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Board Game Review – Imhotep

2017 June 11
by Michael Schroeder

Who would have known that sailing other people’s ships of stone would upset them so much! That’s what you get in Imhotep, by Phil Walker-Harding.

Number of players: 2-4

Age: 10+

Playing Time: 40 minutes

Imhotep

What’s the game about: A description from the publisher…

Imhotep. The legendary architect of the Egyptian monuments. His awe-inspiring structures and brutal tactics earned him divine status among ancient Egyptians. Can you match his ruthless determination to build the most revered monuments?

To do this, you will need to transport stone blocks on ships from your quarry to different construction sites. But you alone do not choose where the ships go. Your opponents have monumental plans of their own and want to prevent your success. A fierce competition for the precious stone resources plays out. Only with the right strategy and a little luck can you succeed.

In Imhotep, the players take on the roles of ancient Egyptian architects. Over six rounds, they try to transport their stone blocks to end up in the most valuable positions at five construction sites: pyramid, obelisk, chamber tomb, temple, and market. But a player can only choose one of three actions in a turn: excavate a new stone block from the quarry, load a block onto a ship, or move a ship to a construction site. From there, the massive stone blocks must be unloaded in order from bow to stern and placed on the sites in preset sequences. Depending on where the blocks end up, players earn different point values either immediately or at the end of the game.

In each turn, you must weigh your options for getting your own stones into place and thwarting your opponents’ placement plans. You must get your blocks to the right places, in the right order, at the right time to be the greatest architect.

Basic idea in my own words:

In Imhotep, you are attempting to get the most points by the end of the game by delivering your color stones to different construction sites. The problem is, your opponents are attempting the same thing so you’re not always going to get what you want. The focal point of the game is a mechanism of delivering stones from the quarry on randomly drawn ships and timing the ships movement for your own gains just right. At the same time, it’s wise to keep note of what your opponents are trying to do and screwing them over. There’s a lot of screwing over other players in this game.

 

Imhotep board game

Setup (paraphrased):

  • Give each player a sled board, these boards have spaces for 5 stones of a particular color – this color determines the player color
  • Each player will use stones of the color on their sleds, but don’t give the stones to the players really, they can be set aside. Depending on what the player order will be, this will determine on how many stones can initially be set on the sleds. One stone per spot on a sled.
  • Determine which side of the construction sites you will use, A or B. Then place all the sites of that side out in the middle of the playing area.
  • Separate the boat cards and the market cards. Shuffle the market cards and place them as a face down stack next to the market board/construction site
  • Place the score board aside and take 1 stone of each color and place on the 0 spot on the board
  • Go through the boat cards and you’ll see a player number icon on them. Only play with the boat cards that represent the number of players you’re actually playing with and put the rest away in the box. Randomly shuffle the boat cards you will be playing with and set them down in the playing area, face down.
  • The game is going to start soon so it’s time to turn over the top 4 market cards and place them on the open spots on the market board
  • Finally, turn over the top boat card – this shows you which boats are in play. Place them opposite the construction sites on the sides with the notches in them (the boats are sailed and land in the notches on the boards)

Imhotep board game

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

You can do one of 4 different actions:

  1. Sail 1 ship to a site – Take a ship that has not already been sailed and sail it to a construction site that has not been visited by a ship yet. Another rule though, is that there must be the minimum required number of stones on that ship – this is denoted by a small marker on the ship. This is one of the most critical aspects of the game, sailing these ships. Because even if you don’t have any of your stones loaded onto a ship, you can still freely sail a ship and screw over the other players as they didn’t want to necessarily go to a specific construction site. When you sail a ship, the order of stones placed onto construction site stone spots, must be in the order they are located on the ship (first in, first out).
  2. Place 1 stone on a ship – If you take this action, you are placing one stone only from your sled, onto a free space of a ship that has not been sailed. This is important because the order of the stone placements on the shop matter. You must place your stone on the first available spot (toward the front of the ship) and when the ships get unloaded during the sailing step, they get unloaded in the order they are situation on the ship.
  3. Get new stones – take 3 stones from the general supply of your color, and place onto your sled. If there is not enough available spaces on the sled, you lose out on those spaces, so time this right!
  4. Play 1 blue market card – If you have a blue market card from a previous turn of taking it from the market, you can play it and resolve its effects

