Imhotep: The Duel Review

We played Imhotep: The Duel in Seattle in a great board game cafe called Cafe Mox, which was pretty fantastic, as there were a ton of games, friendly staff, and no fee to play any of the available games in the board game cafe. I enjoyed playing this game, and it’s one of the best 2 player board games in my opinion, and if you get whooped (which I did) by your partner, the mechanics are varied, strategic, and dynamic enough that it would be fun to play again.

In this follow up to the multi-player Imhotep (Builder of Egypt), you are again a master builder, this time either wife or husband, Nefertiti or Akhenaten, and trying to gain the most points by building up 4 your monuments with cargo – the Obelisk, Temple, Pyramid, and Tomb. The opposing builder has the same goal, and the monuments act as each player’s board with the Harbor acting as the community board. The Harbor consists of a 3×3 grid with 9 spaces for meeples to be played and on the edge there are 6 mooring spaces for the cargo ships to permanently dock. Each ship carries 3 cargo tokens, and each row corresponds to one of the ships.

Monuments and Harbor

Designed by Phil Walker Harding, 2 players, ages 10+

Each player can take one of three actions 1) Place a meeple in the Harbor (each player has a total of 4) 2) Unload a boat or 3) Play an action token. To start, the first player places a meeple on the Harbor board.  As each of the 9 places on the board corresponds to cargo, this is a big factor to consider when placing one of your four meeples. The grid is arranged in such a way that each space corresponds to a token on 2 ships (e.g. row and column). Once there are 2 or 3 meeples in a row, the cargo on the ship can be unloaded.

The rows can consist of meeples from both builders. Let’s say you are the builder with the white meeples, and there is 1 white meeple and 1 black meeple in a row. If you decide to unload this ship on your turn, you would get the corresponding token on the ship of your choice, and the other player would also get their token. If there were 2 white meeples and 1 black meeple in a row, and you decided to unload, you would get your 2 corresponding tokens and the other player their token. Once a ship is unloaded, it is refilled from a pile of face down tokens. Also, in addition to cargo tokens (for the 4 types of monuments), there are action tokens such as “Take 1 Cargo Token” or “Swap 2 Cargo Tokens and Unload”.

The tokens that you unload from the boats are placed in your respective monuments, adding to your total points, and for the most part, have an accelerating or bonus effect with the more you collect. There are 12 tokens for each  of the 4 monuments. For the Obelisk monument, for each token you collect, you get 1 point, and if you have more Obelisk tokens than the other player, you get 6 additional points. For the Temple, tokens range from 1-4 points a piece and are scored by total points only. For the Pyramid, there are 6 light brown and 6 dark brown tokens, and the more of each you collect, the more points you acquire (e.g. 2 light brown tokens = 4 points while 4 tokens = 15 points). For the Tomb, tokens are numbered 1-12, and the more you can collect in consecutive order, the more points you will be awarded.

In summary, you must decide when and where to place your meeples while taking into the account the cargo you want, and where the other player is placing their meeples, as well the points they are going after across the 4 monuments. Imhotop is challenging and a great way to challenge your mind without being overly complicated in mechanics and game play. For more of our best strategy board game recommendations, we have a fantastic list of 15 games that will blow your mind.

The rules of Imhotep: The Duel can be found here.

Imhotep board game cover
Imhotep: The Duel Review
Critic's Corner Review
Imhotep: The Duel is a light, strategic game for 2 players that I recommend. Easy to learn, and challenging enough to stay invested. Plays in 30 minutes.
Easy to learn, repeatable play
Challenging, without being complicated
Fun theme, and well designed game components
2 players only