This was a fun convention. I promised that I’d share some photos and some descriptions of the 5 games that I ran here at TotalCon 37. The five games were all Feudal PatrolTM games using my Civilizations Collide supplement. Check out the photos to see what it was all about – and if you played you might just recognize yourself! There are a LOT of photos – hell I ran 5 games!
It’s not easy to both run a game and take pictures. Let me add a caveat – it’s not easy to do both and do justice to the game and to the players’ needs. I was fortunate this time that a lot of the players had experience with Feudal PatrolTM and were very helpful to the new players. It’s been a week since the end of TotalCon 37 – so without further ado, let me get into the games that I ran.
Raid to Satisfy Huitzilopochtli
This game took place on Thursday the 24th at 1 PM. It pits the Aztecs against the Tlaxcalans before the Spanish Conquest. I have run this game many times – and it has won awards at both HUZZAH! and Fall In in 2022. I had not run it at TotalCon, so I thought it appropriate to do so.
I had 8 players for the game.
The Aztecs assault in the middle faltered due to accurate bow shots of the Tlaxcalans. On the Aztec left, a force of Arrow Knights and Jaguar Warriors took the long way around hoping to flank the defenders. On the Aztec right, a veteran/novice force moved up – reinforces by the elite Shorn Ones – and also took some casualties before making it to the very gates of the Temple and the Tlaxcalan leader Xayacamach.
At this point, the Tlaxcalan leader Xayacamach sortied with his signaler, put himself at personal risk, and engaged the Aztecs. His actions reversed the Aztec elites’ attack. The Tlaxcalans also held off the Aztec veterans who were on their left flank and threatening a food resource. back on the Aztec left, the long march of the Arrow Knights and the Jaguar Warriors reached a critical juncture with a threat to the Tlaxcalan corn supply and the rear of their bowmen. With the middle assault no longer a threat, the Tlaxcalan bows redeployed to face the new threat. Loosing a deadly barrage, they killed the Aztec Warband Leader and scattered the remaining attackers.
The final score was 95-41 in favor of the defending Tlaxcalans.
La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway
I had 7 players for this game which took place on Friday the 24th in the morning.
The Tlaxcalans on the mainland managed to drive the Shorn Ones away from the causeway entrance. Meanwhile, the Spanish took a long time to get the bridge installed – and by that time the war canoes were hitting them with missile fire from two sides. The rear guard lost a couple of cavalrymen, but managed to perform their role well against a surge of Jaguar Warriors.
The war canoes made an effort to harry the Conquistadores.
After Turn 4 the bridge is automatically installed and the Spanish get a “Burst of Exuberance” move as they try to make it to the mainland! This was an important objective as getting as few as 1 figure to the mainland would negate a 100 VP for the Aztecs.
On the last card of the last turn, the Spanish had one chance to get at least one figure to the mainland – Cortes’ Catholic priest. The priest had 11″ to sprint – and made 14″! (Good thing he had no armor to weigh him down!).
That effectively took away 100 free points for the Aztecs and won the game for the Conquistadores at the last possible moment. The final score was 71-22. Had the Spanish failed, the score would have been 122-71.
The Battle of Lake Texcoco
On Saturday the 25th, I ran two massive games of the Battle of Lake Texcoco, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.
The morning game was all mayhem – lots of boarding, canoe ramming, and cannon fire. I had seven players.
El Dolar ran aground and was swarmed by Aztec boarders. The other vessels continued towards their goal of shelling the Aztec capital (at the end of the mat where the Aztec players were).
El Gregorio, El Marcos, and El Perro de Guerra moved up to the city (well El Gregorio slammed into it at full speed but got lucky on damage). Cannon fire from El Marcos and El Gregorio rocked Tenochtitlan for 50 points apiece.
The battle was cinematic to be sure. In the end, the Spanish won 383-269 – with their successful artillery fire gaining the win.
I then reset and ran this game again with 8 players – unfortunately with fewer photos.
In this game, there was a lot less boarding by the Aztecs and a lot more ramming of war canoes – sinking a lot of them. As a result, it was a bigger Spanish victory – 391-145. The brigantines El Conquistador, El Perro de Guerra, and El Marcos all hit Tenochtitlan with solid shot for 150 VP.
Arofan Gregory took a very nice photograph of El Marcos (thank you sir) and put it on Facebook – and I’ll share it below:
The Battle of Centla
This was a very full game – 12 players on Sunday!
The Maya were fighting a delaying action – they needed to keep the Spanish from reaching the city or incapacitate half of them. The Spanish needed to incapacitate half of the Maya or reach the city. The Maya can randomly get reinforcements from the dead pile – making it harder for the Spanish to reach that 50% Maya killed level. The Spanish get no reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Tabscoob’s (the Maya chieftain) leadership held his forces together – but taking on the Spanish directly in melee did not go their way.
In the end the Maya were unlucky with reinforcements and the Spanish were effective in their onslaught – resulting in a historical repeat – a Conquistador win.
I really want to thank all the players and especially Leif Magnuson, Brad Gosselin, and Chris Comeau who went above and beyond. I also want thank the whole staff – its a big convention and takes a lot of work. I want to highlight the work of Steven Parenteau and all his staff. Lastly, a big thanks to the incredibly helpful Bryan Clauss who headed up the miniatures section and who assisted in getting me the right table sizes.
Finally, like last year, there was a painting contest. This year, I entered my Conquistador cavalry in the unit category – and won! Yay!
That’s it for TotalCon 37!
Going forward, I’ll be bringing “The Battle of Lake Texcoco” and “The Battle of Centla” to HMGS Cold Wars next week, plus “The Surprise Raid on the Spanish Outpost”. At the end of March, at HAVOC, I’ll be bringing “The Battle of Lake Texcoco” and “The Battle of Centla” as well as two “Wars of Ozz” games. I need to submit my games for HUZZAH! in May – and I’ll be doing that shortly.
I hope that you enjoyed this post – it’s been hectic with preparing for these conventions all so closely spaced together – but in the end I was very happy with how TotalCon 37 went – and I hope to repeat this at the other two planned gaming conventions.
