Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán by Apeiron Games

Created by Apeiron Games

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán is an innovative Euro-Ameri hybrid board game for 1 to 5 players, combining classic elements of worker placement and resource management, simple combat, and an innovative new system for dual-engine building. Experience the challenges of leadership deep in the jungles of the ancient Yucatán Peninsula. Build and secure your legacy as a Maya ruler by expanding your lands, acquiring resources, and making the proper offerings to the ancient gods. Will your pyramid temple tell the tale of a great ruler? 👑

Latest Updates from Our Project:

The Pledge Manager Is Opening!
27 days ago – Thu, Apr 28, 2022 at 04:13:27 AM

SMOKE TEST FOR PLEDGE MANAGER

Good news, future rulers. Our pledge manager for Ahau has been approved by Backerkit, and we just sent out a message to 5% of our backers to perform a so-called smoke test. If you got this message, we would greatly appreciate any feedback you have on the experience. Once the smoke test is over and we are sure that there are no issues, we will open the pledge manager to everyone! If you do not receive a message by Monday, please reach out to us via DM.


THE ROAD AHEAD

Graphic Design & Illustration

After taking a much-needed rest, testing and development of the game are now continuing with our full effort.

Regarding the new illustrations, next on our list are: 

  • New weapon illustrations,
  • New building illustrations
  • Retouching of the remaining Maya glyphs
  • Creating the new god head and pyramid
  • All the remaining expansion drawings (buildings and role cards), etc.

The graphic design to-do list is similarly hefty, starting with improving the iconography, creating the icons for the Eclipse cards, the new god scoring tiles, the new building tiles, etc. 

Now that we have finalized these lists, the art team is off to the races!


Gameplay Development

We have already made some substantive changes, for example:

  • You will be able to summon only one colour for each god, which will balance the gods quite a bit, and make going for a specific colour even more interesting and fun, 
  • The colour restriction meant we have to strengthen the Sun God a bit, for which we came up with new systems and experimenting with them.  
  • The Jaguar God will be renamed the God of Trade (as mentioned in our earlier updates) and will let you move workers, and for each worker moved will let you swap resources, which can be very useful. 
  • Some of the building tile powers have been revamped for gameplay purposes. 

We will be updating the TTS mod once the tests confirm these changes. Here is a screenshot of a recent test where the beige player won by a single point - a proof that nerfing the gods and creating fewer victory points will lead to even tighter gameplay. 

A recent virtual tabletop test of Ahau - April 2022

Just for fun, here is a throwback virtual tabletop image from a test that happened more than a year ago, where there was even a sideboard named "The Jungle Path":

A much earlier version of virtual tabletop Ahau - from February 2021

CUSTOM SHAPED RESOURCES - CONTINUED

Let's vote on the two remaining custom-shaped resources: obsidian and limestone. 

Let us know in the comments below which one you prefer. 



Limestone - custom shapes
Obsidian - custom shapes

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LEGACY OF THRACKS - A GAME OF TRULY EPIC SIZE

Finally, let us recommend you a very cool game that is reaching its final hours on Kickstarter: Legacy of Thracks! This game is an asymmetric competitive strategy game for 1-4 players with special semi-coop elements, a mix of Ameri sandbox adventure and clever Euro resource management. It comes with a complete background story of all the characters. 

Balázs Svéda, the designer and self-publisher has been relentlessly building this game for over 7 years, and the game is not only a true epic, a love letter to the genre, but also very unique. Real passion. 

Also, all stretch goals have been unlocked.  The solo mode was designed by David Turczi. You have only 9 days to unlock the magical barriers and enter the legendary city Dimara. Or control the Shadow and prevent others from reaching Dimara. Last chance to get your copy!

The Road Ahead + New Eclipse Teaser
about 2 months ago – Sun, Mar 27, 2022 at 09:24:28 PM

Future Rulers, 

Many thanks again for your support during the campaign, and for making this a reality. With over 1500 backers from 47 different countries, including 40 retailers, Ahau is off to a really good start! This will give us the resources to ensure we can deliver the best possible game to you. 

We'd like to give you a brief status update on the project. In the coming weeks, we plan to: 

- Open your Pledge Manager on Backerkit

- Work out the final details with our selected shipping and manufacturing partners. 

- Continue testing and fine-tuning the game, with special regard to the expansion and new game modes (Ahau Junior and the Ahau Shadow Player Variant)

- Finalise the rulebook and the booklet so that the translations of the language editions can be finalised or made from scratch. 

- Finish updating the last of our art assets


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Speaking of art assets, the last batch of Eclipse cards have been finished by Gergő Kovács in collaboration with Dávid Szabó, our main illustrator.  Join us for their grand debut!

One card in the middle is called the "Volcano Eruption'. Sound familiar? This card was suggested in the comments on one of our previous updates. Just a sign that we walk our talk and are happy to involve backers in our creation process.  

