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”