Conquistador Cavalry

I started painting figures for my for Civilizations Collide scenarios for games of Feudal PatrolTM  nearly a year ago in April of 2020. I had spent the month of March 2020 and part of April 2020 doing my research, for the supplement and looking at sources for appropriate miniatures. I decided to initially build forces Aztecs, Tlaxcalans, and Conquistadores. The last group I worked on were the Conquistadores – and I am ending with cavalry. As I shared on my last post, Hernan Cortes made exceptionally effective use of his cavalry during the conquest of New Spain. The best example is at the Battle of Otumba, where Cortes used his cavalry to save his entire force against overwhelming odds.

After having been initially driven from Tenochtitlan, Cortes and his Tlaxcalan allies had lost half of their number. They were being pursued by a massive Aztec army, trying to escape to the safety of Tlaxcalan territory. These outraged Aztecs were hell-bent on capturing every one of them for ritual sacrifice. At Otumba, Cortes was surrounded on two sides and was vastly outnumbered, and his men were exhausted. Opportunity presented itself. Cortes saw that the Aztecs’ formations were being controlled by highly costumed priests and leaders with drums, horns, and large banners. He personally led a mounted attack with five cavalry.

Yes just five, including himself.

This attack went directly at the Aztec leaders. They killed them, and the Aztec attack fell completely apart. Cortes lived to escape, regroup, and eventually return to defeat the Aztecs. Were it not for the “shock and awe” effect of a relatively small cavalry attack, history would have been greatly different.

Therefore, to be representative historically, I needed to find some cavalry for my forces. I did find two groups of 28mm metal ones – 4 cavalry (eight riders and eight horses) from Outpost Wargame Services (via Badger Games). These were #CON5 “Conquistador Cavalry in Light Armor 1” and #CON6 “Conquistador Cavalry in Full Armor”. In reality, even the first group were pretty well-armored. I also decided that I wanted to have some dead horses as markers – and to this end I procured eight horses from Eureka Miniatures #100ANM05 and removed them from their bases, and painted them as wounded/incapacitated horses, replete with battle damage. All together, this made for 24 figures for this post (yes, I count horses as figures though they marry up with riders!).

I decided a couple of things with regards to the painting of the group. First, my horses would all be different shades and colors (greys and browns). Secondly, I decided that that the wounded horses should match the colors of the unwounded ones. I had not painted any horses for decades. I did use my regular Iwata Eclipse and Neo airbrushes to prime and base coat them, and I used my Iwata Micron airbrush to do the faces and eyes. After that it was all brushwork (except for final varnishing). I experimented with different color combinations – and it actually helped to try out these combinations on the dead horses first as trials!

I also painted the shields first and gave each of the riders different shields. The riders themselves could be assembled with different arms. They could get a sword or an empty arm for a lance – but the lances were not included. Luckily, I had some 100mm from North Star Miniatures to cut down for lances. Each of the four would get two swordsmen and two lancers. For bases, I had some 25 x 70mm Secret Weapon Desert Mesa and Desert Wasteland that were designed for motorcycles. I found that by flocking over the bases (and hiding some tire tracks) that these were perfectly-sized for my cavalry. I added some 3/4″ steel washers underneath the bases to help with their storage in my magnetically-lined Really Useful Boxes.

These cavalrymen will be very expensive relative to other figures – and for good reason.

I had a few WIP shots that I can share below – then the final cavalry pics will follow afterwards.

I had these pics as guides over my painting desk.
My rig for painting the riders. Doubtless, it was painful for the riders…
First horse base coated.
All the horses ready for riders and final flocking.

The first group is the ones in “light armor”. I numbered them CVLA1 to CVLA4.


And the casualty marker…


And the casualty marker…


And the casualty marker…


And the casualty marker…

Group Shot

Charge! Here you can see they all have adarga shields (kidney shaped).

The second group includes the ones in “heavy armor”. I numbered them CVFA1 to CVFA4.