The illustration of the card at the bottom is named "The Might of Teotihuacan", which pays homage to this great culture that was not only the rival of the Maya civilization in its time but also had a great influence on it. So, here is a bit of background historical information!

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THE MIGHT OF TEOTIHUACAN

In 378 CE, strangers arrived at the great Maya kingdom of Tikal and took control of the city. That very same day, the current king of Tikal was executed and a year later the foreign regime established a new dynastic line by installing a new ruler who shared their bloodline. Later monuments describing and depicting the tumultuous event would show the foreigners and Tikal’s new king in the characteristic regalia of warriors from the mighty city of Teotihuacan, located far to the west in Central Mexico.

The host from Teotihuacan was led by a man called Siyaj K’ahk’ (Fire is Born) by the Maya, who was a subordinate noble to the then-ruler of Teotihuacan known only as Spearthrower Owl. Tikal’s current ruler, Chak Tok Ich’aak I, was killed on that fateful day and in 379 CE, Yax Nuun Ahiin I was installed as the city’s ruler. It is widely believed that Yax Nuun Ahiin was the son of Spearthrower Owl, Teotihuacan’s ruler. Over the next two centuries, Tikal’s fortunes would be intertwined with Teotihuacan’s, declining around the mid-sixth century alongside the decline of Teotihuacan and the rise of the Kaan kingdom at Dzibanche, later moved to Calakmul. However, these events marked a cultural shift in the Maya region with a diffusion of Teotihuacano art style, architectural forms, and military equipment throughout the southern Maya lowlands, centered at Tikal.

Can you guess what this card will do?

The Surprises Continue!! Custom K'atun Markers + 5 Extra Pyramid Tiles For Our Race To The Finish Line
2 months ago – Sat, Mar 19, 2022 at 12:58:44 AM

Fellow gamers, fans, supporters, dear friends,


We are on a roll! Just two days ago, we unlocked all deluxe stretch goals. Yesterday, we added screen-printed player markers to the mix. Since then, our funding has reached new heights, so here is another small gift to you, dear backers, because you are awesome, because you suggested them, and because we wanted to make the campaign finish something memorable and special. Thanks to your support, Ahau will now contain:

- A Custom K'atun Marker

- 5 Special Pyramid Tiles Added to the Expansion 

We are so honored to have such an engaged and clever community. Thank you for truly contributing to Ahau's development with your never-ending and always inspiring ideas. 

CUSTOM K'ATUN MARKER

A K’atun was a unit of time for the ancient Maya, representing approximately 20 years. K’atun was also used to track the age of rulers and the time passed during their rulership. At the end of a K’atun, the rulers held celebrations for the whole city, and sometimes even constructed new and magnificent pyramid complexes to make this occasion even more special. In the game of Ahau, all the common temples and city majorities are scored after the passing of a K'atun called a K'atun Celebration. After this scoring event, the K'atun marker is advanced on the calendar. 

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán - The Calendar (without the K'atun marker)

Currently, the K'atun marker is a wooden cylinder-shaped object, similar to the player markers. Now, we plan to upgrade it to a custom object that would resemble a stela. Tell us in the comments, which stela would you like this object to be shaped after? 


5 SPECIAL PYRAMID TILES ADDED TO THE ECLIPSE EXPANSION

We will also add another set of 5 special pyramid tiles to the Eclipse expansion, and with this, the expansion will have altogether 15 special tiles for even more variety and puzzling options. These 5 tiles will introduce a 'joker' god when built-in and count as any of the adjacent gods when used for summoning. 



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Here is a reminder of everything we unlocked together so far to make Ahau simply awe-inspiring - thanks to your support. 💪🤜🤛



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CLOSING PARTY

Finally, I'd like to mention that we'll hold a celebration party Zoom call today at 3:30 PM EST (7:30 PM GMT). 

Join the Zoom Meeting here: 

https://us05web.zoom.us/j/85066272733?pwd=bW1MWjFYbFJTY2pYb3JIbFRMMGFBZz09

Meeting ID: 850 6627 2733

Passcode: W81YL2

Our special guests will be David Anderson who helped a lot with the cultural consultation for the game, and Brittani-Pearl MacFadden who helped with the marketing. We'll talk about everything related to the game itself, the subject matter of the game, the ancient Maya, and you can ask us anything! 

An Incredible Start To Our Finish + One More Surprise Unlock!
2 months ago – Thu, Mar 17, 2022 at 10:08:19 PM

Fellow gamers, fans, supporters, dear friends,


As slow as the mid-campaign was, we are seeing an incredible resurgence in the last two days. We recently unlocked all stretch goals, but in return for this great finish, here is a small gift as a surprise: screen-printed player markers! These markers will now feature the ruler glyphs sketched by Walter Paz Joj, one of our key cultural consultants and a modern-day Maya Scribe, and retouched by our main artist, Dávid Szabó. Remember that each glyph tells the story of a legendary ruler and the city he or she governed. This will ensure the feeling of leaving your mark on history and your name on the common temples, as a great Maya ruler - crush your enemies, see them driven before you. 

