Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Aztec War - Commands & Colors Variant

Hi folks,

I'm about to do some playtesting of my Aztec Wars variant for Commands & Colors.

I'm going to see if I can make this period of warfare work given the great disparity in the unit technology and quality.

I will use 4" hex mat from two different companies. I will be using 13 hex x 11 hex mat and WoFun miniatures. Prior post regarding this project.

I'm sure this will take multiple playtests to get the right feeling. I'm going to use the stats below, and the Commands & Colors Ancients card decks I believe (medieval may be a better choice, but we shall see). Click on photos to enlarge.

My first playtest will be a fairly open field battle, just to see if the mechanics and ratings work. 

Aztec Wars Rules

Here is the list of current rules I'm using for this period.

1. All infantry are 3 stands (this may be too fragile, and will require more playtesting). Part of the reason for three stands is WoFun has 18mm figures and they come with six stands per sprue. I may have to boost the Indians to four stands. Playtesting should see if this is needed. The Cavalry is only 2 stands as they were very small amounts. This looks great on the table to me. 

2. Heavy Spanish troops ignore crossed sword hits in melee. This makes them much tougher to hit on red and leader symbols.

3. Spanish Cavalry gets an automatic "First Strike" whenever they are attacked. They are like having a tank moving around a battlefield of people covered in linen and wicker! This may be too powerful, but we shall see. 

4. Limit Aztec armies to a random 1-3 leaders for the scenarios. I tried 4 in the initial game and having those leaders allowed them to hammer the Spanish.

5. Spanish heavy troops are worth 2 victory banners each. I really like this as it makes the Aztecs want to really attack those Spanish heavies. 

6. Foot can't evade cavalry.

Initial Deployment

This small battle is based on an Aztec force attempting to block the Conquistador (and Tlaxcalan allies) from entering the lake district. There are 16 Aztec units vs 12 Spanish\Tlaxcalan units.

Scenario Parameters

Conquistador Command: 6

Aztec Command: 4 (I think I'll make this 5 for the second playtest)

Conquistador Banners:    8

Aztec Banners:                7

The Battle

I'm going to toss out some photos of the battle here and make a few comments if pertinent. 

Below: Three Spanish Heavy infantry get the blessing from Father Ortega before the battle. Heavy Cavalry behind the line.

Below: Tlaxcala infantry and archers on the Spanish left flank. (view from Aztec line)

Below: Tlaxcala on the Spanish right flank. Lower Class warriors (Aux) and Medium "elite" warriors. Spanish Harquebus unit in the right hand side.

Below: entire Spanish\Tlaxcala army

One of the Conquistador leaders and his armor heavy cavalry.

Below: don't forget the crossbowmen.

Below: Aztec bloody ritual.

Below: some photos of the Aztec forces, with most of the Eagle Knights, Jaguar Knights, and elite units in the middle.

Below: Aztec lower class warriors on the flanks

Below: Elite rear guard!

Below: view of the Aztecs from the Spanish lines.

The armies are ready:

Below: Aztec slingers Move - Fire - Move and do little damage to the Tlaxcala.

Advancing on the Aztec right. Aztecs likely need to hurt the Tlaxcala if they want to keep up in Victory Banners.

Current overview. Slow moving in the beginning. Aztecs got a lot of bizarre text cards. Very few move cards.

Below: if the Aztecs won't come to us! Then we will march on them!

Below: fighting on the Aztec right flank destroys a Tlaxcala unit.

Below: Conquistador Heavy Cavalry and leader cracking heads! Foot units can't evade cavalry in my rules. (at least for now)

Aztecs issue Line Command to move into contact all across their front lines!

The armies collide!

So, I got so caught up in the battle I forgot to take photos. The center of the Aztec line was battered by the Heavy Infantry, but the Aztecs managed to kill two Spanish Heavy Infantry (4 Victory Banners! Aztecs get 2 VB per Heavy unit killed)

Spanish cavalry just massacred everybody!

Aztec center gone, but Conquistadors and allies to heavy casualties too.

Game over! Spanish win 8-5 Victory Banners.

Using "Aztec Gold" for Victory Banners. Here is the eight Spanish banners.

Post Battle Thoughts

First, I had a good time and as the Aztec player I was scared to death of the HEAVY Spanish forces, especially the Cavalry. Having each heavy worth 2 Victory Banners really kept me going after them, even though I just wanted to avoid them. (note, that my Arquebus unit didn't cause a single hit the entire game even throwing 4 dice twice!)

I'm unsure if 3 stands per unit will really work, especially for Indians. I have to playtest some more as the Indians are sooooo fragile when fighting Conquistadors, but that was what it was like in the real wars. Another options is to keep three stands for the looks and mark hits in some other way for four stands. Marking hits rather than removing stands (now units are back to four blocks) also worked better in my second playtest.

As far as changes, put more Aztecs on the table. They should outnumber the Spanish in most cases. Change the Aztec command to 5, rather than 4. This worked better in my second playtest. 

Cheers and thanks for reading this post.


PS - Third playtest will be against an opponent at the end of the month.