Rehabilitating Woodstock

Two totally unrelated things conspired to make me jump off my Spanish Conquest/Mesoamerican hobby path for just a short August detour. The first was my desire to participate in Dave Stone’s Season of Scenery challenge. I did get in that last year with my cityscape build for Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. My challenge this year was that I really did not need any more scenery for those games. The second thing – and we are talking about scenery here – was right in my back yard.

Woodstock.

Yes, that Woodstock from the late Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. Or rather the resin yard sculpture of Woodstock that we have had in the back yard for so many years that I don’t remember when we got it. Plus, I grew up reading the strip and still do in the reruns in the daily newspaper (which, yes, I still get daily). I think Peanuts still holds up.

As some of you remember, my wife Lynn and I had a cockatiel named Caesar who passed away on January 1st in my wife’s arms.

Miss this guy…

Woodstock looks somewhat like a cockatiel (but Schulz never would specify exactly what kind of bird he intended him to be).

In any case, as Caesar was part of our family, we naturally have had several bird-themed decorations inside and outside of the house. One of these is the aforementioned resin yard sculpture/ornament of Woodstock wearing sunglasses while lounging on a chaise lounge for many years. The New England sun, snow, heat and rain have taken their collective toll on the dude. But, back to my original point, he’s part of the scenery! And he is a fond reminder of Caesar. So, as such, I decided to rehab Woodstock for my backyard and for Dave Stone’s Season of Scenery.

View from the putting green towards the fire pit and the flower garden behind it – see the circled bench!

And it’s been quite hot this summer – and we are in a drought so my grass (not the artificial putting green) are pretty burnt. You can see below that Woodstock has long since been separated from his chair. My granddaughter Tabitha does likes to hold him. As he’s no longer affixed, I thought I’d rehab Woodstock and keep him removable but also make him more secure on his chaise lounge as well. Therefore, as fate would have it, I could do that and use him for Dave’s annual scenery challenge!

I decided to use a combination of paints and varnishes – craft paints, old primers that are no longer good to airbrush with (i.e. too prone to clot and jam up an airbrush), and some rattlecan varnishes and lacquers left over from my pre-airbrush days. Add to that some other paints (which I list at the end of this post for those interested).

First, I washed and scrubbed the piece – it had a good amount of grime on it and I wanted the primers to really adhere. A few ants had taken up residence in it as well and kept wandering out at random times despite the cleaning.

The chaise lounge also had a good-sized crack that I repaired with green stuff.

Green stuff repair.

The next challenge was how to paint the two pieces without handling them. For the chaise lounge, I just did each side and allowed for drying. For Woodstock, I needed a support jig – so I built one. The drilling also allowed for magnet insertion later with a bigger hole centered on the smaller one (not shown immediately below but later on in this post).

As for the jig itself, I reused a blot of wood that had a few holes that I had used to support 15mm tank turrets on previous projects. I had a longer bolt for the support that I drilled from the bottom side, and added several washers so that the bolt head would not touch the ground when flipped over and supporting Woodstock. I secured all the washers and the bolt with wood glue.

The bottom of the jig showing the washers and the support bolt in the middle.
I let the glue on the jig set overnight. The long support bolt is unseen up against the edge. I used another block and the DeWalt drill bits case to weigh it down while drying.

For Woodstock, I scribed over his mouth and eyes with an awl before priming him. I then secured Woodstock and brush primed with some older primer that was no longer suitable for the airbrush but was still good enough for the brush.

Woodstock on the jig, primed.

From here, it was onto the chaise lounge base. It needed to be primed both on top and on the bottom as there were some rock-like and bush-like structures underneath that were not well-defined. These I painted and then added a glossy wash for depth. Over the repair, I had previously etched the wood grain of the chaise lounge.

I still wanted more definition in the wood grain. I tried a wash but the result was highly unsatisfactory – it came out horribly blotchy. So I repainted the base chair and decided to dry brush it instead- which worked much better. After all, it should retain a “cartoony” look right? I used an airbrush yellow paint with a brush on Woodstock and painted his eyes, mouth, and sunglasses.

Getting closer to the finish. This is after I repainted the chair but before the dry brushing.
After dry brushing the chair. I added a bluish color to the sunglasses (not shown here).

Before I was to varnish, I needed to install Woodstock’s magnet and a washer into the base. Originally I planned to put in a magnet into the base too – but upon drilling it I discovered that the base was more hollow than I knew (hence the ants too). So, I chose to insert a 3/4″ zinc-coated washer and secured the gap with E6000 epoxy.

The magnet and the washer will allow Woodstock to be removed with a little effort but not fall out at rest.

All that remained was to apply varnish and lacquer. Luckily, I still had some old rattlecans from my pre-airbrush days – and I gave each a couple coats of good coverage.

Finished!

So how does he look in the yard?

On the bench!
By the house back deck!
Before and after!

Most importantly, Tabitha approves!

Thanks for looking at this little diversion from my normal pace – hope you found it as fun as I did! Or Tabitha!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED TO REHAB WOODSTOCK AND HIS CHAISE LOUNGE:

  1. Kneadatite (green stuff)
  2. Gorilla Glue
  3. A block of 2″ X 4″ wood
  4. Elmer’s Wood Glue
  5. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  6. 4″ bolt
  7. 1/4″ magnet
  8. Multiple drill bits of different sizes
  9. Vallejo Surface Primer “Grey”
  10. Vallejo Surface Primer “Russian Green”
  11. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  12. DecoArt “Honey Green Brown”
  13. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade GLOSS (wash)
  14. Americana “Black Tie Satin”
  15. Americana “Santa Red”
  16. Com-Art Colours “Opaque Hansa Yellow”
  17. FolkArt “Yellow Ochre”
  18. Craftsmart “Neon Blue”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Talassar Blue”
  20. Krylon “Matte Finish” (varnish in rattlecan)
  21. Testors “Dullcoat” (lacquer in rattlecan)
  22. E6000 epoxy

Aztec Eagle Knights, Ral Partha 42-303, circa 1986

The first figures that I got to paint came from a triad of companies – Ral Partha, Minifig, and Grenadier – back in the 1980’s. There were others too – but Ral Partha was my favorite company, as I was mainly into buying, painting (and casting) 25mm fantasy figures in those days. I left the hobby in the late 1980’s, and subsequently came out of my hobby time machine in early 2015 with the Nightmare Legion. To my surprise, I found that Ral Partha – and many others – were gone or subsumed into other entities. For example the Ral Partha lines now can be found at now Iron Wind Metals. Also, for many manufacturers, metal figures were being replaced by – dare I say it – PLASTIC. Oh, the horror.

Anyways, I discovered that there were still a good many metal options available and I have stayed mostly with metal figures. One of the lots that I bought on eBay around 2016 was a bunch of unopened and opened Ral Partha Aztec figure blisters. I sorted them and put them away. Then in 2019 Buck Surdu asked for collaboration on supplements for his new rules set called Feudal PatrolTM  . I jumped in, and now most of you know it resulted in my writing my supplement called Civilizations Collide in late 2019/early 2020. It’s free to download at that link (and you should!).

I then started painting figures and terrain for the period in April of 2020. Now, after two years, having painted and assembled 254 figures (109 Aztecs, 113 Conquistadores, 32 Tlaxcalans), 21 war canoes, 5 brigantines, a TON of terrain, and written 55+ blog posts (you can see the list of posts here), I felt I was ready to move on to my 34 Maya figures and finish up. After a whirlwind of preparation for gaming at HAVOC! 2022 and HUZZAH! 2022, I thought that I was prepared to move on to my 34 Maya figures…

Or was I…

I had painted or given away all of my original eBay lot score – all except 12 remaining Aztec Eagle Warriors. They were metal (of course) Ral Partha figures – so 25mm not 28mm, in two blisters (one opened and one not). The SKU designation for them is #42-303 “Aztec Eagle Knights”, circa 1986, sculpted by R. Kerr. From their storage location I heard them desperately cry out – “don’t leave us behind – it’s already been 36 years since we were cast! You need us to join your Aztecs!”. Funny, they cried out in English and not Nahuatl…

So, being somewhat of a completionist (insert sarcastic comment here), I decided to finish the LAST of my Aztecs. Besides, this would bring me to an even 300 figures of all types for the period (once the 34 remaining Maya were done) and that seemed to me to be an auspicious number to round out the project.

The 2 blister packs. One of the opened figures was partially painted and needed to be stripped.
Curiously, this was in the unopened blister pack – I had never seen this before – and I wonder – where is #13 now?

Historical Background

Aztec Eagle Warriors were, along with the Jaguar Warriors and the Shorn Ones, at the apex of the Aztec warrior classes. They would be armed with melee weapons, in particular the macuahuitl obsidian-edged club/sword, the tepoztopilli (obsidian-bladed thrusting spears)and the cuauhololli (round-headed club).  To be a member of any of these classes required that one had captured many quality enemies for sacrifice on the Altar of Huitzilopochtli. Indeed, while they battled almost incessantly, the status and rewards were great for them. Here is a good summary of the history of the Eagle Warriors.

Painting and Assembly Plan

I had previously assembled and painted 6 Eagle Warriors from Tin Soldier UK (documented in this post). I numbered those EA01-EA06. These will be EA07-18. As I have 17 Jaguar Warriors that seems good. Similar to the previous Eagle Warrior project, I found that the#42-303 Ral Partha Eagle Knight tepoztopilli were way too soft and bendy. While the macuahuitl were small and bendable, I found that both five of those and three of the cuauhololli that would work.

I replaced four of the shafts of the tepoztopilli with leftover North Star shafts I had cut for my Conquistador pikemen. I drilled out the ends and used green stuff to bind them together. The other challenge were the limited poses. In each blister of 6 there are just TWO poses – one with a left arm forward and one with a right arm forward. (FYI these two are still available from Iron Wind Metals less any shields or weapons here). At least mine have weapons and shields!

The two poses.

As before, my plan was to reorient each of their arms into different poses, and to give each one a different weapon that was also oriented slightly differently. I would also give them a variety of colors for their suits (tlahuiztli), using red, light green, dark green, and light brown. Add to that I would use different shield patterns and different feather colors for authenticity and ease of tabletop play.

And yes, I had a painting plan matrix in writing!

Assembly, Modifications, and Painting

My first task was to redo the tepoztopilli (thrusting spears).

The stripped one and the rest now washed (I always wash metal before painting) and ready for pose adjustment and priming.

Using pliers, I carefully and slowly reoriented the arms as best as I could to turn 2 poses into 12 – or close enough to it. Then, I repaired any flattened spots by stippling with an Exacto knife point.

The Eagle Knights with their weapons affixed. I ended up using green stuff to affix the weapons to the ones armed with tepoztopilli (thrusting spears). I made three of them left-handed warriors. In the rear are my Tin Soldier UK Eagle Warriors – watching the new additions/recruits in progress. They look like a conga line, and I wanted more variety of poses with the Ral Partha ones.

Then it was on to priming and applying a dark wash.

A close up of the wash-over-prime effect.

Then I base coated the figures – using several contrast paints.

Then I dry brushed and washed each painted figure to achieve the color variations. Additionally, I painted (well, inked) the feathers on each helmet differently so no two are alike. Then I added gloss varnish to the feathers so that later when matted down the colors will “pop” a bit more. It also helps protect the inks I used here.

