Designer: Jacques Bariot and Guillaume Montiage
Publisher: Asmodee and Matagot
It would be easy to overlook Kemet because it’s similar to a lot of games in that you have some units who try to take over some territories in pursuit of some victory points. The thing about Kemet is that it is very polished, balanced, and keeps everyone in the game until the very end. It’s perfect in a lot of ways. As usual, I am assuming you know the rules to this game so I can focus completely on the strategy. Check out the video above or the text analysis below!
After playing dozens and dozens of games, I am happy to report that White, Blue, or Red strategies are all very viable. What will make one better than another is which track your opponents choose because you simply want the biggest selection of powers available as possible. The red strategy involves attacking as much as possible, the blue strategy revolves around always holding two temples, and the white strategy is about winning on technology. I’m going to cover each power, when it is useful, and then go over a happy path of turn order for each color’s best strategy.
White Power Tiles
White tends to be used as support to another strategy because focusing on white will give you more prayer than you can use and not enough battle advantages. I would have liked to see a white power that drained prayer from other players to make it viable as a primary strategy.
This power is OK, but really not very good compared to others at level 1. Depending on your strategy, you will average about 1 action point being spent on praying each turn, so this will let you pray a bit less frequently, but otherwise it is not providing a benefit.
The Priestess is better than Priest because it is passive and it gets you off to a quick start. The 1 prayer discount helps tremendously for the first few turns when prayers are not coming in very quickly. You do not need to spend an action to use its ability and you can see benefit up to 3 times per turn (and will average around 2 per turn). You can use the Priest’s ability at most twice per turn and you have to spend an action to do it, so the Priestess is way better. This should be your first purchase every time.
A player will usually raise a pyramid around 6-7 times in a game, so if you buy this right away, it will gain you about 5 prayer in total on average in a game. Of course if you buy this right away and you raise three pyramids to level 4, you will save 9 prayer. It is very passive because you will be raising these pyramids anyway.
This provides 2 prayer during the night phase of every turn, which is another passive way to get some extra prayer. A game will usually end in 7-8 turns, so this will provide 14-16 prayer spread evenly throughout the game, so that’s a lot.
This is great for an aggressive strategy because when this is activated, you also probably lost a unit or two and will be needing prayer to recruit replacements. It will keep the prayer streaming in consistently instead of in a big burst.
DI cards will turn the tide of many battles so they are extremely powerful. It is very nice to have an extra one each turn but it is a little risky because you never know if you will draw something useful. This can be combo’d with Divine Wound to add strength to your troop after cards are shown.
Hand of God
This is certainly an interesting buy and can save a ton of prayer and action points along the way. If you get up to level 3 white early, this is a very wise purchase, allowing you to take over the technology game.
Often times you will get stuck with DI cards that just do not help you with your strategy. This will effectively guarantee that your card will be useful. It’s just a little too spendy at 3 white prayer.
This will solve your prayer shortage issues. But by the time you get up to level 3 white, prayer shortages are just not much an issue, so this one can be avoided.
Obviously, this one is very good because it’s a VP no one can take away from you. It’s usually the most available one in game since many players never get a white pyramid to level 3.
Priests of Ra
Even more than Holy War, this will solve all prayer shortage issues. You usually want to play this in conjunction with Act of God.
Priest of Amon
5 additional prayer at night is good, but I would rather get Priests of Ra so that they come gradually instead of all at once because sometimes you will lose prayer when you hit your maximum.
This is the only white creature, but he is a badass. If you can get him early, the extra DI cards will really pay off, but even getting him later will give a troop +2 strength in battle. I just wish he had +2 movement because that is WAY better than +1.
Act of God
If you can afford the prayer, which you probably can if you have a level 4 white pyramid, this will be the biggest edge you can get in the game. This is amazing.
Red Power Tiles
This is excellent to have in the game to give your troops an edge in battle when attacking. It is critical in an aggressive red strategy, but a decent pick-up for any strategy. If this is available and you have a red action point spot, grab this guy.