Construction Sites

  • Market – For each stone you sail here, you get a market card
  • Pyramids – for each stone you sail here, you immediately score points indicated on the board
  • Temple – for each stone you sail here, you get points at the end of each round. Only the points visible from the sky get points.
  • Burial Chamber – for each stone you sail here, place it in order, in the chamber, you get points at the end of the game. You get points for having more connected stones.
  • Obelisks – the player with the highest obelisk gets more points, there are points awarded for 2nd, 3rd place, etc.

End of game

The game ends after 6 rounds. At this time, all the players score points for the boards that indicate at the end of the game then count of their total scores. The highest score, wins!


Breakdown

Component Quality: 4/5

The components are top notch in this game. However it’s not, “blow me out of the water,” which is why it’s not a 5. But I love the huge stone cubes! I also love the box insert. It is very thematic and fully colored. The rules are simple and easy to read and the cards and punch out board quality is all good.

Theme Ranking: 4/5

I love euro game themes like this, especially building ones. It’s a family friendly theme and plays well with the mechanics of the game. The only reason why it’s not a 5 is because, it’s not medieval! Eh, not really.

 

Luck Scale: 2/5

There’s actually not a lot of luck in this game. Really, it’s a matter of the drawing of the market cards, but really, you shouldn’t be depending on them so much that counting on a particular card won’t affect your game entirely.

Strategy Scale: 4/5

This is practically a perfect information game. There’s really no hidden information. The strategy is light but there’s a good amount of thought you need to play the game. Such as, how much do you really want to or need to screw opponents over, and the timing of your actions. I think the timing is critical in this game. When do you take certain actions. If you take stone, will the next player be ready to pounce on the sail ship action and ultimately screw you over?

Overall Feelings: 4/5

I like Imhotep a lot. It’s a fine addition to my gaming library. I love themes like this and the game play is light and thoughtful enough. It’s certainly not a filler game but it fits a good playing time that it could easily be played to pass the time while waiting for more players to come over for your game night. I highly suggest giving Imhotep by Kosmos a try. I want to throw this image in there too, that’s it’s the recipient of multiple awards/nominations!

Imhotep Awards

Thank you Kosmos for providing this review copy.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

Board Game Review – Dimension

2017 June 9
by Michael Schroeder

I really don’t feel comfortable saying that I was playing with balls, but luckily in the game of Dimension, they’re called spheres!

Number of players: 1-4

Age: 8+

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Dimension Board Game

Dimension Board Game

What’s the game about: A description from the publisher…

Dimension is a fast-paced, innovative puzzle game that takes place in three dimensions with 60 colorful spheres. All of the players play at the same time. Everybody tries to position the spheres on their trays to earn as many points as possible. The task cards indicate how the spheres must be placed to earn points: for example, exactly two orange spheres must be on the tray, black and blue must touch each other, and blue must not touch white. Complete these tasks while racing against the timer. You get a point for each sphere you use and a bonus token for using all five colors, but you lose two points for each task card you don’t follow correctly. Prove to your opponents that you are the master of multi-dimensional thinking!

Basic idea in my own words:

Dimension is a purely abstract game that’s really a puzzle game in a multi-dimensional space. Abstract games are not something I typically would play but this game was sent to me courtesy of the publisher and I was open to trying it. I’m glad I did!

 

The object of the game is to have the most points at the end of 6 rounds. Players get points by placing spheres out onto their individual boards and players lose points by not satisfying the task cards laid out in front of them. Players start the game with 10 points. I think this is the case so there’s points available to lose if you don’t satisfy a task card in the first round.

The first thing you’ll notice about the game is, the big spheres that you’ll be playing with. In each round, players must use these spheres and satisfy randomly drawn task cards such as, “no two orange spheres can touch, you must have exactly 2 grey/white spheres and blue can’t touch black, just to give some examples.” Each round uses a sand timer (classic!) and by the end of each round, you must stop and count up points. The game is extremely simple that I think even my parents would get it. I even played the game with my young kids. While they didn’t care about the restrictions of the task cards, they enjoyed the game – it’s very tactile.

