Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 5: Tenochtitlan – THE FINAL REVEAL

Yes! It’s finally time for the FINAL REVEAL of my Aztec cityscape. It’s been a labor of love – to recreate this tabletop for gaming. What game you ask? Why of course – Buck Surdu’s Feudal Patrol! I wrote the gaming supplement for Feudal Patrol™ games during the period of the Spanish Conquest. The supplement involves the Conquistadores, the Aztecs, the Tlaxcalans (and more Mesoamericans who fought the Aztecs), the Maya, and the Inca (in South America). I called it Civilizations Collide, and it’s a free download from Buck’s website or from Sally4th in the UK. If you have not checked this excellent game out – do it!

This is Part 5 of my series on “Building an Aztec Cityscape”. There are a lot of background history and WIP details in these posts that for brevity I won’t repeat here. However, if you have missed the other parts, they are listed below with their links:

As for wargaming the period of the Spanish Conquest 500 years ago, I want to be clear. It was brutal to be sure, and as I have stated often, there were no good guys on any side. I did not aim to glorify any aspect of the time, but to raise awareness and knowledge of it through wargaming.

From the start of this project, I wanted to create a unique and hopefully stunning tabletop for these games. I had a vision of creating a nice cityscape – an encompassing panorama that I had not seen anyone else do at any convention. Also, the cityscape needed to facilitate a fun gaming experience, so visually, I felt that had to go big. I had already painted 230 figures for the period. I had built many buildings too. Therefore, I wanted something that had the “flavor” of Tenochtitlan. However, with the tabletop designed for 28mm skirmish figures, (about 1″ tall), building a true-to-life and historically accurate Tenochtitlan would have required a gymnasium-sized playing area. I have seen stunning photos from SALUTE in the UK that were for 15mm gaming, but that scale went far beyond what I envisioned – or what was feasible for me. For travel to gaming conventions, the cityscape needed to be able to be broken down and transported easily. It needed to be useful for multiple games. This post will reveal my solution, for better or for worse.

I started out with historical research into several sources, and thinking about what I wanted and what I could do. After I had my initial concept, I then refined it into the two plans that I put on paper below.

First rough draft of the plan.
Then, I refined the plan.

The previous posts describe in more detail how I got here. So, let’s show some eye candy – and I will be posting on the Combat Patrol Facebook page and sharing a link to my IGTV page where you can view a video of the cityscape.

Here I set up some figures on the cityscape – many of these images were shown in previous posts – but here you get to see the whole thing!

Ta daa! Click on the images for a bigger view.
End view – the mat is from FLG.
Opposite lengthwise view
Angled view from the end.

As before, this is DEFINITELY (I think anyways) my last entry into Dave’s Season of Scenery Challenge! Thanks Dave for running the challenge and letting me be part of it. At least it’s the last part of the cityscape posts.

I also want to especially thank my wife for tolerating this bit of my madness. And of course I thank my old West Point comrades Buck Surdu and Dave Wood, Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer and the HAWKS, Chris Abbey at Sally4th, Dave at The Imperfect Modeler (especially for the chinchilla dust tip), GED at Gringo 40’s, IRO (for inspiration), Joerg Bender at Things From The Basement, the Uxbridge Historical Gaming Club and the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

A SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL the bloggers listed below who have taken the time to encourage me over this project. I am indebted to you all – you kept me focused, and motivated.


Check out their blogs! As for the video link, here it is:


I’m not an award-winning videographer – but I hope that you enjoy the video.

What’s next? I will be going to my first HISTORICON and bringing both my cityscape and my rural tabletop. I will also be adding the two naval types (brigantines and war canoes) to the next version of my Civilizations Collide supplement – along with new scenarios and scenario-specific rules. I hope that you will like these. Yes, I have more work to do!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section – and thanks for looking!

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.

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!

