Kemet Review | Board Games | Zatu Games UK

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Awards

92%

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Accessible but deep.
  • VP system drives forward battles and area control.
  • Massive mythical creatures!
  • Clever board keeps everyone in the thick of the action.
  • Variable play time, often with close finishes.

Might Not Like

  • Despite accessibility it can be overwhelming a first.
  • Large table footprint.
  • Lots of power tiles necessitate the need for the power guide leaflet.
  • Experienced players may have advantage in early games.
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Kemet-Banner

Part of acclimatising to the board game culture is experiencing some of 'those' moments. You probably know what I am talking about, buying enough plastic baggies to bring you to the attention of the local police, trying to sneak cardboard boxes of various sizes into your house without your significant other noticing (I'll take the recycling out again this week love!), and so on.

Kemet represents two of those moments for me. The acquiring of a long sought after game and the discovery that said game has been used as a football by your lovely local delivery person. After suitable compensation, Kemet now proudly sits at the top of my favourite games list - bearing scars worthy of the battles it seeks to emulate.

Kemet take my eyes off of you...

Kemet is part of the loose 'Matagot trilogy' including the well respected Cyclades and 2016's darling Inis. Set in mythical Egypt, Kemet tasks you with earning victory points through aggressive expansion and control of various points on the large double-sided playing board.

Two to five players will duke it out with small plastic miniatures that are individually sculpted for each army. To bolster your troops there are a number of mythical creatures, from the giant scorpion that almost guarantees victory in an otherwise even fight, to the wily serpent that neutralises the powers of opposing creatures.

To gain possession of a creature or anyone of a number of other useful abilities players must buy power tiles. These come in three colours which can be broadly categorised in terms of their effects; Red power tiles are generally attack minded, blue defensive, and white currency generating.

Along with their army players will take one large three sided dice of each of those colours representing pyramids in their home city, over the course of the game they will upgrade these pyramids to allow them to purchase better power tiles. Rounding out the components are player boards and tokens to choose your actions each turn and record your prayer points (the currency in the game), battle cards for each player, and divine intervention cards, which are one time powers that each player gets each round.

To gain possession of a creature or anyone of a number of other useful abilities players must buy power tiles. These come in three colours which can be broadly categorised in terms of their effects; Red power tiles are generally attack minded, blue defensive, and white currency generating.

Along with their army players will take one large three sided dice of each of those colours representing pyramids in their home city, over the course of the game they will upgrade these pyramids to allow them to purchase better power tiles. Rounding out the components are player boards and tokens to choose your actions each turn and record your prayer points (the currency in the game), battle cards for each player, and divine intervention cards, which are one time powers that each player gets each round.

Playing the Game

Despite these components, particularly the almost overwhelming number of power tiles, Kemet is a relatively simple affair. Player boards show a pyramid with an increasing amount of actions shown on each of the three levels. Players will choose one action each turn for five turns, and by the end of the round they must use at least one action from each of the levels, and are not allowed to use the same box twice. This is tracked by action tokens, and a further token tracks your prayer points across the top of the player board. Of course the power tiles and divine intervention cards mess with these basic actions, allowing you to permanently improve them or giving you a one off boost.

There are too many rules and mechanics to go into fully, so I'll just highlight some of the best. The first is the victory point (VP) conditions. To win the game you have to have eight VP at the end of a round. Seems low right? However VP are separated into types - permanent and temporary. Permanent victory points initially seem more desirable and are achieved through power tiles, controlling two temples at the end of the round, sacrificing troops at the Sanctuary of the Gods and, deliciously, winning a battle as the aggressor. This last point means that attacking is actively encouraged, as is avoiding making your troops look like easy pickings.

Temporary victory points however are earned by taking over one of a number of temples on the board. As soon as ownership is changed the VP changes hands, or goes back on the board. This is hugely powerful should you be able to time your aggressive play correctly. In one game I careful set myself up to take control of three temples towards the end of the round.

I moved in and secured all three obtaining the three temporary VP plus the permanent VP for the ensuing battles and owning at least two temples at the end of the round catapulting me to a surprise (to my foes at least) victory.