I will be running 4 Feudal Patrol™ games at the HMGS Fall In® gaming convention next week in Lancaster, PA. In 2022, I have been running Aztec/Mesoamerica/Spanish Conquest themed games at multiple gaming conventions – and they all have been well-received. I am really looking forward to running these games at Fall In® in the H.A.W.K.’s room – and I hope to see some of you there.
So, you ask, what are you running Mark, and when? Well, I aim to please – so let me answer that!
Friday, November 4th from 9 AM to 1 PM, Paradise Room
I will be running my “Raid to Satisfy Huitzilopochtli”. It’s a pre-Spanish Conquest fight between the Aztecs and their neighbors the Tlaxcalans. The Aztecs attempt to conduct a raid of a Tlaxcalan village to gain captives for slavery and blood sacrifice, and the Tlaxcalans will fight back!
Friday, November 4th from 7 PM to 11 PM, Paradise Room
Later that day, I will be teaming up with Greg Priebe of the H.A.W.K.’s to run a “what if” scenario. Let’s say a Viking raiding party got lost and while trying to get to Greenland and wound up in Tenochtitlan. Never to pass up the opportunity for looting and pillaging, they decide to make the best of it, but the Aztecs have other plans. I think this will be a LOT of fun. Greg wrote the rules for the Feudal Patrol™Vikings supplement – and we will use my Aztec supplement rules as well (Civilizations Collide). featuring a 1200’s Viking raid on the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan!
Saturday, November 5th from 2 PM to 6 PM, Paradise Room
Saturday, November 5th from 7 PM to 11 PM, Paradise Room
On Saturday, I will be running a Feudal Patrol™ naval game – this time the epic Battle of Lake Texcoco.
TWICE! Once in the afternoon and once in the evening. After I ran this at HUZZAH! in Maine – I knew it was a hit.
The history is this – back in the summer of 1521 Cortes had a problem. To seize control of the Aztec island capital of Tenochtitlan, he realized that he needed to control the surrounding waters of Lake Texcoco (where Mexico City is now – the lake is long-gone). This meant building a fleet. Cortes had his troops build small brigantines in sections. These prefabricated pieces were then carried by his Tlaxcalan allies to the shore of Lake Texcoco, where 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. This is the basis of this game.
So, you will have two chances to jump in on this game!
To my regular readers – YES I have been neglecting this blog – more a case of a lot hitting my schedule (mostly golf) – and I will be catching up with some of the miniatures that I have painted up and some games that I have run going forward. In the meantime, I am looking forward to reconnecting with you al soon – and I appreciate those who kindly checked in on me to see if I had assumed room temperature yet.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
War wagons were wooden carts for deploying missile troops. They had slits in them for crossbowmen and arquebusiers to be able to fire from while having some protection against enemy missile weapons. I think of them as wooden APC’s (WPC’s maybe?). Hernan Cortes used them as he was besieged in Tenochtitlan in 1520 – yes – over 500 years ago now.
This is Part 4 of my series on “Building an Aztec Cityscape”. The war wagons were so integral to the events in 1520 that I needed to have some as part of my cityscape. If you have missed the other parts, they are:
The first use of a war wagon in medieval Europe is ascribed to the Hussites during the Hussite Wars (1420-1434) in Bohemia. They were horse-drawn and would be linked together like a mobile fort.
Nearly 100 years later, Cortes would build some similar ones. These would be constructed as a measure of desperation to escape the Aztec capital. Cortes’ war wagons were thrown together during the time when they were besieged by the Aztecs in Tenochtitlan.
I need to give you a condensed chronological synopsis – the history of this time is quite full of twist, turns, and intrigue. The timeline is confusing but important for context. Therefore, listed here below is a condensed chronology with respect to the use of war wagons and a couple of possible wargame scenarios that I am working to build:
November 18, 1518 – Cortes departs the Spanish colony of Santiago de Cuba with his expedition – before he could be detained by Lieutenant Governor Velazquez (who had originally commissioned his expedition). Cortes leaves abruptly so that the Governor (who had justifiable suspicions about Cortes and his motives) could not relieve and replace him prior to his departure.
February 1o, 1519 – After fitting out in Trinidad and San Cristobal de la Habana, Cortes sails for Mexico.
March 22, 1519- Cortes arrives in Mesoamerica. He will fight and win several battles with both the Maya and the Tlaxcalans up until later in 1519. By that time, his victories will have given him a few key assets. One of these, from the Maya, was a slave girl named Malintzin aka La Malinche who was to serve Cortes as a key translator, and later, his mistress. The second was a post-conflict alliance secured with the Tlaxcalans, whose warriors would provide the bulk of Cortes’ forces.
November 1, 1519 – Cortes begins his march to Tenochtitlan to try to meet Montezuma II.
November 8, 1519 – Cortes arrives at Tenochtitlan and meets Montezuma II. He and his contingent are welcomed to the city and stay in it.
November 14, 1519 – through a ruse, Cortes successfully seizes Montezuma II and makes of him a puppet/hostage.
March 5, 1520 – Meanwhile, back in Cuba, Lieutenant Governor Velazquez sends an expedition led by Panfilo de Narvaez to intercept Cortes
April 19, 1520 – Narvaez and his troops arrive in Mexico. Cortes, with some of his Conquistadores, leaves Tenochtitlan to deal with this internecine threat. He leaves behind a trusted lieutenant, Pedro de Alvarado, in charge of the remaining Spanish/Tlaxcalan forces in Tenochtitlan.
May 16, 1520 – The Aztec nobility and elite troops in Tenochtitlan celebrate the Festival of Toxcatl. It is a large assembly of all the elite and elite military of the city, who are unarmed and dancing in a city square or plaza. Alvarado, afraid that the celebration is a prelude to an attempted massacre on them, seals off the plaza where the dancing/celebration is taking place. His Conquistadores methodically move through the throng and murder or capture every possible Aztec. One of the captured elites is Cuitlahuac, Montezuma II’s brother.