I would like personally thank each and every one of you who have supported our project so far, even with a dollar. I value your contribution and will strive to deliver the best game in terms of gameplay and visuals as humanly possible. To those who made the community pledge of one dollar or more, please know that I especially value your contribution. That is why I decided to give back something in return: 

1. The recently unlocked booklet describing the historical and cultural background of Ahau will be made available to all backers in digital form, including those who made the community pledge. 

2. We will also make available to all backers high-resolution desktop backgrounds on some of the Eclipse cards for your viewing pleasure whenever you open your laptop or computer. 

Here is a teaser of what you will get made from the Eclipse card titled 'Ritual', featuring the High Priestess performing a ritual in a moonlit cave:

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán - 'Ritual' Eclipse card (illustration by Gergő Kovács)

***

We are at 1,300 backers, almost 5,900 project followers and a 75K funding level. When I started more than 2 years ago, I would have never imagined going this far. To celebrate this moment, here are some throwback photos of how the game evolved: 

The first photo is from the time when Covid hit in, and I didn't know any virtual tabletop software back then, so just used an overhead camera and Sykpe to test the game with a fellow designer:  

The earliest days!

This was the early rough sketch of the board a long time, when the game was still titled 'Kukulkán'. Yes, we went through a few iterations on the name. As you can see here, I always knew that Ahau was destined to be lush, colorful, and lively. 

Ahau prototype 2020 summer

 With our direction decided, this was the next stage. As you can see, the zones have been modified through extensive playtesting, and only go up to 6 now. 

Ahau prototype from 2021 spring

Just for comparison, here is what the game looks like today: 

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán in all its Kickstarter phase glory

We’ve come a long way. All thanks to a dedicated team, including developers, testers, artists, fans, friends, volunteers, and many more who helped me so far to make this a reality. So huge thanks to you and let’s continue our journey together until this game is published!

AHAU Has Been Completely DELUXIFIED! Big News & 6 Surprise Unlocks 🔓
2 months ago – Wed, Mar 16, 2022 at 08:55:34 PM

Future Rulers, 


With only 3 days left from the campaign, it is time to take things to the next level! We have taken all of your feedback to heart, and we appreciate your dedication to helping us make Ahau the best game it can be. With that in mind, we've decided to try something a little unconventional...


Drumroll, please...


We have officially unlocked all of the following upgrades!

  • Custom Shaped Workers
  • Custom Shaped Resources
  •  Component Upgrade -details below!
  • Dual-Layered Player Boards
  • Extra Building Tiles
  •  An Immersive Booklet - on the rich history and culture you're about to explore

We wanted to save these stretch goals for higher funding levels, but by unlocking them earlier, we hope to get there by attracting even more backers to our already populous Ahau camp. 


Custom Shaped Workers

The workers in the game are used either for harvesting resources or building structures. For the custom-shaped worker, we selected a shape that resembles a worker using a tumpline to carry a load, as a great nod to Native American tradition.  Here you can see a detail of a mural from the Chiik Nahb complex at Calakmul, showing a traveling vendor with bundle and hat, as a bearer carrying a large pot using a tumpline over his forehead. 

Scene of a bearer carrying a large pot using a tumpline over his forehead. Copyright: Ramón Carrasco Vargas

And here is our sketch for the tumpline worker to be used in the game:

We would also like to add a cut line from the load to the forehead to make it even more immersive and thematic. Tell us in the comments which option do you like the most for the custom worker: A, B, or C?


***

Custom Shaped Resources

All of the resource cubes will be replaced with custom-shaped wooden pieces, with the exception of the obsidian which would be made of polystyrene to ensure its unusual edgy form. If you read on, this update contains interesting background information on each of the resources represented in the game: limestone, corn, cacao, water and obsidian. 

Here is the sketch for the custom-shaped corn - tell us in the comments which option do you like the most: A, B, C or D.


Better Quality Components

We will upgrade the quality of the following components:

- Cards: upgrading 300gsm whitecore cardstock to blackcore with full-bleed and linen finish

- Rulebook (and now booklet) upgrading the paper material from 115 g/m2 to 135 g/m2

Budget allowing, we will also aim to upgrade the box material to thicker cardboard. 


Dual-Layered Player Boards

We will upgrade the single-layered player boards to dual-layered boards with proper slots, thereby ensuring that your pyramid and building tiles will not be knocked over when your cat jumps on the table!


