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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Lots of ways to score points
  • Easy to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Fun components

Might Not Like

  • Fiddly
  • Lack of variation
  • Repetitive

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Imhotep The Duel Review

imhotep the duel

After the success of Imhotep, Imhotep The Duel was released in 2019. This game is made just for two and takes the core themes from its Big Sister and dilutes them. Are you ready to go head-to-head and build the best Egyptian monuments? Battle it out as Nefertiti and Akhenaten and become the Empires master builder.

Setup

Imhotep The Duel, comes in a nice small box. But don’t let the size fool you. Inside it is filled with cardboard components, which are fun to pop out. First, players will take their score boards and set them up on side A or side B. These boards consist of the Obelisk, Temple, Tomb and Pyramid scoring tracks. Next shuffle the 60 cargo tokens and place them face down in a pile. Place the 3x3 harbour board and slot each of the 6 boats into it. Then fill up the boats with cargo tokens. When placing these, you place them face up.

Give each player their 4 worker meeples. Then select 3 cargo tokens from the main reserve and put them in a pile face down on the spare space connected to the harbour board.

You are now ready to play!

Unloading The Boats

The aim of the game is simple; collect the most points before all the boats bar one have left the harbour. Players take it turn and can carry out 1 of the 3 following actions: Place a worker, unload a boat, or play an action tile.

Place a worker: To be able to unload boats, workers must be placed in the harbour 3x3 grid. When 2 workers are in a row/column, players will be able to unload boats. However, depending on where you worker is will depend on what cargo tile, they get off the boat. Placing workers is therefore a strategic affair where you try to block off your opponent's play and steal key tiles they need.

Unload a boat: Once 2 workers have been placed in a row or column, players can unload the boat moored there. Each worker can carry 1 tile and boats are unloaded back to front. This means the worker closest to the boat will receive the tile furthest away. Once the boat has been unloaded, workers are removed, and the boat is loaded back up with tiles. Collected tiles are then placed into 1 of your 4 monuments. Players can unload a boat even if the 2 workers in the column/row do not belong to them.

Play an action tile: In the game, there are 12 action tokens which consist of 4 different actions. You will be able to gain these tiles from unloading boats which have them. You can then use a turn to play one of these tokens and perform its action. The actions can be real game changers and mess up your opponent’s strategy. Actions include: Placing 2-3 workers, place a worker and unload 1-2 boats, swap 2 cargo tiles and unload, and take 1 cargo tile.

Players will keep taking turns and filling up boats until no more tiles remain in the reserve. When boats are unloaded and can no longer be filled, you remove them from the harbour.

Monumental Points

When only one boat remains in the harbour, the game will end. Players will then tot up their points attributed to each monument. When playing on the A-side, players will score based on the following conditions:

Temple: Points will be given for each red pillar on your temple tiles. These tiles can have 1-4 pillars on them.

Tomb: There are only 12 Tomb tiles, and they are numbered 1-12. On the A side players will receive points based on how many of their Tomb tiles are next to each other. You want to collect tiles in sequential order to score big. If players get a total of 5+ Tomb tiles next to each other they will score 25 points.

Pyramid: Players can build 2 pyramids over the course of the game. Light and dark pyramid tiles can be collected from the boats. Players will score based on how big their pyramids are. Pyramids made up of 6 tiles will score 21 points!

Obelisk: Each Obelisk tile is worth 1 point. The player who builds the tallest Obelisk will gain an additional 6 points.

Regardless of which side you are playing, players will score a point for each unplayed action tile in their possession. Players will also get a point for each worker still on the harbour board.

If it’s a tie, the player who didn’t start the game, wins!

The B Sides

To mix things up, player boards are double sided. Once you’ve had enough of the A-side you can flip it over and try winning using new conditions. You still must build the Temple, Tomb, Obelisk and Pyramids but each one scores differently.

Temple: Temple tiles are now collected in sets and stacked. Each set is awarded points based on how many tiles are in it.

Tomb: Each group of unconnected Tomb tiles score 4 points each. Therefore, you want lots of breaks between these tiles to score the maximum number of points. Groups can consist of 1 tile.

Pyramid: Only the smaller Pyramid scores points. If your smaller Pyramid consists of 0 or 1 tiles you will get –6 or 0 points. This incentivises players to prioritise unloading Pyramid tiles.

Obelisk: The player who reaches 5 tiles first will get 12 points. If the other player reaches 5 after, they will receive 6 points.

Having 2 sides mixes up how you approach each game. Players can even decide to use both A and B sides, if their boards match. This adds a small level of variance every time you play.

Final Thoughts

Imhotep The Duel, is a solid 2 player game. It has a great dynamic as players push and pull against one another. Throughout the game, you can constantly watch your opponent and adapt your strategy to make sure they don’t get too far ahead. The randomisation of resource tiles adds a bit of luck and keeps the game interesting.

Mechanics such as using action tiles or unloading an opponent's boat can change the pace of the game. These actions can be brutal but up the entertainment value as you mess with your opponent's strategy. As you can only take 1 move each turn, gameplay is fast paced, and games are relatively short. It’s a snappy strategy game filled with deception.

Yet, Imhotep The Duel isn’t without fault. With only 2 scoring variants, this game can get stale quickly. It's something to mix and match with other games in your collection and not play for long periods of time. Doing so, will ruin the magic. Furthermore, as there are so many cardboard components, it can be fiddly. When emptying boats, they can move around and mess up other tiles. Nothing stays still, even on a flat surface.

Overall, Imhotep The Duel, manages to capture the strategy of the original game whilst streamlining gameplay. Its better balanced then the 2-player variant in Imhotep and worth adding to your collection. It’s a head-to-head battle but you never declare war on the other player. It’s subtle subterfuge and trickery which makes this game so much fun. Just don’t overplay it, as it can get repetitive.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Lots of ways to score points
  • Easy to learn
  • Quick to play
  • Fun components

Might not like

  • Fiddly
  • Lack of variation
  • Repetitive

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