played this many times, usually with four players, and my games have always come in well under an hour. Even with new players.
 
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1) No I am not, the game is simple to set up and play.
2+3) No ,again. I played so far with two very smart adult individuals. The game is one that allows strategic choices very similar to chess moves and even surpasses chess in my view (which i am very good at and have played for 30+ years beating adult players since a boy). Not over-analysis, the great thing about this game is that if you have two players that are equally matched and possess the ability to manueuver immediate choice with strategy, in this scenario, you will take a minute or even two to think about your individual turn. 6 rounds, @4 boats in round, roughly 3 turns per boat I guess = 12min per round x 6 = 72 MINUTES + 5 leisurely minutes to setup and yea, a potty break + 5-10 leisurely = 88min, round 90 minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to play each 2-player game. If some turns took two minutes, you'd have this figure take longer --- all inclusive, you should get the point and realistic time frame. If you didn't take a minute to think at all about your turn then you really wouldn't be playing just going through the motion would you? The math and breakdown is there and you really can't argue players take one measly minute to consider their strategic turn. My assessment is more realistic if you actually play the game by design.

I have to say skimming through some replies, a lot of people sound like straight out high brow jerks! I don't see why I should be told I am wrong or criticized for taking a minute or two to think about my move --- I explained the MATH.

In retort, I will say that if people are just chucking blocks on boats and moving them to the building site/game cards, unless you are playing with children in your group or for pure chance and lightweight expedient leisure (nothing wrong with that, but it is not really how the game is designed ideally), you would be playing it wrong --- it is a strategy game. A game for adults as well as one that with some its B-sides can accomodate different modes of play. Great game to help kids think analytically as well (something this world needs because there are too many braindead adults).

There's my two cents. I will just ignore the negative baloney and continue later to document my thoughts and notes here, and then after I play many configurations, tidy up and edit my final review [approximately 3-5 more sessions to go]. Thank you to the people who are not combative and trying to to brush aside the higher strategic elements that this game allows. As a side note, I will also be playing this game in group as well as with a 11-year old (new to tabletop) and a 13-year old gamer (who plays games likes axis and allies).

Lastly, I do not intend to knock everyone in the intial replies at all, no one individual targeted!

However, over-analysis of options - NO. It is a strategy by design and intent where you can and do thwart other players' plans and strategy as well as plan for your own short-term and long-term plans and then have to react and potentially change your plans according to the options present. Yea, depending on how intense your competition is, spending is a minute or two (thinking = strategy) is not unreasonable or 'overboard' (ain't that phunny). Don't sink the boat.

I did note many commenters saying that "1.5 hours is insane" - well, granted I like to relax and play games, not rush people and CHILL. I do not see the reason of speeding through a game and I suspect many commoners who are not necessarily on BGG as members or regular boardgame fanatics, it will take a good 1.5 hours all inclusive, at least for the first few games! Absolutely if you have two strategic players involved.

I could see if I had 4 competitive players - certainly a couple hours. After becoming familiar with the games after a few games, I could see around 40 minutes at its fastest (depending on how the actually game pans out, if certain boards are used). So it is not unreasonable of a figure to quote the game designers time frame of 45 minutes? but easily depending on "chess level strategians" (It is totally ridiculous to call someone over-analytical for taking a minute to think and plan in this game) up to 1.5 easily as I have already stated in two introductory game sessions.

To re-phrase, I say "at least" correlating to the scenario of two "chess-like strategians" sparring off with the default A-side game scenario, according to my first impressions. I said the game is not 30-45minutes and to PLAN for 1.5 hours. Again see math above that actually applies rationality to this time frame. I did not play the game wrong. I did not watch tv or speak on phone. I did take a leak. I was not "over-"analytical however I was analytical. It did take 1.5 hours the first time. And then the second game after getting the game down pat, and taking less than 5 minutes to explain the rules/components to another new player successfully without pain, took exactly 1.5 hours. Next time we plan I expect it might take 45min-1.5 hours. I will likely update here. But it is clear that depending, individuals games between two players could certainly and did in my case (1 minute alloted per turn, again see math) did take 1.5 hours.

