My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Saga of Mesoamerica

In a fit of impulsiveness I bought a collection of 450+ of 25mm Aztecs without a real idea of what to do with them. (Not like that has ever happened to any of you! )

I bought the Dux Bellorum rules and had read of them used for the Biblical period and thought about using the Aztecs for those rules, but I am not quite committed to them, at least in terms of basing. Of course there is also De Bellis Antiquitatus 3.0 (otherwise known as DBA), but who knows what Phil Barker is doing with the army lists. Maybe in another year I will be able to play the published version of those rules and army lists.

Finally, Saga came along, and me with no Dark Ages figures. I have enough figures for two armies (plus two DBA-sized armies) and it seems like the pre-Conquistador period lends itself nicely to these rules and game design. So I decide to mount up a few on single bases and give Saga a try (which I reported on in the last entry). I use the Aztecs as Vikings (a melee-oriented army) and the Tlaxcalan enemy as Welsh (a missile-oriented army). I am currently playing another game – finding all sorts of errors Don and I made in our first effort – but using the Aztecs as Anglo-Danish instead (the Tlaxcalans still as Welsh).

The Tlaxcalan faction, which is the first one I am working on, has a Warlord armed with javelins, a Hearthguard optionally armed with javelins, Warriors armed with bows, and Levy armed with bows or slings. Not that the javelin, used with a atlatl, is a Noble's weapon, largely because of the skill and extensive training that an atlatl requires.

I considered making an atlatl-fire javelin better than a Western javelin, as it had a longer range and more penetrating power. In the end, limiting it to the Hearthguard and the Warlord has the necessary effect; its shooting is more effective because of the thrower.

It is definitely my intention to make both Aztec and Tlaxcalan battle boards. The Tlaxcalans, being missile-oriented and with a large percentage of bows, will have a number of the abilities oriented towards their use. I started off by listing all of the current factions' (including the Byzantines and Arabs from Wargames Illustrated) abilities in a spreadsheet. This helps me understand what abilities exist, and what the 'price' (in terms of Saga dice) of each should be. So far I have come up with the following:

Name Phase Description Dice
Activation Pool Orders Roll two additional SAGA dice. R
Attack Pool Shooting Gain one Attack die (or two Attack dice if the die discarded was R). C or UC or R
Harassing Fire Activation/Reaction If an enemy unit is activated for movement and can be shot by one of your units, reduce its movement (from L to M, M to S, S to VS). You cannot reduce movement below VS. C
Loose Arrows! Activation Activate all of your units for Shooting. No unit gains FATIGUE with this activation. UC + R
Massed Volley Orders Until the end of your turn, the range of your missile weapons is doubled (i.e. bows to 2 x L, javelins to 2 x M, etc.). UC
Aimed Volley Shooting Re-roll any Attack dice that failed to hit the target. C + UC
Eye of the Eagle Shooting Gain three Attack dice (four Attack dice if a R die was discarded) UC or R
Deadly Arrows Shooting Discard half the Attack dice your unit generates. Decrease the Armour value of the target by 2. C or UC or R

The Dice column uses C for the Common symbol (3 out of 6 faces on the die), UC for the Uncommon symbol (2 out of 6 faces on the die), and R for the Rare symbol (1 out of 6 faces on the die). "or" indicates that any one of the die list can be used while "+" indicates all of the dice listed must be used.

I still have four more abilities to come up with, so they probably be more melee-oriented, mostly so they won't simply be overrun in melee.

The Attack Pool ability, unlike so many others, is for Shooting only. This makes it weaker than other factions', but it still remains to be playtested. If I keep it restricted to Shooting only, I may elevate the number of Attack dice gained per Saga dice discarded.

The Harassing Fire ability specifically represents canceling an enemy unit's movement by peppering it with missile fire (or the threat of it being fired upon), hence the requirement that the unit be within range of a missile unit. Because of this latter requirement, the Saga die used for the ability is Common.

The Loose Arrows! ability is much like the Welsh Uprising ability, only restricting the free activation to Shooting.

The Massed Volley ability is like several others, allowing long range for missile weapons, but extending to the javelin also. This might make javelin-armed Hearthguard too tough, so requires some playtesting.

The Aimed Volley ability, allowing the re-roll of Attack dice, is similar to others, but is limited to Shooting only.

The Eye of the Eagle ability is similar to many melee abilities, adding three or four attack dice, but is applied to shooting. Given the generally lower number of Attack dice generated by shooting, this may be too powerful. However, we always need to keep in mind that Defence dice (saving throws) are better against shooting than against melee.

Finally, the Deadly Arrows ability allows a unit to trade Attack dice for lowering the enemy's Armour value. Great in conjunction with the Eye of the Eagle and Attack Pool abilities.

As a note, the use of the word Arrow in an ability's name does not imply it works only with units armed with a bow. They work with all missile weapons unless specifically restricted in the ability's description.

Still have a way to go before I have some proper Mesoamerican factions to test, but I am making progress while I base up the figures I purchased. The pictures in this entry are of the Eagle Knights that I have touched up and put on 1" wooden discs (with magnets on the bottom). The javelins are made by Northstar (although I think they are supposed to be 15mm scale).

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").