50 thoughts on “Building an Aztec Cityscape – Part 5: Tenochtitlan – THE FINAL REVEAL”

  1. Looks fantastic.. I’ve been following this with interest as my 1/72 Aztecs and Conquistadors haven’t seen the light if day for a long time so this is great inspiration

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great work Mark. The wagons look great and commanding. The end result has been well worth the effort. Now the fun starts as you get to game on it, although I always feel a bit of a “let down” as the project that I have been lovingly working on over many months is finally finished, but your 1:1 build should help with this!

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Great final reveal Mark, and yes everything shown does count for the challenge. When you go to the shows, you want some flyers with your blog address on it, so anyone who asks questions or want’s to know how you did something, can have easy reference points.
    If you get the canoes done in the next week or so, they would count on the scenery as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good idea! I do usually have business cards to help recruit gaming club members too. It would be a miracle if I was able to do that with canoes but we’ll see. In any case the challenge was awesome to be a part of!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great job, such an interesting project for a historical period I’ve not personally seen much of in mimi wargames. Great attention to detail and planning!
    Also, thanks very much for the shout out, and for providing me a nice big list of blogger to check out! 😁👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Steve, I’m glad you liked it. Im hoping it’s a be breath of 500 year old fresh air. As for the blogs, lots of good there – while some are more prolific and active than others, still worth checking out.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This project is impressive both in scale and in quality. This “board” looks fantastic and has a lot of nice details. More importantly, the way you’ve set it up looks like it should be great for gaming too. I would imagine people at conventions will be thrilled to try out Feudal Patrol using your excellent terrain and minis. Hopefully we’ll get to hear how Historicon goes in the future. I’ve heard great things about it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Honestly I’m blown away by the positive comments and reactions like yours. It means a lot. Of course I will not feel I have succeeded unless the gamers are blown away too. I hope to live up to the expectations you (and I) all have for this tabletop. Again, thanks for the kind words.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m a bit behind at the moment and so late to the party, but that’s also partly because I’ve been taking my time having a good look through the pictures and the video. It really is impressive! 🙂 Taking into account the mass of figures and the rural terrain, and the relatively short time that you’ve got this done in, makes it that much more impressive as well! I’ve really enjoyed following this project, so it’ll be great to hear how you get on with gaming over it!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. By all means John (and everybody) PLEASE take your time and get a good look at the cityscape! And there will be more stuff (war canoes, brigantines, and a Cortes figure) to add – plus the gaming too. That you and others have enjoyed it is what I was shooting for, and will continue to do so. Cheers John – I’m “chuffed”!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Such an impressive build. Incredible. The details, the models, the number of models, all of it. You have accomplished so much. I don’t know how you stay so focused and get so much done.

    And Historicon you say? Well, I just found one of my games for the con!! We will get to meet in person. Very excited to see this in real life and play a game on it. I’ll be bringing my kids, so I hope there is space for the three of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks so much borderguy – and you have been along for the journey so I’m grateful for that. And that’s great about the game! I’m running two Feudal Patrol Aztec games – a rural one on Thursday at 6 PM and the cityscape on Saturday morning at 9 AM. Both in the HAWKS room – see ya there!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well mate that is something to behold!!! bloody stunning, I feel you would be hard pressed to beat this one, but who knows what a man of your caliber can come up with down the line!! Give yourself a big pat on the back mate , I bet the folks will love it!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Pat and I hope you Aussies will get a break soon from lockdown. It was a big challenge to do the cityscape. Not sure as you say if I can beat it, but I still will be adding some more historical aspects to the potential scenarios like war canoes and brigantines which fought on Lake Texcoco 500 years ago now. Certainly, seeing what you and other diorama builders (like TIM) have done has helped to inspire me to push myself. So, please consider that some of the “ooomph” to do this came from you guys to be sure!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well thanks mate I’m glad to have been of some assistance, like you i have had plenty of inspiration from the group. Thats a great idea ,adding more thing in the future, I’ll be looking forward to seeing them, and as for the lock down I feel there is a lot of pressure on the state Premier to ease up a bit so we might have more freedom soon.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Mark, I am no longer on TMP so I can only get back to you here. I remember you just starting out showing your first Aztecs. I was the smart-ass that pointed out that the back drop was Chichen Itza ( ya, there is always that one guy). Since then I have closely followed your descent down the wonderful rabbit hole of Mesoamerican warfare. Your work, attention to detail and obvious love for the era shows clearly in the intervening projects. Thanks for sharing and I hope to play in one of your games when things return to a bit more normal. Best wishes for Historicon/Fall-in to you and the rest of the Hawks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Very kind of you to write Ralph. Yes, I do remember you AND I appreciated the feedback as that was earlier in the project – and helpful. I do plan on expanding into multiple scenarios – my list so far (tentatively) is :

