Kemet is a fantasy ancient Egyptian themed game that offers plenty of battle play, building of armies and upgrading of pyramids to buy more powerful tiles allowing you to score victory points in different ways.
Every player is given their own player board where they can place their action tokens to perform actions (like you would in a worker placement game) You can:
• gain prayer points (acts like money, used to buy power tiles)
• upgrade pyramid (lets one buy higher level power tiles)
• buy power tiles
• recruit more units, or
• move and/or attack.
Power tiles focus on different benefits depending on its color. Each color gives different abilities; red, mainly for battles; blue, for recruiting and defense; and white, for prayer points and divine interventions. Throughout gameplay their will be several cycles of night phases and day phases each turn. These involve gaining more prayer points and DI cards (divine intervention cards); night power and turn order effects; and executing action points during day phase. DI cards can be played during phases specified on cards. Everyone will try to gain victory points through various ways – winning at combat, obtaining a level 4 pyramid, buying a victory point tile, controlling the sphinx or at least 2 temples by end of a day phase, or sacrificing units at the Sanctuary of All Gods. Some are temporary and some are permanent victory points. This goes on till the first person reaches 8 victory points and wins. (or 10VP for longer game) This game encourages lots of interaction especially in combat, so don’t be absorbed on just upgrading pyramids to buy more powerful tiles because you can get so involved spending a lot of time on that and suddenly the game ends and you haven’t even moved out of your city yet.
This game has the potential to offer lots of interaction between players. If you don’t like doing combat then this game might not be for you because without the combat and playing DI cards, you can be left taking several action points and focusing on your player board and power tiles, that really, you’re left sitting on the table while everyone else is actually playing on the board. Even though it is still possible to gain 8 victory points alone without doing combat, where is all the fun in the play? All you would do is mainly place your action tokens on the board and execute from 5 different actions. Boring in this case. I remember one game where one player spent lots of time upgrading pyramids and buying powerful tiles. The units really had an upperhand to anyone else’s units but by the time it was time to attack, the game was over and someone had already obtained the victory points needed. So interaction with players is required for more fun!
The theme and its gameplay are both at best together. Everything is quite unified, and with more gameplay, it gets better. The game offers a lot of strategy and tactics for a little “worker placement”/Ameritrash game.
Let me state first, just from the box cover, the artwork is amazing and everything else inside it is also amazing (the artwork on the power tiles and individual player boards). The box contains lots of great component quality. Despite my lowered expectation on how small the units were, everything else was great. The miniature creatures are probably everyone’s favorite. They look good even unpainted! There’s nothing really special about the insert except some more nice artwork, and not enough baggies, but that’s what sandwich bags are for, and I bought my own soap box cases for each player color. The rulebook is decent with explanation and illustrations. There were a few minor details that were unclear, but nothing that BGG forums can’t answer.
The one thing that bothered me most about this game is that it only came with one booklet for referencing. There are so many power tiles and divine intervention cards that it would be difficult to remember. But one booklet? That means everyone will want to refer to the booklet which would constantly be passed around and that would make the game drag out even more. I played this game as a 2 player and it sufficed to have one booklet then (which by the way, I don’t recommend this as a 2 player game… it took a lot out of the interaction. You’re really left attacking just the one person in front of you). But before I played this with more players, I had to color photo copy the booklet so that each player would have their own booklet to refer to. It’s as if I had to buy components separately to play the game. That was slightly annoying. With more play, it will probably be easier to remember the power tiles and DI cards, but for new players, they would need the booklet.
This game can be overwhelming at first for new players. Just looking at numerous components and the booklet can discourage them from playing, but I assure you, the mechanics of the game may seem complex, but after several turns, it will eventually make sense and the turns will be more fluid. Not only is there a problem with the shortage of booklets and referencing, but of course, with this much referencing, it can only encourage more AP (analysis paralysis). There are a lot of power tiles, and it can be very daunting for someone to pick which would be best to purchase and when. It is first come first serve, so you really have to determine your strategy and which combo of power tiles would work best for you with the possibility of the tiles being bought by your opponents before it gets to your turn.
Since there are several ways you can gain victory points, you can try which ones work best for your strategy each time you play. There are 48 power tiles that can offer you different play depending on which ones you use, and combat cards can be played in any order you want, but you have to use them all, one at a time before you can reuse them again. The game is different each time you play since you never know what your opponents’ plans are in combat and sometimes it can be a bit of a gamble with which combat card to play first. There is an expansion that includes creatures from the game Cyclades that can be incorporated to Kemet, and there has also been an announcement of a new expansion, Kemet: Ta-Seti that is expected to release sometime 2014… so more gameplay!
Overall, despite that I had more negatives listed, the positives still outweigh the negatives in gameplay, interaction, and most of all fun. This is not a game for those who do not like the battle aspect of the game, but if you like a game that oozes with a mythic Egyptian theme, perhaps, you might still like this game.