How to Play – Imhotep

How to Play - Imhotep

Follow the greatest architect from Ancient Egypt, Imhotep, the engineer responsible for the first pyramid of Ancient Egypt. Can you match the achievements of one so great? The players will compete with each other to construct Egypt, but it will take careful planning as players load boats with the much needed stone and deliver them to the various projects. But only one can be the greatest in all of Egypt.

Imhotep is a game played over six rounds where each player takes one action to quarry stone, load a stone, deliver a stone or play a card. Players score points depending on where and when they deliver the stones to the various places of Egypt. After the sixth round the player with the highest score is crowned the victor.

Imhotep - Creating the Land of the Nile

Place the five sites in the centre of the play area; each has two sides, it is recommended that you use side A for the first few games of Imhotep and when you know the rules and the strategies of the game use side B; after this it will be completely up to you if you want to use side A or B of each site and mixing and matching them can be fun.

Place the scoreboard near the play area along with the ship tokens. Shuffle the market cards and place them near the market site. Next, take the round cards, there are three sets of seven; a set for two players, a set for three players and a set for four players. Take the set needed, and return the rest to the box, shuffle the seven cards, return one of them to the box leaving six round cards for the appropriate number of players at the table. Place these next to the ships.

Each player takes a coloured set of stones and a sled, and each player places one stone on the zero space of the score track. Decide who will be first player; they take two of their stones and place them on their sled, the next player takes three stones, the next takes four and in a four-player game - the final player takes all five. This levels the playing field somewhat and reduces the advantage of being first in a simple and creative way.

With set-up complete it is time to build Egypt.

Build the Greatest Monument of the Ancient World

First, turn over the first round card, this will have a picture of four boats on it, these are the four boats that will be used during this round, set the unused ones aside for now. Then place the top four market cards on the market site face-up so all players can see them.

Each player will now take a single turn in order. On their turn a player can do one of the following:

  • Get new stones. A player can gain up to three new stones from the quarry and place them on his sled, he can never have more than five stones on the sled. If you have five stones on your sled, or if there are no stones of your colour left in the quarry, then you cannot take this action and must choose a different action.
  • A player can take one stone from their sled and place it on any empty space on any ship.
  • A player can sail any one ship to a site. The ship must have the minimum number of stones loaded onto it, which is indicated on the ship token. But it is basically the maximum spaces on the ship, minus one to a minimum of one. I.E, the size four needed three stones, the size three needs two, size two and one only need one. The ship must also sail to an empty site; each site only has one space for a ship, so each round only one board can sail to each. It's important to note that you do not need to have your colour stones on it for you to sail. Once a ship arrives at a site the stones are unloaded in order, front to back, onto the site following the instructions for each site (See below).
  • The final option is to play a blue market card and follow the instructions on them.

Once all four ships have sailed and the stones have been unloaded the round ends, the Temple site is scored at the end of each round (see below), the boats are gathered up and any remaining cards at the market site are placed in the discard pile. The next round then begins with the next round card indicating the ships used and new market cards put in play. After the sixth round the final scoring is carried out, the player with the highest points is the winner of Imhotep.

The Great Projects of Egypt

When the ships arrive at the sites laden with stones, each stone is taken off in order from the front of the ship to the back ignoring and gaps in the ship, each site works and scores differently.

The 'A' side to the Market; When the ship arrives at the market the player with the first stone gets to pick from the four cards available, then the next colour stone gets to take one of the three remaining cards and so on until all the cards or stones have been used. Stones used in this way return to the quarry. The market consists of four different colours; blue, purple, red and green. Red cards are played immediately and discarded, blue cards are kept and used on the player's turn and discarded or at the end of the game are worth one point. Green and purple cards are kept face-up in front of the player who acquired them and add to points at the end of the game for the player.

The 'A' side of the Pyramid; The stones are placed one after the other on the next free space of the pyramid, immediately earning the player points. The pyramid is made column by column left to right from top to bottom. The first layer is 3x3, the next layer is 2x2 with the points noted on the edge of the board, and finally a single stone on top. Stones can be delivered even after the pyramid has been completed scoring one point per stone for their respective players.

