As we continue to design and build our monuments, the gods have started to watch our activities …
What Is Imhotep: A New Dynasty?
Imhotep: A New Dynasty is an expansion to Imhotep, a monument-building game for 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, with a playing time of about 50 minutes. It retails for $24.95 and is available in game stores and from online retailers like Amazon. The base game is required to play—you can check out my review here. The game’s theme is family-friendly and I think experienced players as young as 8 may be able to learn the rules.
Imhotep: A New Dynasty Components
- 5 double-sided site boards
- 4 Chariot meeples
- Imhotep meeple
- 14 Market cards
- 7 Prophecies of the Gods cards
- 4 Obelisk cards
- 24 Tomb tokens
- 15 Obelisk tokens
- 8 Coin tokens
- 8 Scarab tokens (2 per player color)
- 5 Scaffold tiles
The five site boards are the same locations as in the original—Market, Pyramid, Temple, Burial Chamber, and Obelisk—but with “C” and “D” sides, so now you have four choices for each site. The various other components come into play depending on which options are used in each game.
The cardboard tokens are comparable to the original—they punch out easily and are nice, but nothing spectacular. The meeples are a fun touch—the charioteers are for one of the Temple boards, and the yellow Imhotep is for one of the Pyramid boards.
The whole thing comes in a slim box, which is nice because you’ll probably just want to ditch the box and store everything with the base game, which has plenty of extra space in it.
How to Play Imhotep: A New Dynasty
You can download a copy of the rulebook here. Since this is an expansion, I won’t get too detailed about the overall game rules, and focus on what’s new. (Feel free to revisit my review of the base game if you’re not familiar with the game already.)
The game still takes place over 6 rounds, with the same options: place a stone on a boat, take stones from the quarry, or sail a boat to a site and unload the stones there. What’s new is how those various sites work, plus the prophecies cards, which are a mini-expansion.
As before, choose one version of each site and lay them in a row. Some of the sites will include additional setup instructions, like placing the chariots in the arena or shuffling the tomb tokens. Let’s take a look at the new sites.
The Black Market can be seen in the photo above at the right end—it has two spaces for single face-up cards, and two spaces for 3 face-down cards. If you visit the Black Market, you may take either a single face-down card, or look at a face-down stack and choose one of them, placing the others back. At the end of the round, the face-up cards are cleared and replaced, and the face-down stacks remain and are just refilled back to 3 cards.
The Luxury Market looks almost like the regular market but has a gold coin symbols in between the cards. At setup, each player gets 2 gold coins. When you visit the market, you may either take one face-up card, or you may pay a gold coin to take two adjacent cards together. (If there aren’t enough cards left in the market, you get cards from the top of the deck instead.)
The Scaffold is a new Pyramid site, though it doesn’t really look like a pyramid. However, as with the other Pyramid sites, you score immediately as soon as a stone is placed. In this case, the scaffold tiles are shuffled, and a random one is placed on the building area. Stones are loaded from left to right, and you score whatever is shown on the space, which might be points, a card from the deck, or even extra stones from the quarry. When one tile is filled, the player with the most stones on it scores a bonus 3 points (or 1 point each if there’s a tie); then the next tile is stacked on top.
The other new Pyramid site is the Corridor, where Imhotep wanders the hall, getting in the way of building. Imhotep starts in the top left space, and when stones are unloaded, they go into the next available spaces clockwise from Imhotep, scoring immediately. However, whenever any player takes stones from the quarry, they may move Imhotep 1 space clockwise (to the next open space), thus changing where the next build will be.
Temple of Ra
The Temple sites are always scored at the end of each round—on the “A” and B” sides they would just stack up, and whoever is on top of each stack gets the points (or other bonuses). The Temple of Ra uses the same principle, but only has 3 spaces, so things get covered up pretty quickly. The first and last spaces award either 2 points or 4 stones from the quarry; the middle space allows you to draw 3 market cards and choose 1 to keep.
Although the Arena doesn’t look like a temple, it scores at the end of each round based on player placement—but now it’s a chariot race. Players start with their chariots on the Start space. When you unload a stone, you put it on the path and move your chariot the number of spaces indicated on the path, skipping over occupied spaces. At the end of the round, players will score points for being in first and second place. (In a 2-player game, only the leader scores.) Additionally, at the end of the game, you will score the point value of the space where you ended. Multiple players can be on the Finish space.
The Burial Mound is a new Burial Chamber board—though it looks like a flat pyramid. Stones are placed from left to right and then stacked on top in a brick pattern. It’s only scored at the end of the game, and you look at your contiguous sections of stones in the mound: each section scores for the number of stones x the number of levels the section spans (up to 4). So in the photo above, the white player scores 10 points for having a section of 5 stones that spans 2 levels. Black gets 2 points (a section of 2 stones that is only on 1 level), and brown gets 3 points (3 individual stones, so they’re 1 level each).
