One of my favorite games is Khet. Today, my copy of Khet 2.0 arrived. Here are some thoughts after playing a few games with my son.
The first and most obvious thing you notice is that the board is significantly smaller. This is a very good thing. The old board was very bulky to transport and store. Also, the pieces are stored in a plastic tray underneath the board. No more rattling around inside the box,and worrying whether they will fall out of that little window. These are big improvements.
One nuissance about the new size is that previous expansions don't work with the new game. If you want the Eye of Horus, you have to buy a new one. Of course, you could just designate one of the scarabs as an Eye of Horus, and trace the beam manually, but that's work. Speaking of which, there are changes to the components. The djeds are now called scarabs, and have a beetle on the top. The obelisks are also gone, replaced by a figure of Anubis. The lasers are included in their own piece, the sphinx. One other minor annoyance was that we found when playing that the pharoah piece no longer stood out as obviously different.
As much as we like the physical components of a game, in the end, abstract players are more interested in rules, and there are two significant rules changes for Khet 2.0. First, the laser no longer sits outside the board. Now it sits in a piece in the corner. That piece can fire down the same row it always did,or, with a 90 degree turn that counts as a move, it can fire along the back row. The other change is that instead of four obelisks, stacked in two pairs, each player now only has two Anubi. Like obelisks, they have no mirrors. However, they are invulnerable when hit in the front side.
The new anubis figure increases the defense pretty signficantly. In the first edition, obelisks provided some basic cover, but they only worked once. The Anubi can last forever, so you have to attack from the side.
The addition of the rotation ability of the laser made less of a difference in our initial games than we thought it would. Still, I think in the long term, it willbe a big deal. I did manage to win one game by creating a threat along what would be the c file by moving a pyramid there, diverting attention for the main attack that came along the old a file.
My biggest problem with this game remains that defense still seems very powerful. Most games we have played have ended on a move that would be considered a blunder in Chess, almost like a hanging piece. In Khet, visualizing the individual moves is much harder than in Chess, and so moves that were easy to avoid, but just weren't seen, were what won the game. After enough practice, two players ought to get to the point where single move "I didn't see that coming" situations don't happen, and you have to set up forks and interesting combinations of forced moves to win pieces or positions. Does it really have that kind of depth of play, or would it just devolve into a drawish game?
I hope to find out. I like this game. It seems to have the depth of Chess, but with a more challenging mechanic.
Emile de Maat
Moved this thread from the Abstract Games General forum to the Khet 2.0 Reviews forum.