This Kickstarter board game is a historically accurate Maya simulator

Ahau Rulers of Yucatan boxart showing Maya people in front of a temple.

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán, a strategy board game by first-time developer Apeiron Games, arrived on Kickstarter on Tuesday and quickly met its funding goal. Set in the Classic Period of the Maya (250-900 AD), players are Maya royal families competing for fame, constructing buildings and pyramids, fighting wars, and generally trying to out-ruler one another. Backers are expected to receive their copies of Ahau in January 2023.

The game, which supports up to five players (there’s also a solo mode) looks to be a mishmash of mechanics. There’s that stolid favourite, worker placement – but, mixing things up, you also have engine building, resource management, and combat. Apeiron Games says Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán is a “Euro-Ameri hybrid board game”. You can tell off the bat it’s not a pure old-school eurogame, anyway – as it opts for bright colours over the officially approved beige.

Apeiron Games has taken pains to highlight that it’s done its research when creating Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán. It credits multiple cultural and historical consultants, and the creators tout the historical accuracy of everything from card illustrations to the 3D pyramids players are tasked with constructing.

Apeiron even says the geography of Ahau’s game board maps onto real world Maya sites, showing “their exact geographical locations”. A consultant for the game, Radford University Archeology Instructor David S. Anderson, is quoted on the Kickstarter page, saying the “Maya culture is not simply an aesthetic backdrop, but rather an integral part of the game”.

Tabletop Simulator version of Ahau: Rulers of Yucatan board game

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán reached its funding goal of $30,000 / £22,000 on day one of the crowdfunder and has currently surpassed its first stretch goal, unlocking three additional building types. Pledging to secure the base game will also provide backers with all stretch goals, though there’s also an ‘Eclipse’ expansion add-on with extra cards and tiles.

In the Risks and challenges section of its Kickstarter, Aperion says Ahau is “95% finished, after hundreds of hours of in-house and blind playtesting”. The Rulebook as it currently stands is available to download and peruse in PDF form, and Apeiron Games has also created a digital version of the game on Tabletop Simulator.

Notably, it appears Apeiron Games plans to explore other historical periods and settings in future board games, as one benefit offered to Ahau’s backers is “in-store playtesting of future games in our historical strategy line”.

Ahau: Rulers of Yucatán should be delivered to its backers by January 2023. Apeiron says it may come to retail later, but makes no promises.