Aztec Shock Troops – Cuachic Warriors aka The Shorn Ones

The super elite troops of the Aztec Empire were the cuachicqueh (kwa-cheek-kweh). These were their imperial shock troops, and held prestigious social status. To be able to join their ranks, a warrior would have had to have captured 6 or more enemy warriors, as well as demonstrated other acts of bravery.

A cuachic (kwa-cheek – the singular is cuachic, the plural is cuachicqueh – yes still more tough-to-pronounce Aztec words!) was a member of the ultimate Aztec warrior caste. They all had passed on the opportunity of becoming captains or officers in order to remain hardened elite front-line warriors. Their appearance was striking. They wore a distinctly yellow tlahuiztli (tu-lah-huz-ly) suit, had shaved heads with mohawks, and often had fierce yellow, red, and blue war facial paint. The Shorn Ones sported unique and colorful back banners to intimidate any foes. They were called “The Shorn Ones” due to their mostly-shaven haircuts. Cuachicqueh swore to never retreat in battle – and if any did – they would agreed to dispatched by their own comrades for this dishonor.

I was really looking forward to adding cuachicqueh to my Aztec forces for games of Feudal Patrol™, using my supplement, Civilizations Collide. I have discussed the game on previous posts, as well as my supplement.

As a reminder Feudal Patrol™ – Buck Surdu’s rules and the decks of cards for “Skirmish Miniature Gaming in the Ancient, Medieval, and Fantasy Periods” is now available commercially. In the US, it can be bought from On Military Matters website here.  It is also being sold in the US by Noble Knight Games website here. In the UK, it is being sold by Sally 4th on their website here. My supplement for the period is a free download on Sally 4th’s website here or the Feudal Patrol™ website here. Cuachicqueh can have a big impact in the game if used properly.

In my game, the cuachicqueh have special abilities – in addition to being total bad-asses on the battlefield. They can operate in smaller units. They can also act as berserkers. Tactically, their greatest advantage is that they can – through the use of obscene gestures and insults – provoke an enemy to charge them – even if that charge causes the targeted enemy to abandon a good and protected defensive position to its detriment. This ability has a good historical basis.

To understand this, imagine you’re a good Tlaxcalan bowman, safely ensconced behind a nice wall. Yet the cuachicqueh in front of you have just insulted and offended you and your people so gravely – that you rush out to ostensibly try to attack the miscreants. Your hasty assault only to serves the cuachicqueh – who now, as the Aztecs best, engage you in vicious melee – minus the protection you just abandoned. It’s not for nothing that cuachicqueh were the toughest of the Aztecs.

I bought some of these Aztecs in AZ06 “Cuachic Warriors – Body Suit and Back Banners” (from Badger Games here). The SKU came with eight 28mm metal figures complete with weapons, shields, and back banners. The figures were cast by Outpost Wargames Services in the UK. The figures were in really great shape and needed little cleanup. Initially I was a bit apprehensive about assembling and painting them due to the proximity of the back banners to the figures’ heads. I tried to use green stuff to achieve some degree of separation on the first two figures but abandoned that approach as I did not think that it added enough benefit structurally. I also worried that it would detract from the models’ aesthetics. In the end, good old Gorilla Glue worked just fine on the remaining ones and I just worked around the banners and heads intersections while painting. I decided to mount the back banners and the weapons before priming, and do the shields separately.

As a resource, I used the many books that I had with some nice plates showing the dress of the Shorn Ones. Clearly, they dressed similarly – and their shields were similar (but not identical). Trying to get the yellow tlahuiztli suits correctly colored was a challenge. Painting anything yellow, especially a dullish yellow, is always a painting challenge. I hope these will look good on the table. The back banners took some methodical planning and measuring (as you’ll see below) for painting as the stripes needed to look symmetrical.

I took some group WIP shots below (with comments) that will show this group’s progress, and then I will share some eye candy of the finished figures. I’ll conclude with a summary of where the overall project is so far, plus links to the previous posts (in case you just joined me here), and the paints I used if that sort of thing is interesting to you (if not that’s why it’s why it’s at the end!).