And the casualty marker…


And the casualty marker…


And the casualty marker…


And the casualty marker…

Group Shot

Here is a good angle to see the different shades of brown I used.

These are the LAST figures in “Mark’s Conquistador Conquest”. This makes 230 figures – of which 89 were Conquistadores (painted since 12/14/2020) – which was the contest I ran. I will make a final contest post– and announce the winners in the next couple of days. All I will say is that these were completed before February 21, 2021. BUT, when I share the results I will also be announcing a similar second contest for you – my followers! Potentially free stuff for YOU!

All of my Conquistador figures!
And finally, all planned figures are DONE!

This group of cavalry count as my last entry into Dave Stone’s Painting Challenge “PAINT WHAT YOU GOT CHALLENGE”.  In honor of the project, I will share the most famous song about Conquistadores – from Procul Harem in 1967 (and yes I remember it – though I was indeed quite young – though I heard it often in the 1970’s too). Here are the lyrics from the song (authors are Gary Brooker and Keith Reid) and a YouTube link:

Conquistador your stallion stands in need of company
And like some angel’s haloed brow
You reek of purity

I see your armor plated breast
Has long since lost its sheen
And in your death masked face
There are no signs which can be seen

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

Conquistador a vulture sits, upon your silver sheath
And in your rusty scabbard now, the sand has taken seed
And though your jewel-encrusted blade
Has not been plundered still
The sea has washed across your face
And taken of its fill

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind
And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

Conquistador there is no time, I must pay my respect
And though I came to jeer at you
I leave now with regret
And as the gloom begins to fall
I see there is no, only all
And though you came with sword held high
You did not conquer, only die

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind
And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

And though I hoped for something to find
I could see no maze to unwind

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Gary Brooker / Keith Reid

Conquistador lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

Total figures completed to date for this project: 230 figures:  109 Aztecs, 32 Tlaxcalans, 89 Spanish Conquistadores (ZERO more to go in Mark’s Conquistador Contest!)

Stay tuned…I will have more on the game in terms of terrain and game aids. Please let me know your thoughts about this post!

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

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

  1. Conquistador Cavalry (this post). 24 figures total: Outpost Wargame Services #CON5 “Conquistador Cavalry in light armour 1” (4 horses & 4 riders); Outpost Wargame Services #CON6 “Conquistador Cavalry in full armour” (4 horses & 4 riders); Eureka Miniatures “Moving Horses” #100ANM05 (8 horses used as casualty markers).
  2. Conquistador Falconet and Crew (Artillery). 3 figures total: Outpost Wargame Services #CONA1 “Falconet and Crew”.
  3. More Conquistador Sword and Buckler Men. 8 figures total Outpost Wargame Services #CON001 “Sword and Buckler Men”.
  4. Conquistador Sword and Buckler Men (Wargames Foundry). 18 figures total in three blister packs: Wargames Foundry #SB015 “Swaggering Swordsmen”, #SB016 “Brutal Sword and Buckler Men”, and #SB017 “Bold Bladesmen”.
  5. Perro de Guerra (Conquistador War Dogs). 13 figures total: Outpost Wargames Services #CONS6 “War Dogs” (8 war dogs); Eureka #100CON13 “Dog Handler and Dogs” (1 dog handler/pikeman and 4 war dogs)
  6. Conquistador Foot Command, Crossbowmen, and a Couple of Officers. 11 figures total: Outpost Wargames Services #CONC1 “Conquistador Foot Command” (a leader, a banner bearer, a drummer, and a bugler); Eureka #100CON04 “Crossbowmen” (5 crossbowmen); and Eureka CONC1 “Conquistador Officer” and an unknown SKU officer (2 officers)
  7. Merciless Adventurers (this post) – Wargames Foundry #SB014 (6 Conquistadores with arquebuses)
  8. Audacious Arquebusiers! – Wargames Foundry #SB012 (6 Conquistadores with arquebuses)
  9. Mark’s Conquistador Contest – for my loyal blog followers!
  10. Montezuma and Chieftains – Wargames Foundry #AZ011 for Feudal Patrol – 6 Aztec figures (Montezuma, 4 Chieftains, 1 Warrior Priest)
  11. Aztec Shock Troops – Cuachic Warriors aka The Shorn Ones – 8 Aztec cuachicqueh warriors
  12. Tloxtoxl and the Priests of the Great Temple, Wargames Foundry AZ021 – 2 warrior priests, 1 priestess, 1 priest, 1 leader, and 1 signaler
  13. 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!
  14. 18 Aztec Novice Warriors for Feudal Patrol Walk into a Bar – 18 Novice Warriors
  15. Aztec Warrior Priests (painted as Tlaxcalans), Ral Partha 42-302, circa 1988 (this post) – 6 figures – 6 Tlaxcalan Warrior Priests
  16. Tlaxcalan Novices, Elite Warriors, and Command Group – 18 figures – 8 Novice Tlaxcalan Warriors, 8 Elite Tlaxcalan Warriors, 1 Tlaxcalan Captain, 1 Tlaxcalan Conch Blower
  17. Tlaxcalan Archers – 8 Veteran Tlaxcalan Archers
  18. Aztec Game for Feudal Patrol across thousands of miles – via Zoom!
  19. Aztec Snake Woman and Drummer – 1 Aztec General, 1 Aztec Drummer
  20. 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
  21. Doubling Down – Aztec Veteran Warriors – 24 Aztec Veteran Warriors
  22. Aztec Arrow Knights, Ral Partha circa 1988 – 6 Aztec Arrow Knights
  23. Aztec Eagle Warriors from Tin Soldier UK – 6 Aztec Eagle Knights
  24. Aztec Novice Warriors and a few Frinx – 12 Novice Warriors