You will usually use a teleport at least once per turn so this will save you a bunch of prayer. It’s so frustrating to have a movement action point left but not enough prayer to use it because you will be leaving a point on the table. This is GREAT in an aggressive, red strategy because you will always be hurting for prayer and you will be moving around a lot. It won’t be very useful in a defensive strategy.
Although this is great, the board layout, creature movement bonuses (which all red creatures have), and teleporters will allow players to move around fairly easily, so this is the least useful level 1 red power tile. Although having +2 movement is very good because it allows a troop to move from any temple or city to a center temple without teleporting, so this can make a +1 movement creature much better.
This is going to take a toll on your opponents over the course of the game and will discourage them from attacking you. The fewer the number of players in the game, the better this one is, because it means that a larger percentage of your opponents will be taking losses from it.
This will allow you to mold your available combat cards so they are a little more beneficial to your strategy. It’s usually not worth the prayer to buy this, but if I do, I will usually replace the +2 strength/+2 protection card.
You will usually use this to take over level 4 pyramids for your final victory point(s). You can also get this ability through a DI card (there is only 1 in the deck) or through the Phoenix creature. It really opens up your options, but isn’t critical for any particular strategy. This usually won’t be used until the final turn, so it isn’t one you need to hurry up and buy early in the game. If you choose this one, you will want to pair it with movement bonuses from creatures or powers to take full advantage of it.
This is very powerful for an aggressive strategy as it will allow a player to easily gather battle victories by jumping around the board from temple to temple preying upon the weakest troops.
This guy wins the best creature value award. For 3 red prayer, you get +2 strength and +2 movement. He is the only creature with +2 movement, which allows its linked troop to move from any temple to a center temple without spending prayer to teleport. This will save a lot of prayer that you would otherwise spend on teleporting, let alone the +2 strength. So good.
Blades of Neith
An aggressive player will have a hard time deciding between level 3 red powers because they are all amazing. This one being as good as the Royal Scarab, but I will usually grab the Royal Scarab first because players over-value the creatures and that gives you a chance to get the Blades of Neith the following turn.
This gives a player flexibility to add strength only when needed, the problem is that it costs a DI card to do it, and DI cards are awesome! Losing a battle hurts SO much in this game because it takes away a permanent victory point, so having the ability to put yourself over the top is extremely valuable. If you get this, you will usually want another source of DI cards, like The Mummy or Divine Boon.
This is always a great buy. You usually don’t want to buy this until you are about to win though so you do not make yourself a target earlier than is required.
The +2 damage can be used to attack the player in the lead to really hurt their troop and probably force them to recall and re-recruit them. This can be a win-the-game move.
This is my favorite level 4 red power because it’s usable immediately and usually is purchased near the end of the game. Not only does it give your troop a 2 strength advantage by killing 2 units before combat, but killing those units will really slow down your opponent. Combining this with other damage dealing can easily wipe out a whole troop no matter whether you win or lose the attack.
The Phoenix is great in battle because of the +2 strength, but the primary ability is to use the +1 movement to fly into an opponent city to steal a level 4 pyramid to cripple them and hopefully win the game. The Giant Scorpion is better if there are a couple turns left, but the Phoenix is better to end the game quickly if you are about to win.
Act of God
Since this is in the red track, it is likely that anyone who gets it will be low on prayer and not be able to use it for prayer-costing actions, but you can always use the extra action to pray.
Blue Power Tiles
It’s very frustrating, and costly, to try to rebuild your army after taking heavy losses. Any turn in which you don’t have two good-size armies on the board, you are leaving points on the table.
Any strategy can utilize this power because you will frequently find yourself defending, but it is very important in holding temples, both by defeating attackers and for giving would-be attackers a reason to look for another target. It is critical for a defensive strategy but decent for others.
I love this one. It is critical for the defensive strategy and will make it very hard to defeat a troop of 6 or 7 units. Unfortunately, players have a maximum of 12 units total, so it will only expand your units by 2 total. Still, there’s something particularly menacing about a temple full of 7 units, moreso than 5 units with a +2 strength bonus. Combo’ing this with Reinforcements will make it easier to keep your 12 units on the board.
This, along with the Snake, is the least expensive creature available. It’s the only creature that gives a protection bonus so it will give your units a longer lifespan. It’s an excellent purchase.
