Before I begin I was provided a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would prefer to watch a video of this review you check it out below. You can also get your own copy here.
I am a big fan of 2 player games. I am an even bigger fan of fast two player games that I can put in my carry on bag when traveling. I do not actually know what the first established game to come out with a “duel” version was, but the first I played was the 7 Wonders variant. Truth be told, I actually think I prefer that to the original. So with that said, I was all for Imhotep the Duel, even though I have never played Imhotep itself.
The game is pretty simple. Each player sends their meeples out into the city, and these meeples will unload the boats docking in the harbor. Whichever players meeple collects something, that player gets to claim it in their own series of monuments. At the end of the day, whichever player has accrued a better monument series will gain the most fame and the victory.
Each turn a player has a choice to do one of the following: Place a meeple, unload a boat (if there are at least two meeples of either color in the same row as the boat), or use a special action tile (these might let you place multiple meeples, swap tiles in boats, unload multiple boats etc). That’s it. When the tiles run out, the boats stop coming, when there is only one boat remaining the game ends.
The tiles being collected are either monoliths, pyramids, tombs or sun temples. Each of these have their own specific scoring mechanism determined at the beginning of the game. For example the two pyramids can either each score you points based on how many of the six tiles you claimed, or they can score only the pyramid worth the fewest points. Each of the tiles has two different ways to be scored, and these can be mixed and matched however you like at the beginning of the game.
So what do I think?
I like the components, the portability and the look of the game. All of these are on point. Additionally, I really appreciate how fast this game plays, I have played games in as little as 20 minutes, that includes set up.
Though the game is quite simple and easy to play, it is deceptively strategic. You constantly have to push your luck, and try to guess what your opponent is going for. You have to be able to figure out if you are going to be able to place another meeple before they unload a boat and either mess up your set up, or the set up of the boats in the harbor. I appreciate this.
I also want to call out the special action tiles, these are just varied enough, and that you always feel you have to consider making sure you get them, but not so powerful that you feel the need to abandon all other plans to go for them.
I am not totally sure the theme completely works. It does not fully make sense that a meeple all the way across the harbor is able to carry something off the boat. It works and makes sense mechanically, but if you think about it it is a little odd. I also feel like there are many themes that could have been placed on this game, I am not sure that it particularly “immerses” you in it.
While the game is a quick play, and strategic, I do not think it rises to anything more than a filler game, or a game to play with “non-serious gamers.” There is nothing wrong with playing with less serious gamers, but I do know that a lot of you who read my reviews are pretty hard core gamers.
Bringing it all together
Imhotep the Duel is a diverting, quick, somewhat strategic game. It has a light dusting of worker placement, set collection, push your luck, and area control to engage most people. The components are good quality all around, and it can be played in under 30 minutes…barring some serious analysis paralysis. A good filler game, or for those who are looking for a light game to play with a friend, or family member.
Just stack up your thoughts like blocks in a monument
* Fast to play, simple to learn
* More strategic than it appears
* Good components
* Does not really feel like the theme is front and center
* Solid filler game, good to play with “non-hardcore gamers”