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.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Draft Aztec Battle Board for Saga

New Reader

First off, let me welcome new reader James Brewerton to the blog. Glad to have you on board. I welcome and appreciate comments. Now that I have a forum for Saga, feel free to post and join in the conversation.

Saga Updates

The Search for a Larger Army

The Mesoamerican Saga variant is humming along. In fact, I am digging this so much that I went out and bought some of the Tin Soldier UK Aztec miniatures that I don't already have. (I bought a painted collection of 450+ Tin Soldier Aztecs.) Now I am on the hunt for compatibly-sized miniatures.
  • I bought some The Assault Group (TAG) Aztecs and Tlaxcallans (hey! that is what they call them Bowman) and although they are nice, they are 28mm and would be big lads in the unit. Maybe okay for a separate unit, but not for mixing.
  • I bought some Ral Partha Aztecs on eBay, but was later told that they are puny and will not mix well with Tin Soldier.
  • The sculptor of the Eureka Miniatures 28mm Aztecs told me that his figures would not mix with Tin Soldiers either; they are too tall. Too bad because the Caymen "Knights" look really nice.
  • Monday Knight Productions has some 25mm Aztecs and [Conquistador] Native Allies, and as they are relatively inexpensive and in the U.S. I decided to order a handful.
  • Outpost Miniatures have a really extensive Mesoamerican range, but are listed as 28mm. I am hoping someone will know how they compare before I order some from the U.K. They look pretty chunky, but then again, so are Tin Soldiers.
  • I was told that the Foundry Miniatures Aztec line, although about 2-3mm taller, have the same body proportions and so should mix well.
  • It looks like no one sells Naismith Designs 25mm Aztecs anymore. They are supposed to be "true 25mm", which means that may be a little thin for Tin Soldier, even if I could get my hands on some.
The problem with Tin Soldier's figures is that they are almost too "characterful". They often have exaggerated poses, and because each figure type has only a single pose, they look like units of dancers. Sort of like the old Airfix figures and when you tried to make a battalion out of those guys that are charging.

I know that "Saga" and "large army" sounds a little out of place, but what if I want an eight-point army of (almost) every variation? Okay, so it won't be that bad. Besides, I am re-painting some of the Tin Soldier figures to be Tlaxcaltecs, and adding bits and pieces to get some variety. I am not sure if I am going to try any head swaps, however.

The Aztecs

Ralph the "Bowman Stringer" (or just Bowman) and I have been working hard thinking up ideas for the Aztec battle board and faction rules. So far I have all but four Saga abilities defined, although Chili Fires may be dropped if it proves inadequate or unworkable after testing.

By the way, this Mesoamerican Saga "supplement" will include a pronunciation guide!

The Aztec Tlacatecatl (Warlord) is armed with melee weapon, shield and atlatl. It has the same statistics as the standard Saga warlord.

The Cuauhocelotl (Hearthguard) may be armed with one of the following combinations:
  • Melee weapon and shield
  • Melee weapon, shield, and atlatl
  • Two-handed melee weapon and shield
Like the Vikings, you can purchase one unit of Cuachiques/Otomitl (Hearthguard) and promote them to 'Berserkers'. These figures are armed with melee weapon and shield.

The Yaoquizqui (Warriors) can be armed with melee weapon and shield or two-handed melee weapon and shield.

The Macehualtin (Levy) can be armed with sling or bow.

Two-Handed Melee Weapons

These are exactly the same as Danish Axes, with the attendant advantages and penalties.


This weapon operates just like a javelin, in that the unit can take a Movement action and receive a free Shooting action on the same activation. How it differs from the standard javelin rules is as follows:
  • The unit may only take a Shooting action (whether combined with a Movement action or not) when the unit is activated with the ability Weapon of the Gods. This means that only one unit1 may fire per turn.
  • The weapon can be fired to M range, but if fired from VS range the target's Armour value is reduced by 1.
Chili Fires

When the Chili Fires ability is played, the designated Macehualtin (Levy) unit indicates a target within L of it and rolls a D6. If the roll is a '2' through '6', the target unit takes one FATIGUE must retreat away from the Macehualtin unit. If the roll is a '1' the Macehualtin unit takes one FATIGUE and must retreat S towards its board edge.

There was a bit of discussion about whether this ability is appropriate or not. The "Chili Fires" weapon represents a unit of Macehualtin throwing chilis onto a fire when the wind is blowing in the correct direction and "tear gassing" the enemy. The basic problem with this idea is the thought of walking around with a ready-made fire while you are out on a raid. Looked at from that angle, it does not really make sense to have this weapon (and attendant ability).

However, the concept of a Dark Ages skirmish is not really that viable in Aztec warfare either. If you come at this with visions of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto in mind – Mayan warriors on slave raids – it might make sense. Instead, I am trying to use the Saga rules to play out a small portion of a larger battle with larger forces. Rather than repeat it all here, you can read my concept on what the game models on the Saga Variants forum. If you come at it from that angle, then committing the Macehualtin (Levy) to your force means you may also have them bringing their fires and chilis with them. As it stands, the unit can either fire L for damage, or use an ability to force you to retreat (and take a FATIGUE) … maybe. I think most people will choose to damage, at least until the unit gets whittled down and cannot do any real damage with their missile weapons.