Although satisfying this is usually a rare occurrence!!!

The second thing is the battle system itself. Each player has six identical cards. Each battle they will choose two, one to discard and one to play face down. The card will have up to three stats - strength, damage and defence. The battle is won by the person with the most strength - number on battle card plus number of troops plus any relevant power tiles, if that person was the attacker they gain a permanent VP.

Damage and defence are resolved next, your damage is played off against the opponent's defence and they lose that many troops off the board - and vice versa. This means you can, and probably will, win the battle but lose your board presence. Is it worth it for that solitary victory point?

Battles are further nuanced by the use of divine intervention cards, which can be hidden under the battle card and add to any of your battle stats. A cheeky surprise for that smug giant scorpion welding clown who picked a fight with you! When all six battle cards have been played (after three battles for the mathematicians among you) you simply turn over your discard pile and start again. Therefore there is a level of information available to you. To start with you all have the same cards, so if you know that player A has already played her high attack cards, then you know they might be a good person to attack.

Lastly the board itself is a work of genius, set up so you are always an equal distance from everyone else. Choosing who to mess with is a true choice that takes into account a number of factors, not just the person who annoyed you most or who it is funny to wind up.

Temporary victory points however are earned by taking over one of a number of temples on the board. As soon as ownership is changed the VP changes hands, or goes back on the board. This is hugely powerful should you be able to time your aggressive play correctly. In one game I careful set myself up to take control of three temples towards the end of the round.

I moved in and secured all three obtaining the three temporary VP plus the permanent VP for the ensuing battles and owning at least two temples at the end of the round catapulting me to a surprise (to my foes at least) victory.

Although satisfying this is usually a rare occurrence!!!

The second thing is the battle system itself. Each player has six identical cards. Each battle they will choose two, one to discard and one to play face down. The card will have up to three stats - strength, damage and defence. The battle is won by the person with the most strength - number on battle card plus number of troops plus any relevant power tiles, if that person was the attacker they gain a permanent VP.

Damage and defence are resolved next, your damage is played off against the opponent's defence and they lose that many troops off the board - and vice versa. This means you can, and probably will, win the battle but lose your board presence. Is it worth it for that solitary victory point?

Battles are further nuanced by the use of divine intervention cards, which can be hidden under the battle card and add to any of your battle stats. A cheeky surprise for that smug giant scorpion welding clown who picked a fight with you! When all six battle cards have been played (after three battles for the mathematicians among you) you simply turn over your discard pile and start again. Therefore there is a level of information available to you. To start with you all have the same cards, so if you know that player A has already played her high attack cards, then you know they might be a good person to attack.

Lastly the board itself is a work of genius, set up so you are always an equal distance from everyone else. Choosing who to mess with is a true choice that takes into account a number of factors, not just the person who annoyed you most or who it is funny to wind up.

Final Thoughts

Kemet is a master piece, but as with all master pieces beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Mona Lisa is a fantastic work of art but it is not to my personal taste! And while Kemet is a simple engine, there is a veneer that gives a complex impression.

In early games you will spend a lot of time handing the leaflet that explains all the power tiles and divine intervention cards around and waiting while someone chooses which one of these largely useful powers they want.

In these situations an experienced player can win quite quickly which may leave a bad taste with new players, as they barely had time to buy any powers let alone the top level ones.

Yet this variable game length is also somehow part of the draw of Kemet. The fact that you always feel near to victory, that you just need a couple of clever moves away from the VP you need, but then so is everyone else...

Kemet encourages you to take risks, to spread out towards those temples, but not in a way that offers easy VP, almost every game I have played has been really close, where a number of people could have won and this keeps the game in your mind as you wonder about what you could have done different, and look forward to the inevitable rematch.

While newcomers to the hobby may be overwhelmed by the options available, the essence of the game is approachable and rewarding. The rule book is well laid out and easy to read, and the included smaller power guide a welcome addition.

