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.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Tlaxcalan Battle Board for Saga

Reader Scott Mac has posted a few comments about my doing a Meso-American version of Saga. On a The Miniatures Page thread on using Saga in other periods another reader has been emailing me about my ideas for Meso-American gaming. All of this – and the fact that it snowed today here in sunny Arizona, USA – prompted me to finish one of the battle boards.

I am still stuck on what abilities to give the Aztecs, but I like the ideas from both readers about giving the Aztecs a "Capture" Saga ability. I am thinking that after the melee the opponent takes additional fatigue if they lost at least one figure in the melee, representing the stress of having a fellow unit member captured by the Aztecs. An interesting twist might be to play out the imprisonment, allowing the other side to rescue the victim. That may be too involved for general rules, however, and might be better for a "Flower Wars" scenario.

Tlaxcalan Battle Board
Here is the Tlaxcalan battle board I have come up with so far. Needless to say, they are heavily focused on bows!

Most of the abilities are duplicates of other factions, with no real modification to the ability or dice required. There are a few exceptions, however.

The Attack Pool was initially for Shooting only, but I later thought that they might be too crippled in melee, so added the ability to play it in Melee.

The Harassing Fire ability is modeled after the Welsh Holy Ground, except that you can slow enemy unit movement only if they could be fired upon. This represents using ranged weapons as a movement inhibitor, something I think is a clever idea. However, as I added a limitation I lowered the dice requirement from Uncommon to Common, which may end up being too powerful. (That is why this is a "draft"!)

The Show of Strength ability is stronger than the original of the same name. In the original you have to win a Challenge in order to trigger the ability. As this "just works" I decided to up the dice requirement from Uncommon to Rare.

The question becomes, are the abilities in total too powerful? Although they are almost all exactly the same as existing abilities, their combination is what can make something "broken". Another question might be is there too much focus on shooting? If the enemy gets within range to charge, are they too vulnerable?

The faction abilities are:

The Warlord is equipped with an atlatl and darts (acts as a Javelin-armed Warlord).

The Hearthguard are the Zoomorphic Suit wearers (crocodiles, jaguars, coyotes, etc.) and are armed with melee weapons and shields.

The Warriors are either armed with bows (Armour value of 3 instead of 4 against shooting only1) or melee weapons and shield.

The Levy are either armed with slings or bows.

I hope to get a four-point test game in today and answer some of those concerns. I will still be playing my Aztecs as Anglo-Danish, so I have access to two-handed weapons, but those Norse-Gaels are starting to look mighty interesting! Challenges seem like they might fit right in with Meso-American warfare. I may have to switch.

If you are a Saga buff and you have an opinion on the strengths or weaknesses of this battle board, feel free to comment. I also welcome comments from Meso-American buffs who have an idea on what should be modeled.

Speaking of the model, I consider using the Saga rules for this type of warfare not so such as representing skirmishes, but to represent a small slice of a large battle. This warfare was very much a battle line like the Dark Ages, where groups would surge forward and fight for 15 minutes or so before they would fall back and be replaced while they rested. A game of this represents one of those surges.

1 I realize that the Franks set a precedent that bow-armed Warriors have an Armour value of 3 against both shooting and melee, however they are shieldless troops. It also seems, to me, that it is unbalanced against the crossbow, which also has a reduced Armour value, but in turn reduces your opponent's Armour value. So it seems that bow-armed troops are penalized more than slingers or crossbows. As my troops have slung shields while they are firing (think something similar to Cretan archers, as shown to the right), I give them the Armour penalty against shooting only.

1 comment:

  1. Dale, Thanks for all the work to get this done. It looks awesome. I have a few minor criticisms, and having them on your Blog will invite others to chime in with their opinions.

    1) The technical term is Tlaxcaltec. Tlaxcallan is an older Anglicized name that is out of favor.

    2) While the Tlaxcaltec army is bow and arrow heavy, I would still like to see some Melee abilities too. It is well known that the Tlaxcaltecs captured captives for the same reason as the Aztecs. That's why both nations engaged in the Flower Wars. I think both nations should have a Capture ability. Any non-Levy unit with the Capture ability that produces a casualty produces an extra Fatigue token in the unit they are in combat with. This will make Tlaxcaltec-Aztec combats very interesting.

    3) I wouldn't use the term "Knights" either, as it is also an older discredited term. Most modern authors use "Military Order" to describe Aztec Eagle and Jaguar Warriors. For the Tlaxcaltec Elite, I'd use Zoomorphic Warriors. It's a cool term that gives some flavor. Actually, the Nahuatl term for these elites has been lost to us forever.

    That's about it. Thanks again, Dale.


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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").