|Publisher(s)||Luis Bolaños Mures|
Ayu, short for "attach your units," is a commercially unpublished abstract strategy game for two players created in 2011 by Luis Bolaños Mures. It is referred to as a "dynamic connection" game in the stalemate category of games by its creator, while David Ploog classifies it as a part of both the unification and stalemate category of games in "Abstract Games... for the competitive thinker."  The goal of Ayu is for each player to "unify" their pieces, or stones, into a single group, or to create a situation where they cannot make a legal move. It is traditionally played on an 11x11 grid of lines, similar to a smaller Go (game) board, with different colored sets of pieces for each player. It can be played on larger or smaller boards so long as there is an odd number of grid points for play, including edges. Grids larger than 11x11 allow for longer and more tactical games, while a smaller 9x9 grid of lines is recommend for beginners.
The game set up has dark and light stones placed evenly throughout the board alternating color by rows and columns. Each stone has an empty point adjacent to it on every available side. Adjacent is defined as up, down, left, or right. There are no diagonal movements or connections.
"Black" plays first then turns alternate. A pie rule can be used to balance the game against any first player advantage.
Each turn a player must either:
Groups are defined as an unbroken connection of stones orthogonally adjacent to each other (up, down, left, or right). Every move a player makes must bring their stone towards its closest friendly stone along the most direct route. The most direct route is the path which will take the least consecutive amount of moves to unify the two (or more) stones into one group. If a player has multiple stones equal to the most direct route, then they may choose which route to take.
A fundamental strategy of the game is to build long walls around an opponent's stone and force them to take many turns moving their stones to the closest connection. Blocking an opponent fully from making a legal move results in victory for that opponent, however. Starting from the outside edges and working inwards is often beneficial and prevents the stones there from being "left behind" later in the game where longer walls can increase their distance from other friendly groups.
Analysis by mathematician and game designer Christian Freeling suggests that Ayu is strategically deep enough that it is "...unlikely to be exhausted even under the most intense scrutiny imaginable."
- Christian Freeling, creator of Havannah, Hexdame, Grand chess, and Dameo, among others, claimed in 2019 that he thought Ayu was one of the best recent abstract strategy games and used it as an inspiration for his 2012 game Inertia.
- In 2015 Ayu was selected as the programming challenge for Codecup. Individuals involved in Codecup 2015 wrote programs that could play the game. Sergey Povalikhin created the winning program.
- Nick Bentley, creator of the 2018 abstract strategy game "Blooms,” and the 2020 strategy game “Oceans,” included Ayu in his list of "The best unpublished modern abstract games."
- Bentley, Nick (2019-09-23). "Abstract Strategy Games: The Definitive Guide (2020 Edition)". Nick Bentley Games. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
- "Luis Bolaños Mures | Board Game Designer | BoardGameGeek". boardgamegeek.com. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
- Bahack, Lear. "A Game by Luis Bolaños Mures: Keil." Abstract Games... for the competitive thinker Issue 18, 2020, pp. 17-25, www.abstractgames.org/uploads/1/1/6/4/116462923/abstract_games_issue_18.pdf. Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.
- "Ayu". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
- Ploog, David. "Make Muster - a simple game?" BoardGameGeek, edited by W E. Martin, BoardGameGeek LLC, 22 Aug. 2019, boardgamegeek.com/thread/2262081/article/32775645#32775645. Accessed 26 Aug. 2020.
- David, Ploog. "Goal's In Abstract Games: Proposing a New Classification." Abstract Games... for the competitive thinker Issue 17, 2019, pp. 8-12, www.abstractgames.org/uploads/1/1/6/4/116462923/abstract_games_issue_17.pdf. Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.
- "About Ayu". mindsports.nl. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
- "Ayu". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
- "Ayu rules". mindsports.nl. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
- Freeling, Christian. "What is the better game? Xodd or Ayu?" BoardGameGeeks, edited by W E. Martin, BoardGameGeek LLC, 20 Nov. 2014, boardgamegeek.com/thread/1272873/article/17522104#17522104. Accessed 26 Aug. 2020.
- Freeling, Christian. Nov. 2019. , www.abstractgames.org/uploads/1/1/6/4/116462923/abstract_games_issue_18.pdf. Accessed 25 Aug. 2020.
- "Epilogue". www.mindsports.nl. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
- "CodeCup 2015 - Introduction". archive.codecup.nl. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
- "Blooms". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
- "Oceans". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2020-08-27.