PS. Excuse, the redundancy. Point hammered. This ship is sailing. Amen-Ra.

"Yeah, I really don't get the OP saying it takes 1.5h at least. That should only be the case if:

1) You're playing it wrong
2) Players are overanalyzing their options, or
3) You're engaging in another activity at the same time (like watching a movie on tv or taking a lot of phone calls"
 
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David B
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Well alrighty then.
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Session report/update

Interestingly in the 2 first-time 2-player sessions, they were very strategic and fairly intense and satisfying and took 1.5 hours to play.

I just played another session with another first-time player. 2-player game against a 50-year chess veteran - for fun, let's just call him Pops Xiphos! The game was again pitting to "strategian-level" players pitted against each other. The game this time took exactly 1-hour and might have taken, considering Pops Xiphos first-time and taking a little long on a couple turns, down to 45-minutes.

WHY THE DIFFERENCE? Interesting notes, two factors at play here:
[b]
Answer: The types of boats used in the turns or overall game + player configuration.
(Component brief): In the game 4 boats are played per turn. The variety of boats accomodate various potential number of blocks: (2) 4-block boats in game; (3) 3-block boats; (2) 2-block boats; (1) 1-block boats.

- The previous longer games utilized around maybe 50% of blocks (I think) yet were some fierce decision making AND all 6 rounds used an even variety of the boats, perhaps weighted towards small (thus much less blocks used).

- In the Pops Xiphos game, we actually went through all the blocks and it was quicker, what I would definitely call a firm 45-minute / hour game. For most or I think 5 out of 6 rounds, most boats out of the 4 per round were larger AND filled up heavily. Thus we burned through blocks but also it was much faster in filling and allotting to boats for how this game session panned out. Quicker game.

Therefore, it is possible depending on #1 player configuration + #2 Type of boat draws you get + a minor #3 strategy employed (regarding cards, building sites) that games will or could easily vary from perhaps 30-minutes to 90-minutes at the more extreme ends, based on the the literal luck of the draw. A 1.5hr game is in my opinion and experience thus far is more possible than a 30-minute game, which would be rushing it by with more rash decisions. Average I am guessing for familiars 45-60 minutes.

I expect to have in future with these three specific players (3 adults in 2-player games) mainly have 45-75 minutes game in future on average. It seems stupid to obsess on game time but it is actually allowing me to notice elements of the game, specifically variety and will be fun as I comb through the different building site boards and see how the boats and cards affect play regarding player configuration, timings: general qualitative play AND quantitative play.

I am a fan of Egyptology and beyond the quantitative, for example the A-side Obelisk board in the mix of building site can intense games be an interesting factor. Personally I would always prefer the A-side I think because it is more "rpg-ish, conceptual" where building the 3D Obelisk represents the theme best, and in reality those 10 points are in reality a potential game-changer as opposed to only a superficial slight edge. I have looked at the B-side that obviously stands and a tricky and good option for multiplayer games with familiar players, that might be suited best for longtime players as an extra measure of complexity and boredom fighter. I probably am a purist who prefers his obelisk to stand erect on all accounts.

One thing is certain at this point in my mind: 2-player games - using the default A-Side boards, 1 or 2 bad moves is certain death for a player. Each game result will be at stake in the last two rounds, luck very minor element and the scoring with no mistakes or non-optimal choices made should resolve at around 2-3 point difference! I can definitely see utilizing the B-side marketplace and B-side pyramid building sites that introduce extra marketplace cards and bonus actions would solve any issue if a more loose and luck-driven game is desired!

Overall again confirmed excellent par excellence variety offered. I expect to play a few more A-side only 2-player games with same opponents before I get to the kids perhaps (the constant fight against damn console video games goes on - but I know its a fad just an untimely one for the gods).

PS. End ramble of thoughts. And that damn Pops Xiphos won! (Gifted him one non-ideal move and then intentionally blew the last one that probably cost the game, yet as I mentioned it would have been close again down to 2-3 points most likely).

