Imhotep: The Duel Can Be As Casual Or Competitive As You Want

Board games don’t have to be complicated, and they certainly don’t need 30+ pages of rules to be entertaining. Sometimes, all they need to be is fun — and Imhotep: The Duel proves just how simple this fun can be.

If you’re somebody who likes to game with a partner or somebody who likes to shoot the breeze while you game, Imhotep: The Duel is great on both counts. It’s a game where you can focus on strategy or zone out and chat, meaning it’s perfect for smaller parties or those moments when you just need some casual fun.

Setup and how to play

imhotep the duel board game review
Image: Kotaku Australia

Learning how to play Imhotep: The Duel is very easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest-to-learn board games I’ve picked up this year. You can either sit down with the brief four-page manual or watch this very handy video guide, and after that, you’re off to the races. There’s one primary mechanic in this game, and you’ll work on perfecting it to win.

Setup itself is just as quick — all you need to do is lay out the two opposing player boards, build a stack of cargo tiles and assemble the ‘harbour’ board by placing six boats along its edges and filling them with valuable cargo.

To kick off the game, each player is tasked with using coloured player tokens (‘meeples’) to unload cargo from each ship by placing them on a resource square in rows of two or more. Every round, players will unload cargo or play special action tokens to build out their personal ‘cities’ with new and more extravagant features.

In the end, the player with the most valuable city wins.

Strategy is more important than you think

imhotep the duel review
Image: Kotaku Australia

On the surface, Imhotep: The Duel seems fairly simple: place meeples, grab cargo and build out your city. And you can certainly play the game without thinking about what you’re grabbing. But those who enjoy more competitive gameplay will find there’s a great amount of strategy you can deploy when playing the game.

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re grabbing the right cargo for your city.

Each player board has slots for the major tiles you’ll want to grab, and they all score differently on the final tally. Place your meeples in the best places on the harbour board (and watch when your rival does the same) and you’ll be able to nab the best-scoring tiles for your city.

It’s actually worth going into the rule book pre-game to check what tiles score the most, because there are some combinations that are more important than others, and some tokens you’ll want to try grabbing ahead of others.

While you play, you’ll also want to pay attention to any action tiles that get added to the game’s boats. These can give you a free action to grab any essential tiles or help you play your meeples right where they need to go. Grabbing these tiles will mean gaining fewer cargo tokens for that round, but it does mean you can gain a later game advantage.

You should also keep an eye out for what your rival does — their meeples can be used to your advantage if you know what you’re doing. Pay attention, and you’ll be able to pull off some great steals along the way and heat up the battle with your rival player.

Strategy is important in Imhotep: The Duel, and if you’re not careful, clever moves can derail your best-laid plans.

Final verdict

board game for couples
Image: Kotaku Australia

Imhotep: The Duel is an easy game to learn and master, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

While seasoned board game players may find the pick-and-choose gameplay a little basic, the elements of strategy that require you to think a bit deeper about your moves may still entice the average player. It certainly makes gameplay a lot more spicy, particularly when you finally grasp how you can use strategy to advance.

For everyone who enjoys casual board games, the setup and theming of Imhotep is ace, and it doesn’t take long to get sucked into a solid game. And hey, if you’re competitive, there’s something here for you, too.

While the game’s not particularly complex, there’s still scope for some very clever plays, and strategy goes a long way if you pay attention to the rules.

Whether you’re looking for a casual board game to chat over or a cut-throat two player competition, Imhotep: The Duel has something for everyone.

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