May 29, 1520 – Back on the coast, Cortes defeats Narvaez (despite being outnumbered by Narvaez by 2:1). He incorporates Narvaez’ surrendered troops into his forces and returns with them to Tenochtitlan on June 24th . (This Conquistador-on-Conquistador fight would be a good possible scenario for a wargame (using my Civilizations Collide supplement to Buck Surdu’s Feudal Patrol™rules).
June 2, 1520 – The Aztecs have been fully enraged since the festival massacre – and the situation is dire for the Conquistadores.
June 25, 1520 – In an attempt to mollify the Aztecs, Cortes releases Cuitlahuac. This was a rare strategic error. Immediately, Cuitlahuac, who rightly viewed his brother to be no more than a Spanish puppet, assumes Montezuma II’s powers and takes command of the siege of the Spanish as the new Aztec Emperor. The Spanish are besieged and are holed up in the Palace of Axayacatl. The Aztecs attempt to burn the Spanish out of the palace, but are repulsed by cannon and arquebus fire.
June 27, 1520 – Cortes forces Montezuma II to go to the roof of Palace of Axayacatl to plead with the Aztecs to stop the fighting. He is struck in the head by a rock from a sling and is gravely injured. At the same time, Cortes instructs his troops to scavenge wood from the Palace of Axayacatl and build several war wagons. His hope was that by using war wagons he could protect his own missile troops from the slings and arrows of the Aztecs – and make it easier for the Conquistadores to escape Tenochtitlan and survive.
June 28, 1520 – Cortes makes his first attempt with his war wagons to reach the causeways. He loads them with crossbowmen and arquebusiers, and supports them on the ground with sword and buckler men, and cannon (probably falconets and maybe lombards). Their movements are not powered by horses, but by the Spanish themselves. The Conquistadores fight bravely, but are pushed back. (This would be a possible scenario for a wargame on the cityscape with the war wagons).
June 29, 1520 – Cortes decides that the Temple of Yopico, a tall structure, was enabling the Aztecs to be able to hit his troops with enfilading missile fire from above. This is his second use of his war wagons, and he literally used them in a half-circle (yes, “circling the wagons”). He uses them similarly as before to help the Conquistadores to reach the Temple. This time they were tactically successful. However, the war wagons were to take so much damage that they are destroyed in the process. Cortes, beneath his personal banner, successfully leads his troops to ascend the 100 steps of the temple, killing many war priests and setting fire to the structure. But, the Conquistadores cannot hold the position against the Aztec numbers and are pushed back. (This – the assault on the Temple of Yopico – would be a second possible scenario for a wargame on the cityscape with the war wagons).
June 30, 1520 – Montezuma II either dies of his head wound, or is killed by the Conquistadores – accounts differ.
July 1, 2020 – La Noche Triste (the Night of Sorrows or the Sad Night) – the Spanish break out of Tenochtitlan at a high cost in lives, materiel, and looted treasure. (This – La Noche Triste – would be a possible scenario for a wargame on the cityscape and/or just the causeways with or without the war wagons).
Of course, then followed the Battle of Otumba, where Cortes used his cavalry to save his entire force against overwhelming odds. Eventually, he was able to regroup and with the help of brigantines, make a successful assault and conquer the city of Tenochtitlan. And yes, I have brigantines in the queue, along with war canoes. Plus I will be adding the two naval types (brigantines and war canoes) to the next version of myCivilizations Collide supplement – along with these two scenarios.
The only good image I can find of war wagon use comes from the cover of Sheppard, Si. (2018). Tenochtitlan: 1519-21. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, shown below. It is an excellent resource, and I do recommend it. There is a larger blow up of the same picture in the book – and you can see the war wagons in the lower right hand side at the base of the temple.
Enough background information (at least I hope). In looking for war wagons, I was challenged. I did consider scratch building some until I discovered these at Gringo 40’s in the UK in their 28mm Conquistador section.
Yes! I had found my solution! I ordered four from them, and the company was great. They even gave me a free Cortes figure (which I will paint soon I hope). Even better, these were solid METAL. Assembly was just adding the undercarriage axle supports, the wheels, and a wheel spacer. There are two benches inside and I can get two figures into the wagon. One challenge faced me that was new – no brush or angled brush would reach under the benches for painting. They do look nice though.
I then used various browns (I list all my paints and more at the end of this post). to approximate a used wood tone. After all, these war wagons were made from old recycled lumber. At this point in the project, I still wondered how I was going to get paint etc. under the benches, as well as how I was going to varnish them. As you may imagine, these are heavy! I decided that they needed a “dip” – in some Army Painter dip. To retrieve them without a huge mess, I used a pot I bought from a Salvation Army Thrift store, some twine from the hardware store, and an old piece of balsa.
I needed to do more shading and some dry brushing after the dip, and then I spray varnished them outside (as I could for once).
As this is the penultimate (love that word) post in the series, I will share some action shots below of the war wagons on the cityscape.
I think these will be very fun in a game. I just need to write rules specifically for their use.
The next post will be….(insert drumroll)…the FINAL REVEAL.
I hope to have a video link as well as pictures of the cityscape for you. These, because they are “vehicles” and were completed in July and August, all count as more of my entries into Dave’s Season of Scenery Challenge! Thanks so much for looking. I hope that you enjoyed the brief history and the war wagons themselves.
Please let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments section! And the FINAL REVEAL is coming!!!
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 TERRAIN PIECES/MODELS:
It’s my blogaversary! I started this blog 6 years ago today on March 19th, 2015!! It all started with this post – The Story of the Nightmare Legion. It’s been a fun journey.
I started this blog to share my minis and to share stuff that I learned after an extended absence from the hobby. I wanted to help with lessons learned and the like. Since then it’s been a blast, and I really appreciate all of you who read and follow this little blog of mine! I certainly have been inspired by yours.