Total figures completed to date for this project: 230 figures:  109 Aztecs, 32 Tlaxcalans, 89 Spanish Conquistadores (ZERO more to go in Mark’s Conquistador Contest!)


  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1.25″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. 3/4″ steel washers
  4. Secret Weapon 25mm x 70mm “Desert Mesa” beveled bases
  5. Secret Weapon 25mm x 70mm “Desert Wasteland” beveled bases
  6. Poster tack
  7. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  8. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  9. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  10. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Weiss” (off-white)
  13. Citadel “Ironbreaker”
  14. Reaper MSP “Black Liner”
  15. Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Steel”
  16. Vallejo “Satin Varnish”
  17. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Brown”
  19. Vallejo Model Air “First Light”
  20. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  21. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  22. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  23. Vallejo Mecha Color “Brown”
  24. Citadel “Balor Brown”
  25. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Brown”
  26. Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”
  27. Citadel Air “Evil Sunz Scarlet”
  28. Army Painter “Red Tone” (shade)
  29. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  30. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Contrast Medium”
  31. Vallejo Game Air “Dead White”
  32. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-white”
  33. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  34. Citadel “Runefang Steel”
  35. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  36. Vallejo “Thinner Medium”
  37. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Aggaros Dunes”
  38. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Flesh Tearers Red”
  39. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Akhelian Green”
  40. Battlefront “GI Green”
  41. Battlefront “Sicily Yellow”
  42. Battlefront “Dark Leather”
  43. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  44. Vallejo Model Color “Brown Rose”
  45. Vallejo Game Color “Bronze Fleshtone”
  46. Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
  47. Army Painter “Flesh Wash” (wash)
  48. Army Painter “Light Tone” (shade)
  49. Army Painter “Mid Brown” (shade)
  50. Reaper MSP “Brown Liner”
  51. Reaper MSP “Grey Liner”
  52. Battlefront “Sicily Yellow”
  53. Vallejo Model Color “English Uniform”
  54. Vallejo Model Color “Neutral Grey”
  55. Vallejo Model Color “Light Brown”
  56. Citadel “XV-88”
  57. Vallejo Model Air “Bright Brass”
  58. E6000 Epoxy
  59. Army Painter “Strong Tone” (shade)
  60. Hataka “Terre d’ombre”
  61. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  62. Citadel “Blood for the Blood God”
  63. Citadel “Bloodletter” (glaze)
  64. Army Painter “Blue Tone” (shade)
  65. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  66. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (shade)
  67. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (shade)
  68. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  69. Citadel “Drakenhof Nightshade” (wash)
  70. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Charger Grey”
  71. Battlefront “Flat Earth”
  72. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  73. Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
  74. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  75. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  76. Citadel “Steel Legion Drab”
  77. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  78. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  79. Americana “Desert Sand”
  80. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  81. 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!