Here you see the primed figures with the back banner marking lines set. The back banners’ proximity to the figures’ heads is clear here.
I washed the figures with Citadel “Nuln Oil” to help with overall creation of depth, and then began the early flesh tones as shown here. I knew war paint would come later, but I find painting the faces first as if there would be no war paint helps make war paint look better, especially around the eyes.
I darkened the flesh and used Vallejo Model Air “Weiss” (off-white) on the sandals, loincloths, and straps to overcome the Nuln Oil.
My start on the yellow tlahuiztli suits. This would take much highlighting and shading. I found Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” very helpful against the yellow inks (yes that’s plural – inks!) and contrast paints.
I then moved on to shading their heads to simulate close-shaved heads (they’re the Shorn Ones not the Bald Ones). I also added war paints to most of the faces.
At this point, I moved on to the back banners. I wanted these to pop, so I used “Weiss” again under a number of inks. Here you see the off-white between the earlier-painted lines on the back banners.
The back banners with the colors added. Some of these back banners resemble flags of the US or even the LGBT Pride Flag, but these were actually the colors used by the Shorn Ones in the 16th century according to my research. I varied the colors of the “feather balls” immediately above the back banners in accordance with the Osprey resource books. Also, historically the 9-dotted field on the back banners had either a bluish or light brownish background, so I adopted this as well. Hopefully this will help with tabletop identification as well as the back banners, the poses, and the war paints.
At this point in painting this group, I began to worry that sealing inked areas on these with an airbrush application of Vallejo “Mecha Varnish Matte Varnish” could possibly activate the multiple dried inks and ruin the models. Yeah, that was a bit scary! So I decided to seal the faces and back banners with Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” as that would seal those surfaces and also allow them to stay a bit brighter. I don’t think I needed to worry, but in any case this approach (IMO) worked well. You can let me know if you agree or not. Then I flocked the figures and moved onto the shields.
Here I just started painting the shields – and I have not gotten to the feather frets. I use poster tack over gloss-varnished surfaces to try to paint both sides safely. First do one side, let dry, then the other.
After a few iterations of painting and lining, the shields were done and I also varnished them with the Vallejo “Gloss Varnish” for the same reasons as I did the faces and the back banner. At quick glance, most cuachicqueh shields look similar, but these are all different. Just look closely!
Here the shields are mounted with a “sandwich” of 2 drops of Gorilla Glue surrounding a dab of E6000 epoxy in the middle of the shields. This combination yields a quick hold with the Gorilla Glue while the E6000 cures over 24 hours and provides a stronger and slightly more flexible bond. You also see that I have added pigments to the flocking on the bases. These are ready for base dry brushing followed by an application of the matte varnish. Lastly, I add static grass.
The eight models are shown here completed and “frolicking” on the various images and pages that I used as painting guides.

The eight are numbered for my cataloging system as ACC1 to ACC8. Now, let’s move to:

Eye Candy

Click on any of the images for a larger view!

ACC1

ACC1 – armed with a macuahuitl (obsidian-edged club/broadsword) and a non-fretted shield. He has war paint, and his back banner has the bluish background with red and yellow stripes. The back banner feather ball here is reddish.

ACC2

ACC2 – armed with a tepoztopilli (obsidian-edged thrusting spear) and a fretted shield. He has no war paint, and his back banner has the brownish background with blue, yellow, green and red stripes. The back banner feather ball here is light blue.

ACC3

ACC3 – armed with a macuahuitl and a fretted shield. He has war paint, and his back banner has the bluish background with red and white stripes. The back banner feather ball here is reddish.

ACC4

ACC4 – armed with a tepoztopilli (obsidian-edged thrusting spear) and a fretted shield. He has war paint, and his back banner has the brownish background with blue, yellow, green and red stripes. The back banner feather ball here is slightly orange in color.

ACC5

ACC5 – armed with a macuahuitl and a fretted shield. He has no war paint, and his back banner has the brownish background with blue, yellow, green and red stripes. The back banner feather ball here is dark blue.

ACC6

ACC6 – armed with a macuahuitl and a non-fretted shield. He has war paint, and his back banner has the bluish background with white and red stripes. The back banner feather ball here is orange.

ACC7

ACC7 – armed with a macuahuitl and a fretted shield. He has war paint, and his back banner has the bluish background with white and red stripes. The back banner feather ball here is dark blue.

ACC8

ACC8 – armed with a macuahuitl and a fretted shield. He has war paint, and his back banner has the bluish background with yellow and red stripes. The back banner feather ball here is reddish.

Group Shots

I hope that you enjoyed looking at this post and these figures. This is my penultimate (love that word) Aztec post – the last will be one with Montezuma, some Aztec captains and some warrior priests. Six more Aztecs, and then it’s on to the Spanish Conquistadores!

I’d love to know if you have a favorite – and any thoughts or questions and suggestions that you may have on the work here are always appreciated.