Then it was on to adding the initial flocking before returning to work on the shields.

Initial flocking before pigments added. After the two pigments set, I dry brush the bases with three colors.

The shields here are quite difficult to paint up with patterns. The surfaces are not smooth, and of course they are tiny. Below are the patterns I gave them under a gloss varnish – again to protect the colors.

The shields – painted and all glossy here.

Then it was time to mount them to the figures, add a matte varnish, and then add some grass.

Give us each a shield please!
It was hot out so I took these outside to speed the curing of the matte varnish.
All done and ready for play – and eye candy!

As promised…eye candy – note the color variations here and different poses.

Eye Candy

EA-07

EA-08

EA-09

EA-10

EA-11

EA-12

EA-13

EA-14

EA-15

EA-16

EA-17

EA-18

Group Shots

The four Eagle Knights armed with tepoztopilli.
Three were armed with cuauhololli.
The final 5 are armed with macuahuitl.
Here is a size comparison with a Tin Soldier UK Eagle Warrior. It will work ok on the tabletop!
All of the Ral Partha Eagle Knights together on my Things From the Basement Aztec Temple Sacrificial Altar!

I hope that you enjoyed this post and the photos – I tried playing around with my new iPhone and lighting – I’m not 100% sure I’ve got it down yet. I painted these in between a LOT of golf, so I’m happy that they are done. If you have any feedback, I’d love to read it in the comments section.

My Aztec figures now count up at 121:

I still can’t believe I painted all these…

As a second FYI, these Ral Partha figures are still available from IWM – here is the link. (Only again now they come without shields or weapons). I am sure that the lead content is no longer there too.

The Aztecs are DONE! On to the MAYA!

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE EAGLE KNIGHT FIGURES:

  1. Kneadatite (green stuff)
  2. Shafts from North Star Military Figures 100mm wire spears (leftover from building Conquistador Pikemen)
  3. Gorilla Glue
  4. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  5. Gorilla Glue Gel
  6. Poster tack
  7. North Star Military Figures 100mm wire spears
  8. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  9. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  10. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  11. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  12. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-white”
  13. Vallejo Mecha Color “Black”
  14. Vallejo Game Color “Bronze Fleshtone”
  15. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh”
  16. Battlefront “Skin Shade”
  17. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red”
  18. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  20. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Creed Camo”
  21. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Contrast Medium”
  22. Americana “Kelly Green”
  23. Vallejo Model Color “White”
  24. Americana “Apple Green”
  25. Vallejo Game Color “Bloody Red”
  26. Citadel “Carroburg Crimson” (wash)
  27. Secret Weapon Washes “Fallout” (wash)
  28. Secret Weapon Washes “Green” (wash/ink)
  29. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Iyandan Yellow”
  30. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
  31. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Aggaros Dunes”
  32. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  33. Vallejo Model Color “Burnt Umber”
  34. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Warp Lightning”
  35. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Talassar Blue”
  36. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Flesh Tearers Red”
  37. Vallejo Game Ink “Yellow”
  38. Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold”
  39. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  40. Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
  41. Vallejo Model Color “Glossy Black”
  42. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  43. Citadel “Cryptek Armourshade Gloss” (shade)
  44. Battlefront “Chocolate Brown”
  45. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Gloss Varnish”
  46. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Terradon Turquoise”
  47. Vallejo Model Color “Dark Blue”
  48. Secret Weapon Washes “Just Red” (wash/ink)
  49. Vallejo Model Color “Black Green”
  50. Secret Weapon Washes “Yellow Snow” (wash/ink)
  51. Vallejo Game Ink “Green”
  52. Vallejo Game Ink “Red”
  53. Vallejo Game Ink “Blue”
  54. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Aethermatic Blue”
  55. E6000 epoxy
  56. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  57. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  58. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  59. Army Painter “Brown Battleground” (flocking)
  60. Vallejo Model Color “English Uniform”
  61. Army Painter “Mid Brown” (shade)
  62. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  63. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  64. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)

Wars of Orcs and Dwarves!

The Wars of Orcs and Dwarves (WOOD) mass fantasy battle game system is similar to the Wars of Ozz – except that now you can now dust off those fantasy minis you have from ANY manufacturer and have a great tabletop game.

The rules were written by my good friend Buck Surdu with a good amount of help from another great friend and West Point roommate Dave Wood. I have played in a few of the playtests as well as at RECON in Florida in April (described, among other things, here).

I had a blast – and I think most of you would as well.

The gaming possibilities are endless!

Here are a few pics from that game in Florida – it was a halfling raid on an Orc village – but any scenario is conceivable.

There is a Kickstarter from the publisher, Sally 4th that you can access here.

Here is a description of the game:

Written by John T ‘Buck’ Surdu and the team who brought you ‘Wars of Ozz’

Manufacturer / Range / Scale Neutral – Use what ever fantasy miniatures you have collected to fight epic massed battles.

Wars of Orcs and Dwarves will work with any scale of miniatures from 6mm – 32mm and beyond, from any manufacturer and from any genre. If you have an existing Warhammer or Lord of the Rings Army or maybe some historical Ancients, Dark Age or Medieval figures, you can use those to play Wars of Orcs and Dwarves.

Wars of Orcs and Dwarves is:

  • Mass fantasy tabletop gaming
  • Designed for solo, 2 player & team play
  • Features a balanced Magic System
  • Rulebook contains, army lists, scenarios and campaigns
  • Fun to play, streamlined, intuitive & based around reactive game play that keeps both sides continually involved
  • Game length 2-3 hours

Just to be clear, I have no financial interest in this – and I have backed the Kickstarter so that I can get the rules book and a PDF. I plan on working this into my gaming collection as I have a lot of fantasy stuff that needs a good game.

Again, there is a Kickstarter from the publisher, Sally 4th that you can access here.

Thanks for looking and checking out the Kickstarter!

My HUZZAH! 2022 Recap

HUZZAH! 2022 was held in South Portland Maine from Thursday May 12th to Sunday May 15th. This would mark the first time that this great convention ran since the beginning of the pandemic.

I had previously attended HUZZAH! as only a gamer in 2019 and blogged about it here. I was impressed with the games there and as well with the Maine Historical Wargamers Association (MHWA) that runs it. I was determined that I would run some games there in 2020….

That became 2021…

And that became 2022 – which was the return of HUZZAH! By this time I had a LOT of games that I had build for Mesoamerica and the Spanish Conquest. There were 8 four-hour game slots available at the convention – one on Thursday evening, three on Friday and Saturday, and one on Sunday morning. Of course – I had just ran 4 four-hour games at HAVOC in Massachusetts in April. So, I thought, why not push myself and run 6 Feudal PatrolTM   games in four days? Hell, it would be fun my using my supplement for Civilizations Collide for so many games to a brand new audience.

That’s 6 out of the 8 available four-hour slots! That’s 24 hours of GM’ing in about 60 hours…not counting set up and take down. Well, I gave it a shot, and while as I write this it’s late June, I thought I’d share some pics with you folks as it was a BLAST! I’ll take each game in turn.

Besides, you all DID ask for game pics – buckle up, there’s a bunch here!

Thursday Evening, “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt”

The first game scenario that I ran was “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt”. This involves the Spanish trying to escape Tenochtitlan on June 28, 1520. For those who have not seen my HAVOC posts on the scenario – here is the game briefing:

While Cortes was away confronting Narvaez at the Battle of Cempoala, some of his troops under the command of Pedro de Alvarado had remained in Tenochtitlan. Cortes had previously bloodlessly seized Montezuma as his prisoner/puppet, so he felt relatively secure to make the trek to Cempoala.  This was not the case with Alvarado. He feared that the Aztecs were planning to surprise his troops and massacre them; thus, he decided to strike first.  At the Feast of Toxcatl (an annual Aztec religious festival), hundreds of the political and military elite of the Aztec Empire were participating in the “Serpent Dance” – and were unarmed. Alvarado took the chance and attacked all of those celebrating with no quarter. Most were murdered and some were captured. The warriors killed by Alvarado and his men were among the best in the Aztec Empire. Still, the Spanish and their Tlaxcalan allies were far outnumbered in Tenochtitlan, and they now faced an entire city that was rising up against them. Cortes returned from the Battle of Cempoala. His forces were reinforced by the men and equipment of Narvaez who had defected to Cortes’ banner. He was able to enter Tenochtitlan with his men, and soon learned of the general uprising. As a goodwill gesture, yet a strategic mistake, he released Montezuma’s brother, Cuitlahuac – who had been captured by Alvarado at the massacre. Cuitlahuac almost immediately became the leader of the Aztecs, effectively becoming the new Emperor – and Montezuma’s replacement. The siege of the Spanish began in earnest.  The Spanish had occupied the Palace of Axayacatl, were without water, and were coming under increasing attack. The Aztecs even tried to burn the palace down around the Spanish, but were stopped with artillery, crossbow, and arquebusier fire.  Cortes tried to use Montezuma one last time – to see if the Aztecs surrounding them would stand down. Montezuma was brought out at the Palace of Axayacatl try to get the attackers to stop their assault. Montezuma’s exhortations not only failed to sway the crowd of enraged Aztecs, but he was hit in the head by a rock from an Aztec sling. That wound would incapacitate him. Shortly afterwards, he died. The cause of his death was the slung stone or perhaps he was murdered later by the Spanish as he lay unconscious – the truth is forever lost to history. In the end, Cortes realized that he had no safe escape route to the causeways. In any such attempt, his troops would be vulnerable to a massive volume of missile fire. Cortes ordered his men to tear out any lumber available from the palace to build a number of war wagons.  These would serve as similar devices to the Hussite war wagons of the 15th Century, but would be moved by humans, not horses. Cortes hoped that they would hopefully provide cover for his own missile troops from withering Aztec missile fire – and therefore help his forces make it to the causeways. With these war wagons, Cortes launched an escape attempt that he hoped would be able to punch through the Aztecs and escape to the causeways – and then onto the safety of the mainland and the his Tlaxcalan allies. 

In the game. the Spanish broke through the Aztecs, though at significant cost. The Aztec commander was taken out by the Tlaxcalans (Conquistador allies). This was effective at reducing the Aztecs command and control, allowing Cortes to live for another day…again. Below are some game pics with a few descriptions.

The Aztec players make their moves
As the Aztecs surround the Spanish War Wagons, they find the Spanish full of fight.
One of the Spanish war wagons (on the left here) breaks, but the fight to escape continues on the right.
The Aztecs surround the broken war wagon.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the tabletop, the Tlaxcalans take out the overall Aztec leader (Cuitlahuac), greatly diminishing the Aztecs command and control.

Friday Morning, “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost”

On Friday Morning, I had a full table for my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” scenario. I also ran this game at HAVOC and at TOTALCON 2022. Here is the game briefing:

Near harvest time, a Tlaxcalan village is being raided by the Aztecs, seeking to take wealth, food, and prisoners.  The Aztecs know the majority of the Tlaxcalan troops are with the Conquistadores elsewhere, and expect an easy task.  Unbeknownst to the Aztecs, there are some Spanish troops at this town who will help to defend it.  This is a generic scenario based on Aztecs launching a surprise raid Veracruz or a Tlaxcalan Village serving as a supply base for Cortes.