This allows the player to craft their battle hands to make them more protective and possibly strong. I will pretty much always replace the +2 strength/+2 protection card. This one usually isn’t worth the money.
Deep Desert Snake
This creature is pretty bad early on and only gets better near the end when players start acquiring level 4 creatures, but it never provides a creature edge in battle, it only levels the creature playing field so that the winner will be determined by sheer numbers, DI cards, and/or passive strength powers. He is not terrible for a defensive strategy, but you usually don’t want this one.
Shield of Neith
This will increase the longevity of your troops and may even prevent you from ever having to recall them after a battle, which will save you recruiting action points and prayer.
This is great for a defensive strategy, as it will discourage would-be attackers, but it will rarely result in a VP – it just makes it more likely you’ll be able to get the VP for holding two temples. Everyone will just leave you alone.
With this one, it will be very rare for you to lose a battle and will allow you to keep your higher strength battle cards until you really need them. Excellent card.
Obviously, permanent victory points are awesome. Always a good buy, but wait until buying this until just before you win so you do not make yourself a target earlier than needed.
Bolstering troops with 4 additional units is very nice, especially in conjunction with Legion.
A creature and a victory point in one? Yes, please. A blue strategy should always involve getting both the Victory Point power and the Sphinx power since getting battle VP will be less common.
This is another nice, extra-action power. Update: Per comment below, Matagot confirmed that you can use this on a space that already has an action token on it.
Act of God
Of course, this is amazing. A defensive strategy doesn’t need a lot of extra actions because they are not moving, attacking, or recruiting very often, but I am sure you’ll find a use for it.
Red – Agressive
Here you go for strength bonuses, frequent attacks, and your try to advance the game quickly before others can develop their powers. You may never hold two temples and will often recall troops after you win battles. This reminds me of a burn deck in Magic or maybe a zerg rush in StarCraft.
Use your move actions to attack as much as possible, hopefully twice per turn. You will be short on prayer so you need to be economical with it and only buy powers that will give you an important edge in battle. I like this one a lot because it gives a lot of permanent VPs through battle victories and Battle VPs are the first end of game tie-breaker, so a player using this strategy basically just needs to either have the most or tie in VP to win the game, and many games end in a tie for most VP.
To counter an opponent playing strategy, let them beat you in battle, but play high damage-dealing combat cards so they have to recall and re-recruit their units all the time. They will be prayer-poor and this will really slow them down.
Start with a red pyramid at a level 2 and a white pyramid at level 1 because you want a shot at the Priestess and you also want to raise your red pyramid to level 3 ASAP because those level 3 reds are your bread and butter.
Crusade (2) (or High Priest)
Royal Scarab (3)
Blades of Neith
Phoenix (or Giant Scorpion)
Red Victory Point
Blue – Hold Temples
This strategy is focused on getting two temples and holding them throughout the game to keep the permanent temple VPs piling up. Players attempting this one should make sure to grab the blue Victory Point power and the Sphinx because they will not have the luxury of getting as many Battle VP as more aggressive strategies.
When facing this strategy, you can beat it by getting battle VP at a rate faster than they gain from holding two temples. They are not going to be very strong when attacking, so make sure you aren’t leaving troops in temples that they can beat, because that will allow them to both gain battle VP while also holding two temples. Also try to add some damage to your attacks against them, so even if you lose, you’ll at least weaken them for the next battle.
Start with a blue pyramid at level 2 and a white pyramid at level 1. You could also go blue/red to get powers like Charge, God Speed, and Carnage. God Speed would allow you keep a temple within walking distance of your city so you can reinforce it when it gets attacked.
Priestess (or Priest as a backup)
Divine Boon (2)
Shield of Neith (or Reinforcements)
White – Powers and Prayer
This strategy quickly climbs the white power technology tree, then expands to the red or blue trees. Hand of God and The Mummy are critical. This build order shows red as the support color, but you could do this using blue as support too.
Start with a white pyramid at level 2 and a red pyramid at level 1.