The 'A' side of the temple; The stones are placed, again, in order along a single track that is four blocks long in a two-player game, and five blocks long in a three and four-player game. Once one row has been completed it starts again on the top of the completed row. At the end of each round player score one point for each stone that is visible when looking from above.

The 'A' side of the burial chamber; Like the pyramid the burial chamber is built up in column's made top to bottom and left to right when each column is completed and is unrestricted in the right direction and therefore can go off the board! The scoring is based on how many stones of the same colour are connected along their long edges. One lone stone scoring one point, two score three points and so on as described on the board.

The 'A' side to the obelisk; Players build their individual obelisks here and are scored at the end of the game, with the tallest earning the most points as indicated on the board. If there is a tie then the total points are divided among the tied players, for example in a two-player game, if both obelisks are the same height then the players share 10 points (five each). A player must have at least one stone to score anything.

B Boards

The 'B' sides of the boards are a little more complex in how they work and how they score, it's advised to use the 'A' sides for your first games of Imhotep before trying out the 'B' sides.

The 'B' side market; The 'B' side market has three face-up cards placed on it at the start of each round and two face-down ones in the indicated space. When a ship arrives at the market a player can choose to take a face-up card as normal or can take the two face-down cards, choose one to keep and discard the other.

The 'B' side pyramid; The 'B' side has three smaller pyramids rather than one large one. The player who delivers their stones here can choose which pyramid to deliver to but, like the larger one on the 'A' side, they must be completed in columns from the top down and across from left to right. The scores are written in each block along with a few extra perks that the player gets, such as an extra market card from the deck, collecting three stones from the quarry onto their sled or moving a stone to a boat. Like the 'A' side any additional stones that are delivered are worth one point and all the pyramid stones are scored as soon as the stones are placed.

The 'B' side of the Temple; Like the 'A' side, the temple is scored at the end of each round and based on which stones are visible when looked at from above. Similar to the 'B' side pyramids, the spaces that the blocks take up have some special extra perks to them than just points, one point or two stones, two points, or take a market card.

The 'B' side burial chamber; The burial chamber is built up the same as the 'A' side, but instead of scoring all stones that are connected at the end of the game it is based on the most to the fewest stone in each row. Each row scores either eight, four, two or zero points. Points are shared between any tied players. Players must have at least one stone in the row to score anything.

The 'B' side obelisk; When stones are delivered here, the player places them in their corresponding colour space. Each player has two, when they deliver the third stone the three stone obelisk is placed on the free space with the highest value and immediately score that many points. Any stones that do not make it into the obelisk at the end of the game are worth one extra point.

The Skills of Great Architects

Imhotep is a game of not only placing stone in advantageous positions for gaining the most points, but also a game of manoeuvring the other players into doing things to give you advantages and out-manoeuvring the other players. The order that the stones go on the ships is the same as the order that they come off (unless you use a certain type of market card), so you can plan and predict to some extent what the outcome of sending certain ships to certain places.

Don't be afraid of losing certain advantages to gain advantage in other parts of Egypt. You must also be aware of what the other players are doing, not only where they are building but also what cards they have collected. It is fairly easy for a player to start collecting statue cards from the market and these cards can score big at the end of the game. It is also possible for players to build up advantages positioning in various places around Egypt, the burial chamber is a good advantage where players can get a large number of points at the end of the game based on one or two well timed moves to fill the spaces creating big areas of their colour.

Being aware of what the ship requirements are to sail is also important and the dreaded one block boat is something of a double-edged sword, you can be the only player going somewhere, but once you place a block on it you are then at the mercy of the other players as to where you go, unless you have a market card that lets you place a block and sail the ship in the same turn.

If timed right you can send a ship to the temple and have a player gain no advantage to what they already had by simply having their blocks placed over their own blocks (meaning they score exactly the same), but they will have wasted blocks and time prepping the boat.

One of the key factors in Imhotep is the cards, and they are sometimes over looked, we have already talked about how a player can quickly get a number of statue cards, but there are the blue market cards that generally allow you to make special moves that over come some of the strategic cost of having only one action per turn. They can even score players points at the end of the game if they have not placed any of their blocks in a building! Players ignore the market at their own peril as these cards can augment any disadvantage to a degree.

Now you know how to build the Egypt that Imhotep envisioned, set your stones well, sail the ships.