It was a lot of fun and I was honored that the game won the Best in Time slot award which was nice. It was a pretty exciting game with a few twists and turns. In the end, it was an overwhelming Spanish victory (64-6) as the Conquistadores and their Tlaxcalan allies held off the raiding Aztecs.

The game starts.
The Spanish deploy awaiting the Aztec assault,
The Aztecs attempt to hit both Spanish flanks.
One Aztec Element moved around the muddy field, while another got a bit bogged down.
Another Aztec Element advanced up the middle – using the cornfield as concealment.
Surprise! The Spanish had a falconet as reinforcement.
A Spanish war dog valiantly defends his incapacitated master, stunning an attacking Aztec.
Mid-game, the MWHA came by and honored me with the “Best in Time Slot” award for this game! Yeah, I was happy!
The Aztec attack begins to falter.
Conquistador arquebusier volleys hold back the Aztecs, allowing them time to consolidate their defense.
The falconet’s langridge (similar to grape shot) disperses an Aztec charge, though one of the crew is incapacitated.
The defending conquistadores and Tlaxcalans begin to pick off the disorganized Aztecs.
The Aztecs’ attack slows and begins to be pushed back.
Victory for the defenders!

Friday Night, “La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway”.

This game was on Friday night, and is one of my favorites. It has war canoes, cavalry, and desperation! I had another full table for the game of “La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway”. I also ran this game at HAVOC. Here is the game briefing:

The struggle for the high ground of Temple of Yopico had been a fleeting success for Cortes.  Importantly, the Spanish had not succeeded in the most important task at hand – allowing Cortes and his troops to escape Tenochtitlan and reach the safety of Tlaxcalan allies on the mainland .  While the Spanish did temporarily seize the high ground of the temple, their war wagons were now destroyed, their supplies of food and water were gone, and they found themselves again trapped in the Palace of Axayacatl surrounded by thousands of angry Aztecs.  Times were even more desperate.  For those trapped in the city, one last try would either succeed or fail.  Either way, a Spanish failure meant either death on the battlefield or on the Altar of Huitzilopochtli.  Success might still mean death on the battlefield.  Cortes knew that the Aztecs had removed multiple spans over the canals on the causeways, which effectively meant that he would have to bridge those gaps to get to the mainland.  Cortes’ men stripped beams from the palace, and had constructed pieces to make temporary haulable bridge pieces.  No matter which causeway the Spanish took –  they faced a dire situation.  Cortes decided to try to make a night escape attempt with all of his forces – and head for the Tacuba Causeway – which was the shortest way out of the city.  He left at midnight, and under the cover of darkness, made headway undetected – for a while.  The Aztecs finally detected the Spanish movements, and raised an alarm.  War canoes, manned by Aztec warriors, surrounded Cortes’ troops on both sides of the Tacuba Causeway, and he faced enemies to his front and his rear.  Cortes’ men and his Tlaxcalan allies had taken with them as much looted treasure as possible, as well as prisoners (sons and daughters of the now-late Montezuma).  The Aztecs are hell-bent on stopping their escape.  A Tlaxcalan warband will try to help clear the way to the Spanish from the mainland.

The Spanish fought valiantly but this time Cortes was not successful. The Spanish managed to bridge the causeway gap but the Aztecs would not yield and their war canoes were effective.

Here are some battle shots:

The game set up and awaiting players.
The Spanish successfully bridge the gap and get “a burst of exuberance” – but the Aztecs were determined.
War canoes deploy against the Spanish on the causeway.
Eagle Warriors pursue the fleeing Spanish, while slingers pelt them mercilessly from the canoes.
Arrow Knights hold back the Spanish at the gap.
Spanish casualties (on the right) mount. Almost all of their cavalry got taken out in the city.
A long view of the mayhem. Not a good day for Cortes.

Saturday Morning, “The Battle of Otumba”

On Saturday morning I ran “The Battle of Otumba” scenario, where the conquistadores held out on a rocky hill against a massive Aztec onslaught while hoping that Cortes would arrive in time with the cavalry to save the day. The cavalry arrived, but were ineffective (just damn unlucky) and the Aztecs won an overwhelming victory with the casualties that they inflicted. I also ran this previously at TOTALCON and HAVOC, but with very different results (which I believe speaks to a balanced scenario).

Here is the game briefing:

For almost two weeks, the troops under Cortes retreated across central Mexico – hoping to reach the safety of Tlaxcalan territory.  All of the Spanish were wounded to some degree – many died each day from the wounds suffered during La Noche Triste and the subsequent skirmishes that occurred as the Aztecs, under Cuitlahuac, pursued them mercilessly.  The Conquistadores found themselves on a small rocky outcropping – and according to Diaz nearly surrounded on two sides.  They were just short of the mountain pass that would bring them to safety of Tlaxcala.  They took up an infantry square position bristling with pikes and halberds upon on the rocky outcropping overlooking plains.  The Aztecs rained missile fire upon the Spanish, and subjected them to numerous human wave attacks.  The brutal end was near when Cortes noticed that the attacks were being coordinated by the cihuacoatl, the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, the Cihuacoatl Matlatzincátzin.  He was the one who was acting as the Aztec General.  This High Priest was using signalers and bannermen to coordinate the attacks.  Cortes personally rounded up what remained of his cavalry and with great personal courage led a mounted charge towards the High Priest and his retinue.  The Aztecs had never before faced a massed cavalry attack.  While the hooves of the Spanish cavalry were previously unable to make such a charge on the smooth pavements of Tenochtitlan – at Otumba, they were able to make a classic cavalry attack.  The charge succeeded in killing the High Priest and many of his officers.  It was reported that Cortes himself dispatched the High Priest with his lance.  With the death of their leader and disruption of his communications system, the Aztec attack faltered.  It quickly fell apart without the command and control that the signals had provided.  Cortes and what was left of his troops were able to escape to fight another day, and eventually conquer the Aztec Empire – but this battle could have changed the course of history.

Here are pics of the game:

The battle begins.
The Spanish defend the hill.
The Aztecs press the attack.
The Spanish fight back valiantly, but the Aztecs are having a good run.
The Aztec attack is relentless.
The Aztecs begin to move onto the hill – the Spanish take more casualties – where’s the cavalry?
The cavalry!
The Aztecs start taking casualties – and the impending Spanish cavalry attack looms large!
In the end, the cavalry attack was thwarted by brave Aztec novices and warrior priests. Victory to the Aztecs!

Saturday Night, “The Battle of Lake Texcoco”

As followers of this blog know, I built a fleet of brigantines (well 5) for this game, “The Battle of Lake Texcoco”, which you can read about here and here. I was REALLY excited to roll this out -and I needed a BIG table -which MWHA did accommodate.

Here is the game briefing:

To seize control of the Aztec island capital of Tenochtitlan, Cortes realized that he needed to control the surrounding waters of Lake Texcoco.  This meant building a fleet.  To accomplish this, Cortes used scavenged lumber from his previously-scuttled seafaring vessels to build brigantines in pieces in Tlaxcala.  These prefabricated pieces were then man-portaged by his Tlaxcalan allies to the shore of Lake Texcoco.  Here they were assembled, and made ready for combat on the lake.  While simultaneously he sent land-based conquistadores to attack Tenochtitlan’s causeways, Cortes launched his brigantines to attack Tenochtitlan.  In his way were hundreds of Aztecs canoes waiting to swarm over the Spanish.

I was really thrilled at the response. What fun it was – an Aztec vs. Conquistadores naval game! It was total mayhem! How? Collisions, ramming of canoes, brigantines getting boarded, canoes getting sunk by arquebuses, ship cannons firing and wiping out whole canoe crews, Aztecs avenging their comrades by wiping out the same cannon crew, and the overall Aztec commander personally boarding a conquistador brigantine to make an assault that cost him his life and the game.

WOW!

And I was honored to receive my second Best in Time Slot award of the convention! Not bad for a naval game scenario designed by a West Pointer 😁!

Here are some battle shots:

The game set up – the tabletop is > 6′ x 10′. Here are the predeployed brigantines awaiting to enter onto the tabletop. You can see the war canoes in the rear.
A view of the set up from the opposite side.
Loaded war canoes ready to fight!
Loaded brigantines ready to fight!
Each brigantine had a dashboard showing the crew and artillery.
El Marcos and El Dólar deploy!
The gamers are filled with anticipation.

The Aztecs try to board El Conquistador (on the left) which has gotten grounded, while El Marcos moves forward.
A tabletop full of naval mayhem.
Yay! My second “Best in Time Slot” award!
BOOM!
El Marcos loaded langridge and fired its falconet at the three war canoes in the center. The fire was devastating, nearly wiping out two out of the three. The third war canoe avenged their comrades’ demise with atlatls – subsequently killing all of the falconet crew. The blue beads represent morale checks that would need to be taken by the riddled Aztec canoes.
In a desperate attempt, the overall Aztec leader attempted to board El Marcos and kill Cortes. That ended up causing the Aztec leader’s untimely demise.

Sunday Morning, “Raid to Satisfy Huitzilopochtli”

On the final day of the con, I an my 6th (!) Feudal Patrol game in 4 calendar days, “Raid to Satisfy Huitzilopochtli”. This is set pre-Spanish Conquest and simulates a “Flower War” that the Aztecs historically used to seize food, wealth, and people from their unlucky neighbors like the Tlaxcalans. This was the first scenario that I had designed for Civilizations Collide, but I had not run it in a while – so it was nice to see how it played out.

Here is the game briefing:

The Aztecs conduct a raid of a neighboring village to gain captives for slavery and blood sacrifice.  The defender may choose to be Aztecs of the Aztec-Chichimec Alliance, Mixtec/Zapotec, or Maya.  This is similar to a “Flower War” during which both sides deployed for a showdown.  

Here, the Aztecs outnumbered the Tlaxcalans and used maneuver effectively, and inflicted a good number of casualties . Meanwhile the Tlaxcalans made good use of terrain and made the Aztecs pay for their assault. In the end, the defenders got more points than the Aztecs and eked out a victory. 32.5 to 22. It was a really nice way to end the con with a good group of players!

Here are some game pics:

The set up – Aztecs attacking from the left.
The Aztecs move up while the Tlaxcalans use the wall for defense.
A view of the action at the wall.
The Aztecs take arrows from the Tlaxcalans.
Eagle Warriors attempt to flank the defenders.
The Tlaxcalans take casualties, but hold the wall.
The Aztec attack falters…
…just as the Eagle Warriors go berserk and cross the wall.
Aztec Arrow Knights move up.
The battle turns into a scrum – and the count of casualties inflicted gives the Tlaxcalans the winning edge.

I want to thank the MWHA for a great convention – my only wish was that there were no masking requirements – but I can overlook that in the light of the events of the day.

I had a great time and look forward to next year’s HUZZAH!

Thanks also to the players, and a special thanks to Leif Magnusson, who helped me GREATLY during set up and take down (out of the goodness of his heart too!).

I hope that this post was of interest to you all – and thanks to for looking and sharing any feedback in the comments section below.

And yes it’s a bit late!