Extra Building Tiles

We will include 5 more building tiles for the 4-player and 5-player game, making sure that the building tile will not run out before the game end. The extra building tiles will be copies of some of the existing buildings, marked with a 4/5-player symbol. 


Booklet

We will include a 8-page long almanac on the cultural and historical background of the game, written and/or double-checked by our team of archaeological and cultural consultants. You may have already seen relevant background information in our previous updates. 

Ahau is a homage to the breathtaking ancient Maya history and culture. While developing the game, we aimed to represent as many important features of this ancient culture as possible. This booklet is made for avid players, who would like to know more about the historical and cultural background of these game features.


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RESOURCES

Limestone quarry - excerpt from illustration by Dávid Szabó

LIMESTONE 

Limestone - or burnt lime - was one of the essential resources that occurred in the ancient Mayas daily lives. It was used for various purposes, like creating portable items (for example, manos, metates, bifaces, and other tools), but researchers primarily focus on its vital role in construction.

This resource was relatively abundant in the Maya lowlands, especially around Palenque and Tikal. Although cities like Quiriguá and Copan instead used sandstone and volcanic tuff for their buildings, the locations that did not produce their limestone often had to be transported from other cities. The blocks they needed could only be cut with tools made of stone. The burnt limestone material was used as plaster, but sometimes it was also used as mortar instead of the simple mud.

Burnt lime was used to construct pyramid temples, altars, and ceremonial platforms, giving this otherwise abundant resource a highly valued reputation.

“Construction material in the form of limestone occurred almost everywhere; since it only hardens after prolonged exposure to the air, it was easily quarried and worked with their stone-age technology.”

Coe, Michael D.; Houston, Stephen. The Maya (Ancient Peoples and Places) (p. 32). Thames and Hudson Ltd. Kindle Edition.

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OBSIDIAN

Obsidian source - excerpt from illustration by Dávid Szabó

Obsidian, this naturally formed volcanic glass, played an essential role in almost every Pre-Columbian culture and Mesoamerica society. It was a particularly valuable resource that was traded all over the Maya region. Almost all obsidian found at Maya sites come from four sources located in the Guatemalan highlands, two of the most important being the El Chayal and Ixtepeque sources.

Similar to steel in modern society, obsidian was an essential element of trade. It was used for hunting, in tools to prepare food, but agricultural assets and tools for daily activities were also often made of obsidian.

Aside from its great variety in practical use, obsidian had its spiritual aspect. Objects that had great spiritual importance like significant carvings, tomb lids, sacrificial knives were almost always made from obsidian as it was considered the “blood of the Earth.”

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CACAO

Cacao - exceprt from illustration by Dávid Szabó

Ever thought of how precious and valuable a bar of chocolate would have been in the Maya Golden Age? Back in those days, cacao was more than a mood-enhancing dessert as we know it today - new studies reveal that chocolate was no less than a currency.

Numerous paintings and carvings depict scenes where chocolate and cacao beans are being offered to mighty Maya kings and leaders. Given that they collected and offered much more than what the king could actually consume, it indicates that it was more than an edible gift - it could actually serve as tax and could be used to buy things at the market.

Before cacao beans became an alternative to money, they were also generally loved and consumed by the Maya. Its most popular form was a steamed, hot drink often combined with chili peppers, water, or even honey. It was not only available for the wealthier half of the society - hot chocolate was a widely-known and loved item in almost every household.

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CORN

Terraced corn farming - excerpt from illustration by Dávid Szabó

The traditional Maya cornfields - originally called Milpas - sustained the ancient Maya for thousands of years, which is exceptionally impressive considering the relatively large number of people living in a Maya city-state.

In order to build a proper Milpa, part of the nearby forest had to be cleared usually by burning the chosen area. Alongside corn, you could also find bean vines and squash plants, which provided shadow and kept the soil moist enough to be fertile, but also served as a nutritious part of the traditional Maya cuisine. Despite the Maya being hardworking farmers whose methods could be compared to the ancient Egyptians, Milpas was usually productive for only a few years before soil fertility began to decline. The Maya did not have the assets to protect the field from insects and diseases. Still, corn was a popular food, consumed on a daily basis, usually in the form of porridge, or they even made it into tortillas.

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WATER

Cenote - excerpt from illustration by Dávid Szabó

Although water is probably the most precious and essential resource to  all humanity, the ancient Maya had to make some extra steps to possess clarified, consumable drinking water due to its scarcity in the region. Major Maya cities in the Northern Lowlands needed access to adequate water supplies, and therefore were built around natural wells, or cenotes.

One of largest water catchment and filtration systems (used for collecting rainwater) that we know of can be found in the ancient city of Tikal. The materials needed for this system had to be collected and transferred several miles away from Tikal. The highly sophisticated system was built on quartz and zeolite, a compound of silicon and aluminum, which is known for removing pollutants and even harmful microbes.