I still have four abilities to fill for the Aztecs. (Actually, probably five, because the more I ponder the "utility" of Chili Fires the more convinced I am it is not worth allocating dice to it.) So if you have any ideas, either comment on the blog or the forum.

More Walkerloo Figures

I used to be a strong advocate of paper figures, as their cost is just so low it is easy to test out a new period or set of rules by printing up an army. I pulled away from it largely because I moved out of living full-time in my RV and bought a house and land (and a guest house, taken over as my semi-permanent Game Room). Having all this space let me collect armies, rules, terrain, etc., etc. Gone was the need to minimize the storage space of figures (paper armies store flat in envelopes). Gone was the limitation of having no painting or gaming space. Gone was my primary reason for using paper figures.

Of course, no matter what I do I cannot seem to get my act together, either in figure scale or rules, when it comes to Napoleonics. For figure scale I have more 6mm than anything, but I cannot decide on a basing scheme. I have about three or four I am currently using, thus it is really hard to do anything with them. As for rules … forget it. I really liked Drums and Shakos Large Battles, but gaming buddy Don did not.

I saw Chris Walker's Walkerloo figures quite some time ago. They are 1/35th scale Napoleonic paper figures for the Battle of Waterloo, and they are pretty good. The problem was he was selling the actual paper figures, not the digital files so that you could print out your own forces. (He even had a fun name, "printfantry", but that was only a few select figures that you could print out yourself.)

Eventually he realized that his business model was off (he wrote on his blog that he lost money on the venture) and finally decided to sell PDF files on Wargame Vault. Not only were there French and British (and a single Prussian Silesian Landwehr unit), but the Russian government commissioned him to create Russian figures for some promotion about the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino (if I got the story right). Well today Walkerloo released not a Bavarian unit, but the Bavarian Corps. It includes line and light infantry, cavalry, artillery and commanders. All in one PDF file for $4.95.

Did I mention that I had already bought into the Walkerloo collection? Although I do not really have the same storage problems that I had in the past, it is still a great way to quickly get an army up and running if you want to try out a rule set. I own Lasalle and Napoleon at War and I have played neither, because the basing scheme for both is neither what I have, nor what I want to use (unless these rules turn out to be really good). Also, I still have this fantasy of playing someone using the Chef de Batallion rules.

Tournaments on Vassal

The BattleLore tournament on Vassal is still running. I have finished three of my six rounds, but have not been able to get anyone to play a tournament round all week. Everyone wants to play practice games or else they are people that are not in the tournament. This tournament has stimulated the online BattleLore on Vassal community, such as it is, and thus there are more people out there playing than in a long time. This week there were nine separate games, whereas before the tournament had started there were ten games the previous month, and Chris and I accounted for five of those!

I know, the numbers sound low, but we are talking about a "dead" game after all. Anyway, this has spurred other games to start tournaments on Vassal. I was originally signed up for a Command and Colors: Napoleonics on Vassal tournament, but due to an administrative error, ended up on the reserve roster (in case someone drops out). There is a signup sheet for Samurai Battles on Vassal and a second BattleLore on Vassal tournament also. I have signed up for the first, but am still thinking about the second. I need to make sure that the CCN tournament doesn't get me wrapped around an axle; they play two games per round.

Don owns Samurai Battles and although we have not played it, I have mixed feelings about it. First off, the figures are in pieces, literally. They are multi-part Zveda 1/76th plastic figures from their newly re-branded Samurai Battles line. Apparently once you put on the back banner (which identifies which side the unit is on, red or yellow) you are not going to get it off. (I have not looked closely at the figures, but my first thought was "magnets".) Secondly, I have heard of problems with missing cards and misprints. Richard Borg went online and published the corrected scenarios and has already posted an FAQ.

Interestingly, someone has posted a sheet to print stickers, so you can use wooden blocks for the units, just like GMT Games' Command and Colors series of games (Ancients and Napoleonics). I can see myself doing that, which means Don will never get his miniatures put together.

What draws me to Samurai Battles – other than a fascination with Samurai when I was young, compounded by my time spent in Japan while I was in the U.S. Marine Corps – is that it is very much like BattleLore. It has "Dragon" cards which are much like the Lore cards, only the effects are not so magic-oriented. More like dirty tricks, traps, events, and power-ups. I am reading the rules and will let you know what I think once I give it a try.

Well, that is about it for now. Good gaming!

1 If using the Weapon of the Gods ability on the Tlacatecatl (Warlord) it may also use its We Obey special rule to allow a Cuauhocelotl (Hearthguard) unit armed with atlatl to activate for a Movement action and also fire. This is the only exception to when more than one unit can use this ability in a single turn.


  1. Hi Dale,
    RE: Samurai Battles
    I found that Samurai Battles adds much depth to an already outstanding core game system. While I really enjoy Commands and Colors: Ancients (and Napoleonics too), I find the extra dimensions provided by the tokens and Dragon cards provide for a very dynamic game. It really is never over 'til it's over.

    I have played it both with 6mm and 15mm figures. Haven't used the figures that come in the game, itself.

    Give it a try!

  2. re. Walkerloo Borodino Comission. It was in fact a Moscow based childrens book publisher who comissioned the Borodino series. But I really like your story of the Russain state Dale! as for business models... I'm not interseted in them (although I may dabble with models of business men some day)... it's models of war that gets my brush wiggling!


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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").