Priestess (or Priest as a backup)
Hand of God (3)
The Mummy (4) (Hand of God raised white pyramid to 4)
Priest of Ra
Blades of Neith (3) (Hand of God helping raise red pyramid to 3)
Act of God
White Victory Point
More players in a game means your power selection will be lessened, so this will increase the importance of grabbing powers critical to your strategy before someone else gets them.
You only have two movements per turn, so use them wisely. Wait as long as you can to attack on a turn for your best chance at not being attacked by someone else afterwards. Also, do not just think about whether you can win a battle, but also what you think you will lose unit-wise because of it.
If after a battle, you will be left with a troop of 3 or less units, pretty much always recall them because they will be an easy Target for someone else to defeat them for a Battle VP.
Do not over-estimate the value of temporary victory points. When counting VPs of opponents, do not count temporary VPs until they are anywhere close to getting 8. They change possession way too often to worry about until the game is on the line. Having VPs makes you a target, so going after temporary VPs early will make others try to bring you down, even though temporaries don’t mean anything until later.
Do not creature collect. Never buy more than two creatures because there is no reason to have more than two troops on the board.
When placing actions on movement and praying, carefully choose where you place it to distribute them among levels as much as possible and keep your options open for later phases. It sucks to be left without anything on your top action pyramid level in the final phase when you would rather buy a power.
Going last is almost always best so that you have the best chance at holding two temples at the end of the day and so you have potential targets that are the most battle-worn from battles earlier in the day. The only time you would not put yourself last in turn order is if you really need a specific power tile and you don’t want someone to steal it. Then you may want to put yourself before anyone who has the pyramid level to afford it.
The best part about Kemet is the beautiful board layout that puts all cities the same distance away from the other cities and temples, no matter how far away they look at first glance. Each color track is also VERY well balanced, which is no easy task considering how many powers there are and how different the strategies are for each track. Also, the final day allows anyone within a few VP of the leader a chance to achieve victory if they make some brilliant plays, so it is always extremely exciting. The only slightly negative comment I could come up with is that Kemet has an apparently steep entry barrier for new players in that the powers are hard to understand at first, especially because there is no text on them – it’s all symbols. A player’s strategy is completely dependent on these powers and new players are immediately intimidated when the powers are spread out on the table before them. It’s just something you have to keep in mind when teaching a new player. I usually just describe the level 1 powers of each color and let them explore the rest on their own. The entry barrier is, in reality, not bad at all, but new players will definitely be intimidated in their first play. Overall, the design of Kemet is amazing and I have yet to leave a game disappointed.
26 thoughts on “Kemet Strategic Analysis”
You don’t need to free up a space to use Divine Will. On BGG, Matagot confirmed that it is able to use Divine Will on a space that already has an Action token on it.
Ahh, good to know – I’ll update the analysis. Thanks Douglas!
Not quite correct. The Divine Will’s gold action token is played on the top layer at the apex of the action pyramid and it is your choice of either a move or recruit action. So it gives you either a total of 3 movements or 2 recruitments in a turn.
Fantastic strategy summary though. Very helpful.
About blue strategy: it would seem to me that getting elephant on t3 is inferior to taking snake. By that time everyone is gonna have a creature (as for your other colours strategy guides), so grabbing an elephant will leave you at clear disadvantage, having 1 protection isn’t really worth -1 power, or am I wrong? It would seem to me elephant may be worth it only if you rush him,, and I’m not a big fan anyway. Not many games under my belt, so i might be missing sth.
