Ahau – Rulers of Yucatán

Climb the ladder of power! Start as the ruler of a small city and use your strategic skills to become the most influential ruler over Yucatán!

Manage your resources wisely, build your pyramid temple and invoke the ancient Maya gods to dominate your opponents!

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In each round, you get to access a region of the map spanning from the lowlands to the jungles and the ocean shores and place a worker in a city adjacent to that region. This will give you access to further regions and resources. Build your pyramid temple dedicated to the ancient Maya Gods, who will help you through your mission. Invoke their powers for bonus actions and use them to create crafty combos! Ahau brings a brand new player experience every time you open it, thanks to the variable setup.

What is Ahau?

Ahau is a thematic, euro style strategy board game with a combination of worker placement, area control, and set collection mechanisms for 2-5 players with an immersive historical background. The playing time is approx. 90-120 minutes. The recommended age is 13 and up. We plan to release the game on Kickstarter in the spring of 2021.

Ahau meaning “ruler” in Mayan, is a fun, deep, and immersive board game for those players who do not shy away from challenges. You have to carefully think through which worker to place where, which one to activate or leave rested, which tile to build into your pyramid, and which tiles to activate. In the game, the competition to gain the best tiles and to get the majority in cities are intense, and the players’ path to victory will inevitably cross.

How is the game played?

The game consists of 10 generations (or rounds), and each generation consists of 4 phases.

During the Movement Phase, players will simultaneously select two cards from their hand, one for the region to move their Ruler into, and the other for the base strength to use for conflicts. A conflict is triggered if two or more Rulers end up in the same region, in which case the number of their own workers around the region is added to the base strength, and the players with the weaker strength must move their Ruler to another, empty region. At the end of this phase, each player reactivates any of their inactive workers in cities adjacent to their Ruler’s region.

(screenshot taken from the Tabletop Simulator version of the game)

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During the Building Phase the players in turn order (starting with the player whose Ruler is in the lowest numbered territory) will select a pyramid tile from within the region where their Ruler is standing, and build that tile into their pyramid. Each tile touching another tile must have the same god symbol as another adjacent tile in the pyramid. The cost of building is as many resources as the level of the pyramid, in the colour of the tile. For example, building a yellow tile on the second level costs two corn (yellow resources).

(In the image above, a white Sun God tile is placed on the third row of the player’s pyramid temple, for a cost of three salt.)

Next is the Action Phase, during which the players, in turn order (A) must place a worker to a city adjacent to their Ruler, (B) may inactivate workers in cities adjacent to their Ruler’s region to produce resources from regions adjacent to that city, and (C) may activate their pyramid tiles for bonus actions. These three actions may be carried out in any order.

(In the image above, the green player has placed a worker in the Jaguar city, then inactivated it to produce corn from region no. 3)

God Powers

One of the signature features of the games is the bonus actions provided by summoning the gods commemorated in your pyramid temple. The resource cost of summoning a god is determined by the quantity and colour of the god tiles you activate. For instance, summoning a black, white and a blue Jaguar tile will cost an obsidian, a salt and a water resource, and will allow you to move up to three workers from a city adjacent to your ruler.

The god powers can be summarized as follows:

Jaguar God:

The bonus action of the Jaguar God is quite powerful, as it allows you to move a number of workers from a city adjacent to your Ruler to any adjacent city. Using this action, you can activate your own worker if it was inactive, and you can inactivate other players’ workers if they were active.  Shields provide some protection against this action. 

Kukulkán, the Feathered Serpent:

Kukulkan was believed to be large enough to sweep the Earth clean, and could cause earthquakes. By summoning Kukulkan, you can remove a number of other players’ workers from one city adjacent to your Ruler. Shields provide a certain degree of protection against this destructive power. 

For each worker removed, the owner gains a resource of their choice.

Kinich Ahau, the Sun God:

Place your Sun ring on a city adjacent to your Ruler and reactivate a number of your workers in that city and in any adjacent cities. Each Sun ring has two faces, a Sun face, and a Moon face. A Sun ring is placed showing its Sun side and during the Cleanup Phase, it is flipped to show its Moon face. A Sun ring showing its Sun face prevents your workers in that city and adjacent cities from being removed by the Feathered Serpent or moved by the Jaguar god actions used by other players. A Sun ring showing its Moon face will only protect workers in that city, not in adjacent cities. 

Chaac, the Rain God:

Move a number of your own workers from cities adjacent to your Ruler to any adjacent regions, and inactivate them. Every moved worker immediately produces a resource matching the region they move into. Each worker may be placed in a different region but not in a city and therefore cannot be targeted by actions that target workers in a city (including the actions of the Jaguar God and Kukulkan). The workers moved this way will produce a resource at the end of each generation, and will be relocated back to neighbouring cities only when a Ruler moves into their region. 

Itzamna, the Warlord

Move your Ruler to an adjacent region. You may move a number of times up to the strength of the action. Each time you move you must take a pyramid tile from the region you move your Ruler into (if there are no tiles present you do not take one). You must then immediately build that tile into your pyramid, or discard that tile to gain two resources of the matching colour.