This current post was one with which I struggled as far as deciding on whether or not to do write it as it involves making stuff to make my games easier for the players and for me as a GM. In the end, I was encouraged to give it a go (thanks IRO and TIM!). So, this post will be more of a how to (and a throwback to some of my earlier projects) in terms of stuff I have conceived of, designed, and built for my Feudal Patrol™ games using my supplement Civilizations Collide. After reading this, you might have some new ideas, you might know about some new materials, or you might just think that I am nuts. After all, the stuff I will show took 3+weeks to make.
Now, before I go any further, I want to emphasize that I did not need to do any of these projects to play Feudal Patrol™. Period. I did because they suited my personal needs and – well – I get thoughts of stuff in my head that need realization.
Buck’s Feudal Patrol rules have more than adequate tools and game aids. They are fantastic. My goals here were for myself so that I can make my games easier for me mainly. Also, with 216 available figures for a game of Civilizations Collide, I needed some tools if I am going to provide CHOICE and AGENCY to my players.
To accomplish this, I have broken down my efforts into “challenges” with some supporting pics and links for the materials and tools. I hope that you find them interesting as they are really how I built “stuff” for my games.
The Under-Base Label Challenge
Challenge: The Conquistadores arrived in Mesoamerica in the early 16th Century and there had been many different Mesoamerican civilizations for centuries prior to that. “Uniforms” in this era were anything but uniform. In the game, Warbands and Elements within Warbands are composed of figures that are attired, armored, and armed differently. In terms of both figure identification and using the points system to build Elements and Warbands, this poses a challenge, especially with my 216 available figures. Having thought of this from the beginning of this project, I had kept an identification Excel spreadsheet for all 216 figures throughout the project – which helped immeasurably with having identification data for each figure. I did take many pictures and also wrote (somewhat illegibly as is my curse) on the bottoms of the figures’ bases with a Sharpie. However, I needed a clear and legible solution for the tabletop.
Goal: Make all figures easily and individually identifiable. Ideally, have a system that identifies each figure and the points cost for each under the 1” and 1.25″ steel washer bases.
Solution: Create custom labels for use under the 1” and 1.25″ steel washer bases.
Process: Using PowerPoint, I designed a ¾” round label that has both the figure identification number and the figure point value on it. I cut and pasted additional circles and aligned them on the sheet for future removal. Alignment of the circles and editing them was easy with PowerPoint – and was very helpful in later steps with the paper trimmer. I filled one sheet or slide in PowerPoint full of the circles. At that point all I needed to do was to copy that entire sheet and make a second sheet, and so on. This enabled me to edit each circle on the subsequent sheets for all 216 figures. I inputted the figure numbers and the point values from my master spreadsheet onto the circles. I used a color code for the round labels by type – grey for the Conquistadores, gold for the Aztecs, and red for the Tlaxcalans. I also used a thick point circle on the border of the circles – I used 1.5 but I could have gone thicker. The thicker borders help with aligning them for punching out later. I then printed off the sheets of labels on Avery™ #8165 8.5” x 11” Trueblock® shipping labels that I bought at Staples. I took each sheet and used my Fiskars® SureCut™ Deluxe Paper Trimmer (from Michaels) to cut thin strips holding multiple labels. This made punching out the labels easier. I used my 5/8” punch from Michaels (Lever Punch, Circle by Recollections™), punch out the labels. Even though the punch was 5/8” versus the 3/4” circle – they aligned better – as the thick point border helped me to position the strip. The punch has a clear underside so you can see if you are aligned or not. I affixed the labels to the underside of each base of each of the 216 figures. I store and transport my figures in 11-liter Really Useful Boxes (which I bought from Staples but this UK company has their own website too in the US) lined with Aleene’s® Magnetic Tacky Sheets™ (which Michaels sometimes carries too). The labels did not impede the magnetic attraction that I needed because they were smaller in diameter than the 1” bases – and were centered on the washers – leaving enough steel available to get a “bite”.
End result: Every figure now has a printed label with its ID number and point value printed on it underneath as you see below.
The Really Useful Box Organization Challenge
Challenge: I can store and transport each of the figures in my Really Useful Boxes, but setting up a game and gathering figures from 216 figures for a warband can be too time-consuming if one has to look at each figure’s undersides! I needed to make my Really Useful Boxes even more useful.
Goal: Make my Really Useful Boxes more organized and more functional such that each figure has an easily identifiable slot for selection and also to speed pick up after a game.
Solution: Design and build a system within each Really Useful Box that facilitates easy figure identification for both gathering figures for a game and picking them up after a game while preserving any benefits for storage and transport.
Process: Each 11-liter Really Useful Box is about 12” x 14.5”. I could have gone through endless iterations of how to organize the figures so that they would fit, and never be 100% sure my set up would work in reality. I came up with an idea that I think worked. Here again I went to PowerPoint. Most of my figures are on 1” bases, but a few are on 1.25” bases. I decided that I would make 3/8” labeling strips in layers upon which I could affix the figure identification numbers. I wanted each figure to have 1/8” clearance on both sides, so each row would be 1.5”. To verify how this would work, I made shapes in PowerPoint at 50% scale such that they fit on the screen. The shapes included how much space I would need for each type of figure. This really worked – and is a process that I will use again. You can see below my rough plan. Once I had my rough design, employing my Fiskars® SureCut™ Deluxe Paper Trimmer I cut strips of card stock and affixed them to the magnetically-lines Really Useful Boxes with small balls of poster tack. Then I made a second set of card stock strips to go on top of the first sets, affixing them with poster tack. Lastly, I just printed off my Excel spreadsheet pages onto card stock with the figure identification numbers on them, trimmed them up, and affixing them to the now-raised card stock “line” with poster tack. For the Conquistador cavalry, I made little corrals as they were in need of a bit more support. I then put all of the figures into the boxes as you see below – I ended up needing 4 boxes.
End result: Every figure has a labeled slot as you see below.
The Movement Tray Challenge
Challenge: I needed a safer way to transport figures to and from the tabletop.
Goal: Design and make a couple of magnetically-lined movement trays.