The Tomb is another Burial Chamber site where you score points based on contiguous areas. However, this time the available building spots are randomized each round. The Tomb is a grid with each space numbered, and each round you draw four random Tomb tiles and place them on the board. When you unload a stone, you may choose any of the available Tomb tiles and build in the corresponding space. At the end of each round, unused Tomb tiles are removed from the game, so if you miss your chance to build on a spot, it’ll never be available again.
The Great Obelisk
For the Great Obelisk, give each player the obelisk card matching their player color. Each space on the site board shows one of the little polyomino pieces, and when you place your stone on the board, you take the corresponding piece from the supply. The pieces are placed onto your obelisk card (which forms the base) and build up, Tetris-style. You can’t leave any open spaces, and pieces must be placed as they’re received—anything you can’t place gets discarded. At the end of the game, players score 2 points for each completed row of the obelisk, and there are also bonus points for players with the most completed rows.
The Alley is the other Obelisk board: when you unload stones, you have to choose one of the five obelisks to begin building. Each one has a required height and a point value; once you’ve chosen one, nobody else can build there, and you cannot begin another obelisk until it is completed. Completed obelisks score their point value at the end of the game; incomplete obelisks score 1 point per stone at the end of the game.
Prophecies of the Gods
The Prophecies are an optional mini-expansion. To setup, give each player the two scarab tokens in their player color, and randomly deal 3 of the prophecy cards face-up near the site boards.
During the game, you may make up to 2 prophecies by placing your scarab token in the appropriate spot on a card—there are spots for Rounds 1 and 2, Rounds 3 and 4, and Rounds 5 and 6. You may only make one prophecy during each of these periods, but any number of players may make the same prophecy (so there may be multiple scarabs on a single space on a card).
The prophecies are your predictions that a certain requirement will be met, such as having the most stones in one of the sites, or using at least 3 of the red “immediate action” cards. The earlier you make the prediction, the more points it is worth—but the bigger the penalty if you fail. At the end of the game, all of the prophecies are assessed and points and penalties are given.
Other Rules Changes
Two other rules changes: when you use the red immediate cards, they are kept in front of you instead of discarded (in case that particular prophecy card is in play). In a two-player game, if you run out of stones, take one of the unused colors and add those stones to your quarry—they are treated as if they’re your color.
Why You Should Play Imhotep: A New Dynasty
I really enjoyed the Imhotep base game, and A New Dynasty adds even more variety to the game, without making things too complex. It’s still fairly easy to learn since in any given game you only have 5 sites to keep track of. I like the way that the new sites retain some similarities with the originals in terms of when and how they are scored, while introducing some new tricks, too.
For instance, the scaffolds still provide immediate points or other bonuses, but there’s also a majority bonus for completed rows. Unlike the older pyramids, though, you only know the rewards for the current plank, and it’s a gamble to load stones that will overflow to the next level. The tomb still scores based on connected stones, but forces you to think vertically. And the ability to affect scoring while taking stones from the quarry (with the Corridor location) is pretty fascinating because now taking stones doesn’t feel as much like a lost turn and can be used more strategically.
The chariot race in the arena is a lot of fun, too—it might feel like 2 points for being in first place is not much reward for the number of stones you have to commit, but if you stay in the lead for the entire game, that really adds up (not to mention the end-game bonus). Since you skip over occupied spaces, the current position of players is really important to consider: you might actually move further with that single arrow than another player does with the triple arrow.
The new market cards add a few new actions, allowing you to return stones to your quarry to take powerful actions, like sending a stone anywhere or double-parking a ship. The Stone Ornament gives you an extra point per stone on your supply at the end of the game, which pairs very nicely with the Cargo Sled that adds 2 spaces to your sled. The Private Quarry is an immediate card that gives you a point and 3 stones, and then there are a few more Statue cards added to the mix.
The prophecies cards let you make bets, but since they’re public, everyone knows you’re going for particular things. If you claim that you’re going to have the most stones in the temple by the end of the game, you know that your opponents are probably going to work against you as much as possible—particularly if you made that prediction early and it’s worth 7 points. On the other hand, you might be able to use the prophecies as misdirection: if you have an ornament card, getting other players to place a lot of stones in the temple may still be worth it, plus you can focus on another building site instead. I would recommend using the prophecies after you’ve gotten used to the game a bit, since it can be difficult to predict things if you’re still learning the game.
If you like Imhotep and you want to spice it up a little, A New Dynasty is an excellent expansion. You still have the same tough decisions to make: load a stone or sail a boat? Where do I sail so that I maximize my score without giving another player an advantage? But now you have some new ways to build … and to obstruct your opponents.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.