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Explore the brand new strategy board game titled Ahau – Rulers of Yucatán

Climb the ladder of power! Start as the ruler of a small tribe, and use your strategic skills to become the most influential king of the ancient Maya! 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 Mayan Gods, who will help you through your mission. Invoke their powers for bonus actions and use them to create crafty combos! Ahau brings a new experience every time you play it, thanks to the randomized 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 minimum age is 13. We plan to release the game on Kickstarter in the spring of 2021.

Ahau meaning “ruler” in Mayan, is fun, deep, and challenging. 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. There is intense competition to gain the best tiles and get the majority in cities that are most important to each player, 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 King into, and the other for the base strength to use for conflicts. A conflict is triggered if two or more Kings end up in the same region, in which case the number of own workers around the region is added to the base strength, and the player(s) with the weaker strength must move their King to another, empty region. At the end of this phase, each player reactivates any of their inactive workers in cities adjacent to their King’s region.

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

During the Build/Destroy Phase, the players in turn order (starting with the player whose King is in the lowest numbered territory) will select a pyramid tile from within the region where their King is standing, and build that tile into their pyramid. Each tile touching another tile must have the same colour or deity 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 yellow Feathered Serpent tile is placed next to the white Feathered Serpent, for a cost of two corns.)

Next is the Action Phase, during which the players, in turn order (A) must place a worker to a city adjacent to their King, (B) may inactivate workers in cities adjacent to their King’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 a corn from region no. 3)

The player must pay a resource for each activated tile, in the colour of the tile. The number of activated tiles (x in the examples below) determines the strength of the bonus actions which are the following:

  • Jaguar God: move x worker(s) from a city to an adjacent city, activate own worker(s) and inactivate opponent’s worker(s) when moved.

Kukulkán, the Feathered Serpent: remove an opponent’s worker(s) from a city adjacent to your King.

 

 

  • Kinich Ahau, the Sun God: put a Sun token on a city adjacent to your King and reactivate x of your own worker(s) in that city and in cities adjacent to that. The Sun token will protect your own workers in that city plus adjacent cities from being moved or removed for one turn, and your workers in that city for the next turn.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Deity_Kinich_Ahau.png

Chaac, the Rain God: move up to x worker(s) from a city next to the King to a region adjacent to the city, where this worker will immediately produce a resource of that region, another one at the end of each generation, and a final one when a King steps into that region, in which case the worker is moved to an adjacent city.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Deity_Chaac.png
 
 
  • Itzamna, the main God: move your King to x adjacent region(s) and build or destroy a tile at each of those regions.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Deity_Itzamna-1.png
 

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 King, 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 invoked the most activated deity will score 5 points, the second player 2 points,
  • the player who invoked a deity the most times, will score 3 points, the player who invoked it the second-most times, will score 1 point,
  • players receive bonus points for the bonus tokens collected during the game.

The player with the most victory point wins.

What do people love about the game?

  • Building one’s pyramid temple creates a sense of achievement. The building aspect is a mini-game or puzzle to its own given that you can only build tiles that are of the same colour or deity symbol as at least one adjacent tile already built. 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 ‘tap’ (inactivate) that worker to produce a resource and ‘untap’ (reactivate) it when your King 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 King can access a region each turn, and that King 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 replayability value. There is no one strategy that can work in all situations, you will have to adapt your strategy for each setup and each in-game state. First of all, the region markers, the cities, the pyramid tiles, and three scoring cards will be placed randomly on the board during setup. This in itself will ensure that each game is completely different. Moreover, new pyramid tiles to the emptied spots at the end of each round.
  • The players’ decisions to be 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 king. 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
  • 7 region markers
  • 12 city tiles
  • 60 pyramid tiles
  • 10 scoring cards
  • 5 temples
  • 8 bonus tokens
  • 25 scoring markers
  • 5 scoring tokens
  • Components in 5 player colours: 
    • 5 pyramid temples
    • 5 king figures
    • 50 worker figures
    • 10 sun rings
  • 60 resource markers (12 salt (white) / 12 corn (yellow) / 12 green cocoa beans / 12 water (blue) / 12 obsidian (black)
  • 12 shield tokens
  • 5 rule summary cards (with starting resources at the other side)
  • 1 rulebook

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 50. The game has been extensively playtested and developed jointly by the author and Kicktester, a professional playtesting group, who helped in the testing of several successful games, including ones that funded on Kickstarter. Lead developers are Balazs Pasztor, Balazs Nemes, and Jozsef Gal.

What should I know about the author, the publisher and the team?

The author of the game is Tamas Olah, a self-proclaimed game designer and coffee aficionado living in Hungary who has a passion for ancient history and area control 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. A group of talented individuals has been helping the author to bring this game to life, including Kicktester mentioned above, artists Jozsef Kovacs and David Szabo, graphic designer Mate Galambos.

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.

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