Process: This was pretty simple. I just used some old 1/8” thick balsa wood under two Aleene’s® Magnetic Tacky Sheets™ and reinforced the glue with wood glue. After being weighted down, the sheets were firmly attached.
End result: Success – I have two movement boards!
The “Menu” Challenge
Challenge: Many of my games will be virtual, and some will be at convention games. I needed a simple way to convey two key concepts. First, I needed to present to the players the options that they had available with regards to figures’ stats and cost. Secondly, I needed to help them organize their troops – especially as Aztecs and Tlaxcalans have special organizations. In my games they are bigger and can have novice warriors attached. Normally, an Element in Feudal Patrol™ is 4-5 figures plus a leader figure. A Warband consists of 2-4 Elements plus a Warband Leader. To reflect how the Aztecs waged war, their Elements are bigger – adding up to 5 novice warriors to each Element (if they pay the point costs of course). This is useful as the novices can be assigned to drag away any incapacitated enemy for either sacrifice or slavery – which is historically in line with what they actually did do. Killing an enemy was regarded as “clumsy”. Additionally, each Mesoamerican Warband can have a Warrior Priest, who can both fight and help with Aztec or Tlaxcalan Morale results during a battle. At this point, my players could look at the figures in the boxes, but not have any information save the figure number, what he’s carrying and wearing, and the point value (if you pick one up to see the label). Certainly, this would not be efficient.
Goal: Design and make a simple way (a “menu” system) for players to make informed choices for both virtual and in-person games.
Process: What I did here was to go back to my Excel spreadsheet and size up the data to fit on a dashboard (more on that in a bit). Then I adapted Buck Surdu’s excellent data cards to fit on a single strip in Excel that would fit approximately 8” wide and 3/8” high. These I would make for each of my 216 figures – plus 4 additional to represent having the Army leader (Cortes or Pizarro) as a mounted versus dismounted choice for the Conquistadores. Each section of the Word document (basically a “menu” of figure choices) was organized as you see below. I then cut and pasted the strips from Excel into Word as pictures (paste special). I then added some brief information about the figures, as well as a picture of each of the 216 to help further identify the players’ options. Lastly, I created worksheets at the end of each “menu” to help the players build their forces. To do this, I went back to PowerPoint, and created the shapes that I wanted for the worksheets. I saved each individual slide as a JPEG (make sure you choose “Just This One” when it asks, and then edited the JPEG size. If it did not work, I just went back to the PowerPoint, resized, resaved as a JPEG, and repasted in Word. You can see the results below.
End result: I have three good menus that I can email or hand out to players at the beginning of a game and they will speed up the time for players to make their troop choices. As a side note, I prefer that players get to make choices in games!
The Dashboard and Stat Strip Challenge
Challenge: The players need a quick and easy reference system that designates their troops’ stats, and one that does not take up a lot of space.
Goal: Design and build a system of sufficient dashboards and supporting elements of appropriate ease and flexibility such that the players can play easier and faster and have more fun.
Process: I do like gaming systems and setups that are flexible – that is giving players adequate AGENCY. As you have read, the menus allow the players to make their choices, but to have them write down all data at the game’s beginning could be a bit of a pain. Plus, there can be a variety of differnt types of figures in some Elements. My solution was to build on what I already had been developing. I designed a dashboard in Excel that would accommodate being printed off on card stock and placed in a 5.5” x 8.5” sheet protector such as this one from Staples. And remember the stat lines from the menus? I used them to fit on the dashboards. How you say? Well first, I special-ordered steel base material in sizes of 5.5” x 8.5” from Wargames Accessories. The steel sheets do have some rough edges – which I covered with scrap pieces from the Avery shipping labels with no problems. These steel sheets fit inside the sheet protectors and under the dashboards – and I made 31 of these. Then I cut and pasted each individual stat lines into Word as pictures. Then I printed off each of these 216 + 4 stat lines (220 in total) onto strips of card stock and trimmed them with the paper trimmer to fit on the dashboards. To affix them to the dashboards, I needed magnetic strips – 220 of them. I found a really nice source on Amazon of 8.5” x 11” sheets made by Craftopia called Adhesive Magnetic Sheets that are the best that I have found. Again, my paper trimmer helped here to trim the magnetic strips to ¼” size width (fitting nicely under the 3/8” wide stat strips). I did need to replace my Fiskars blade once and augment that effort with scissors. Each of the 220 strips could be now be added to the dashboards, but how to organize and store these! My answer would come from Wal-Mart. Cookie sheets! I found inexpensive cookie sheets (see photo below) for $1.50 each that stack together. I organized the strips as you see below and added troop categories – basically mirroring the menus.
End result: I have a pretty decent system now for organizing a game. I have every figure’s stat line on a removable magnetically-backed card on 10 stackable cookie sheets. These stat lines fit perfectly on sheet protector-encased steel dashboards.
The Tabletop ID Challenge
Challenge: Using the dashboards is useful, but telling which figure is which on the tabletop can be a challenge, especially virtually. As with the previous challenges, the figure’s lack of uniformity poses a gaming identification challenge.
Goal: Design and create a system that would allow for easy identification of the figures but would not overly detract from the aesthetic of the game.
Process: I thought that as I used steel washers under my figures, my best option was to try something else in the realm of magnets. But what? I used some refrigerator magnets as prototypes of “under-magnets”, developed the concept, and then used PowerPoint to refine it. However, the concept of cutting out a few hundred magnets by hand was not appealing to me – plus I saw that they would look rough on the edges. I contacted Fridgedoor in Quincy, MA and worked with them to make me the magnets. There did not need to be any fancy printing on the bottom (non-magnetic) side as I knew that would be too tough and expensive. I had them make 20 mil thick sheets with each sheet having 11 of the under-magnets that could be easily popped out. One side (facing the figure) would be magnetic and the other printed black. The square jutting out on the magnetic side would be where I would affix labels for the figures. I used PowerPoint to make sets of differently colored and designed labels for the figures’ little jutting square. For the Elements, I made L, 1-10, and X (L for the Leader, 1-10 for the figure in the Element, and X for the baggie I would store them in). Then I printed them off, trimmed them, and affixed them. I ended up with 34 sets bags of under-magnets in individual little zip lock with ID numbers. This was made up of 33 sets of 11 and 1 set of 24 (different for Warband Leaders, Army Leaders, and Warrior Priests) for a grand total of 387 total under-magnets. I stored these in a small Really Useful Box, which in turn goes into another Really Useful Box for the game (see below).
