Game Length: 60 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 3-5 players who want a game with lots of direct conflict and a wide range of strategic options!
Kemet is an Egyptian-themed direct conflict game made by the designer of Cyclades, and shares the excellent production values of that game. Each player is struggling for supremacy in ancient Egypt, and will use a range of mythical creatures and powers granted by the gods to defeat their enemies and emerge victorious.
There is a huge amount to take in on your first game of Kemet. There are a total of 48 power tiles, with only a few overlaps, and collecting an effective combination of these will be essential to building your strategy in the game. The choice can be daunting, and the cheaper powers will be very quickly snapped up in the first few turns.
Each round, players will be competing for ownership of the various temples around the game board. Each of these grants income and a temporary victory point, and a player who controls two will gain a permanent victory point at the end of the turn. Permanent victory points are also granted by winning battles – but only if you are the initiator of combat! Regularly accruing permanent victory points is key to winning in Kemet, so players will be at each others’ throats from the very first turn if they want to have the best chance at victory.
Kemet has the feel of an empire-building game but makes a refreshing change from those games due to the heavy emphasis on combat instead of construction and development. Combat itself is also luckless – players will select a card from their hand that boosts their army’s capabilities, but otherwise all numbers are known fully by both sides before entering battle.
Kemet‘s luckless nature and the vast array of available powers can work against it, though. The game is particularly prone to analysis paralysis (or AP in boardgaming circles) – where a player will spend many minutes on their turn re-evaluating their options while all other players sit waiting for their chance to act. This increases the more players there are in the game – expect 5-player games to take much longer than 3 or 4 player games. As players evaluate how many victory points they have, how many their opponents have, combat bonuses and penalties, what other actions they can take this turn and what powers they’ll have a chance to purchase, single turns have the capacity to stretch out.
Despite this, Kemet does allow excellent tactical and strategic possibilities. Over the course of the game, you will develop a strategy for your armies around what power tiles you have accumulated – will you be a lightning-fast attacker who pushes enemies aside then disappears, or a stalwart defender with the ability to gain victory points while on the defensive? Or will you just have a strong economy and multiple actions, and drown your foes with an unending swarm of forces? You’ll be making these kinds of decisions over the course of a game of Kemet and it’s an extremely satisfying game for those who are wanting a war game that doesn’t rely on randomness to resolve combat.