Ahau – Rulers of Yucatán

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Ahau is a highly thematic, Euro-style strategy board game for 1-5 players, combining a unique mix of mechanisms: worker placement, resource management, hand management, engine building, and a simplified combat system. Players embody rulers of the Classic period of the ancient Maya civilization, competing for dominance over the entire Yucatán peninsula, regions,  cities, and scarce resources, building their capital city and a glorious pyramid temple to appease the mighty Mayan gods and ask for their supernatural interventions. At the end of the game, the ruler with the most Fame will be crowned K’uhul Ahau (divine lord). Raise monumental strongholds, forge weapons, secure vital supplies, summon the gods who will give you the most power, and lead your people to victory. 

The average playtime is 90-120 minutes, the recommended age is 14 and up. We are planning to release Ahau on Kickstarter in February 2022. 

Our goal was to create a game where the magnificent ancient Maya history and culture is not just an aesthetic backdrop, but an integral part of the mechanisms of the game.  We are confident that we achieved this goal as confirmed by playtesters, and also a renowned Mayanist professor.

Ahau is now available on Tabletop Simulator! Subscribe to the mod here.

How is the game played?

The game is all about constructing your pyramid, buildings and other artifacts. You pick up the pyramid/building tiles from the board, and build them into your player board to use their powers.

The game will consist of multiple K’atuns. Each K’atun will consist of rounds, and each round will consist of a Movement Phase and an Action Phase.

During the Movement Phase, each player will secretly choose two cards from their hand, the left-hand indicating the region a player wishes to occupy with their Ruler. If multiple players selected the same region, a conflict is triggered, which will be decided by the value of the right-hands card plus any shields.

Finally, each player will take a pyramid tile from the region occupied by their Ruler. 

During the Action Phase, each player may place a worker in a city adjacent to that region; summon a god of that city; and produce resources or build pyramid tiles / stele tiles (optional).

At the end of each K’atun, players can gain Fame for the status of their pyramid temple, and the status of the common temples. 

Each tile you build into your pyramid and each building you construct will give you an unique power that you can use throughout the game.

You can gain a role card upon building in the appropriate space of the second row of your pyramid. Each role card also has a unique special power, further boosting your engine and giving you even more strategic options. You can use the role card only in the round when you played it.

If you want to know more about the rules, download the rulebook from here!

What makes it unique and fun?

At the end of each K’atun, celebrations will be held to give Fame to players who accessed a score by having activated their corresponding pyramid tile(s). The score will be based on a global performance factor (e.g. number of tiles of the largest pyramid), i.e. not necessarily based on the player’s own performance.  This creates tense competition, and interesting choices as to which tiles to activate.

Building your pyramid temple creates an intriguing puzzle, engine building and scoring opportunities at the same time.

Succeeding in the game depends only on your strategic skills. You will need to make tough decisions, and find the right combos.

Due to the fully randomized setup and the various tile powers and many other game mechanisms, the game has tremendous replay value. There is no strategy that can work in all situations, you will have to adapt your strategy for each setup and each in-game state which requires advanced skills and thinking

The card system has been described by playtesters as ‘brilliant’ and ‘original’. Selecting cards from your hand is indeed one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game, which prompts you to commit to a region and its nearby cities with one card, and defend that region with your other card.

The game immerses itself in the culture and history of the ancient Maya.

  • The game board features a map showing the territory of the classical Mayan civilization with several historical buildings and artifacts.
  • The deities which can be invoked for bonus actions were carefully selected to represent the Mayan pantheon.
  • The resources used in the game (corn, limestone, water, cocoa, obsidian) characterized the economy of the era.
  • The pyramid temple serving as the individual player board and the cover art were inspired by the Temple of the Night Sun, a building featuring a series of masks illuminated by the rays of the sunset.
  • The steles and artifacts in the game were illustrated on the basis of existing historical artifacts, including the Death Mask of Pakal the Great.
  • Finally, the whole game was designed to imitate the struggles of rival city-states who sometimes trade peacefully, or sometimes go to war.
  • Mayanist David S. Anderson, professor of anthropology and archaeology, instructor at the Radford University in Virginia, U.S., agreed to provide valuable insight on several aspects of the game. Follow David S. Anderson on social media for both wholesome and educational content: https://twitter.com/DSAArchaeology