Conquistador-crewed Falconets & Lombards for my Brigantines in Feudal Patrol Games

Now that’s not a short title – and this was a big project. But as I shared in my last post on Building Cortes’ Conquistador Fleet, I needed to kit out my Spanish brigantines with artillery and appropriate crews for my scenarios for my games of Feudal PatrolTM  using my supplement for Civilizations Collide.

This post will cover that effort, as well as a brief review of the Army Painter “Speed Paints” that I used on the five crews. I also will share some additional photos of the firing/smoke markers and the storage/transport solution I arrived at for the fleet. The five are again El Dólar (The Buck), El Gregorio (The Greg), El Perro de Guerra (The War Dog), El Conquistador, and El Marcos (The Mark).

After looking at each ship, I decided that each crew would be a warband unto itself and be generally composed of three elements plus their Warband Leader:

  • 1 Warband Leader
  • Rowing/tiller Element – 6 Conquistadors rowing (3 per side), plus one at the tiller acting as their leader (7 total in that Element)
  • Artillery Element – One falconet or lombard crew of three figures plus the gun with one of the crew acting as a leader
  • Arquebus/crossbow Element – One to four figures deployed in the opposite castle (fore or stern) from the ship’s Artillery Element

I needed a few criteria to be satisfied here. First, I wanted the 28mm crews and guns to be different both in terms of paint scheme and in terms of figures/poses. Given that, sourcing the crew proved to be a bit of a challenge. I found the one two-man crew set from Outpost Wargames (via Badger Games) that I previously painted for land warfare (detailed here) to be lacking for my needs here on ships due to size and composition. (I do like that set but not on a ship.)

Secondly, I wanted their bases to reflect a ship’s deck. And yes – my other Conquistadors would still have ground-flocked bases – but the artillery needed to belong to a specific ship in my view and look just like that. Thirdly, deck space on the ships was tight. So, getting a three-man crew to fit with any gun would require that I use smaller bases than my usual 1″ bases – and I ended up using Wargames Accessories square .75″ for the crew members and 1.25″ x 1″ steel bases for the guns.

Wargames Foundry has a nice set (#SB018) available from Badger, and I used two of them – less the halberdier that I added to my land-based forces (and also used some as leaders/helmsmen). For the other three, I did a cobbling together of figures and guns from Gringo 40’s, Iron Wind Metals, and Eureka Miniatures.

This project was going to have to be squeezed in between HAVOC 2022, my Florida trip, and get finished before HUZZAH 2022 where they would debut on the tabletop. I also received my Army Painter “Speed Paint” set and decided that this was a good time to try them out as completion speed was indeed of the essence.

The crews and guns ended up as follows for each brigantine:

  • El Dólar: a falconet and three crewmen from Wargames Foundry #SB018 to be deployed in the stern castle facing to the starboard side
  • El Gregorio: a falconet and three crewmen from Wargames Foundry #SB018 to be deployed in the forecastle facing forward
  • El Conquistador: a Gringo 40’s lombard (#CONQA3), crewed by three Iron Winds Metals figures #DH412 (wick/match), #DH413 (swab), and #DH414 (ram) to be deployed stern castle facing to the port side
  • El Perro de Guerra: a Gringo 40’s falconet (#CONQA2) , crewed by three Iron Winds Metals figures #DH412 (wick/match), #DH413 (swab), and #DH414 (ram) to be deployed stern castle facing to the port side
  • El Marcos: a Eureka Miniature’s lombard (#100CON12), crewed by one figure from Wargames Foundry #SB018 (wick/match), and two Iron Winds Metals figures #DH413 (swab), and #DH414 (ram) to be deployed in the forecastle facing forward
The figures sorted.
Organizing the crews.
Mocking up the guns to see what size bases would work.
I broke up popsicle sticks and made each base look like the decks.
I lightly primed each figure and gun base lightly. I decided to paint the guns and then affix them to the bases.

I broke into the Speed Paint set and made a comparison chart.

First, I painted the guns.

I used mostly AP “Sand Golem” on the wooden parts of the carriages, with Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal” as the base colors for these. All of the paints used are listed at the end of this post for those interested.

I needed a painting plan (starting point anyway) for the 15 figures. I tried to use as many of the Speed Paints as possible.

A painting plan of sorts.

I returned from Florida on April 28th – and HUZZAH was 13 days away! I hit the Speed paints again.

I did not take a lot of pics during the painting – but these are good I think.

April 28 progress.
By April 29th, I had basically had the figures painted and saw that washes on the metals and highlights on the flesh were definitely needed.
April 29 close up.
More April 29 progress close ups.
These are DH414’s on April 29. The flesh needed highlights.
A Wargames Foundry figure on April 29th.

Next up was varnishing on April 30th. I waited as I had read on Azazel’s blog that the Speed Paints can reactivate – so I wanted to leave 24 hours+ to dry.

Before varnishing with an airbrush.

I did see some of the Speed Paint (“Sand Golem”) on the guns reactivate and migrate – but that was it. It was easily fixed.

After varnishing.
Close up showing the Speed Paint “migration” on this gun. Apparently the Speed paint reactivated and splashed onto the gun and wheels during airbrush varnishing. Again, easily fixed – but not desirable. I’ll use the Speed Paints again, but with caution.
April 30 varnished close up shot #1.
April 30 varnished close up shot #2.
April 30 varnished close up shot #3.

I then needed to add smoke to the figures lighting the fuses – and make smoke markers for the falconets and lombards.

Added wisps of smoke to the matches. I think these came out fine for tabletop play.

Then I was on to making some big smoke markers.

Finished eye candy time! Here are the completed cannon crews on each ship – plus I loaded up the ships with their entire crews for good measure.

El Dólar

El Dólar falconet and artillery Element
El Dólar with entire crew

El Gregorio

El Gregorio falconet and artillery Element
El Gregorio with entire crew

El Conquistador

El Conquistador lombard and artillery Element
A fully crewed El Conquistador

El Perro de Guerra

El Perro de Guerra falconet and artillery Element
El Perro de Guerra and her entire crew

El Marcos

El Marcos lombard and artillery Element
El Marcos firing
El Marcos fully crewed.

The Fleet Fully Crewed

Ready for HUZZAH! – oh wait, what about transport and storage?

Oh yeah, to get these ships safely to conventions I built a transport box for the hulls with posterboard and hot glue (and minor burns) and used a Really Useful Box for the sails (the crews go with my other figures). I also used the box to fit in my war canoe box.

All of this got done just under the wire – next up I’ll show you how they did at HUZZAH 2022!

(hint – they were a big hit)…stay tuned…

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE CONQUISTADOR ARTILLERY CREWS AND GUNS:

  1. War Games Accessories .75″ square bases
  2. War Games Accessories 1.25″ x 1″ rectangular bases
  3. Gorilla Glue
  4. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  5. Popsicle sticks
  6. Army Painter Speed Paint “Sand Golem”
  7. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  8. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  9. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  10. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  11. Poster tack
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  13. Vallejo Model Air “Black”
  14. Army Painter Speed Paint “Crusader Skin”
  15. Citadel “Runefang Steel”
  16. Army Painter Speed Paint “Malignant Green”
  17. Army Painter Speed Paint “Magic Blue”
  18. Army Painter Speed Paint “Cloudburst Blue”
  19. Army Painter Speed Paint “Holy White”
  20. Army Painter Speed Paint “Speed Paint Medium”
  21. Army Painter Speed Paint “Blood Red”
  22. Army Painter Speed Paint “Grim Black”
  23. Army Painter Speed Paint “Plasmatic Bolt”
  24. Army Painter Speed Paint “Hive Dweller Purple”
  25. Army Painter Speed Paint “Orc Skin”
  26. Army Painter Speed Paint “Gravelord Grey”
  27. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  28. Army Painter Speed Paint “Fire Giant Orange”
  29. Army Painter Speed Paint “Slaughter Red”
  30. Army Painter Speed Paint “Camo Cloak”
  31. Army Painter Speed Paint “Hardened Leather”
  32. Vallejo Model Air “Chain Mail”
  33. Army Painter Speed Paint “Pallid Bone”
  34. Army Painter Speed Paint “Runic Grey”
  35. Army Painter Speed Paint “Highlord Blue”
  36. Army Painter Speed Paint “Zealot Yellow”
  37. Army Painter Speed Paint “Absolution Green”
  38. Army Painter Speed Paint “Purple Alchemy”
  39. Army Painter Speed Paint “Dark Wood”
  40. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-white”
  41. Citadel “Balor Brown”
  42. Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
  43. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  44. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  45. Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”
  46. Army Painter “Flesh Wash” (wash)
  47. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade GLOSS” (wash)
  48. Vallejo Model Air “Armour Brown”
  49. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  50. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  51. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  52. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  53. Pillow batting
  54. Hot Glue

Building Cortes’ Conquistador Fleet

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire is the story of how  Hernan Cortes and his Conquistadores built a ragtag fleet of small brigantines to seize control of Lake Texcoco. This body of water – (located then where Mexico City is now) – in the 16th Century surrounded the Aztec island capital of Tenochtitlan. To defeat the Aztecs, Cortes knew that he must control that lake as well as the lands around it. But how?

Cortes realized that he needed to build a fleet.  To accomplish this, Cortes used scavenged lumber from his previously-scuttled seafaring vessels to build small brigantines in pieces in the safe haven of his native allies in Tlaxcala.  The ships’ prefabricated pieces were then man-portaged by the Tlaxcalans to the shore of Lake Texcoco.  Here they were assembled, and made ready for combat on the lake in the spring of 1521.  Then, Cortes simultaneously sent land-based conquistadores to attack Tenochtitlan’s causeways while launching his brigantines to attack Tenochtitlan.  These ships were manned by conquistador infantry and had significant firepower – to include lombards and falconets with their crews. In Cortes’ way were swarms of Aztecs in hundreds of war canoes waiting to swarm over the Spanish vessels.

To me, this sounded like an incredible scenario for tabletop wargaming. As covered numerous times in this blog, I have been developing tabletop wargaming scenarios for games of Feudal PatrolTM  using my supplement for Civilizations Collide. I had previously amassed and painted the war canoes…but I needed a fleet for the Spanish. Of course, there were no “dedicated” models for the types of ships the conquistadores would have manned. After seeing an image from the Mexican Naval Museum of a diorama of the battle by Alejandro Linares Garcia via Wikimedia Commons I was inspired.

A photo of the diorama of the Battle of Lake Texcoco at the Mexican Naval Museum. This photo inspired me!

Looking at this image, I had a good concept for the war canoes – and I decided to that the Spanish would likely would have used simple designs for their prefab brigantines – like medieval cogs.

I decided that for a game I would need 5 brigantines to go up against my 21 war canoes. Sourcing these ships became a challenge but help arrived from Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe who kindly offered to assist me in the way of two different 28mm scale medieval cog models that were 3D printed! Meanwhile, I found that Sarissa had a medieval cog kit (#L031), and I ordered two. By early March of 2022, I had all four ships in the building queue, and I had decided as well to scratch-build one as well so that I would have a varied fleet of five. Naming them became the next step – so the 3D models became (for obvious reasons) El Dólar (The Buck) & El Gregorio (The Greg). I named the Sarissa models El Perro de Guerra (The War Dog), & El Conquistador (The Conquistador of course). Lastly, for totally self-aggrandizing reasons that escape me now, I decided that my yet-to-be-designed scratch-build would be El Marcos (The Mark).