Thanks for reading through the analysis and for the comment! In my experience, the snake has been the worst creature, by far. Many of the opposing troops you encounter do not have a creature, in fact, you will target those troops because they will be easier to defeat, making the snake’s effect useless and leaving you only with the movement bonus. The bonuses you get from the elephant, even though they are small, can be a huge help in any battle, no matter your opponent. The protection you get from the elephant is not profound in a single battle, but throughout the game, you will repeatably save yourself troop losses from damage that will allow you to avoid spending actions on recruiting so you can focus on actions that will more directly get you VP. Feel free to give the snake a try and lemme know if you like him, but I can’t recommend ever taking him over the elephant. :)
Ok, so we had a really weird game, the guy, who was going first went for blue, so I decided to employ red strategy. What happened was he got turn 1 elephant and attempted to hold 2 temples (likely a mistake). He obviously got battered out of the one w/o elephant. Next turn was me getting scarab, and from that point on dominating battlefields: anything that was out of city I attacked, and then we both recalled. What happened was that aside from first turn I dont think there was a single battle not involving creatures. on both sides (and full armies). That made elephant obsolete since turn 2! And his protection ability didn’t even give him much benefit, as I wasn’t even trying to do much damage. I won this game but only thanks to kingmaking mechanics. The other guy, with a snake!, went on 8 points on the same turn as me thanks to some open gates shenanigans, and the last man to act could only stop one of us, and he chose to stop him. Pretty bad tasting victory for me and huge dissapointment in elephant too.
What about the C3K crossover expansion from Cyclades? There are 6 new creatures tiles to discuss. I very much liked Crusade+Medusa, which just won me a 4-player game.
I haven’t played much so maybe I’m wrong about this, but I find Initiative to be an awesome tile. It opens up your ability to operate three (or four!) armies at once, because attacking a superior force with 1 army and the +1 attack/+3 damage card is basically a trade of 1 reinforcement cost for you vs. 5 for them. You will win that war of attrition, as long as an opponent doesn’t have Defensive Victory. So hold those temples with two big 5 ‘uns (and let blue and white builds try and knock you off with their lack of offense), and use your remaining singletons to put the hurt on anyone who even looks at your pyramids.
Yeah, Initiative is quite amazing when you’re attacking, although I wouldn’t recommend spreading out to 3 or 4 armies because they will be targeted by your opponents. When your opponents attack them, they will go down easily and you’ll have to spend time re-deploying them.
You’re right, but since Kemet allows attackers to withdraw troops after a battle too, this should never be an issue. Attack and withdraw your one troop. It will reduce their force. If you aren’t in control of temples with your other troops, you can then attack the softened-up army.
Its not a game-breaker, but it is powerful. I’d pick up Initiative before a level 4 critter (and I see from your build recommendations, you would too. :)
I love your videos and articles and have subscribed to everything of course. Your analysis definitely helped me crush my two opponents in just my second game of Kemet with a White 2 Red 1 set-up. However my own personal bargain buy tile would be Crusade. It really gets your prayer economy off to a flyer if purchased early. When combined with Carnage and later the ‘Radscorpion’, if still available, it means you really don’t need to worry much about prayer points thereafter and gives you a huge leg up in the game so is already my ‘go to’ strategy.
Nice! Yeah, there are so many little mini combos and so many ways to win with Kemet. I can’t wait for the expansion that is coming out this year!
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Yeah Brian I can’t wait for Ta-Seti. The black powers and 3 new beasties sounds awesome.
Have you played with the C3K creature crossover from Cyclades? If so do you think any of these extra creatures change any of these 3 strategies you outline?
My view is that although many seem quite “nice to have” I’m not sure any are a game changer or superior to the base creatures available.
I bought the Cyclades crossover expansion at Spiel in Essen when it came out but I gave it to a friend who really wanted it. I figured I could play his and pick up one on my own eventually but I still haven’t even played with them. The new creatures sound pretty sweet and I believe the base game creatures are a bit too powerful anyway so I would be excited to play with some nice-to-haves. I’d be interested to hear any strategies you have for the new creatures, otherwise I’ll try to get some plays in with them soon so I can post my thoughts on them.
I’ve only played with the crossover expansion a few times and we haven’t road tested all 6 new creatures from Cyclades extensively.
But with that qualifier in place I’d say Medusa was quite effective as her opponents can’t block damage, especially if you already have Carnage and Crusade in place. I don’t think I had to pray once after I had that awesome little 3 tile combo up and running!
Chiron can be handy as you can pair him with other creatures such as the Mummy or Scorpion to get to that magical +2 movement sweet spot with an extra +1 combat to boot, although there is an opportunity cost of course in selecting him over the other great white level 2 powers such as Divine Boon or Crusade already available in the base game.
