Ahau – Gameplay Overview

Ahau – Gameplay Overview


We’ve wanted to give you a brief summary of Ahau’s gameplay to help you feel more familiar with the game, so buckle up, this is going to be a long one!

Please keep two things in mind while enjoying the summary;
1.) This post is not a rulebook; some of them were left out to help you gain a better overview of the gameplay
2.) The artwork is not final yet

Ready, steady? Then go!

As you already know, Ahau takes place in the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Classical Maya Period. During the game, you aim to become the most powerful King with his own pyramid-temple, but this is not so easy because of the tense rivalry between cities and their rulers.
In each turn, you will take a tile (representing a stone or glyph of a Maya deity) from one of the seven areas and building that tile into your pyramid temple. Later in the game, you may activate that tile to give you cool bonuses. You will also place workers to collect resources and gain majorities in cities, which will help you score more points and win the game.

During the setup, the circular area markers will be placed randomly on the board. Areas numbered 1-5 will contain the markers showing a specific type of good: water (blue), corn (yellow), black (obsidian), cocoa (green), salt (white). Each of these resources was vital in the everyday lives of the period. Resources will be used during the game to build tiles into your pyramid, to activate the tiles in your pyramid, and some other extra actions. Area no. 6 is the market that has one of each type of resource, and will be refilled at the end of each round. Finally, shields may be collected from Area no. 7, which will defend against attacking moves.

Next, the 12 cities (one in each resource colour, one in each deity type, and two walled cities) are placed randomly on the empty city spots. Two pyramid tiles are drawn from the bag to each area. Finally, each player receives a king figure and the workers in his chosen colour, some starting resources, his pyramid temple player board, and the game begins. Due to the randomized setup, each game will be completely different.

Example for a setup board

During a round, each player will complete his turn according to the followings:

    Move your King to an empty territory, i.e., to a region where no other King is standing.
The turquoise player moves his King from area no. 1 (blue marker) to area no. 5 (white marker).
    Place a worker in a city next to the King, with the fewest of your workers (among such cities), in the case of a tie anywhere. A maximum of three workers may be placed in each city.
The turquoise player places a worker in the Eagle Warrior City.
    From the area where your moved King is now standing, choose an available tile and (A) either discard it (for a resource of the same colour) or (B) build it into your pyramid. The building costs one resource of the same colour. The tile’s colour or deity must be the same with at least one adjacent tile already built into your pyramid. In the case of 3-4 players, a four-story pyramid is built, as illustrated below. In the case of 2 players, the bottom row is also used; therefore, each player builds a five-storey pyramid.
The turquoise player takes the Blue Eagle Warrior tile and places it on top of the Blue Jaguar tile in his pyramid.
    You may inactivate your workers (turning that figure on its side) next to the King to collect resources from areas adjacent to the city where the worker was inactivated.


The turquoise player inactivates the recently placed worker in the Eagle Warrior City and gets water (blue resource) from area no. 1.
    In each turn, you can summon one deity type for bonus actions(which we will detail in a subsequent post). The cost of summoning is one resource in the colour of each summoned deity (pyramid tile). After you summoned the deity, all of your workers in cities adjacent to your King, which correspond to the activated tiles’ deity or colour, become activated. You may use these workers again for production in the next round.
    The more tiles of a deity type you activate, the more powerful your bonus action will be. In the example below, the turquoise player activates a single Eagle Warrior tile (the blue one), pays one blue resource (a water) and captures the grey player’s worker from the rightmost walled city. If he had two Eagle Warrior tiles in his pyramid, he could have activated both and captured two of his opponent’s workers from the same city. Finally, the turquoise player’s worker is activated in the Eagle Warrior City, given that it is adjacent to his King, and an Eagle Warrior was activated.

Scoring seems tricky, but is in fact very intuitive and can be applied quickly after you understood it. Whenever a player builds a tile on top of other tiles in his pyramid, he scores the recently placed tile and the tiles below that tile in a pyramid form (collectively: the scored tiles) as follows.
The player gets one point for (1) each scored tile, and (2) for each of his workers (whether active or inactive) in the city corresponding to the colour or deity symbol of the scored tiles, provided that he has the majority in that city. The player, who more workers in a city, has the majority. Tiebreakers:

  1. The player with more active workers in that city.
  2. More workers in that city and adjacent cities.
  3. More active workers in these cities.
    In the event of a tie, no one scores for that city.

Finally, the player who has the majority in a walled city scores two points for that city.

It does not sound that difficult, right? We hope this helped you gain a deeper understanding of the gameplay and the many chances you can take while playing Ahau!
Be sure to visit again!