41 thoughts on “Conquistador Cavalry”

  1. Awesome painting work, and congratulations on finishing! I had to go and google adarga shields today. They have puzzled me in previous posts and it was a surprising read on their history. As in the past, your attention to historic detail is impressive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Tarmor, I really appreciate the compliment. And yes the adarga shield history is interesting as you discovered – I probably should have added the Moorish influence in my post. I’m always torn as to what to leave out! And next time I will remember to do better!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed your series, the more recent books confirms my personol opinion the conquistadors weren’t the supermen as many books make them out to be, especially when the Spanish 2nd invasion showed how they were beaten, credit should be given to his allies! Your Spanish figures is giving me itchy fingers to do several units. No fan of the Mejica, I’m at present doing Tarascan/Chontal alliance useing Outpost miniatures. Oh, slightly converting the Chontal. By the way what book if any shows formations and deployment on the field of the conquistadors,and there thousand’s of allies. You’re not done until you get the other allies involved😸 Ernest Calvillo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Ernie, glad that you have enjoyed the posts. Yes, there are indeed others to do, to include Tarascans. I saw Outpost’s Tarascans and I’d need to find a decent color reference – any suggestions? As for the Conquistadores, no not supermen, but damned lucky at so many turns, plus add on the technological advantages, not to mention war dogs and cavalry. In the end, smallpox did far more to ultimately devastate the Mexica (and others). Appreciate greatly the interest!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate that and that you’ve been along for the trip TIM. I am at best a journeyman who did some (ok, a lot) of research, there are real experts out there – but I am not going to get my PhD anytime soon. Glad you liked these.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent piece of history Mark, can’t believe 5 cavalry influenced history so much !
    The painting is excellent, and the markers are a great idea and executed brilliantly.
    I expect I’ll get a comment from Roger on how my challenge perverted the competition ! LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Dave. Yeah, the thing that really amazed me during this project was how many examples like that happened to Cortes and his men, If he was an RPG player, you’d accuse him of having loaded the dice a lot. Your challenge was merely an opportunity – I wanted to get to this point, and here I am. I’ll announce the winners shortly, as well as the next giveaway contest – so more chances to come!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Excellent cavalry, Mark! 🙂 The first and the last ones you’ve shown here are my favourites! I’ll look forward to seeing how they all get on in a game at some point! And getting everyone finished before the end of February is very good going indeed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks John. I was pretty motivated plus it’s winter in a pandemic, so I had the time! Hope to get a game on soon, but need to get some terrain done(hope you can join that contest too) as well as some game aids that will help with skirmish play both virtually and when life returns to normal. I am partial to the last one too (easiest face to paint is the one behind armor!).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The more you post about this period the more I feel the need to learn more! The Cortez charge is so indicative of those great moments in history when the few can change history in moments.
    Although, Richard III’s charge at Bosworth was similarly inspired but ended in disaster for the rightful king of England!
    Superb writing Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Roger I HAD to Google that! Interesting scandal I was unaware of and nice joke. I did get served horsemeat cold cuts for breakfastat the Belgian Military Academy on exchange in 1982 – nothing to reorder but not horrible (except for the horse I’m sure).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Mark, nice work as always, and a nice write up. Have you had a look at the Eureka mounted Conquistadors? I believe they are the work of the brilliant John Jenkins and are exquisite looking.