This looks like an amazing game. Trying not to read this excellent article too closely until I’ve had a chance to explore the game on my own a bit but I’m sure I will return to it.
Please forgive the off topic and rather late comment here but I thought I’d ask how well you think this game plays with just two players. I really want to get the game but will probably only have 1 willing opponent.
Thanks for your time!
Yeah, I highly recommend it! I’ve only played it a few times with 2 players and it works OK. It can become a bit one-sided when one player gets the upper-hand, but it’s a quick game and there’s enough luck in the battles where there’s a chance a smaller army can win. You can probably find a better game for 2 players but this one is good if you’ll occasionally get a few more players.
Very nice strategic summary. Thanks for the effort.
My friend has this game and i’d like to forge some strategies before going to play (3-5 players). Isn’t it a viable strategy to go with blue for Defensive Victory and Reinforcements and then occupying an advanced must-have pyramid of some opponent like a level 4 red with greatly useful tiles like Initiative? Level 4 white can be good too. This way i could force him to attack me to recover the pyramid but i can reinforce the occupying army with Reinforcements and if i win the battle i’ll get VP.
Do i understand well that if i occupy a pyramid then i get the effect of his tiles? Also i get the control of creatures? This way occupying a red pyramid could rip this opponent of his powerful creatures and most of his battle abilities so he’ll have hard time taking the pyramid back from me.
In this case what should be done with the creatures? Just imagine the Giant Scorpion is somewhere else when i occupy the red pyramid. I guess the scorpion is then immediately recalled from his army whose master no longer controls it and he will be resummoned in my own city district with some units or just go sitting to the power tile until i have a unit in my city. And ownership is changed back the same way when the opponent can liberate his pyramid. Am i correct on my assumptions?
My other army could go taking battles elsewhere during the occupation. I guess with the stolen red abilities (and maybe creatures) and my own blue abilities they’ll be very powerful and can relatively easily collect VP’s. Legion can help here as well.
I guess i’ll have prayer shortages with this strategy so after the blue i’ll have to go for white tiles for funding.
Does this strategy make any sense?
Yeah, the blue defensive victory and reinforcements strategy can work really well but I’ve never really found it viable to take over anyone else’s pyramid except for a game-winning point. I love the idea though and I now I want to try it! The biggest downside is that the player you target will have a very bad experience, so you might want to wait until you feel you need to get some payback for something they did to you in a previous game. :)
You may be short in prayer, so you’re right that you’d probably want to pair this with white. I pretty much always have at least some white tiles that will help keep my engine going.
I look forward to trying this strategy or hearing if anyone else tries it!
Unfortunately you don’t gain the benefits of the opponent’s already purchased power tiles when you capture one of their pyramids, nor do you deny them the ability to keep using those existing powers (although they can’t buy new ones of that color whilst you occupy their pyramid).
It merely enables you to purchase power tiles of that color and up to that level as well as claim the temporary victory point they held if their pyramid was at level 4 for as long as you can maintain occupation of that pyramid location.
The Blue strategy I find the hardest to pull off against other seasoned Kemet players who know what they are doing. One of my favorite tactics is to try get to get the white level 2 tile Crusade early on and then combine it with some of the red tiles that inflict casualties. This is an extremely effective combo as it makes your prayer needs so much easier whilst also slowing down your opponents’ progression.
The recent expansion Ta-Kaseti, which introduces the black powers and some other modules, is really a must for all Kemet lovers. It takes an already superb game to a new level of awesomeness!
Hope this helps
Thanks for clarifying that rule, Glenn. Primary red with a secondary White is my favorite go-to combo too. It’s hard to mess that one up.
This makes perfect sense.
All the best!
No worries guys. I meant to say the expansion is called Ta-Seti of course.
Can i expect strategy analysis of Ta-Seti also? :)
Thanks a lot.
I would love to Antiglobe, but now that I’m running a publishing company (Overworld Games), I haven’t been able to find the time for these strategy analyses anymore. If anyone on this thread wants to write one, I’d happily post it on this blog. Glenn seems like a good candidate. :)
Wow, good luck with your enterprise, Brian!
Also looking forward to the strategic summary of Glenn :)
Best wishes to you guys,
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