Battle Report! Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost – TotalCon 36, Chapter 1

TotalCon 36 was held at the Best Western Conference center in Marlboro, Massachusetts from February 24-27th, 2022. It was the first time it was held since 2020. I ran 4 games at the convention – 3  Feudal Patrol games for the Spanish Conquest in Mesoamerica (Aztecs vs. Conquistadores) using my supplement Civilizations Collide, and one What a Tanker game. As many have requested that I do so, I’ll be sequentially sharing brief posts on each game here as battle reports.

I packed up my car tight with all my minis and terrain so that I could get an early start on setting up Thursday. I ended up with 21 Really Useful Boxes, 4 gaming mats, and a briefcase in addition to my suitcase to pack!

My game flyer for my first game of TotalCon 36 .

The first one that I ran was my Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost game. The game briefing goes as follows (apologies for the WordPress formatting on lists!!):

  1. Background:  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.
  2. Review Map and objectives:
    • Map:
      • The fields are muddy and movement rate through them is at half-speed.
      • All Aztecs troops deploy anywhere on the south side of the tabletop 6″ from the long end of the mat.
    • Objectives:  Most points wins.  Points are earned by controlling objectives, taking prisoners, and inflicting casualties.  The objectives are:
      • A: – a maize storage structure – 10 points to either side for control (means that the controller has only figure within in 4”)
      • B: Cuezcomatl Granary Structure – 10 points to either side for control
      • C: Tlaxcalan Noble’s House – 10 points to either side for control, plus 5 more for securing the gold inside and having possession of it.
  3. Additionally:
    • The Aztecs and the Tlaxcalans both gain 5 points for each prisoner taken.
    • Both sides get 2 points for each enemy otherwise incapacitated (not taken prisoner).
    • Both sides get 1 point for any enemy figure that runs off the tabletop.
    • Incapacitating a Battle Group Leader or a Warband Leader is worth 10 points, in addition to any points earned by taking them prisoner if applicable.

The Conquistadores have 1 Warband (think platoon) of 3 Elements (think squads), commanded by Cristóbal de Olid: 2 Conquistador Elements, a Tlaxcalan Element, plus his trusty war dog and a Catholic Priest.

The Aztecs have a Battle Group (think company) of 2 Warbands of three Elements each commanded by Asupacaci. One Aztec Warband is Elite and is made up of of 3 Elite Elements: one Element each of Cuachicque (“Shorn Ones”), Eagle Warriors, and Jaguar Warriors. The second Warband is a “twinned” Veteran/Novice Warband of three Regular Elements – each with 10 figures (most Elements only have 4-5). Each Aztec Warband has a Warband Leader and Asupacaci also has 2 Warrior Priests.

The Spanish have two command and control disadvantages. First, at least one Conquistador Element will start too far way from Cristóbal de Olid, (outside of command radius) and will only activate half as often as the other troops until command can be better established. This condition is to simulate the surprise nature of the Aztec attack. The second disadvantage is that the Tlaxcalan Element cannot “swap dice” with Cristóbal de Olid. Swapping dice is the way that commanders can try at times to influence which of their Elements can activate and do things. This condition is to simulate the language barriers between the two allies.

Initial deployment is important and not known to either player beforehand other than that Cristóbal de Olid is at the Noble’s House with his war dog and the Catholic Priest:

The Spanish and Tlaxcalan Leader and Elements are deployed differently.  The Conquistador Warband Leader, Cristóbal de Olid, deploys at C with his wardog and the Catholic priest.  Each of the three Spanish/Tlaxcalan Elements deploy in 1,2, and 3 based upon a secret pre-game decision of the Spanish/Tlaxcalan commander, who informs the GM (me) as to which Elements he chooses to be at locations 1, 2, and 3.  This decision should occur before the Aztecs deploy.  Only one defending Element starts at each location.  Command radii should be noted before the game starts.  This means that at least one Spanish Element will be out of command and cannot swap dice at the beginning of the game due to the Warband Leader’s 24” command radius.  The Tlaxcalan element cannot swap dice, and therefore cannot be considered out of command radius.    After the Aztecs deploy their troops, the defenders place their forces on the tabletop.  The defenders can be outside of their huts or inside as allowed by the terrain models. All Aztecs troops deploy after the Spanish/Tlaxcalans make their secret deployment known to the GM (see Side B discussion) as Warbands anywhere on the south side of the tabletop 6” from the long end of the mat.

