Ok, so maybe it’s not surprising that a game like Kemet would get some love from me. It’s received a lot of great buzz this year and currently sits at 7.8 on Board Game Geek (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/127023/kemet). People really respond to this game.
Players take on the role of ancient Egyptian gods bent on controlling the lush Nile valley and the temples and fortresses that abound there. It is an area control game for 2-5 players designed by Jacques Bariot and Guillaume Montiage. The double sided board is not only beautiful, it’s really well designed. Each player controls a city and although they seem spread out each one is exactly four spaces away from any other city on the board. Temples can provide prayer points (the currency of the game) if you can hold them and the Sanctuary of All Gods will provide you with victory points if…you know…you sacrifice some of your loyal soldiers to the Gods!
Kemet utilizes a unique card-based battle system that takes away chance and adds bluffing and slight of hand. Each Battle Card has stats on Strength, Damage and Protection. Every card is strong, but the right card to use totally depends on the battle you’re in.
Now what would a Matagot war game be with some pretty cool miniatures, and Kemet has those in spades. Throughout the game players can increase their knowledge in three different powers by paying prayer points to advance one of their three pyramids. White generally helps in the prayer point dept., Red will give you power in battle and Blue helps with defence and recruitment. Investing in any of the powers can lead to victory and trust me, you’re going to want to invest. All three powers will also yield access to some pretty terrifying creatures that can lead you into battle. Your army is going to look a lot more fierce riding on the back of a giant scorpion or harnessing the power of a mystical mummy. The stats of these creatures are intimidating enough, but the absolutely amazing miniatures complete the image.
The goal of the game is to get 10 victory points. Points are awarded in a number of different ways. You can get temporary points for controlling temples and advancing your pyramids to level four. Permanent points are awarded for battle victories (if you’re the attacker), controlling certain powers, sacrificing soldiers at the Sanctuary of All Gods and controlling two temples at the end of a day.
So what’s so great about Kemet?
I love the Euro style elements in the game. Action selection is worker placement and the powers tech tree give the sense of developing and building your society. However, for me, it’s the point system and the approach to battle that set Kemet apart. A natural instinct in a war game is to turtle in your home base to build strength. Kemet won’t allow this. Players are awarded the all important permanent VPs for successful attacks. You’re not as much trying to control areas of the board as you are looking for ways to generate points. Staying safe and secure in your city will do you no good while your opponents are fighting it out and racking up points for their bravery. There are a lot of rules in this game, but they flow well together and with players who know what they’re doing games last only about an hour. I don’t play a lot of area control games, but Kemet is one that I’ll be coming back to again and again!