End result: I have now a soup-to-nuts system for setting up and running my game more efficiently for both virtual and in-person games that is useful and easily transported.
I hope that you enjoyed this blog (and all the other ones for the last 6 years!). Just for kicks, please take a look at my very first post, The Story of the Nightmare Legion. Here’s hoping I keep doing more and reading and more of yours as well – and let me know if any of my somewhat insane stuff inspires you or if I need to be medicated – just asking!
And here’s a pic for IRO who asked for a T-shirt shot in March. Not ready for selfies I guess.
I’ll be announcing my next free giveaway contest soon – this time I’ve got some terrain to do and if you guess closest you can win stuff FREE from me. Just like in the last contest!
Don’t forget to let share your thoughts in the comments section!
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”
Game Aids and Tools for Feudal Patrol games using the Civilizations Collide Supplement (this post)
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)
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)
Ral Partha had a historical line of 25mm figures that were cast and sold back in the 1980’s. One of them was the “1200 A.D” line, which included Aztec figures, and one of their blister packs was “Aztec Warrior Priests”. It had 6 figures with two poses. Also supplied were 3 different weapons, and shields for each figure.
On my previous post on Tlaxcalans, I mentioned that I needed to have some warrior priests for their army. Unfortunately, I could not find a suitable 28mm version for the Tlaxcalans. I do have some Wargames Foundry Aztec Warrior Priests in the painting queue but they were not going to be right as Tlaxcalans in my view.
I did have (among several other blisters from that era) a single blister pack of 6 figures of Ral Partha 42-302. Now these were Aztecs, not Tlaxcalans, and 25mm size, not 28mm. Generally 28mm figures are 1:61-1:68 range, and 25mm figures are 1:68-1:71 range in scale. So from a gaming distance, I think that they will work. I have already incorporated other 25mm figures such as the historical Eagle Warriors from Tin Soldier and the ahistorical Ral Partha Arrow Warriors into my Aztec forces for the upcoming launch of Buck Surdu’s Feudal PatrolTMskirmish tabletop war game. (as a side note – my Civilizations Collide supplement will cover this period, and will be a free download from the website).
Getting back to filling the Tlaxcalan ranks with some Warrior Priests – I chose to paint the 42-302 figures up in Tlaxcalan colors and war paint. It allowed me to make use of the figures – which have been waiting 32 years to be painted anyways – and to not add any more to my unpainted stuff. Sometimes you just have to find a way to liberate the unpainted hordes! When they get deployed in my supplement, Warrior Priests are add-on troops that get individually attached to units. They have the ability to help keep a unit they are attached to from breaking morale, and also can cause a defeated non-Spanish enemy to be more likely to want to flee the battlefield.
The six figures were more than enough to round out my Tlaxcalans. It’s always a challenge to go smaller than usual in painting, and these figures were no exception. One initial issue was the height, which I “leveled” by adding a 3/4″ x 1/8″ small washer on the 1″ washer base. This was to make the height disparity less noticeable. I also gave the somewhat pliable weapons a light coat of Gorilla Glue to stiffen them up a bit
A second challenge was capturing the delicate details on the figures. Here, I decided to steal an idea I have seen on Chris Palmer’s blog on the H.A.W.K.’s combined blog site – that is to prime figures white and use a dark wash over that to help with details. I think it helped – see the examples of WIP below.
Here is a second example:
The Tlaxcalans favored red loincloths and headbands – so those were easy to add. The war paint design mix that I used was similar to my previous group – a red-striped over white design or a black mask (or none at all). As for shield, I perused Steven’s Balagan and my Osprey books for inspiration (while modifying the colors a bit).
Three of the models had a lovely little (ok, tiny) engraved skull at their waists on a bone necklace. I was unaware of this engraved skull aspect of Mesoamerican “art”. You can see a modern interpretive example from Amazon here and shown below:
I tried out my new Army Painter drybrush (the smallest one) and was very happy how well it performed, especially on the skulls. The bristles are round and it is just the right stiffness. Here is the link and the photo below if you are interested:
Back to painting the models, my goal was to get a nice blending on the flesh before varnishing the figures. They do end up shiny from the Army Painter Flesh Wash, but with matte varnish the shine goes completely away.
Once I added the extra washer, you could see that the elevation on the base could pose a flocking issue – such that it would look “rounded” under the flocking. To deal with this, I glued some very small pieces of modeling talus on the washers to more or less camouflage the underlying round shapes. I would leave some of that exposed as well once flocked.
So let’s see the finished models! As usual, I gave each a number for future reference and creation of gaming aids:
TWP1 – armed with a tepoztopilli (obsidian-edged thrusting spear), and no war paint. Interestingly this pose of the two types in the blister was a lefty!
TWP2 – armed with a cuauhololli (round-headed club), with no war paint.
TWP3 – armed with a macuahuitl (obsidian-edged club/sword), again no war paint.
TWP4 – armed with a tepoztopilli (obsidian-edged thrusting spear), and the red-stripes-over-white war paint. This pose of the two types in the blister was right-handed!
TWP5 – armed with a cuauhololli (round-headed club), wearing the black mask war paint.
TWP6 – armed with a macuahuitl (obsidian-edged club/sword), and the red-stripes-over-white war paint.
I think that they can safely share the same gaming tabletop!
This project also allowed me to help with one of my favorite websites, the Lost Minis Wiki, which is a fantastic resource for OOP stuff, especially from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Here is the entry photo for this blister.
So, my Tlaxcalan forces are done – I have now 32 figures for their army. When added to the 71 Aztecs that I have done, that brings me to over 100!