The generation will end in the Cleanup Phase, during which a scoring card will be evaluated, all Sun tokens will be flipped, the Moon tokens removed, the market region and the pyramid tile spots will be refilled, the players take back their Ruler, and players with only one region card in their hand draw back all their region cards.

At the end of the 10th generation, the final scoring takes place:

  • points will be deducted for each unfilled pyramid tile spot,
  • the player who is the farthest ahead and second farthest ahead on each lane of the Sacred Path, will receive extra Fame,
  • players receive bonus points for the bonus tokens collected during the game.

The player with the most victory point wins.

For the complete rules, please subscribe to get the rulebook of the game.

What do people love about the game?

Building your pyramid temple creates a sense of achievement. It is like a quest of its own, a game within the game, given that you can only build tiles that are of the same colour or deity symbol. You will also need the necessary resources to build that tile. Finally, you have to plan in advance to make sure that the built tile will give you the most useful bonus actions and the most points through the course of the game.

Players also appreciate the variety in which they can utilize their workers. Workers will be placed in cities that give you access to two or three regions, with each region producing a special kind of resource, and each resource can be utilized in myriad ways from building tiles into your pyramid, to activating those tiles for bonus actions and buying special tokens for extra points. As opposed to traditional worker placement games, you don’t place and get back all your workers each turn, rather you will place one worker each turn, and will have the option to inactivate that worker to produce a resource and reactivate it when your Ruler steps in a region next to the worker. As the game progresses, you will have access to more and more workers, and therefore have more and more options to consider.

The game is full of direct player interactions. It is not enough to build your own tableau and turtle up in your favorite cities and regions, you will need to address other players’ strategies too and anticipate their moves. This will create fragile alliances and exciting confrontations. Given that only one Ruler can access a region each turn, and that Ruler will likely not be able to access it the next turn, there will be intense competition for the most powerful cities, most needed resources, and the better pyramid tiles. The deity bonus actions also give you the opportunity to directly interact with other players by moving or removing their workers or protecting your own workers from their attacks.

Scoring is one of the most interesting and unique facets of the game. You can score victory points in many ways: through collecting tiles in your pyramid, through carefully placing your workers to gain majorities over cities and regions, and by turning extra resources into powerful artifacts. The scoring opportunities are intertwined in a delicate manner, prompting you to link your pyramid building and activation with where you place your workers. Despite all of this, the game is not a point salad, and each scoring opportunity is clearly laid out on a card. Four scoring cards will be evaluated during the game, each twice, and three of those scoring cards will be drawn randomly at the start of the game.

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. First of all, the region markers, the cities, the pyramid tiles, and three scoring cards will be placed randomly on the board during setup. Finally, new pyramid tiles to the emptied spots at the end of each round. This in itself will ensure that each game is completely different.  

The players’ decisions made during a generation (or round) are broken down into three phases. This will not only speed up the game (as two of these phases can be performed simultaneously or semi-simultaneously) but reduces the cognitive load on the players, thereby putting them in the magical ‘flow’ state.

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, including Kukulkán, the feathered serpent, the god of peaceful trade among nations, and Kinich Ahau, the sun god who represented the divine nature of the ruler. The regions show resources (corn, salt, water, cocoa, obsidian) that characterized the trade 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. Even the progress of the game is depicted by an ancient Mayan calendar with Mayan numerals. Finally, the whole game was designed to imitate the struggles of rival city-states who sometimes trade peacefully, or sometimes go to war.

Game components

  • 1 Game board (double-sided)
  • 1 Sacred Path board
  • 5 Temple tokens
  • 8 Bonus tokens                           
  • 7 Region markers                                                            
  • 12 City tiles
  • 60 Resource cubes, 12 each; salt (white), corn (yellow), cocoa (brown), water (blue), obsidian (black) 
  • 12 Shield tokens
  • 1 Generation marker
  • 10 Fame cards 
  • 60 Pyramid tiles, 12 for each god; 2 white, 2 yellow, 2 brown, 2 blue, 2 black, and 1 wild
  • 5 extra pyramid tiles for the 5-player game
  • 1 Cotton bag for the Pyramid tiles  
  • 5 Phase Summary cards (with starting resources on the reverse side) 
  • 5 double-sided Fame tiles

For each of the 5 players:

  • 1 Pyramid Temple player board                                    
  • 1 Ruler
  • 7 Region cards 
  • 10 Workers
  • 2 double-sided Sun rings
  • 6 Fame markers

How many times has the game been tested?

Ahau is a labour of love that has been in development for over two years and has seen many iterations to find its current form. From its first early prototypes, we focused our efforts on getting a playable version of the game on the table, playing it and listening to the feedback of playtesters, then making the changes necessary to create a better version of the game that is deeper, more fun and enjoyable. The game test count is around 60. The game has been extensively playtested and developed jointly by the author and Kicktester, a professional playtesting group.

What should I know Apeiron Games?

We are a small indie publisher comprising a group of a talented individuals, who have a passion for board games.  The game is planned to be self-published on Kickstarter under the brand name Apeiron Games. There are other games in development by Apeiron Games that are also planned to be released through crowdfunding.

Will Ahau be available through channels other than Kickstarter?

Most likely no, but who knows at this point, we would not like to limit our options.

What can I do to support crowdfunding?

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What do I get if I subscribe?

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