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

Posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide”

  1. Aztec Shock Troops – Cuachic Warriors aka The Shorn Ones (this post) – 8 Aztec cuachicqueh warriors
  2. Tloxtoxl and the Priests of the Great Temple, Wargames Foundry AZ021 – 2 warrior priests, 1 priestess, 1 priest, 1 leader, and 1 signaler
  3. Civilizations Collide – The Wars of the Aztecs, the Inca, the Maya, and the Conquistadores is now available as a FREE Download for Feudal Patrol™ – plus a Feudal Patrol™ review!
  4. 18 Aztec Novice Warriors for Feudal Patrol Walk into a Bar – 18 Novice Warriors
  5. Aztec Warrior Priests (painted as Tlaxcalans), Ral Partha 42-302, circa 1988 (this post) – 6 figures – 6 Tlaxcalan Warrior Priests
  6. Tlaxcalan Novices, Elite Warriors, and Command Group – 18 figures – 8 Novice Tlaxcalan Warriors, 8 Elite Tlaxcalan Warriors, 1 Tlaxcalan Captain, 1 Tlaxcalan Conch Blower
  7. Tlaxcalan Archers – 8 Veteran Tlaxcalan Archers
  8. Aztec Game for Feudal Patrol across thousands of miles – via Zoom!
  9. Aztec Snake Woman and Drummer – 1 Aztec General, 1 Aztec Drummer
  10. A June and July Jaguar Warrior Frenzy (plus some Aztec Veterans and a Warrior Priest to Boot) – 3 Aztec Veteran Warriors, 17 Jaguar Warriors, 1 Aztec Warrior Priest
  11. Doubling Down – Aztec Veteran Warriors – 24 Aztec Veteran Warriors
  12. Aztec Arrow Knights, Ral Partha circa 1988 – 6 Aztec Arrow Knights
  13. Aztec Eagle Warriors from Tin Soldier UK – 6 Aztec Eagle Knights
  14. Aztec Novice Warriors and a few Frinx – 12 Novice Warriors

Total figures to date for this project: 135 figures:  103 Aztecs, 32 Tlaxcalans

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

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Poster tack
  4. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
  5. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  6. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  7. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  8. Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  10. Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Weiss” (off-white)
  12. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  13. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  14. Vallejo Game Color “Bronze Fleshtone”
  15. Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
  16. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  17. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Darkoath Flesh”
  18. Citadel Air “Evil Sunz Scarlet”
  19. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Contrast Medium”
  20. Army Painter “Flesh Wash” (wash)
  21. Secret Weapon Washes “Yellow Snow” (ink/wash)
  22. Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
  23. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Iyanden Yellow”
  24. Secret Weapon Washes “Sunshine” (ink/wash)
  25. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  26. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  27. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  28. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  29. Battlefront “Wool Brown”
  30. Vallejo Game Ink “Yellow”
  31. Vallejo Game Ink “Blue”
  32. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red”
  33. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Talassar Blue”
  34. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Ultramarines Blue”
  35. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh”
  36. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Hound Orange”
  37. Citadel “Troll Slayer Orange”
  38. Vallejo Game Ink “Green”
  39. Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
  40. Vallejo Model Color “Glossy Black”
  41. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Warp Lightning”
  42. Citadel Air “Balor Brown”
  43. E6000 Epoxy
  44. Battlefront “Chocolate Brown”
  45. Americana “Kelly Green”
  46. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (shade)
  47. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  48. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (shade)
  49. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Wyldwood”
  50. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  51. Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
  52. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  53. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  54. Citadel “Steel Legion Drab”
  55. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  56. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  57. Americana “Desert Sand”
  58. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  59. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

36 thoughts on “Aztec Shock Troops – Cuachic Warriors aka The Shorn Ones”

  1. Stunning work as always Mark, those shield designs are particularly impressive! Great little how to paint Aztec Cuachicqueh (I cheated and cut and pasted that!), warriors, and some lovely photo’s to finish. Top work mate, oh and ACC6 and 7 look a little like they have the “stars and stripes” in their backs, very patriotic 😉.

    Stay safe, cheers Roger.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Chees Roger! And I bet you probably learned to spell cuachicqueh as a young lad 😉. Yes, they do have the look of the US flag – and that’s quite the historical coincidence. You stay safe too, and appreciate the feedback. Best, Mark

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Dave – glad you like them. I did purposefully leave them for close to the end as I wanted to be able to pull the shields off painting-wise (I knew they’d be hard). BTW I did drop you an email but maybe your mailbox thought I was spam?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I did get your email about some metal in the post Mark and replied (exciting to see what it is!) to you straight away, allowing for the time difference of course. Have you sent another because I haven’t seen anything else and nothing in spam?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful explanation of the history and culture as always Mark, followed by extremely well painted miniatures with all they’re face paints and back banners

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Alex, consider me appropriately nudged. Not to put you in suspense, but the next post will have a couple of interesting (I hope) figures that will probably turn a few heads – or remove a few hearts (they are Aztecs after all). It looks like I’ll be needing that big Aztec army shot – or even a video – on the next post. Hope you and yours are safe and well. Cheers!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Mate I have always had plenty to do so I’m looking forward to filling my days with things that are a bit more exciting than what I’ve been doing for the last ten years 🤣🤣🤣

        Like

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