Ahoy Board Game Review

Polyhedron Collider Ahoy Board Game Review - Header
Roll some dice, place dice in action slots, perform actions and end the round. Repeat until the game’s end is triggered. That’s 80% of this game. It’s simple to teach, to learn and to play.  This makes Ahoy very accessible, even though it is quite heavily asymmetric. 

The other 20% of the game is the reason why Ahoy was shortlisted for the Polyhedron Collider Game of the Year.
The aim of the game differs depending on your faction.  In broad strokes, you have the combative Pirate Faction: either the Bluefin Squadron (sharks) or the Mollusk Union (...erm…mollusks). Or, you’ll play as one of the two Smuggler Factions. 
Polyhedron Collider Ahoy Board Game Review - In Play
The pirate factions amass victory points by controlling territories.  The smugglers earn points by, well,  smuggling, otherwise known as pick-up-and-deliver. This gets interesting in how these two mechanisms and goals intersect. The area control aspect of the game is standard, more units/stronger units equal control. However, the value of the territories increases as the smugglers deliver more and more cargo.

As a pirate, you want the smugglers to deliver cargo as that will increase your victory points. But, it will also increase theirs, creating a very interesting and dynamic dichotomy in what you want each round. Each player has a reliance on the others to be able to function and score well, whichever faction you play you’ll need to keep a close on this symbiotic relationship and try to keep them on as short a leash as possible.  But good luck with that.
Polyhedron Collider Ahoy Board Game Review - Pirate Cards
On top of all of this almost collaborative relationship between the roles, direct competition is introduced with how the cards come into play. All players are competing for cards, for one player this might be the special ability of the crewmen, for a smuggler, it's a really easy pick-up-and-deliver.  These crew cards allow some pretty nifty special abilities or more ways to use your dice

Obviously, there is combat in a pirate theme game, and in a typical Leder Games fashion, it is managed in a slick, effective and fun way. All ships have cannons, but they can’t be used until they are loaded, by which I mean; one of your dice has been allocated to that action of your player board. Fun things that happen here: as soon as somebody puts a die in that spot, everybody gets twitchy. A threat has been introduced to the round and what would a pirate-themed game be without cannons, eh?
Polyhedron Collider Ahoy Board Game Review - In Play Close Up
Combat itself only occurs when two or more ships are in the same space and one of them has loaded cannons. Each player will roll a D6 with the highest score winning, but with a twist. If you have loaded cannons you can, before you roll any dice, declare that you are going to boost your roll by any value up to the value of the die in your cannons slot. This introduces some fun bluffing tension to what is otherwise a very simple mechanic.

There's a lot of push and pull in Ahoy, control changes hands frequently, but more than that, as you progress through the game the areas that you want to control change too. The landscape of this game is so dynamic which adds a further layer of tension and fun to each game - as they are very different. The drama and tension of this game ratchets up along with the scoring each round, with each successive round being more tense, more fun and higher scoring than the last.
Polyhedron Collider Ahoy Board Game Review - Player Board
The smugglers are the jam (or jelly, depending on your Atlantic persuasion) in this sandwich - which is a polite food-based metaphor meaning this game really needs at least 3 players. It can be played as a two-player but it lacks everything that makes Ahoy great. And it is a great game, so it should only ever be enjoyed at its best.

If you don’t have much experience with asymmetric games; Ahoy is an absolutely fantastic introduction, there are some key differences between the pirate factions, but suffice to say, they feel very different even though mechanically they, and the smugglers all operate in the same way: roll dice, place dice. There is a lot of game in this pretty small box and it delivers a great time at the table.

We discuss Ahoy in Episode 138 and then again where I shortlist it for Game of the Year
Polyhedron Collider Ahoy Board Game Review - In Play With Stickers

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