Setup:

  • Give each player a player board
  • Each player places 3 of each color sphere into the tray slots at the bottom of the boards
  • Shuffle the task cards and draw 6 and place face up within view of everyone
  • Place the points in a separate pile and place the bonus markers in another pile
  • Each player takes 1 points and places in front of them

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

  1. A player turns over the sand timer and each player begins working on their individual boards to satisfy the task cards in front of them
  2. When the timer ends, everyone stops!
  3. Each player receives a point per sphere played on their board (maximum of 11)
  4. Players work through each task card and see if they failed to satisfy the card. If you failed the card, you lose 2 points. Take those points and throw back into the general supply. If a player satisfied each task card and also happened to use at least one sphere of each color, that player receives a bonus marker.
  5. At the end of the game, players count up their points and count up their bonus markers. For having no markers, you actually lose more points! The more bonus markers you have, the more points. The winner is then declared!

Dimension


Breakdown

Component Quality: 3/5

The components seem pretty nice. The spheres especially. However there was a couple white/grey ones that appeared to having some staining on them. The rest of the components from the rule book to the chits and cards seemed to be pretty standard faire made by most European publishers. There’s no real complaints.

Theme: 1/5

I’m really not a fan of abstract games. I like games with themes, even euro games with pasted on themes. You don’t really play this game to be immersed into some universe, you play for the challenge of the puzzle.

Instruction Manual: 4/5

The rulebook gives good examples and seems to explain everything OK.

Luck Factor: 2/5

Besides the random draw of cards, there’s really no luck in this game. The crux of the game is how well you can puzzle through the task cards.

Strategy: 5/5

I know this is a simple abstract game that only lasts 30 minutes but there’s implicitly a lot of of strategy in this game because it’s a puzzle. This game all depends on your spatial reasoning skills (if that’s such a thing!).

Overall Feelings: 4/5

Dimension by Lauge Luchau is a perfect game for families and can absolutely be fun for the more seasoned gamer or rookie gamer. Because it’s more of a puzzle game, you’re always engaged, trying to figure things out. I love puzzles so this game resonates with me. But it’s not too in depth that you don’t have to play the game as long as the rulebook states (house rule). The game is short enough to wet the palette but long enough that it’s a bit more than a filler. If you’re looking for a puzzle/abstract game that can work with most anyone, give Dimension a try!

Thank you Kosmos for providing this review copy.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

Board Game Review – Great Western Trail

2017 March 29
by Michael Schroeder

I was going to make a vegetarian or vegan joke here but I won’t. Regardless of how you feel about herding cattle into trains, keep reading to see what Great Western Trail is about, an Americana themed game by Alexander Pfsiter and published in the US by Stronghold Games!

Number of players: 2-4

Age: 12+

Playing Time: 75-150 minutes

Great Western Trail

Great Western Trail

 

What’s the game about: A description from the publisher…

America in the 19th century: You are a rancher and repeatedly herd your cattle from Texas to Kansas City, where you send them off by train. This earns you money and victory points. Needless to say, each time you arrive in Kansas City, you want to have your most valuable cattle in tow. However, the “Great Western Trail” not only requires that you keep your herd in good shape, but also that you wisely use the various buildings along the trail. Also, it might be a good idea to hire capable staff: cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your very own buildings, or engineers for the important railroad line.

If you cleverly manage your herd and navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of Great Western Trail, you surely will gain the most victory points and win the game.

Basic idea in my own words:

In Great Western Trail (GWT), you are racing from Texas to Kansas City in the hopes of packing the greatest value cattle onto a train that goes across the country in the hopes of getting the highest dollar and most points. GWT is a mix of a board game and to a lesser degree, a deck builder. The cattle are represented by cattle cards that you can buy in the market and the game primarily constitutes moving throughout the board, avoiding pitfalls such as hazards and having to pay your opponents a toll. Throughout the game there’s at least one building tile that enables you to build. When you build a building, players use that as a movement space. If you’ve ever played Martin Wallace’s Toledo, the movement is a tad similar in this regard.

