A war game. Kemet is about war, about Egyptian armies fighting each other. Mythical armies with mythical creatures doing mythical stuff.
In Kemet fighting gets rewarded, attacking and winning a fight scores you a point. Conquering holy places and controlling them gives you points. Points will win you the game.
Every player has its own little army that is stationed in their own city with three pyramids. Three landmarks, red, white and blue. Every four-sided die matches a set of tiles with the same colour. These tiles give special powers. Like, you can defend better, you can attack better, you have a better economy, or, the coolest tiles, adds an epic mythical creature to your army. A pretty sand-coloured miniature that rises above your army and scares the hell out of your opponents.
With your armies, with or without the help of mythical creatures, you will move from area to area on the board until you find another army. Then you have to fight, immediately. You are the attacker and the other player the defender. The goal is to win, and to stay alive. You both have the same set of battle cards and you both play one card. The bigger the army the better. That and the stats on these cards decide who wins the battle, how well you defend and, in the end, how many units die. Three stats; your strength, your defensive power and your deadlines. You might win a battle because you are stronger or bigger, but you have to live to claim the point. Your defense minus the deadly blows of the other player determines the amount of units that will die. You need at least one man standing to be victorious. A defender, even if he is the only one left on the battlefield, can never claim a victory point. Like I said, attacking gets rewarded. It gives you fame and glory.
What also gives glory, I mean victory points, although temporary they might be, is controlling temples. As long as you control these areas you get a victory point. Lose control and that victory is lost to the other player. The other big benefit of a temple is that it gives you money, or prayer points as they are called here. You need these to buy more units or buy a power tile.
Power tiles can be bought, but only when your corresponding pyramid has a high enough value. You can only buy a white value three tile if your white pyramid has a value of three or higher.
You do that by selecting the strengthen pyramid action space on your personal player board. You have a couple of action tokens and on you turn you must select an action: move an army, buy a red tile, recruit army, get more prayer points, or strengthen your pyramid, like I said.
I almost forget about the divine intervention cards. These cards, that you will get every round, can be played during a specific time in the game and give you something extra. You might use them to surprise you opponent during battle with some extra deadly blows.
There are more ways to get temporary or permanent victory points than I mentioned above, but the goal in the end is to be the first player who has eight victory points or more. Then you become the winner of Kemet.
I like this game. I like this game and I do not like this game. I like the idea of this game, but once in a while it does not work. You play a bad game, a game that lasts too long, is boring, and you just wish you never started it. Well not that bad, but close. Although I could never pinpoint why it was so bad, so let’s just focus on the good things here.
I like that every area on the board can be reached in the same amount of turns. Every player can therefore easily reach every other player on the board. There’s no hiding behind city walls.
I also like that you get rewarded for attacking. You have to get out there. You cannot wait in your pretty picturesque town, growing your army and wait for others to attack you. Your walls may protect you, but will not bring you victory.
And that brings me to the battle cards. That system is really interesting. All player start with the same amount of cards, with the same stats. When a battle occurs you have to choose one card to play and discard another. And you will only get all cards back once the last of your battle card deck is played. This means that every time you fight you cannot choose between every card you have. You starts with many cards, you end up choosing between only two cards. This makes choosing the right cards to use and to discard even more important, because it determines between which cards you are able to choose the turns after your first fight.
For me the five player game was a bit too much, it was too slow. The two-player game was fine, but the three and four player game were the ones that were most interesting. You had multiple people to compete with and the game didn’t take as long as the five-player game.
I probably don’t have to say that the production is very good. The illustrations are beautiful and the big miniatures look very cool. The tiny units are a bit fragile though. The posture of some of them guarantees back problems. And we don’t want that. I do like that all players have different units, different miniatures, not just a different colour.
I’m going to give Kemet a four out of five rating, but in reality it’s a very high three out of four. I think it’s a four out five game, the mechanisms, the look, the idea, but I had times when it was more like a three out of four experience. Can you follow?