So Kemet is pretty fun, even though we gave Mutant: Year Zero a pass tonight.

So Kemet is pretty fun, even though we gave Mutant: Year Zero a pass tonight.

The setting is kind of a… mythical sci-fi Egypt. I say “sci-fi” because there’s a Stargate in the game. Oh yes. And giant elaborate “gods” and their crazy oversized monsters. 

Kemet is a very lubricated armies-on-a-map victory point chase. Reminds me a lot of Chaos in the Old World. It’s nearly impossible to turtle into a winning position, and the game does everything in its power to get everyone attacking everyone else. We played two games tonight, one a 3p learning game, the second a more serious 5p game. Games run 2ish hours, which is just about perfect.

The map is totally liquid. You can teleport from pyramids to obelisks all over the map (they are most notably in temples, which gives you a VP for holding them as long as you can hold them), you can buy these huge mythical creatures that give you big movement and fighting bonuses…basically everyone can nearly reach everywhere with a little effort.

So you get permanent VPs for winning attacks, controlling multiple temples, feeding troops into this thing called the Sanctuary of All Gods, straight up buying them (no more than once), and by controlling the Sphinx. You’ll never lose those, which means attacking is awesome but also you kind of don’t want to leave troops sitting around in ones and twos waiting to get beat up. There are also temporary VPs for building and holding top-tier pyramids, and for holding temples. Those are very easy to lose.

Probably the killer app of the game is the set of Powers you can buy. There are three colors (red, white, blue) that correspond to three pyramid colors on the map. They’re oversized d4s that you spin around to show what “level” they are, therefore what level of Power they can buy. Lots of synergies and combos and I love me some combos. The iconography is easy-ish to suss out, and it didn’t take long to figure out what they all did. There are also cards you draw that give little surprise bonuses, and use similar icons.

I lost twice. When I’m deep into RPG mode, my killer instinct is so deeply suppressed that it’s really hard to rouse myself to really engage. But it is tight and very well designed — terrible, terrible rulebook though! — and we’ll be playing it more in the future.

15 thoughts on “So Kemet is pretty fun, even though we gave Mutant: Year Zero a pass tonight.”

  1. I agree that the rulebook is awful.  The game itself is fun.  There’s the economy and tech tree and I think the combat itself is really pretty neat.  I like that you always pick two combat cards and discard one.  Simultaneously you watch your opponent’s choices as part of your strategy.  It’s really hard (but not impossible) to get completely knocked out.

  2. It seems that no one has a bad word to say about the game. I’m going to repeat myself by bemoaning the fact that my gaming group is a bit touchy feely and I’m not sure I could get anyone to play a game that is so aggressive. My son would, but I suspect it needs the players.

  3. I love the aggressive nature of the game; you start with most of your armies, and you NEED to go after the others and use them in order to build more and do it again.

    There’s really no room for hiding behind your walls and “buffing up”, which is what I always end up doing otherwise in those kinds of games. It gets me out of my comfort zone, in a good way.

  4. I really enjoyed the way the game pushes you to fight and interact with other players. This is not normally my style, so to explore this reaction in a controlled board game environment looks good to me. I second Neil Robinson​’s concerns; if I bought this game, it would see mostly 2-player action. Have you tried it this way? I know it scales to more players like Small World, with different maps for more players.

  5. Rocio Goodey​ I think Joseph Le May​ is right. The thing that doesn’t scale is the selection of Powers. With two players, nobody really has to make hard choices.

  6. It’s a really solid game new players will get punished though by not understanding the importance of the tech tree. I love how the game encourages competition.

    The rule book is not the greatest to learn from. But once you’ve played it, it actually makes a lot of sense. The biggest flaw of the rule book is that it doesn’t illustrate a few things well enough.

  7. Well…the rule book not only isn’t the greatest to learn from, it leaves some stuff out. Get the FAQ.

    I can absolutely see that it’s a game you can improve at with practice. Knowing what’s possible in the Divine Inspiration deck, seeing and building toward good Power synergies, but most especially not leaving easy victory points on the table for opponents.

    The toughest thing I learned last night was not to leave easy pickings on the field if you can possibly avoid it. I had the poor fortune to be stuck next to the guy with the high-speed murder squad (five warriors being driven around by the Scarab, which gives +2 move and +2 fight). There was literally nowhere on the map I could hide. Terrifying. Put someone in a temple? Fuck you, here comes the murder squad. Now I’m giving him a VP for killing me and for taking the temple. Terrible. 

    The fact you can pick up the scarab on the first turn (start with a level 2 Red pyramid; level up the pyramid and then buy the scarab) feels…mmmm not quite broken but very, very strong. Very strong first play; I don’t see an equivalent in the other colors. If you can also pick up the +1 fight on all attacks? Gravy.

  8. The depth of strategy in this game comes in predicting what other people will do and in knowing what they’ll do before you can.  If you know someone is going to be able to grab the Scarab before you then go for something else valuable.  All tech trees have killer combo’s in them.

  9. Joseph Le May I don’t see how. Holding powers doesn’t = victory points.

    Chris Groff agreed! I just can’t see it yet. I can’t see the counterbalance to the first-turn Scarab buy, but I’m sure there must be one. 

    Also not starting the game right up next to that jerk will be a help. 🙂

    On that note! Because we’re all geeked out on Fury Road right now, instead of a scarab we envisioned that piece as a bunch of tiny spiky dune buggies. I think it would be so fun/easy to retheme Kemet to a warriors-of-the-wasteland theme.

  10. I’ve played Kemet a couple of times at two player. I didn’t find it as engaging with two versus three or four, four is my sweet spot for the game. With four, games run about an hour, perhaps a bit over. With five, AP rears its ugly head and bogs things down. It did scale well enough at two that Joseph Begay and I had a quick cut throat game. Yes, more powers are available, but you can still only have one of each type, no doubles are allowed, regardless of the color. It keeps each army unique.

    There really is no hiding in this game. If you do the math, you have equal standing on the board no matter where you set up.

    Paul Beakley, glad you liked it. It’s one of my current favorites.

  11. I’ve played with 2, 3 and 4 players and enjoy the 2 player game.  You generally aren’t fighting over powers, but it also means everyone gets some several killer powers.  Where as with 3 and 4 players you have less powers and you are really scrapping for every little bit.  I enjoy the two different sides of the game.

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