Thanks for taking a look – below you’ll find my updated details list for the overall project and this particular one (paints, etc. used).
Miscellaneous details and references for those interested:
Posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide”
The Tlaxcalans were a Nahua people that were at a constant state of war with the Aztecs of the Triple Alliance for decades. The Aztecs never fully conquered the Tlaxcalans, as they found them to be a far more useful source of slave labor, sacrificial victims, and resources than as a vassal state. The Aztecs were able to take these captives and supplies by allowing the Tlaxcalans to merely exist – and by challenging them repeatedly to a series of “Flower Wars”. Flower Wars were basically ritualized arranged gang-like “throw downs” where usually the Aztecs would emerge victorious, as they were a larger and far more powerful empire based in Tenochtitlan. Certainly, with this level of abuse, there was no love lost between the Tlaxcalans and the Aztecs.
Into this theater of conflict came a new revolutionary factor in the early 16th century. Hernan Cortes and his Conquistadores arrived in Mesoamerica in February of 1519. In September of that year, he encountered the Tlaxcalans and briefly fought them – as the Tlaxcalans were unaware of who the Conquistadores were or from whence they came. Both sides came to peace terms relatively quickly after some tough fighting – during which mutual respect was gained for their respective courage and capabilities in battle. The Tlaxcalans informed Cortes of the vast riches (especially in terms of gold) of Tenochtitlan and their emperor, Montezuma II. The Tlaxcalans happily joined the Spanish on their march to Tenochtitlan and indeed were staunch allies for them. Indeed, without the Tlaxcalans who formed the bulk of Cortes’ forces, the Spanish would never have been able to defeat the Aztecs during their conquest of New Spain.
I have been working on building Aztec, Tlaxcalan, and Spanish forces for the upcoming launch of my rules supplement for Buck Surdu’s Feudal PatrolTMskirmish tabletop war game. My supplement will be a free download from the website and will be called Civilizations Collide. The supplement will cover many aspects of the Spanish Conquest to include the Aztecs, the Inca, the Maya, and more. Back in August, I began to work on the Tlaxcalans. I was working on my Tlaxcalan Archers, (which you can read about here), and quickly realized that the level of detail that I wanted to achieve on these figures could not be achieved if I was to work on too many at a time. Therefore, I broke up the project into two phases. The first phase was the completion of the 8 Tlaxcalan Archers. For the second phase – which this post concerns – I had 18 figures, all from Outpost Wargames Services via their US distributor, Badger Games. Eight were from TX2 “Tlaxcalan Novice Warriors in Padded Vest”; eight were from TX3b “Elite Warrior in Feather Costume”; and two were from TXC01 “Tlaxcalan Captain and Conch Blower. These are all 28mm in scale and metal. Still, this two-phase approach took me a lot longer than I had expected to take to finish these – primarily as there were (as you will see) multiple shields, weapons, and backbanners to paint and assemble. As source materials I used both multiple Osprey books and especially the two blog posts from Steven’s Balagan blog on Tlaxcalan painting and especiallyhis post on shield painting and design. These are fantastic resources and I recommend them highly for anyone interested in the period in addition to the Osprey books. I also recommend Badger Games as a source for these figures as well as those they sell from other manufacturers.
I will generally show some WIP stuff and discuss some of the aspects and challenges of the project and how I dealt with them. I’ll end with a recap of where the overall project progress is now, and what paints and stuff I used here. I did not take as many WIP shots as I normally do because while I have tackled more figures at a time previously, this project phase kept me very busy (and as this was during golf season, that took some hobby time too!). If WIP shots are not for you, just scroll down to the “Eye Candy” section to see how they all came out. With all of the photos – just click on them if you want a bigger view.
TX2 “Tlaxcalan Novice Warriors in Padded Vest” WIP Shots
I chose to try to paint all of the separate components (figures, shields, weapons) before assembly. I did find that I had a bit of difficulty getting certain the weapons to fit easily to some models so I ended up switching between issuing a macuahuitl (broadsword/club-type with obsidian edges) or a tepoztopilli (obsidian-edged thrusting spear) for a few. I should have tried to widen the figures’ hands a bit more than I did. Certainly, I think using Citadel “Apothecary White” contrast paint on the white ichcahuipilli (quilted cotton vest armor) was a big win.
TX3b “Elite Warrior in Feather Costume” WIP Shots
The Tlaxcalan Elites would be a bigger challenge – primarily because in addition to the figures, weapons, and shields, each had a huge (and relatively heavy model-wise) feather backbanner. I ended up using a wooden jig to hold them during the project in between painting colors. According to my research, there were other types of backbanners – and even this type (TX3b) was supposed to have the white egret backbanner as an option. All I had were 8 of the same type of backbanners- so I diverged a bit with color selections on the center section to aid with tabletop identification. I also decided to paint them a bit differently. I used Citadel “Nuln Oil” as a wash immediately after priming white. This allowed me to get better shading – especially with subsequent uses of contrast paints on the feathers. After I painted the backbanners, I applied a satin varnish to preserve the brighter colors as I used a final matte varnish at the end of the assembly. Clearly, between the costume and the feathered backbanner, these elites had a lot of “battle plumage”! Historically, fighting in melee with the backbanner on must have been tough. I do wish I had had one of the egret backbanners, but not enough to buy any more…yet.
I did paint the elite figures a bit differently as well. I find that dry brushing over contrast paints leads to too much abrasion and wear on the contrast-painted areas. These Tlaxcalan elites have a nice feathered costume, and I wanted to bring that aspect out. So, I painted the figures’ flesh first, then similarly applied Citadel “Nuln Oil” as a wash. Then I dry brushed the costume with Citadel “Hexos Palesun”, followed by an wash-like application of Citadel “Iyanden Yellow” contrast paint thinned with Citadel “Contrast Medium”. My only change going forward would be to paint the flesh base after as of course I had to cover up some errant dry brushing.
TXC01 – “Tlaxcalan Captain with Conch Blower”
Finally, I wanted to add some leadership for the group. For painting, I followed a similar path as described above for the elites and the novices.