All in all Kemet is a great package, easy enough to get into, and deep enough to last. With one expansion already out and another on the way, there is plenty here to keep your interest and if you like aggressive but clever area control you might just have found another board game 'moment'.

In early games you will spend a lot of time handing the leaflet that explains all the power tiles and divine intervention cards around and waiting while someone chooses which one of these largely useful powers they want.

In these situations an experienced player can win quite quickly which may leave a bad taste with new players, as they barely had time to buy any powers let alone the top level ones.

Yet this variable game length is also somehow part of the draw of Kemet. The fact that you always feel near to victory, that you just need a couple of clever moves away from the VP you need, but then so is everyone else...

Kemet encourages you to take risks, to spread out towards those temples, but not in a way that offers easy VP, almost every game I have played has been really close, where a number of people could have won and this keeps the game in your mind as you wonder about what you could have done different, and look forward to the inevitable rematch.

While newcomers to the hobby may be overwhelmed by the options available, the essence of the game is approachable and rewarding. The rule book is well laid out and easy to read, and the included smaller power guide a welcome addition.

All in all Kemet is a great package, easy enough to get into, and deep enough to last. With one expansion already out and another on the way, there is plenty here to keep your interest and if you like aggressive but clever area control you might just have found another board game 'moment'.

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

Might Not Like

Zatu Score

92%

Buy Now

Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here
Excellent
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Zatu Games is rated 4.90 based on 9488
Reviews

So far so good. Orders are delivered quickly and the service is excellent.

So far so good. Orders are delivered quickly and the service is excellent.

I usually buy my board games from my local store but decided too explore the wonders of the Internet for my Christmas gift idea! By doing so I came across this orange website in which I seemed dubious of at first but after reading some of the reviews and doing some research, I found I couldn't get a deal better anywhere else! This delightful orange website called Zatu games delivered my gift, too which I ordered within 5 minutes, my gift came within 3 days tightly packaged and sealed up with zato tape. I would definetly order from here again in the future.

I usually buy my board games from my local store but decided too explore the wonders of the Internet for my Christmas gift idea! By doing so I came across this orange website in which I seemed dubious of at first but after reading some of the reviews and doing some research, I found I couldn't get a deal better anywhere else! This delightful orange website called Zatu games delivered my gift, too which I ordered within 5 minutes, my gift came within 3 days tightly packaged and sealed up with zato tape. I would definetly order from here again in the future.

Initially ordered from Zatu because of the good prices but they’re now my go to vendor because of the excellent service. Quick delivery and they keep you up to date on how your order is progressing. Packaging is perfect so games arrive safely.

Initially ordered from Zatu because of the good prices but they’re now my go to vendor because of the excellent service. Quick delivery and they keep you up to date on how your order is progressing. Packaging is perfect so games arrive safely.

Never heard of the company before. As a emerging board game fan I am pleased to find they have a large range of games and even have a reward scheme, which is great. Will be back to buy for myself in the New Year (bought a Christmas present).

Never heard of the company before. As a emerging board game fan I am pleased to find they have a large range of games and even have a reward scheme, which is great. Will be back to buy for myself in the New Year (bought a Christmas present).

Great selection of games, reasonably priced and easy to order. Waiting for delivery now.

Great selection of games, reasonably priced and easy to order. Waiting for delivery now.

Very easy to use, a great choice and great value.

Very easy to use, a great choice and great value.

Very pleased with the way it was wrapped and the delivery arrived when it said it would. This is a Christmas present for my grandson, so will let you know how the game went . Thank you once again xxx would buy from your company again.

Very pleased with the way it was wrapped and the delivery arrived when it said it would. This is a Christmas present for my grandson, so will let you know how the game went . Thank you once again xxx would buy from your company again.

Parcel was processed and despatched quickly.

Parcel was processed and despatched quickly.

I received my order in good time and condition. Thanks

I received my order in good time and condition. Thanks

First time using Zatu and rather impressed. Easy to navigate store, good prices and speedy delivery.

First time using Zatu and rather impressed. Easy to navigate store, good prices and speedy delivery.

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