Photograph of Imhotep being played. White and brown blocks are on a board.

Architectural Spirit Dolls

Jobby and Sarah continue this years challenge with two more games – Imhotep and Kachina…

Blocky Egypt

First up in today’s games was Imhotep. I named this game in my Top 10 of 2016 but it hasn’t seen as much play as I would have hoped. Sarah had selected this for our challenge this year and it does work really well as a two player game so I was happy.

I this game (named after an ancient Egyptian architect) players must place their blocks on boats which they then sail to different areas to score points. The tricky bit is that anyone can place their blocks on any boat and anyone can sail any boat (even if it’s not got their blocks on). This means players can right-royally mess with each others’ plans.

Photograph of Imhotep being played. White and brown blocks are on a board.
The Obelisks,Burial Chamber and Temple in the middle of the game.

When we set up the game three of the four cards in the market place were Statue cards. These award points at the end of the game for collecting a lot of them. Normally I don’t pay much attention to these but I thought I would give them a go this game and engineered it so I could get two straight off.

Meanwhile, Sarah started loading up the Burial Chamber with her cubes (she’s white in the photo above). This is where I normally place cubes to score but for this game I just worked on trying to stop her from getting one massive block of white there.

Oh, and Sarah immediately started building up her Obelisk which is her normal favourite place to play. With two players, whoever has the tallest gets 10 points in the final scoring, with the other player getting 1 point. I figured I could pretty much ignore the Obelisks and work on getting enough points to make up the difference elsewhere. In fact, during the game it worked as a good place for me to dump Sarah’s stones instead of letting her put those stones somewhere else (after all, it didn’t matter how tall her Obelisk was.)

By the end of the game I had collected five Statue cards for 15 points. Sarah had one card for 1 point so that made up for the 9 points I lost to the Obelisks. Despite Sarah’s best efforts I won this game 58 points to 48. Game to me!

Strange Faces

Next up was Kachina*, a game we have owned for years which we’ve always enjoyed two player. Players have a hand of tiles which they will play one on their turn and then draw a replacement from a bag. Keep playing until the last tile is played. Scoring relies on Domination – when a tile is added to a row, if it has the highest number in that row then the player scores points equal to the number of tiles in that row. The same goes for columns and a tile can score points for both columns and rows.

Of course, it’s not that simple! Most tiles have a special ability which can affect placement of other tiles, placement of itself or the value of adjacent tiles. As an example, the Koshari (tile number 1) make all tiles adjacent to them worth 0! A lot of head-scratching can ensue as those interactions are worked out. It’s not too complicated but trying to find the best place to lay a tile can sometimes be a challenge.

Photograph of Kachina being played. Lots of tiles are laid on a table with colourful artwork. Each tile is numbered.
The colourful and slightly confusing game of Kachina in progress. Watch for them Koshari!

As always, the game starts with players just laying tiles in a row gradually building up the numbers and scoring more and more. Then someone can’t top the tile in that row and begins to lay perpendicular to the row and then things get interesting!

There was many clever and mean moves going on. I was trying to score lots off Hummingbirds. These require there to be a Hummingbird at each end of the row/column to score, however they ignore the value of the other tiles and score regardless. The problem, off course, is that it takes a turn to lay one and then Sarah would either lay another Hummingbird and score off mine or she would just place something else entirely so the Hummingbird wasn’t at the end any more!

Some clever positioning got me 8 points in one turn. A row/column can only be a maximum of seven tiles long so to get more than 7 points a player must lay a tile that scores off both a row and a column. I felt happy with that until Sarah got a massive 11 points in one turn!

In the end, Sarah pipped my score by 1 point! I got 117 to her 118!

Scores So Far

With four games down we have won two each but no matches yet. Still a hard fought challenge!

Endnote

* Yup, I had to look up what Kachina meant, too! It appears they are spirits in Native American beliefs.

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