Notes on Painting Shields, Assembly, and Basing
As discussed, this project took a lot of time on details. Each figure had its own distinctive shield design. After free-handing these, I used a satin varnish similar what I did on the backbanners.
The shields were affixed with a “sandwich” of E6000 epoxy and Gorilla Glue. The weapons were attached with Gorilla Glue. Assembling the backbanners was trickier. They weighed a lot, and I wanted to make sure that they would be set up for both tabletop survival and looking good. I used Gorilla Glue on them, and then finished off the mount with green stuff. This necessitated yet another wait for curing. I primed the green stuff black and left it black as I liked it better than the brown I originally planned. Better yet, it is solid, and will support the figure as it is picked up!
As for basing, I probably do too much, but I think bases are so important. This time I did the bases before affixing any weapons, shields, or backbanners. I used Army Painter Brown Battlefields with PVA (Elmer’s) glue. I then add two kinds of Vallejo pigments with Vallejo airbrush thinner. Once that is dry (again a wait) I drybrush the base with four different shades of tan. After varnish, the last step is to add some static grass with PVA, and gently vacuum that mix (once a bit tacky) so that the grass gets a little frilly.
The absolute last thing I do after final matte varnish is added and static grass is to highlight the obsidian-edged weapons with some Vallejo Model Color “Glossy Black”.
For shots here, I got a new background from previous posts – and added some cacti that I had flocked and washed. Hope it adds to the shots!
TXN1 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl.
TXN2 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and is armed with a tepoztopilli. Also has the “thick-lipped” shield.
TXN3 – has the black mask war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl.
TXN4 – has the black mask war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl.
TXN5 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and a different head cover, and is armed with a macuahuitl.
TXN6 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and a different head cover, and is armed with a tepoztopilli.
TXN7 – has the black mask war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl.
TXN8 – has no war paint and is armed with a tepoztopilli.
Tlaxcalan Elite Warriors
TXE1 – has no war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl. The center of his backbanner is tan.
TXE2 – has no war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl. The center of his backbanner is yellowish-tan.
TXE3 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl. The center of his backbanner is yellowish-tan.
TXE4 – has the black mask war paint and is armed with a tepoztopilli. The center of his backbanner is light green.
TXE5 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and is armed with a tepoztopilli. The center of his backbanner is tan.
TXE6 – has the black mask war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl. The center of his backbanner is bright white.
TXE7 – has the red-striped-over-white war paint and is armed with a tepoztopilli. The center of his backbanner is bright white.
TXE8 – has no war paint and is armed with a macuahuitl. The center of his backbanner is light green.
Tlaxcalan Command Group
TXC1 – Tlaxcalan Captain, with no war paint, armed with a tepoztopilli. His backbanner has a serpent on it.
TXC2 – Conch Blower, with no war paint, armed with a tepoztopilli.
Next up I need to add some warrior priests for the Tlaxcalans – and I have some old Ral Partha ones that will do the trick – I hope – stay tuned!
Miscellaneous details and references for those interested:
Posts on Games and Units for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest Supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide”
The time had come for me to get some opponents painted up to oppose the Aztecs of the Triple Alliance from Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City). In this case, these opponents are the Tlaxcalans, a Nahua ethnic group that never was conquered by the Aztecs. They did briefly fight Hernan Cortez and his conquistadors before allying with them against their longtime-hated enemy, the Aztecs. They were noted as being a major part of Cortes’ forces, and for having excellent archers. In my Tlaxcalan figures, have a group of veteran archers, a group of novices, a small command group, and a group of elite warriors for games of FeudalPatrol™ using my supplement called Civilizations Collide. All will eventually be shared here. They all are 28mm scale metal models from Outpost Wargames Services acquired from Badger Games in the US.
I chose to start with these archers as they had no shields to paint (time saver) – but also because the Tlaxcalans had a couple of very interesting types of war paint on their faces. From the Osprey plate in one of my books, one style resembled a black “superhero mask” around the eyes. The other one was a series of fine red stripes on a white background. Not all Tlaxcalans had war painted faces, so I could mix in some regular tanned skin as well. Given that some of the 8 figures were similar, this would aid in tabletop differentiation as well. Lastly, painting this unit would allow me some good practice on the faces with war paints as well as the common color themes of the Tlaxcalans according to the Osprey plates (which themselves were based on the various historical codices of the period). I chose to paint 4 figures with the black mask war paint, 2 with the white and red-striped painted war paint, and 2 with no war paint at all.
It would be appropriate for me to make a few more points on paints here. While I do list all the paints that I used at the end of this post for those interested (and for me when I forget and want to know I ended up using when I have another similar future project!), I want to share a few key items.
First, I tried a new tanned flesh paint that I really liked – Army Painter “Tanned Flesh”- and it worked well. I thinned it appropriately as a base coat and used other lighter paints, contrast paints, and washes over it as shades and highlights. Second, I also want to give credit to Faust at Double Down Dice as I had not tried Citadel “Gore-Grunta Fur” for wood – as I did here for bows. I had seen his work on his blog here and was impressed enough to give it a shot. Third, I used Citadel “Averland Sunset” and Vallejo Model Air “Black” to recreate a slightly different color pattern on the quivers to represent them being made from jaguar hides. And lastly, I gave the steel washers a different color – Citadel “Caliban Green” – than the tan undercoat that I had given the washers under my Aztecs. It only shows on the rim of the bases, but I think will help with tabletop differentiation. Many of the poses are similar, and a few are the same (6 poses and 8 figures).
Overall, I loved the figures, but painting them was a bit more challenging than I had thought. The main difficulties were around getting the flesh to where I was happy (again working with a new flesh tone), and the bright reds, black hair, and dark flesh next to bright whites – especially on the headbands. You can judge my efforts, though I did not do as many WIP shots here. You can click on all the images here for a better view.
So let’s get a look at the completed models!
I hope that you found this post enjoyable. Let me know – and stay safe out there!
Miscellaneous details and references for those interested:
Posts on Games and Units for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest Supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide”