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Leder Games have built a reputation for creating asymmetric games where players don't just have different abilities but where their gameplay is unique to the faction being played. Tho' Vast was the first of these, Root is probably the best known of Leder's games; all of which have the quirk of a four-letter title.

Ahoy is designed by Greg Loring-Albright, and if the asymmetry and four-letter name doesn't immediately identify it as a Leder Game then the cute art from Kyle Ferrin will leave you in no doubt. Themed around anthropomorthic animal pirates, Ahoy is notionally a 2-4 player game but it's very much at its best with a full complement of four players: two Smugglers, both focused mainly on racking up points through making delivery runs, and two distinct factions - Bluefin Squadron and Mollusk Union - warring with each other for area control of the region tiles that are placed out through exploration and which make up the game's modular board.

It's an action selection game where players are each rolling their four standard six-sided dice (five for the Bluefins) and, each turn, slotting two dice into their dual-layer player board to take the indicated actions. Some actions can be taken with any die rolled but there will be certain actions that demand specific dice numbers. Your ship can pick up gold tho' on its travels and you always have the option of spending gold to modify the number on a die. If you have a die in the slot on your board for cannons, you must attack an opponent's ship or stronghold with which you share a space. Attacks are resolved by rolling a standard d6 but both the attacker and defender (if they also have loaded cannons) add to their roll the amount by which they've reduced the pips on the dice in their cannon slot. Each faction has a slightly different reward for battle victory. Any damage suffered in combat or through other means disables action spaces on your player board until you are able to remove them with a repair action.

The cards in a market display are multi-function. Any player can as an action recruit crew, usually for payment of gold. The Smugglers tho' can take cards as the cargo indicated at the foot of the card and will earn 2 Fame (victory points) when they deliver the cargo to its designated destination. Bluefin Squadron and Mollusk Union are competing against each other for area control of each region but they place out their respective control markers in different ways. The Bluefins have the advantage of an extra die and so an extra action but the Mollusks have their own deck of action cards from which they draw two each turn. These can give them hidden advantage. The region tiles all start off with an area control value of 1 Fame (indicated with a die at the centre of the tile) but whenever a Smuggler delivers cargo to an island on a tile, it increases that tile's Fame value, thus increasing its value to whichever of Bluefins or Mollusks achieves area control of that tile. Smugglers get additional bonuses for their deliveries and wherever they deliver they also get to place a bet ('pledge') for which area control faction will come out on top. If they've guessed correctly, it'll earn them more Fame in the end-game reckoning.

When cards are taken as crew they add to the player's capabilities, usually by extending the impact of a specific action but they can also be used to relocate or remove control markers that affect which side can claim area control. This manipulation doesn't just benefit the Bluefins and Mollusks - the Smugglers 'pledges' may also have given them a vested interest in the outcome of some area control contests...

Ahoy then is a highly interactive asymmetric game and, with the end-game triggered when any player hits 30 points, it plays in around 60 minutes. And despite its asymmetry, it's relatively easy to teach and learn. Learn it now tho' because we've heard rumours that an expansion is expected to heave into view in the second half of 2025...

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Vitto Scaletta
Vitto Scaletta
10 de jul.

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