    If I’m allowed to be a wee bit pedantic, I’ll say that the impact of horses and blackpowder weapons was somewhat over exaggerated in their importance. Cavalry was almost inconsequential in the entire conquest, with the exception of the one charge at Otumba. Also, the idea that Cortes charged with 5 men is not given serious credence by scholars. So for instance, Cortes mentions that he charged with Alvarado, de Olid, Sandoval, Davila and Salamanca, he doesn’t mean he charged with 5 men. It means he charged with his 5 Captains, each with there own cavalrymen. Modern estimates believe a few dozen cavalry survived La Noche Triste and took part in the subsequent battle.

    The newly ascended Tlatoani, Cuitláhuac, chose to stay in Tenochtitlan perhaps to consolidate power. He may have already been feeling the effects of the smallpox that was to (allegedly) kill him a few months later. So the rapidly collected Aztec forces were under the command of the Cihuacoatl, named Matlatzincatl, who may have been Cuitláhuac’s brother. The Cihuacoatl is not a military position and Matlatzincatl was probably way over his head. Most of the effective Aztec military leaders were murdered by Alvarado, while Cortes was out of the city, dealing with Narveaz. So it’s not that inconceivable that after the Cihuacoatl and his officers were eliminated by the cavalry charge, the Aztec army lost the will to fight and retreated. Plus, by now, they were pretty close to hostile territory and they couldn’t afford to have a new, fresh Tlaxcaltec army showing up in support.

    Anyways it’s a fascinating history and you are making a great job of it. Next…….the Maya! Lol.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Ralph thanks for all of that. Very much appreciated as it’s helpful. I’ve found different sources saying different things, so I went with 5. In any case my games will be abstractions (as is every game is of course), so at the skirmish level eight cavalry should be enough. I hope! Anyways I have seen the Eureka minis but I had already bought the OWS ones, so for now I’m set (and I need to move on to terrain and game stuff). And yes, I have long term plans for Maya and more. Thanks so much for all you shared here!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Just on a complete light hearted tangent. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the film Labyrinth (with David Bowie) but the conquistador model with full plate reminds me of one of the goblins from that. I can’t un-see it now or stop smiling as I loved that film as a child.
    I also forgot to say the horse markers are excellent. I can almost hear their screams from the wounds (a horrible sound that I’ve only heard once in my life and wouldn’t want to inflict on anyone)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a huge Bowie fan and I’m happy I got to see him once in concert. I think I’ve seen Labyrinth back in the 80’s, but I was stationed in West Germany so maybe not. Amazing how many movies that I have forgotten. I did love him in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. And as for the horse markers appreciate the compliment. Was not sure about using Blood for the Blood God as I usually don’t have an opportunity to use it like I did here. Thankfully lead doesn’t feel pain!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. That story about Cortes (whether true or not) is truly jaw-dropping. It is amazing sometimes what can turn a battle. In regards to the cavalry and injured horses, both look great. Much like previous Spanish minis, there is something charming about the Conquistadors and that is doubly true with their knight gear on and them being mounted on horses. Of course, there was very little charming about their behavior and they’d probably be upset that I think that but I think it is credit to both the sculptor and you as the painter!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Kuribo – here is a link to an image that I think is emblematic (though I don’t want to violate any copyright) Of course, you also must consider what it was like to wear that armor in Mexico in the summer! As for charming, not much of that on either side of that conflict. Both had barbaric tendencies. But it is colorful in many ways, to include the figure’s appearance!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for sharing that image! It is really striking. This conflict really is a painter’s paradise. I will have to keep this era in mind for historicals I’d like to paint one day (even just as a one off project and necessarily for gaming) as it looks like a lot of fun.


  10. I could have sworn that I posted a comment here. I certainly recall reading this post, but it’s also possible that the old “forgot to hit post when going to a different tab to check something” intervened.
    Either way, great painting and an interesting historical write-up – and discourse in the comments as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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