What's above should be familiar to anyone who has read the rules to Khet. It's a blank board and the key for what pieces will look like on my maps. This article will be focusing on the classic set-up and some of the early moves and goals, both defensive and offensive.
Silver always moves first, and in my experience there are 2 moves they can make which immediately force the red player onto the defensive.
The first is E10-F10.
If the red player does not move defensively the silver player can certainly capture a piece on the next turn. The question is, what is the best defensive move against this opening? If the red player does not want to lose any pieces there is only one option as I see it, F7-F8. Any other move could result in a capture, usually of the piece at E8 or the top obelisk at A7.
This defensive move leaves the Silver player in a more difficult position and 3 options offensively as I see it. They can move F10-G10 in order to threaten the obelisks at A7, they can move E6-E7 or F7 to threaten the pyramid at E8, or they can start advancing the pyramid at D10 to C10 in order to set up for a better position later. I would recommend the second option, as it tends to be the hardest to block long term. None of these are great situations, however, so I will move on.
The second opening which has offensive merit is E6-F7, the immediate trade.
The benefit of this opening is that although it only really threatens the obelisks at A7, when combined with E10-F10 as the Silver player's second move it becomes very threatening all around.
The Red player is in a tight spot here again, with only a couple of defensive options that will be effective; A8-B7 or D8-C7. D8-D7 is also effective in the short term, but overall you're left with a better position at C7. My preference at this point between these options is D8-C7 as later in the game you still have the piece at A8 to defend against side attacks.
The silver player should still move E10-F10 at this point to put pressure on the pyramid at E8.
This move creates a double threat on E8 with F7 being able to move to F6 or F8 in its attack. Therefore E8 can't rotate to get out of it. The best move I see at this point for Red is E8-F9.
From this point the Silver player has a couple of options; they can rotate the piece at D10 to threaten E6, or they can move F10 or G8 to threaten F9.
This is as far as I'm going to go with this article, as the choices become more diverse here. Hopefully I will get the chance to work out some openings for the other Set-ups in the near future, but I haven't played them nearly as often. This analysis is also positing that the Red player will choose to defend rather than counter-attack, which is by no means certain. If anyone wants to add to this feel free, I definitely welcome any feedback.
I'm not a huge fan of the E10-F10 opening. I prefer a D10-C10 opening. However, I find those moves to be some of the better opening volleys. Since I am less concerned with eliminating my opponent's pieces than I am with extending my influence, creating a path from the closer end of the board (rows E-H) to the Red Pharoah is a bit more difficult than creating a path from the farther end of the board to the Pharoah. That's not to say it's impossible but with an experienced opponent, the challenges get that much tougher. And then if the rival blocks my far-end path that means that more attention can be afforded to alternate paths.
When my pieces are in threat I usually allow them to be eliminated, unless they are absolutely vital. That means that a player who expects me to defend my pieces will be wasting time on an expendable piece, giving me time to find a path around their defense.
I consider H4-G5 to be another key move, though it wouldn't be my first. It's probably the move that marks my transition from early game to mid game.
E10-F10 is really only good for scaring and confusing newbies but doesn't have much merit long term.
I would propose a completely different opening. I play E6-D7, for quite a few reasons, mostly long-term. Red needs to play D6-C6, or Silver plays D7-C6, gaining an incredibly powerful Djed, pointing straight at the pharaoh. In fact, all that needs to happen to win after this is to rotate D10 CCW (Yes, you take your own piece, but you gain a turn. This tends to be a great move throughout the whole game, since much of the game relies on how many moves it takes to take the opponents pharaoh). After rotating, go D10-C10 (if they don't block, of course), and you win! Or, instead of attacking immediately, you can play C6-B6, which puts their pharaoh in a bind. I wish I could make the boards to show you, but if you follow along on a board you should see why it's so deadly.
The other option that arises from this opening is after playing E6-D7, if they play D6-C6 (trying to get their djed to B6 -- very strong defensively), you can start racing them down -- however, instead of going C7-B7 after chasing them, go C7-B8. This allows you to switch with their obelisk when the time comes, opening up a very good, and relatively flexible path to their pharaoh. B8 is better than B7 because it moves the obelisk out of the way of your laser.
I hope some of this made sense! Feedback would be great.