I will go through each ship’s build and share some photos and my processes of both building and painting them. Building these and painting these (and building the last one) were FAR more work than I had imagined at the start. Still, I think the MANY pics below will tell the story (it was a big project).

El Dólar & El Gregorio

These two had similar hulls, but different forecastles and stern castles. They came in bags that Buck and Greg had put together – and I needed to figure out how to assemble them by looking at photos from the 3D printer file. I decided that I would double-prime them then paint them with a series of airbrush browns. I also would modify all of the brigantines to have rowers as well as sails as historically that was the case.

Lots of 3D printed pieces to figure out!! It turned out I would use most – but not all of them. On the left is El Gregorio with the half-purple half- gray plastic hull, with the black El Dólar hull at top. There were multiple stern and forecastle options.
El Gregorio showing sanding after washing the plastic.
El Gregorio mock up. I had already glued the mast pieces together and used green stuff to secure the different pieces. I also had drilled out holes for neodymium magnets in the main mast and the hull, and inserted these as you see here.

I ended up needing to do a lot of drilling, pinning, and sculpting with green stuff to create the masts, and yards/spars. By the way, if I misname any parts here my defense is that I am a graduate of West Point, and NOT Annapolis! Though if you feel the need to correct me that’s all good – and GO ARMY BEAT NAVY! Ok, back to the builds…click on the pics for a better view.

The magnets I had inserted into the mast bases and the decks were insufficiently strong to suitably secure the masts to each hull. While I wanted to be able to remove the masts for transport, the situation was such that the masts would just easily fall over. My solution came in the form of some excess vinyl/rubber tubing I had lying around and hobby matchsticks I had purchased while stationed in West Germany in 1987! Real Cold War era matchsticks REALLY absorb PVA!

Nothing like 35 year old matchsticks!

By using the cotton twine fibers and PVA, I was able to custom fit the masts into each support. Importantly, as these two had two hull pieces, I used some styrene sheets to affix them together. This way there was more strength than just gluing together the hull halves. – and I could paint them to look like they were moving through the water. As a side note, I did not give the other three a water base so that I could use them for an Aztec raid scenario where they are in assembly on land and the Spanish are surprised.

I also mocked up the oars and put some together to see how they would go together.

I masked up the twine sections with painters masking tape and double-primed the components outside on the first day that was warm enough in March to use a rattle can. I had separated the pieces so I could more easily paint all of them and then assemble everything afterwards. It proved to be a good call.

Rattle can priming

These were now all brown. I wanted to add some styrene on El Dólar so that its forecastle supports would mount better. I also prepped all of the oar locks by drilling out holes for 1/8″ wooden dowels. This caused some unwanted damage to the brittle plastic, so I then fixed/strengthened each hole with green stuff and brush-primed the oarlocks. Then I serially applied different browns via airbrush in a zenithal fashion until I was happy with the base color on both ships.

At some point in the past I had bought some Pebeo Studio Acrylics “Auxiliaries Modeling Paste HD. I added some in a wavy pattern to the water bases.

Regarding the color of the ropes, I was unhappy with the look of the ropes. I had used “Apothecary White” and hated the look. I redid them (thanks to a suggestion from Chris Palmer) with “Skeleton Horde” – and I liked them much better.

The old rigging color – no good. I would adjust this.

It was then time to work on the sails, more rigging, and the water base. I made the sails with dowels and card stock and PVA. Binder clips helped immensely with the shape. I mounted the sails with tiny metal jewelry rings through holes I drilled in the dowels . I also made ladders for El Dólar., and dry brushed everything on the ships wood – then shaded as needed. The water was dry brushed as well

I then thought that the sails were too pristine. As I was drinking some Darjeeling tea, I used the tea bag to stain up the sails – and I would do this for all 5 ships eventually.

Good thing I’m a tea drinker.

Lastly, I want to show the completed 3D printed ships:

I was pretty happy with these – but now it was time for the Sarissa MDF kits!

El Conquistador & El Perro de Guerra

These two models were a bit smaller than the 3D ones. Unsurprisingly, these took a lot of gluing and patience. I did need to modify some damage to one of the tillers as well when a rubber band snapped it off of one. Still, the kits were fun and well-made – I just needed to try to match the colors (relatively) of the 3D versions. For this I relied more on washes than paint. I also needed to modify these with oars and sails. Here are the photos:

Then LOTS of gluing…

I mocked up one to see how the figures might fit inside.

Mock up of a Sarissa model – I had yet to work on the masts or sails.

In the above photo you can see the two-man falconet crew are looking less than ideal size-wise. At that point I ordered more falconets, lombards, and crew to better suit the brigantines – but that’s another upcoming post!

Then it was washing time – lots of washing…Army Painter must be happy…

Hull washing.

Then I moved on to sails and rigging.

Sails, oars, and rigging done – though the sails and rigging need work yet here with paint and Darjeeling.

Now let’s see El Conquistador and El Perro de Guerra as completed:

El Marcos

I decided to give scratch-building a brigantine a go – if only because I wanted the challenge. Luckily, I had learned a bit from the previous models, though as you will see below there was overlap during my builds. Also, I was able to repurpose some leftover MDF as a template for a new hull and keel!

Unlike the Sarissa models, where the hull glued to the ribs of the cogs, I glued the deck to the square dowels and then added the hull by gluing it to the combination of deck and keel. Then I inserted 1/8″ dowels as ribs into the slots – gluing them to the inner hull and keel.

At this point, I had the hull basically constructed.

For the stern and forecastles, I used basswood. I was not happy with the look as the basswood was too smooth. I decided to glue a bazillion (I think) custom-cut matchsticks inside and out of the castles to give them a more rustic look.

The next step was to mount the castles – which I did by drilling out holes for dowel supports. Then I adjusted the heights of the supports with 1/4″ steel washers to get the right look. I also made the mast and yard.

Once again during this project, I had to wait for the glue to dry. On a side note, that need alone dragged the duration time out every time I needed to glue something – which seemed unending. I then started the washing and painting of the brigantine as I found that easier to do before adding the castles.

I also needed oars and oar locks.

After some work on El Marcos‘ rigging, she was done.

So now I had the five brigantines – and only two were exactly alike (the Sarissa models). I hoped to outfit them all with different lombards and falconets (both early cannon) plus crew. As I built these just before HAVOC 2022, this post had to wait, as after HAVOC was my vacation trip. And as mentioned – I had 5 cannon and 15 cannon crew to build for these brigantines – plus game aids for the battle. I hope to post about that project next. But first let me share a couple of group shots.

The fleet!
All assembled.

Thanks for checking out this post – it was a lot to build and if PVA was toxic I’d already be dead after this. Let me know which of these you liked best (or liked least) I’d love to read any thoughts you have on this project. More to come!

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE SHIPS:

On the 3D-Printed Brigantines (El Dólar & El Gregorio):

  1. 3D printed Medieval Cog ship kits from Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe
  2. Gorilla Glue
  3. Hobby matchsticks (from West Germany in 1987!)
  4. ½” rubber tubing
  5. Rustoleum black spray primer
  6. Army Painter “Dark Leather” primer
  7. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  8. Cotton twine
  9. Wooden popsicle sticks
  10. Wooden dowels (3/8″ and 1/8″)
  11. Small (tiny) nails
  12. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  13. Paper clip wire
  14. Jewelry/bead wire rings
  15. Green stuff
  16. White card stock
  17. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  18. Plastruct 1.5mm styrene sheets
  19. Plastruct Bondene cement
  20. SCI Grip Fast Set solvent cement
  21. Pebeo Studio Acrylics “Auxiliaries Modeling Paste HD”
  22. Vallejo Model Air “Armour Brown”
  23. Vallejo Model Air “First Light”
  24. Vallejo Model Air “Brown”
  25. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  26. Army Painter “Mid-Brown” (shade)
  27. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  28. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  29. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  30. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Talassar Blue”
  31. Citadel “Chronus Blue”
  32. Craftsmart “White”
  33. Darjeeling tea bags

On the Sarissa MDF Kit Brigantines (EL CONQUISTADOR & El Perro de Guerra):

  1. Sarissa Medieval Cog ship kits #L031
  2. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  3. Gorilla Glue
  4. Hobby matchsticks (from West Germany in 1987!)
  5. Wooden popsicle sticks
  6. Army Painter “Mid-Brown” (shade)
  7. Jewelry/bead wire rings
  8. White card stock
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  10. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  11. Darjeeling tea bags

On the Scratch-built Brigantine (El Marcos):

  1. Recycled MDF from the Sarissa #L031 leftover MDF
  2. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  3. 3/16″ balsa wood
  4. Revell 1/8″ Basswood
  5. Gorilla Glue
  6. Hobby matchsticks (from West Germany in 1987!)
  7. Wooden popsicle sticks
  8. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  9. Cotton twine
  10. Wooden popsicle sticks
  11. Wooden dowels (,1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/8″)
  12. 1/4″ steel washers
  13. Small (tiny) nails
  14. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  15. Paper clip wire
  16. Jewelry/bead wire rings
  17. White card stock
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Armour Brown”
  19. Vallejo Model Air “First Light”
  20. Vallejo Model Air “Brown”
  21. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  22. Army Painter “Mid-Brown” (shade)
  23. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  24. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  25. Darjeeling tea bags

Escape (albeit temporary) from Massachusetts 2022 – Orlando, Golf School, and Wargaming at RECON

With the unhappy demise of our beloved Caesar on New Years Day (discussed here), and Lynn having subsequently joined me in retirement, we found ourselves for the first time in many years being able to travel. We decided to drive down to the Orlando Florida area in April to visit with friends, for some recreation, to attend a Marriott golf school, and to attend the RECON HMGS South Gaming convention. It was a needed break. The garage+ project would continue while we were gone – so no need to hang around in Massachusetts – off to Florida!

We drove because frankly we prefer it. We were in no mood to deal with airlines, masking requirements, and the rest. Besides, we could more easily bring all the stuff we wanted to take that way.

The morning we left was a chilly start.

It took us three days to get down to Florida (really two and a half). It’s a roughly 1200-mile drive. We left on 4/13, and stopped south of Richmond, VA and in Savannah, GA on the way.

X5 is packed, let’s hit the road!

The ride down was mostly done on I95 (avoiding NYC metro as that’s a nightmare). However, the most surprising aspect of the drive down was the number of dangerous/reckless drivers we saw – and really seeing no traffic enforcement to speak of on the way. Even while we were in Florida (where along with the metro DC area) we saw many drivers who were totally oblivious to safe driving practices. The only times we saw any cops on the highways happened twice in Florida when they shut down I4 – both for fatal crashes. Maybe this chaos was so because it was spring break week – but for the ride back we took a longer path inland towards I81-I84 and it was far less like a post-apocalyptic Road Warrior movie or a game of GASLANDS.

Arriving at our first hotel on Friday the 15th (the Wyndham in Kissimmee), we checked in and hit the pool deck for some needed drinks and relaxation. This hotel was also the site for the HMGS South RECON Gaming convention, but that was not to happen until the following weekend. That night, we got together with the Surdu’s (Buck and Candy) for dinner with them which was great fun.

