In the ancient world, we remember certain things. Often incorrectly. We see the past world in monuments built by the Romans but not the tyranny. In the abandoned city of Greater Zimbabwean world, we see advancement over ecological decline. Then comes Egypt. Ancient Egypt. A world of vanity and remembrance. Tall structures that are there for us all to see and quiver at their majesty. We forget the lives that built them and the millions of hours, it took to construct them from stone. From quarry, to mining, to sculpting to ferrying and then to installation. Competition for the building of these monuments to venerate gods and royalty, would be in full ascent often. IMHOTEP THE DUEL revels in this. Nefertiti and Akhenaten are the most famous of the battling pairs. Their desires are to out do each other and this is manifested in the attempts to build as many temples, Obelisks, tombs and Pyramids. The one who gets the most is champion.


The box contains: A harbour board. Made of 9 squares and average detailing. 60 cargo tokens. With 12 Obelisk, 12 Temple tokens, 12 Pyramid, 12 Tomb (numbered 1-12) and 12 action tokens (3 of each of the 4 actions), 8 player boards that are 4 separate boards. These are the scoring markers and cover Obelisks, Tombs, Pyramids and Temples that are built. They are double sided for a tougher variant. 6 boats (these deliver the goods to the board). You then get 8 meeples. 4 black and 4 white. The overall quality is average. This is defined by the punch pad ripping on certain tokens and leaving chards of paper on the tokens.


Place the board in the middle of the table. Dock the boats in the ports on the edge of the board. Shuffle up all the cargo tokens face down. Take three and place them in the corner of the board. Then take 18 and place them on the boats (three each, face up on the boats). Each player must take their boards. 4 each. Obelisks, Tombs, Pyramids and Temples. Scoring tokens will be placed here and calculated via the scoring laid out on them. Give each player their allotted colour meeples. Then you are ready to start. The youngest player goes first. You get to do one of three actions. One is to place a meeple on the grid in any free square. You do this so that when you unload a boat, you gain that item. Two is to unload a boat, you need two meeples on the row to do this (any players meeple can trigger this). Three is to play one of the 4 special tokens. The objective is to score the most points by drawing the most scoring cargo tokens. You draw the tokens in order of placement, so when you have a meeple on the section first, you take the first meeple and then the next the second, etc.


IMHOTEP THE DUEL is a brain tickler, a potent replayer and a two player paradise. The main reason for all of this, in frankness is the mechanics. Simplistic from the outside, it becomes a feast of strategy. You might have seen this in games like SUN TZU for instance but here it is refined to a simple, place, pick and play mentality. Benefiting a broad analysis of the play. Two players, who will play this regularly, will find that it grows into a serious of battles of wills. Take a tile by unloading a ship could hamstring you, however playing a meeple to the wrong location, could steal a step but allow an opposite player to gain the momentum.


I have to say, it is only two fold and both are in legibility of pieces. Firstly, the player cards for Obelisks, Tombs, Pyramids and Temples are not clearly defined by which is variant and original game. We were frustrated at first by this. You play some bits in the harder setting and others in the far easier one. Secondly is the action tiles. Read the rule book. What is said and what the action is, are often slightly different!


As two player games go, IMHOTEP THE DUEL is right up there for a bundle of reasons. Though it might not appear to be a rewarding replayer, it will become so much more, the more you invest in it. Pay attention firstly though to the games pieces and rules. Iron out in your own mind the kinks and you will really benefit from this!


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