2017 Best Australian Game Winner

The Judging Panel has announced the winner of the 2017 Best Australian Game Winner

Imhotep: Builder of Egypt

Designed by Phil Walker-Harding, Artwork by Miguel Coimbra and Michaela Kienle,  published by Kosmos

Imhotep box cover, from publisher Kosmos.

This game combines simplicity, an intriguing theme, beautiful components, with just a smidgin of nastiness to make a package of great gaming fun.

You are a master builder working for Imhotep. You have a number of things to manage: cutting stone at the quarry, getting it loaded onto barges for delivery down the Nile, and then determining which monuments to deliver the stone blocks to. You should also keep an eye on the market to see whether any useful tools become available.

This sounds complicated, but is easily managed in each case by moving one or more of your large blocks: from the quarry to your sled, from your sled to a barge, or by moving a barge to a monument and then unloading the blocks.

The challenge is choosing when to do each of these things: getting your block onto a barge early lets you determine whether it will be unloaded first or last, but wait too long and another player may choose to dock the barge at a different monument from the one you were planning on and so mess up your plans!

The monuments: pyramid, obelisks, temple and burial chamber are all constructed from many blocks. As the game goes on, they grow bigger and bigger and become more impressive. The way you earn points is completely different at each monument site: each player builds their own obelisk with the tallest reaping the greatest reward; the temple is built in layers, and only the stones visible from above score points, and so on.


The simple framework and easy to pick-up rules, means that the game is well suited for families with children ages 10+. However there is a lot of variety built into the game: the market cards offer different opportunities to explore; each monument board is double-sided offering a new way to score, and each round the mix of available barges changes. This means that strategists have got many years of challenge ahead of them.

This game combines fun interaction, with a great tactile experience in building with the cubes, and interesting decisions about what your next action will be. It plays very well with 2, 3 or 4 players, and takes 30 – 45 minutes for a whole game.

Phil worked on this game for 7 years – not quite as long as the original masons worked on the pyramids, but his exertions show in a really delightful game that handles a weighty topic with a light touch.

Recommended for people who:

  • enjoy having others do their hard work
  • like stacking chunky cubes
  • are reincarnated pharoahs
  • have a (slight) mean streak

Also view the judging criteria and the 2017 Best Australian Game Shortlist.

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