Arrival and hanging out at the pool

As for Easter weekend, we decided that Disney and Universal costs were way too expensive – and we had visited both previously. Nearby SeaWorld owns both itself in Orlando, and Busch Gardens in Tampa. They had a decently-priced deal for visiting both parks in 5 days (well better than the ridiculous fortune that the other parks were asking for). We had not been to either before, so the plan became Busch Gardens for the 16th, and SeaWorld for Monday the 18th, with Easter Sunday being a hangout day at Casa Surdu.

On Saturday the 16th, we drove to Tampa to visit Busch Gardens theme park. It has a LOT of roller coasters and is a pretty good zoo. Neither of us like roller coasters, but the experience was good. The animal exhibits were quite good. Below I have put up a few photos:

Busch Gardens map
The kangaroo pavilion – made me think of you Aussies…
The kangaroos and wallabies were cooling out – I sent this to IRO and he said it reminded him of his buddies after a good amount of beer consumption!
“Petting” a sleeping hyena
My favorite image – a Nile crocodile (not an alligator) and a very oblivious Florida egret that flew in to hang out. Apparently the croc wasn’t hungry.

We had an enjoyable day. The next day, Easter Sunday, was excellent as we got to hang out with Buck and Candy – whose hospitality was superb and thanks again you two.

On Monday the 18th we went to SeaWorld. Of course, it is known for its orcas. I have to say it was a very nice sea-themed park with fauna from all ends of the globe. Certainly they have changed practices with all of their animals since the unfortunate trainer death a decade+ ago.

This walrus was in the arctic section of the park – along with beluga whales and others from that area. This walrus really hammed it up for us at the window, blowing bubbles and cavorting.
The killer whales (orcas) were amazing to see.
Great to see these but we stayed out of the “splash zone”!
Wow!

Both Busch Gardens and SeaWorld have partnered with Sesame Street to have a kids section of their respective parks. I thought it was tastefully done.

Juvenile dolphin pool.

We also had purchased the “all-day dining” package – which was really not all it sounded like. It did not cover beer, and any food purchased under the plan started a 90-minute clock that prevented any other freebies until that 90 minutes was up. Also, most of the special kiosk foods were not covered (like the pretzel one below). Otherwise, we enjoyed the park – which also is loaded with roller coasters that we didn’t ride. The exhibits were really cool, as were the special show-type ones such as for the seals and the orcas.

Time for a beer (not free under the dining plan), a pretzel (also not free), and a selfie with Lynn.
Met a new friend – but he only cared for cookies…would not share as they were not under the plan either…

Now both at Busch Gardens and at SeaWorld there were some promotional displays. This one also made me think of our favorite Aussie gardener/landscaper IRO. And no I did not spend my entire vacation thinking of him – just being reminded of him was enough!

Does IRO mow with Bad Boys?

That night we left the Wyndham for the Marriott Golf Resort/School for two days of relative luxury and golf school for us both. Lynn picked up a lot, and I used the opportunity to rework my swing (which is now coming around as I write this in early June as expected two months later). Lynn and I have been playing golf more and it’s nice to have the chance to play together. She’ll never be a die-hard like me, but we’re having fun. The Marriott resort there is really nice too.

At the Marriott Golf School.

After two days (the evening of the 18th-20th) at the Marriott, it was back to staying at the previous Wyndham where HMGS South was having their RECON gaming convention. Lynn was indeed missing the Marriott…so I plied her with a blue drink…

I think she misses the Marriott…

Still we managed to have fun on the 18th – the Wyndham had an interactive game of dodgeball with zombies on a projection screen. Apparently the blue drink does not help accuracy with dodgeball against the undead.

Yes, zombie dodgeball!

Still we were having a good time.

Hey that’s my hat!

The next day (April 21st), I had the privilege of gaming with with Buck back at his amazing gaming room (which you can see below). As a bonus, my old West Point roommate Dave Wood and Buck’s buddy JJ were there. We were also joined via Zoom for this gaming session with Greg Priebe and Chris Palmer of the Maryland-based HAWKS gaming club. While Candy took our spouses out, we wargamers playtested a massive Napoleonic game using a derivative of Buck’s Wars of Ozz rules. It is in development and will be called Wars of Eagles and Empires.

Wars of Eagles and Empires game
This game was a lot of fun, and despite its size, it only took about three and a half hours – not bad for a playtest.

Then we moved on to run a final test of Dave’s RECON WOOD (Wars of Orcs and Dwarves) game. This also uses Buck’s Wars of Ozz-type mechanics, but with changes for fantasy gaming. It is close to publication. Here are some images – we would also play this game at RECON after any modifications.

The pig-faced orcs defend a bridge and river against the halfling onslaught.
Halfling cavalry on goats and giant roosters attack.

The next day (22nd) was our day 1 of RECON. We reran the Hobbits raid on the Orc village scenario at the convention and it was a hoot.

Hobbits on purple pachyderms force a bridge crossing!
The mighty GM (Buck) surveys the carnage.

I want to give EXTRA credit to Lynn as she agreed to game the whole day with me. During a lull in the game, I asked her with iPhone in hand if she was enjoying herself…

Having fun dear?

Seriously, she was a good sport but one day of gaming a year is the best I can expect!

We then played in a Combat Patrol™ game involving Star Wars figures that was fun.

Dave and Buck GM’ing the Star Wars game.
Buck had a nice tabletop here.
All had fun – though I think my side (clones) lost against the droids.

The last game Friday was a 7ITV game that Lyn and I played. There were three side-by-side games – and Lynn and I played the Scooby-Doo scenario.

Lynn and I play the Scooby-Doo scenario. Hey, she’s smiling! Next to her is JJ playing against Buck in a Jonny Quest scenario.
Here you can see the three scenarios – some other sci-fi scenario is on the end. Buck is looking distracted. I think the GM had a wonderful set of terrain but the games dragged as we took a while to grasp the mechanics. Also, I found it tough to get his attention with three games running simultaneously – so not as fun as I expected. But Lynn had served her gaming sentence and was free to hang out with Candy at a blueberry fest on Saturday while the con went on.

Saturday morning Buck ran a Philippines 1941 Combat Patrol™ scenario that I helped him as an assistant GM. I truly enjoyed this!

Buck surveys the tabletop in his happy shirt.
The Japanese players move up their Ha-Go tanks towards the bridge. Neither the tanks nor the the bridge would survive long as the Americans reacted.

The next game was my favorite – a massive Wars of Ozz game where I commanded a brigade of Winkie zilk-riding cavalry (think giant birds of prey). I maneuvered the brigade to assault the Quadlings and Munchkins opposing me.

My Winkie cavalry forms up.
The tabletop – my cavalry is in the foreground.
My Winkie cavalry moving into action!

The game was an overwhelming Winkie and Gillikin (my allies) victory.

Lastly, Buck, JJ, and I (Dave left Friday) played a neat Spanish-American scenario for Blood & Steel. The GM did an excellent job – and the game came down to a final roll of the dice, which went for Buck and JJ, but it was a lot of fun to play them. The scenario was a very fun skirmish game. (no pics sorry).

After this, we said goodbye and I headed back to my room where Lynn and I packed up for the return trip to Massachusetts.

I have to say it was a great trip – and one I will always remember. Big thanks to Buck and Candy!!!! Dave and JJ too!!

Next up – how I built a Conquistador fleet for the Battle of Lake Texcoco for HUZZAH 2022 (in between taking this trip and HAVOC 2022)!

HAVOC 2022

The HAVOC 2022 gaming convention ran in Sutton, MA this year from April 8-10. It was the first one held since 2019 due to COVID. As I promised, I would share some pics and brief discussions about the four Feudal Patrol™ games I ran there. Yes, it’s a couple of months late post-wise, but I think the pics are nice enough to share. As I shared in my last post, the last two to three months have been very busy!

I ran “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” on Friday night, “July 7, 1520 – The Battle of Otumba” on Saturday morning, “July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway” on Saturday night, and “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” on Sunday morning. Yes, that’s a lot of games, and each one had a four hour time slot. This convention also occurred right before our Florida trip (for RECON and golfing which you will read about in a future post hopefully shortly). Also, the HUZZAH gaming convention was coming up May 12-15, so I was aware that I had a LOT to do to be ready for that. More on HUZZAH later…

At HAVOC you will notice that masks were required for the convention – hopefully the next time HAVOC happens we won’t need them. I definitely think they kept attendance lower than otherwise. Just my opinion.

For this post, I’ll share my game briefing and then a gallery of photos that you can check out individually. The game briefings help the gamers to understand the basics of the scenario and how it fit into the history of the Spanish Conquest. I do not run the games in any historical sequence – I rather set them up based on the time slots and time required for setting up.

“Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost”

I have run this gaming scenario several times before – and it really works well at a con or club gaming day.

Here is my game briefing:

Near harvest time, a Tlaxcalan village is being raided by the Aztecs, seeking to take wealth, food, and prisoners.  The Aztecs know the majority of the Tlaxcalan troops are with the Conquistadores elsewhere, and expect an easy task.  Unbeknownst to the Aztecs, there are some Spanish troops at this town who will help to defend it.  This is a generic scenario based on Aztecs launching a surprise raid Veracruz or a Tlaxcalan Village serving as a supply base for Cortes.  This scenario lasts 10 turns.

Below are the pics – as memory serves, the Spanish held on to a victory.

“July 7, 1520 – The Battle of Otumba”

This is another scenario that has been popular.

Here is my game briefing:

For almost two weeks, the troops under Cortes retreated across central Mexico – hoping to reach the safety of Tlaxcalan territory.  All of the Spanish were wounded to some degree – many died each day from the wounds suffered during La Noche Triste and the subsequent skirmishes that occurred as the Aztecs, under Cuitlahuac, pursued them mercilessly.  The Conquistadores found themselves on a small rocky outcropping – and according to Diaz nearly surrounded on two sides.  They were just short of the mountain pass that would bring them to safety of Tlaxcala.  They took up an infantry square position bristling with pikes and halberds upon on the rocky outcropping overlooking plains.  The Aztecs rained missile fire upon the Spanish, and subjected them to numerous human wave attacks.  The brutal end was near when Cortes noticed that the attacks were being coordinated by the cihuacoatl, the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, the Cihuacoatl Matlatzincátzin.  He was the one who was acting as the Aztec General.  This High Priest was using signalers and bannermen to coordinate the attacks.  Cortes personally rounded up what remained of his cavalry and with great personal courage led a mounted charge towards the High Priest and his retinue.  The Aztecs had never before faced a massed cavalry attack.  While the hooves of the Spanish cavalry were previously unable to make such a charge on the smooth pavements of Tenochtitlan – at Otumba, they were able to make a classic cavalry attack.  The charge succeeded in killing the High Priest and many of his officers.  It was reported that Cortes himself dispatched the High Priest with his lance.  With the death of their leader and disruption of his communications system, the Aztec attack faltered.  It quickly fell apart without the command and control that the signals had provided.  Cortes and what was left of his troops were able to escape to fight another day, and eventually conquer the Aztec Empire – but this battle could have changed the course of history.  This game will last 5 turns and can accommodate 4-12 players on a 6’ x 4’ tabletop.