    · Scenario 1: (1325 – 1519) Raid to Satisfy Huitzilopochtli (generic scenario based on “Flower Wars” type raids that occurred regularly before the arrival of the Spanish).
    · Scenario 2: March 28-29, 1519 – Welcome to Mesoamerica! – the Battles of Centla (Conquistadores meet and fight the Maya on Cortes’ arrival in Mesoamerica).
    · Scenario 3: September 2, 1519 – Meet the Tlaxcalans! (A battle between the Tlaxcalans and the Spanish would happen. Seeing the strength of the Spanish, and hating the Aztecs, after this battle the Tlaxcalans became allies of the Spanish).
    · Scenario 4: May 28-29, 1520 – Conquistador vs. Conquistador (Cortes attacks the forces of Narvaez who were sent by the Lieutenant Governor of Cuba to intercept and capture him).
    · Scenario 5: June 28, 1520 – Escape to the Causeway (Cortes is surrounded in Tenochtitlan and makes his first attempt to break out to the causeways using his war wagons).
    · Scenario 6: June 28, 1520 – Take the Temple (Cortes is surrounded in Tenochtitlan and makes his second attempt to break out to the causeways by first trying to take the high ground of the Temple of Yopico, using his war wagons).
    · Scenario 7: July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste (the final breakout attempt by the Spanish to escape to the causeways and out of Tenochtitlan).
    · Scenario 8: July 1, 1520 – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway (the final breakout attempt by the Spanish continues on the Tacuba causeway out of Tenochtitlan as he is harried on all sides to include war canoes).
    · Scenario 9: July 7, 1520 – The Battle of Otumba (The Aztecs attempt to execute a coup de grace against Cortes and his exhausted troops who make a last stand and use their cavalry in desperation).
    · Scenario 10: 1520-1521 – Find the Gold! (Generic scenario where a group of Conquistadors and Tlaxcalans raid a smaller Aztec city looking for gold and supplies).
    · Scenario 11: (1520-1521) – Surprise Aztec Raid on the Outpost – (Generic scenario based on Aztecs launching a surprise raid Veracruz or a Tlaxcalan Village serving as a supply base for Cortes)
    · Scenario 11: Early 1521 – Aztec Raid on the Conquistadores’ Brigantines (The Aztecs attempt to burn Cortes’ assembling fleet before it can set sail on Lake Texcoco).
    · Scenario 12: May 22, 1521 – Battle of Tlacopan (The Aztecs counterattack an attempt by Olid and Alvarado to seize and destroy the aqueduct at Chapultepec which supplies much of Tenochtitlan’s water. The battle takes place on a causeway with the Aztecs able to use war canoes on both sides of the Spanish).
    · Scenario 13: June 1, 1521 – The Battle of Lake Texcoco (Cortes leads his brigantines and allied war canoes against the massed Aztec war canoe fleet to seize naval control of Lake Texcoco and begin the siege of Tenochtitlan).
    · Scenario 14: June 30, 1521 – Tenochtitlan Trap! (The Aztecs lure Cortes and his forces into a trap in Tenochtitlan).

    · Scenario 15: August, 1521 – Cuauhtémoc’s Escape Attempt (Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec Emperor, makes a final attempt to breakout to the causeways of Tenochtitlan and escape the Spanish siege to continue the fight).

    I will need stuff to run these – so more to come. As skirmish games these all should be fun. Your expertise could point out any obvious flaws!


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