The picture below will help understanding the game set up.

Game set up.

Unfortunately, when I arrived my designated table was only 6′ x 5′, and normally I need bigger! My mat alone is 6′ x 4′. It turned out that the room for miniature games was being used for a flea market, so we got smaller tables. No worries, as I was able to take an unused nearby circular table and put it adjacent to my tabletop for my GM needs. And for the rest of the convention, I got bigger tables too.

The players arrived – and I had a full table of 8 players – all were new to the game except one player, although two others had played Combat Patrol™ before. After the game briefing, the two sides chose deployment locations, and the game was on.

The game is on! The Aztecs had their Elite warband on the left and their Vet/novice Warband on the right. They massed two Vet/Novice Elements and two Elite Elements in the middle gaps, with one Element from Each Warband on the outer flanks. The Spanish put their melee-heavy Element in the out-of -command barracks position, and their arquebus-heavy Element in the closer barracks 3. The Tlaxcalans, with their “machine-gun bows” (as coined by Harry/borderguy190 at Historicon) held down barracks 1 by the cornfield.
And at the cornfield the Tlaxcalans (commanded by Sam) riddled Peter’s vet/novice element. Peter said that was the plan to make sure that the Tlaxcalans dis not interfere with the main attack. That ploy worked, though it did cause his Element to take a lot of casualties.
The Aztec center columns moved up (Steven and Aidan), with the Elite cuachicque taking the brunt of fire from the arquebuses (Mal) – and generating a ton of Morale Checks. With clever use of their Warrior Priests, the Aztecs were able to minimize their Morale pips and stay in the game. Meanwhile, the Spanish to the right of this shot (Matt)got a break and were able to get their out-of-command Element fully activated. At this point, the Spanish thought the game was theirs. It looked that way, but as it turned out, it wasn’t.
That newly activated Element in the center (Matt) advanced into a swarm of Aztecs – and did not fare well in the ensuing fight.
Here I’m doing my best to adjudicate the previously shown scrum as GM. Thanks to Mal Martin for the photo.
The scrum goes badly for the Spanish – and in the rear of this photo you can see , Cristóbal de Olid all alone – and in the open – having moved closer to help activate this now-endangered Element.

The Aztecs got lucky with three sequential activations (they got two extra cards in the deck as a game advantage plus a Heroes card came up). This allowed them to press their attacks, especially against the unloaded arquebusiers. To add to their troubles, the Elite Eagle Warriors and Shorn Ones (cuachicque) successfully went “berserk”. This meant that they would go headlong into their enemy, fearing nothing and not stopping until they were killed or they killed an enemy – and they would fight better too while berserk.

The Spanish arquebus Element gets hit by the berserking cuachicque and Eagle Warriors before they can reload.
The fanatical Aztecs overwhelm the arquebusiers and start dragging them off for sacrifice, including the Catholic priest who was dragging away the gold.

As a coup de grace, Cristóbal de Olid (remember him from above all out in the open?) caught the attention of two Jaguar Warriors with atlatls. Two hits ensued, and , Cristóbal was incapacitated, throwing what little remained of the Spanish into being out of command. Plus his eventual fate would be quite gruesome as a sacrificial captive.

The game ended there and no scoring was needed – the Aztecs had won overwhelmingly. This scenario has gone differently each time that I have run it – and is pretty well-balanced. I will be running it again at HAVOC in April and HUZZAH! in May.

I really want to thank the players, especially Leif for his help teaching the game too. I think that the players enjoyed themselves and the response from them was positive. I would see many of them in the remaining games I ran that weekend. I will post about those other games shortly. They were equally – if not more – epic.

Hope this was a fun read for you!

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.

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!

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