The Spanish took massive casualties but the arrival of Cortes and his cavalry managed to eke out a Spanish victory.

“July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway”

Here is my game briefing:

The struggle for the high ground of Temple of Yopico had been a fleeting success for Cortes.  Importantly, the Spanish had not succeeded in the most important task at hand – allowing Cortes and his troops to escape Tenochtitlan and reach the safety of Tlaxcalan allies on the mainland .  While the Spanish did temporarily seize the high ground of the temple, their war wagons were now destroyed, their supplies of food and water were gone, and they found themselves again trapped in the Palace of Axayacatl surrounded by thousands of angry Aztecs.  Times were even more desperate.  For those trapped in the city, one last try would either succeed or fail.  Either way, a Spanish failure meant either death on the battlefield or on the Altar of Huitzilopochtli.  Success might still mean death on the battlefield.  Cortes knew that the Aztecs had removed multiple spans over the canals on the causeways, which effectively meant that he would have to bridge those gaps to get to the mainland.  Cortes’ men stripped beams from the palace, and had constructed pieces to make temporary haulable bridge pieces.  No matter which causeway the Spanish took –  they faced a dire situation.  Cortes decided to try to make a night escape attempt with all of his forces – and head for the Tacuba Causeway – which was the shortest way out of the city.  He left at midnight, and under the cover of darkness, made headway undetected – for a while.  The Aztecs finally detected the Spanish movements, and raised an alarm.  War canoes, manned by Aztec warriors, surrounded Cortes’ troops on both sides of the Tacuba Causeway, and he faced enemies to his front and his rear.  Cortes’ men and his Tlaxcalan allies had taken with them as much looted treasure as possible, as well as prisoners (sons and daughters of the now-late Montezuma).  The Aztecs are hell-bent on stopping their escape.  A Tlaxcalan warband will try to help clear the way to the Spanish from the mainland.  This scenario can accommodate 6-10 players and lasts 10 turns.

This time, Cortes’ escape failed and the Aztecs won the day handily.

“Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt”

The last game I ran was my massive “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” game. I was honored to win the “Al” award for this game – described by Battle Group Boston as follows:

“Starting at Havoc XXVI (2010), this award is presented for the game with the most stunning visual appeal. Our crack team of experts (expert team of cracks) will vote on the game that made us say “Wow!”.” The Al award was created in honor of Al Garnache, an avid and active local player.

This is the second time that I was honored to win this award – the other being in 2018 for “Attack of the Warbots”.

Here is my game briefing:

While Cortes was away confronting Narvaez at the Battle of Cempoala, some of his troops under the command of Pedro de Alvarado had remained in Tenochtitlan. Cortes had previously bloodlessly seized Montezuma as his prisoner/puppet, so he felt relatively secure to make the trek to Cempoala.  This was not the case with Alvarado. He feared that the Aztecs were planning to surprise his troops and massacre them; thus, he decided to strike first.  At the Feast of Toxcatl (an annual Aztec religious festival), hundreds of the political and military elite of the Aztec Empire were participating in the “Serpent Dance” – and were unarmed. Alvarado took the chance and attacked all of those celebrating with no quarter. Most were murdered and some were captured. The warriors killed by Alvarado and his men were among the best in the Aztec Empire. Still, the Spanish and their Tlaxcalan allies were far outnumbered in Tenochtitlan, and they now faced an entire city that was rising up against them. Cortes returned from the Battle of Cempoala. His forces were reinforced by the men and equipment of Narvaez who had defected to Cortes’ banner. He was able to enter Tenochtitlan with his men, and soon learned of the general uprising. As a goodwill gesture, yet a strategic mistake, he released Montezuma’s brother, Cuitlahuac – who had been captured by Alvarado at the massacre. Cuitlahuac almost immediately became the leader of the Aztecs, effectively becoming the new Emperor – and Montezuma’s replacement. The siege of the Spanish began in earnest.  The Spanish had occupied the Palace of Axayacatl, were without water, and were coming under increasing attack. The Aztecs even tried to burn the palace down around the Spanish, but were stopped with artillery, crossbow, and arquebusier fire.  Cortes tried to use Montezuma one last time – to see if the Aztecs surrounding them would stand down. Montezuma was brought out at the Palace of Axayacatl try to get the attackers to stop their assault. Montezuma’s exhortations not only failed to sway the crowd of enraged Aztecs, but he was hit in the head by a rock from an Aztec sling. That wound would incapacitate him. Shortly afterwards, he died. The cause of his death was the slung stone or perhaps he was murdered later by the Spanish as he lay unconscious – the truth is forever lost to history. In the end, Cortes realized that he had no safe escape route to the causeways. In any such attempt, his troops would be vulnerable to a massive volume of missile fire. Cortes ordered his men to tear out any lumber available from the palace to build a number of war wagons.  These would serve as similar devices to the Hussite war wagons of the 15th Century, but would be moved by humans, not horses. Cortes hoped that they would hopefully provide cover for his own missile troops from withering Aztec missile fire – and therefore help his forces make it to the causeways. With these war wagons, Cortes launched an escape attempt that he hoped would be able to punch through the Aztecs and escape to the causeways – and then onto the safety of the mainland and the his Tlaxcalan allies.  This scenario lasts 10 turns.

I was pleased to run so many games and especially to see that the players had a great time. My personal thanks to all at Battle Group Boston for a fun convention – and especially to Leif Magnuson for ALL his help with setting up and taking down of my games.

And of course, a big THANK YOU to the players. It has been very rewarding to see players coming back again and again just to play in my games. As Cortes would say, muchas gracias!

Next up in the blog – RECON Convention in Florida, gaming with Buck Surdu and Dave Wood, and golf school with my lovely wife Lynn!

Thanks for taking a look and I hope you found this interesting – if late!

Catching up!

Yes, I am alive…at least I think I am, which counts for something I guess…

Apologies for not being as active – or more precisely not being a contributor at all – on the blogosphere since March. I HAVE been reading the blogs I follow but have not commented or hit “like” or anything of the sort. Why you may ask, have I been seemingly dormant?

The truth is I have been busier than a 1-legged man in an ass-kicking contest!

One would think that retirement would have slowed me down. It has had exactly the opposite effect.

I have – since my last post in March:

  • Ran two Mass Pikemen Gaming Club gaming sessions (one What a Tanker and one Feudal Patrol with my Spanish Conquest rules supplement Civilizations Collide).
  • Prepared for and ran 4 four-hour tabletop Feudal Patrol™ games at a three day gaming convention (HAVOC) in Massachusetts.
  • Drove 1200 miles to Florida and 1200 back over two weeks for another gaming convention (HMGS South’s RECON where I gamed for three days), two days of golf school, and a lot of leisure activities and travel with my wife.
  • Built a completely new MASSIVE naval game for Feudal Patrol™ – Aztecs vs. Conquistadores on Lake Texcoco – which required me to build 5 brigantines and 5 guns and 5 three-man crews – let alone the game rules, markers, dashboards, etc. I just finished it in time and debuted it at HUZZAH convention in Maine in April (150 miles away).
  • Went to the aforementioned HUZZAH and ran 6 four-hour games in 4 days
  • Continued on the garage never-ending but close to ending now project…now the driveway is completely paved, and the final pieces and landscaping are happening as I write.
  • Started golf season – started off really frigging cold but warming up now. Hey, I’m in Massachusetts after all.
  • Ran for reelection for Board of Health in my town. I was unopposed but got 82/99 votes (only a 6% turnout for a municipal election).
  • Played in 8 golf events and two weekly golf leagues as well as participating on a committee for three other tournaments. Plus trying to groove a new swing.
  • Also in March we had a funeral for my brother in law – he had been sick for a while so not a surprise.
  • Been driving my granddaughter to and from school 3 days a week.
  • I guess I had a blog birthday (my 7th) back in March – missed that too!

Yeah, I’ve been idle and lazy…

Awaiting school drop off with 5 year old Tabitha – and yes those are golf clubs and shoes in the back of my car!
When Tabitha (on right) sees her friend Alina – they go hand-in-hand to school. Awwww…

So where do I go from here?

  • Basically I am going to restart and regularly read more of the blogs I follow.
  • I am also going to post about all of the above-mentioned conventions. I have run a dozen convention or club games this year as a GM so far, and played in nearly as many others too. I’ll share some info and pics about epic games I ran (IMO – hint – some of my games I ran were award-winning) or played in. These were at RECON, HAVOC, HUZZAH, and the Mass Pikemen that I think you will enjoy.
  • I’ll post about the building of my Conquistador brigantine fleet and their falconet & lombard crews.
  • Going to throw in some vacation and golf stuff as well – after all this blog IS titled “Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions“.

Again, glad to be back and hopefully I won’t overwhelm you with new posts – and to those of you who inquired about me, thanks for caring and checking in. Thanks for missing me!

Let the blogging begin!

Battle Report! The Battle of Otumba – (Feudal Patrol) TotalCon 36, Chapter 4

This post covers the fourth and final game that I ran at TotalCon 36 in Marlboro, Massachusetts. The game is a scenario for The Battle of Otumba, which happened on July 7, 1520. I ran the game on the morning and early afternoon of Sunday, February 27th, 2022. As with my two previous Aztec games the rules that I used were Feudal Patrol with my Spanish Conquest rules supplement Civilizations Collide.

My flyer for the game.

I designed the scenario itself to be short but intense. I will share some of the historical background as well as the the key components of the scenario. Then, I’ll share some photos and a narrative of the game as it was actually played at TotalCon 36.

Background:  For almost two weeks, the troops under Cortes retreated across central Mexico – hoping to reach the safety of Tlaxcalan territory.  All of the Spanish were wounded to some degree – many died each day from the wounds suffered during La Noche Triste and the subsequent skirmishes that occurred as the Aztecs, under Cuitlahuac, pursued them mercilessly.  The Conquistadores found themselves on a small rocky outcropping – and according to Diaz nearly surrounded on two sides.  They were just short of the mountain pass that would bring them to safety of Tlaxcala.  They took up a position bristling with pikes and halberds upon on the rocky outcropping overlooking plains.  The Aztecs rained missile fire upon the Spanish, and subjected them to numerous human wave attacks.  The brutal end was near when Cortes noticed that the attacks were being coordinated by the cihuacoatl, the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, the Cihuacoatl Matlatzincátzin.  He was the one who was acting as the Aztec General.  This High Priest was using signalers and bannermen to coordinate the attacks.  Cortes personally rounded up what remained of his cavalry and with great personal courage led a mounted charge towards the High Priest and his retinue.  The Aztecs had never before faced a massed cavalry attack.  While the hooves of the Spanish cavalry were previously unable to make such a charge on the smooth pavements of Tenochtitlan – at Otumba, they were able to make a classic cavalry attack.  The charge succeeded in killing the High Priest and many of his officers.  It was reported that Cortes himself dispatched the High Priest with his lance.  With the death of their leader and disruption of his communications system, the Aztec attack faltered.  It quickly fell apart without the command and control that the signals had provided.  Cortes and what was left of his troops were able to escape to fight another day, and eventually conquer the Aztec Empire – but this battle could have changed the course of history.  This game will last 5 turns and can accommodate 4-12 players on a 6’ x 4’ tabletop.