The board will eventually fill up with hazards, Indian camps and buildings. The buildings offer opportunities to resolve different actions, this is the meat of the game. The game in itself is very easy, game play wise. But what makes the game different each time and varied, is the buildings themselves. Each different building does something different. However, all the players have the same buildings they can build but in no way will all of a players buildings get built.

The crux of the game is getting your buildings in the right spots, being able to race ahead and generally make a lot of stops at Kansas City and implementing your strategy the best based on a number of factors, such as objective cards.

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

 

Each player’s turn is in 3 phases, A,B and C.

A – Move your cattleman to another location along the trail

B – Use the action(s) of your reached location

C – Draw up to your hand limit

Details:

A – Each player starts with being able to move their cattleman 3 spaces, as indicted on the player boards (see below). *First turn, each player can move anywhere. The main game board has arrows and paths indicating where you can move. Move your player up to the movement limit. More than one player is allowed on a space, too. This is not like a worker placement game.

B – When you reach the intended action space, and it’s your building, you can either take the actions indicated on the building or perform auxiliary actions. You mostly want to use your main actions if you can but you may find it beneficial to use auxiliary actions. If you look at the player board pictured above (thanks user on BGG), the auxiliary actions are on the left. Two of them are available to use right away, the take 1 coin action and exchange card space. Primary actions are the player or neutral tiles are pictured below.

If you look at the neutral tile with the white cattleman on it, you can do both actions, or either one, if you want. The left side is, discard a green cattle card and get 2 dollars. The right is build 1 building. For each worker you use, you must pay 2 dollars. You can use either these primary actions, or like I said, the auxiliary actions. When you go to use an auxiliary action for a neutral building tile, or one of your own tiles, if you unlocked the double space, you can do the auxiliary action twice in a row, as long as you can pay for it.

C – Draw up to your hand limit. Each player has a hand limit of 4 cattle to start the game off. Throughout many turns, you will churn through cards. You can draw back up to your limit. Eventually, if you unlock the spaces on your player board, you can hold more.

The game continues like this until a player places a worker tile onto the last space of the job market while carrying out the steps and procedures of the Kansas City space. At the end of the game, players will use the scoring sheets to tally their scores in each category and the players with the most points, wins!

The game in itself is simple, but don’t let this fool you, Board Game Geek currently has this game of a weight of 3.73/5 – that’s pretty high. This is a weighty game. Complex? No. A lot of strategy involved? Absolutely!


Breakdown

Component Quality: 5/5

The components in this game are great! The tiles have the right thickness, the box has that nice smell when it’s printed in Germany (I’m weird and this is the first printing). The 2nd printing is printed in China so I can’t vouch for that one.

Theme: 4/5

I love these like this. Semi realistic history with cartoony art – I love it! A great euro game theme that takes in America! But you do know these cows are being sent away for slaughter, right? Vegetarians and Vegans may want to take a hike! Go get yourself a big, juicy burger, done medium-well!

Instruction Manual: 5/5

The rulebook is great. Very easy to read and follow. Great examples and very explicit instructions for setup.

Luck Factor: 2/5

There is some luck involved because this is partially a deck builder. And absolutely, it will effect you but the strategy factor is greater.

Strategy: 5/5

Stupendous, meaty, strategy game! There’s a ton a strategy here from timing to where you’re going to build to what type of worker do you want to focus on, if at all. I can tell you from my last game, I had full cowboy workers and I was visiting the cattle market more than anyone. I didn’t win but I got 35-37 points just from high end cattle cards, alone!

Overall Feelings: 5/5

Great Western Trail is another winner by Alexander Pfsiter. I consider this his masterpiece. Back in the day people would say Tigris and Euphrates was Reiner Knizia’s masterpiece? GWT goes beyond that! I absolutely love this game. It works with 2 players, it moves along pretty quickly, once you get seasoned veterans and I think it can be easy enough for non-veteran gamers.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

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