PS #2 - All players really enjoyed the game and want to play it again.

- update end, more updates l8ter -
 
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Jeremy Widbin
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Disagreement with your assessment <> combative or negative bologna. Everyone has an opinion and that is the nature of the hobby. No offense is meant when someone disagrees with you and to basically accuse people of being simple minded says more about you than those who replied.

You seem to be assuming that for anyone to determine an optimal move it will take 1-2 minutes. Anyone who disagrees with this you say is just not able to understand the depth and complexity offered, or they are just going through the motions and don't care. I would completely disagree with this. In any game you should have alternate plans and think during the other player's turns. This is a light weight game. Even over 1.5 hours and it would outstay its welcome at the table.

You also basically said people didn't understand how the game was designed (since they disagreed with 1-2 minutes per turn) which means you are saying even the designer doesn't understand the design of the game given the length assigned.

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Clinton Rice
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XiphosLogic wrote:
6 rounds, @4 boats in round, roughly 3 turns per boat I guess = 12min per round


Ah well that explains it then. It only takes us a few seconds to place a block on a boat or grab three from the quarry. We don't average a minute a play. Maybe if we're sailing to the marketplace. But the average turn we finish much faster than that. I guess that's fine for you in a two player game but in a four player game, I would expect better than an action every four minutes.
 
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Todd Miller
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When I've played its been < 60 minutes on average. We do think on our turns but part of our strategy is sailing boats early to thwart others. So many times we aren't filling the big ships to capacity. Also I'm thinking ahead what I want to do while others play so it's usually pretty quick.

I don't think I'd play this game as much if it took 1.5hours or longer and I don't think that was the creators intent. The game's estimated time, based on play testing I assume, matches what the majority of us are saying.

You choose to play a longer game...awesome. we're all just finding a different (shorter) experience is all.

Rumor has it Santa is putting this game under the tree for me!

 
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Quick session note:
Just played game - two adults age 42 with one boy 19 + one boy 11.

Game time including setup, putting away, 15 minutes max of game instruction and a couple pointers in play for boy 11 and couple quick (#1) toilet breaks = 3 hours. Game was played at a normal speed, no one taking that long to make a move. Cut out the game set up and all the actual "non-play" = 1.5 hours easy (and minimal for this session) total for 4 players.

It was good fun again however the experience was a little more random or seemingly a luck-based result. I thought I was going to be in 3rd place for sure and I actual won by a fair margin of 7 points from the 2nd place player (boy 11!) and significantly from the two others. Seemed odd and not as satisfying compared to the higher tense strategy between two players.

Important thoughts derived from experience:
1) Replayability after being seasoned, well-experienced player: I am definitely thinking about using the B-side for the following boards next time regardless of # of players: Marketplace + Pyramid - these offer extra card pulls and bonus (I believe) that should liven things up..
2) When I prefer a 2-player tense "Chess" session, stick with the A-boards and the experience with the natural design of game site boards and boats will suffice in giving a varied experience in both game time, block/boat ratio, and choice of strategy to perfect effect.
3) When I want a more relaxed or extra luck-based elements, flip over the Marketplace and Pyramid sides to their B-sides. And of course from there you can alternatively play the other B-sides.
Note: The Burial Chamber A-side with its mini game of tetris (have never been a fan of tetris) is actually great and first time, within the context of this game, I really love it here and a very strong board. Like the A-Sides of Temple and Obelisk and would probably prefer to stick to them as I like them conceptually in theme with the game.
4) Last note: I am very curious to try this one more time with all A-sides gameboards with 3 player as my impression was that 3-players might be the ideal # for the game versus a 2-player A-side Chess-sparring match.
#
 
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Michael Frost

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Whatever you are doing to teach and play this, you're taking far, far longer than I ever have to play a 4-player game.

You appear to be the exception. An outlier. For whatever reason.

And what is the silliness about "toilet breaks"? People should go to the bathroom before they play. This shouldn't be part of any "time" consideration!
 
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