The map:

My set up plan for the tabletop. Below you will see how this translated to the tabletop.
The map drawing brought to life. 2 Aztec Warbands (one Elite, one Regular, each made up of 3 Elements) are surrounding the Conquistadores’ defensive position on a rocky outcropping. The Aztecs are controlled by the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, the Cihuacoatl Matlatzincátzin, who has a small Retinue Element around him and his two signalers. The Spanish infantry are made up of 1 Warband of 4 reinforced Elements, commanded by Pedro de Alvarado. A cavalry Element, led by Cortes, will deploy on Turn 3 from a location that was previously chosen secretly by the Spanish. The potential deployment locations for the arrival of the cavalry are the numbered squares you see here, plus one to either side. All of the Spanish do start the game with one wound. The Aztecs are all fresh, and hoping to take out many Conquistadores.

There are a few special rules in place for this scenario:

Special:  The special rules for this scenario are based on the situation that both sides faced at the Battle of Otumba.  The Spanish were fighting to survive, and were all wounded in some way or another by this point in time.  The Aztecs were for once more concerned with the final annihilation of their enemy than with the prestige earned by taking them as prisoners.  If any Spanish were still alive to be dragged off afterwards – fine – but for this battle it was a true do-or-die for both sides.  The most important special rules for this scenario are:

  • Each Conquistador (humans and war dogs but not horses) starts the battle with one wound. Typically each figure is incapacitated after having been wounded 3 times, but some key leaders might need 4 to be taken out. War Dogs take 5 wounds.
  • The Spanish have taken up a “rectangular” infantry-type square defensive position on the rock outcropping as shown on the map.  They should have pikemen and halberdiers facing out on each side.  Their Warband Leader, Pedro de Alvarado, is in the center.
  • The Spanish infantry and cavalry know that there is nowhere to run, therefore they do not make any Morale Checks.  Also, the infantry may not leave the safety of the outcropping during the game to attack the Aztecs. 
  • If Alvarado becomes incapacitated all of the Spanish infantry would become “pinned”. That means they activate half as often as a non-pinned unit.
  • Cortes and the Conquistador Cavalry Element is off the map initially and deploys on Turn 3.  The Spanish player must secretly choose a Turn 3 entry point for his cavalry prior to the start of the game.  This point chosen will be one number – 1 through 6 as shown on the map above.  This allows the Spanish player to deploy his cavalry at the numbered point or to the point its immediate right or left.  As an example, if the player chooses point 5, he can enter the game at 4, 5, or 6 with his cavalry.  If the player chooses 1 or 6, he will be limited to 1 and 2 or 5 and 6 respectively.  The cavalry Element and Cortes will both arrive on the board on Turn 3. 
  • The cavalry led by Cortes must attempt to take out the High Priest of Tenochtitlan (the Aztec Battle Group Leader) and his retinue.  By doing this successfully (by either incapacitating or routing him), the Aztecs’ Elements, Warbands, and Warband Leaders all become pinned.
  • The Aztecs must try to take the rock outcropping and incapacitate as many Spanish as possible until Turn 4 begins – the turn after the Spanish cavalry arrives.  At that point, and no sooner, the Aztecs in Elements of Warband 1 and 2 may try to engage the cavalry.  The Retinue Element may engage the cavalry without similar restrictions.
  • The Aztec Battle Group Commander, the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, the Cihuacoatl Matlatzincátzin, has the same Morale capabilities as Montezuma has – that is to say that on his activation he can remove up to six morale pips from Elements within twenty-four inches of him.
  • The retinue of the High Priest of Tenochtitlan will start the game around his location – with all of their figures within 8” of his initial location.

The side with the most Victory Points wins. There are no prisoners taken in this scenario by either side.

  • The Spanish earn points by inflicting casualties:
    • Incapacitating the High Priest of Tenochtitlan is worth 100 points.
    • 10 points for incapacitating a Warband Leader.
    • 2 points for each enemy incapacitated.
    • 1 point for any enemy figure that runs off the tabletop.
  • The Aztecs earn points by inflicting casualties:
    • Incapacitating Cortes is worth 50 points.
    • Incapacitating Alvarado is worth 25 points.
    • The Aztecs earn 5 points for each enemy who is incapacitated, to include horses and war dogs.  Thus, a cavalry figure is worth 5 for the rider and 5 for the horse.

In a nutshell, the Aztecs need to overwhelm the wounded Spanish on the outcropping and load up on Victory Points. When the cavalry arrives – the Spanish need to kill Matlatzincátzin and thereby “pin” the Aztecs Elements and Warbands. The Aztecs of course do need to avoid the demise of their leader before the end of Turn 5 as that is the Victory point jackpot.

Let’s move on to the game! I was very happy to have my fullest table of the convention- 12 players! A little more than half (7) had at least half had played Feudal Patrol™ before (and most of those were previous players at my other two  Feudal Patrol™ games at TotalCon 36 so that was nice to have enticed repeat players). I briefed the game and ran through some examples of play for the newbies, and we were off. As Feudal Patrol™ is extremely easy to learn, all were playing smoothly in no time.

At the start – what a crowd of happy gamers!
The Aztecs advance. The players on that side were sufficiently aggressive given the game’s VP objectives. The Conquistadores gave as good as they got.

Among the Elite Aztec Elements, the Cuachiqueh (Shorn Ones) hit Conquistador Element C1 first, while the Jaguar Warriors hit the far end of Conquistador Element C3. Casualties on both sides were immediate.

The Jaguar Warriors (top left) and Shorn Ones (center) hit the wounded Spanish hard. The Conquistadores hold.
Veteran Aztec Elements hit C4 in the center of the hill (shown above on the right). Casualties ensue yet again.
Now another Aztec Veteran Element joins the fray on the right here. The Spanish continue to hit, and to be hit. The Jaguar Warriors launch a couple of atlatl’s at the Spanish on the left – but accidentally wound two of their own who were in harm’s way. Friendly fire…isn’t.

The first two turns saw a BUNCH of casualties. With the Aztecs getting 5 VP for each incapacitated Spaniard (versus 2 VP for the Spanish in reverse), the Aztecs were loading up on VP, swarming the outcropping, and beginning to break any semblance of the Spanish having a cohesive defense. One of the Aztec Veteran/novice Elements did lose heart in the melee and a few of their warriors took off for home, easing the pressure on one corner (between C2 and C3). This did not seem too important at the time, but this did limit the Aztecs a bit.

The cavalry arrived on Turn 3 – and between them and Matlatzincátzin was…absolutely NOTHING.

The cavalry arrives, and bears down on Matlatzincátzin (by the white die). Take a look at the faces (ok, masked faces) of the concerned Aztec players on the other side of the table for effect! The cavalry was not able to engage Matlatzincátzin on this activation, but they were close.

The Aztecs then were lucky to activate the Retinue Element in an attempt to save their leader. They decided to heroically use their Retinue Element to try and block the cavalry’s advance. The Retinue sprinted their novices and priests into position, hoping to block the advance of the Spanish cavalry – more or less as human speed bumps!

While the rules do not permit infantry to engage moving cavalry, in this tactic they succeeded a bit – as they denied most of the cavalry “impetus”. In the rules, cavalry gets impetus (and a much better attack strength) if it has a straight line of at least 4″ before it hits an enemy. Without impetus, cavalry can still attack, albeit less effectively. While the Retinue Element was activated, Matlatzincátzin and his signalers did not, and could not move.

The Aztec Retinue Element tries to block the Spanish cavalry.

Soon after, the Conquistador cavalry got a second activation. They made several attacks against members of the retinue (all devastating). However, all eyes were fixed as one cavalryman managed a non-impetus attack on Matlatzincátzin…and despite the odds MISSED HIM!

Matlatzincátzin and his retinue are attacked by the cavalry. Things looked dire.

In response, Matlatzincátzin thrust his tepoztopilli (thrusting spear) at the oncoming Spaniard. He hit his horse, killing it, and this unhorsed his attacker. The act of unhorsing the Conquistador injured the already hurt cavalryman… AND BY FALLING FROM HIS HORSE HE WAS KILLED BY THE IMPACT!!!

Insert loud Aztec player cheering because that indeed happened then!

Meanwhile, Cortes deployed onto the table as well. Seeing what happened to his comrades fighting Matlatzincátzin, and not wanting a similar fate, he took a simpler route, and hit the Elite Warband Leader from behind, and killed him (not overly brave, but effective). This “pinned” all Elements of the Elite Warband. Then he killed The Elite Warband Leader’s Warrior Priest for good measure with a well-placed lance to the back. Then Turn 4 ended.

On Turn 5 (the last scheduled turn of the game), Matlatzincátzin activated first, and decided to head for the hill and some of his warriors there for safety. His Retinue Element (or what was left of it) had managed to take out another cavalryman and horse, but not before accumulating a boatload of Morale pips. The Spanish cavalry was still coming…

The aftermath of the “human speed bump maneuver”, with Matlatzincátzin (at the tip of the 12 Retinue Element red Morale pips) trying to get to the hill. Note the black dice on all the Elite Aztec Elements because of Cortes’ (by the red 2 die on the left) having just dispatched the Elite Warband Leader. This loss would limit these Elite Elements in trying to help Matlatzincátzin. The Retinue Element – if activated, would need to clear 12 Morale pips before they could help. Not likely!

Matlatzincátzin and his two signalers would just make it safely to the hill on Turn 5. However, a brave and very wounded Conquistador Sword and Buckler man (the leader of C4) leapt into action and attacked Matlatzincátzin, giving him 3 wounds (he could take 4). The Aztec High Priest struck back and wounded the Spaniard, but not fatally, and that combat ended.

Then, the Aztec infantry killed Pedro de Alvarado, pinning the Spanish infantry on the hill. This accomplishment was big, and gained 25 VP, but was a bit too late – as had it happened just a bit earlier Matlatzincátzin might not have been able to be attacked by the infantryman.

Next, the cavalry activated, and two of them bore down mercilessly on Matlatzincátzin, quickly taking him out – and that earned the Spanish 100 VP -and that pinned ALL of the Aztecs.

At this point, the convention was wrapping up and we called the game for scoring – the Spanish won 160-130 with their last minute taking down of the High Priest of Tenochtitlan. In the end, the game played out similar to how history played out.

Aztecs: 130 points

  • Incapacitating Alvarado: 25 points
  • Incapacitating enemy Conquistadores/war dogs/horses at 5 points each: There were 21 (out of 38 possible!), yielding 105 points

Spanish: 160 points

  • Incapacitating the High Priest of Tenochtitlan (Matlatzincátzin): 100 points
  • Incapacitating a War Band Leader (the Elite one): 10 points
  • Incapacitating enemy Aztecs at 2 points each: There were 23 (out of 65 possible), yielding 46 points
  • Aztecs who ran away: 4 at 1 point apiece

It was an exciting game and there were a lot of smiles all around afterwards – on both sides. It was an engaging game for all and I look forward to running it again at future conventions and club dates. Much thanks to ALL of the players, and much thanks to the TotalCon 36 staff for a great convention. I hope that I captured a bit of the game’s drama for you and that I made it interesting to read about.

I know that four posts are a lot from one con – but these four games were all a blast to run, and worth their own posts.

Thanks again for looking.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

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