Title: Imhotep: The Duel
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Players: 2 players
Recommended Age: 10+
Time to Play: 30 minutes
BGG Ranking: 7.2
My Ranking: 8/10
My quick review: Imhotep: The Duel is a quick, enjoyable two-player game that offers multiple ways to win and focuses on friendly competition and resource development. It is relatively easy to learn and provides different ways to play for when you want to mix it up!
In Imhotep: The Duel, you and your opponent are Nefertiti and Akhenaten, a royal Egyptian couple. Even though you are a couple, you are competing against each other to build four monuments using available resources from six boats. When there are no tiles left to fill the boats and there is only one boat left, the game ends. You’re scored on how well you developed your monuments throughout the game.
Imhotep: The Duel is relatively simple to learn. In about 15 to 20 minutes, you should be ready to start the game. The rulebook could be a bit more clear about particular rules but there are some examples to guide you. I’d recommend keeping the rulebook close by for your first few games. Each player gets four monument player boards and each board has two sides. For your first game, I recommend playing on the A-side of the player boards. As you get comfortable with the game mechanics, you can switch to the B-side of the player boards or mix and match as long as both players use the same side for the different monument boards. The difference between the two sides are the scoring rules. Personally, I typically prefer the A sides.
In the game, your goal is to gather different resources through worker placement to help you develop your monuments. Using a shared, tic-tac-toe style game board and meeples, you have four types of resource tiles to compete for: pyramid, obelisk, temple, and tomb. Your monuments’ tile progression provides different ways to win. But a word of caution… Don’t focus all of your effort on one monument! The game limits the amount of points you can gain from certain monuments. With that in mind, it is in your best interest to focus on two or more so you don’t waste your effort developing an area where you’ve already reached the point cap.
Throughout the game, you’ll have plenty of player interaction and friendly competition. While your main focus is on what you’re building, you can block your opponent when needed. Mixed into the resource tiles are action tiles that provide you with special abilities that you can use at any point throughout the game.They add some variety and strategy and are nice to have when you want to prevent your opponent from gaining the tile that you’ve had your eye on. Outside of action tiles, the shared game board lets you unload any boat that has two or more meeples in its row. That gives you the opportunity to unload a boat unexpectedly and make your opponent start over with their meeple placement to gain the tile they were originally going after on a different boat.
Overall, this is a great two-player game with slight issues. What I really enjoy about Imhotep: The Duel is the player interaction, the different ways to win, and the friendly competition where the main focus is on building versus targeting. The downsides of the game are minor. The small tiles and loose board pieces can be slightly difficult to maneuver and work with. And for a game that’s aim is to build monuments, there’s not as much builder’s satisfaction at the end of Imhotep: The Duel compared to other games like 7 Wonders Duel.
In some ways, this game reminds me of 7 Wonders Duel and if you’re a fan of that game, I expect you’ll also be a fan of Imhotep: The Duel. If given the option, I typically choose to play 7 Wonders over Imhotep… but this game is still a nice addition to your collection when you want to play something that is quick and fun!