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.

Friday, March 01, 2013

New Aztec and Tlaxcaltec Battle Boards

New Battle Boards

First up is the revised Tlaxcaltec battle board. The names of the Hearthguard, Warrior, and Levy have been changed to Nahuatl equivalents. The name for the Hearthguard is still probably incorrect, in that it means "Eagle-Jaguars", and that is more related to Aztecs. I just don't like the term "Zoomorphic Warriors" and using "Elite Warriors" when all of the other names are in Nahuatl would look strange.

The real change is the Take Prisoner ability, which is now only triggered if your unit won the melee (i.e. the other side disengages). Originally I had intentionally allowed it to be used, win or lose. But I began to consider that a player might throw weak Warrior units at Hearthguard simply to score one kill and gain a valuable prisoner. Given that the concept of this ability is that you have captured an unconscious or disabled foe and have brought people up from the rear to bind the captive and take them away (and thus is the reason you do not have to lose figures guarding or escorting prisoners), you would really need to drive off your opponent and hold the ground where the captive foe would be.

So from a narrative point of view, a unit disengaging should not be able to take advantage of this ability; only the unit winning the melee should. From a gaming point of view I don't think you want units throwing themselves into combat with, say three Warriors against eight Hearthguard, in a hope that they can score a lucky hit and thus gain more prisoner points than their opponent (who only capture a lousy Warrior).

The design philosophy of the Tlaxcaltec abilities is that they are good at shooting and have a few melee abilities. Some of the abilities (Shoulder to Shoulder, Shielded Volley, and Common Efforts) model the use of paired archers and arrow catchers. Here are the ideas behind each ability.

Harassing Fire: This ability models using concentrated fire to halt an enemy unit's advance or drive them back. By being within range of a missile-armed unit, one enemy unit's movement activation is canceled.

Shoulder to Shoulder: This models the archer/catcher pair in huddling together, thus increasing the unit's armor rating, or simply closing ranks prior to melee impact. The figures are not physically moved, as this causes all sorts of additional rules; the abstract use of the ability is sufficient and simple.

Massed Volley: If the Tlaxcaltec unit does not move at all in a turn (either before or after using this ability) they can perform a "sustained fire bombardment" on an enemy unit, earning double the Attack dice as normal. (Remember, a unit may not increase their Attack dice to greater than double the base dice, so unless another ability comes into play, this one ability maximizes the dice count for a unit.)

Aimed Volley: This represents taking more care to aim. Despite it being another "type" of volley, there is nothing to stop a player from using both Massed Volley and Aimed Volley in a single shooting action.

Eye of the Eagle: This represents sharpshooters in a missile unit getting a particularly effective result. It adds three or four Attack dice, so is better suited for using on smaller units. It is also effective stacked with Aimed Volley, but note that it cannot normally be stacked with Massed Volley.

Take Prisoner: This represents the propensity for units to capture prisoners in melee, rather than simply trying to kill everyone. This is one of the abilities that give these factions their Mesoamerican flavor.

Shielded Volley: As with the Byzantines, where this ability first appeared, this is a way to model units that were mixed between shielded and missile firing men. Rather than breaking the core rule of "everyone in a single unit is armed and armored the same", two separate units are created with one being the shield bearers and the other with the missile weapons. The shield bearers are placed in front of the missile weapons, allowing them to protect the missile unit and take the casualties while this ability allows the missile units to fire through (over) the shield bearers. Although some situations may look strange, it is a simple rule to model a concept logically without building in a lot of rules and exceptions.

Show of Strength: This represents a unit, perhaps behind and off-board, rushing to support a unit attacked in melee, and thus causing the charging unit to "balk" and back away. Rather than forcing the movement of troops and such, this models that abstract event resulting in this effect on combat.

Common Efforts: Another Byzantine ability, this represents one unit's close presence providing relief – in the form of transferring FATIGUE from one unit to the other – to another unit. This encourages keeping units close together and to form a second line of reserves.

Loose Arrows!: This models a signal from the Army Commander (higher up than the Warlord on the board) for all units armed with missile weapons to fire a barrage at the enemy. Good for a missile-oriented army.

I decided that the focus of the Aztec battle board would be on inflicting and controlling FATIGUE (fear), with some shooting (atlatl) and melee capabilities thrown in. Here is what I settled on, but it is no way final:

Orders and Orders/Reaction Abilities

Tlamemehque Bring Water: Allows units not activated to recover FATIGUE for free. Same as the Anglo-Saxon Truce, but does not have the option of recovering two FATIGUE (yet it costs the same). This represents porters moving up to refresh the troops with water and such. As they will not move up too close to the enemy, this is represented by only servicing units that were not activated. (Rationale being that if they activated, they must be close to the enemy…)

Relieve the Line: Allows you to move FATIGUE from one unit to another. This represents the concept that the units are not as rigid as imagined. Some men from one unit move into the other unit, allowing some of the second unit to fall back and rest. Rather than worrying about each specific figure, the two units simply need to be close enough for this "relief support" to occur. Same as the Tlaxcaltec ability Common Efforts, but a different rationale.

Ambush: The Aztecs tried to use quick double-envelopment movements to trap enemy. They also used a number of stratagems to ambush the enemy, such a hiding troops in holes covered with grass, then rising up after the enemy moved past them. This sort of "mass terror" is modeled well by this ability.

Activation and Activation/Reaction Abilities

Weapon of the Gods: The atlatl requires this ability to fire. As the dice are the same as for activating a Hearthguard unit, all this ability does is limit the use of the atlatl to one unit per turn. That said, the atlatl has the capabilities of a javelin but with crossbow penetration at VS range, so that is the reason for using a "right-side" ability.

Veterans Advancing: This represents the enemy seeing the banners and colored suits of enemy veterans off-board advancing towards this sector of the battlefield and thus causing a unit to "balk" (lose its activation).

Beat the Huehuetl (Drum): Better than a similar Viking ability, but recovers fatigue within L of the Warlord instead of M (and thus one costs more). Essentially the Warlord is banging his drum and calling out the names of heroes, giving orders, and providing encouragement.

Melee and Melee/Reaction Abilities

Lords of Battle: I like this ability as it combines adding dice to the conflict and increases the enemy's FATIGUE. Combined with No Mercy (below), an enemy unit can get Exhausted very quickly. Part of the theme in using FATIGUE as a weapon.

No Mercy: Like the Anglo-Danish Unforgiving and the Arabs Merciless abilities, this causes your enemy to take an additional FATIGUE at the end of a melee. Part of the theme in using FATIGUE as a weapon.

Cuachiqueh Trick: This ability allows you to cancel an enemy ability if it uses only one die. As this is a Melee/Reaction ability, it fires in Phase 0 and thus trumps Phase 3 Melee abilities. This can really upset someone going into a melee expecting to use an ability.

Take Prisoner: Part of the Mesoamerican theme of taking captives for glory and promotion.

Rules Variants for Saga

I have created a new sub-forum on the Saga Variants forum: Rules Variants. This is where you can toss ideas regarding rules variants for Saga that are not tied to specific factions or abilities. I've created a subject about doubling up on the size of Saga units, and what impact that might have on the game. The idea is that those that might have large collections – say if you play Warhammer Ancients Battles you probably have large collections of singly-based figures that are ideal for Saga – and want to put more figures on the board, how can you accomplish that without breaking the system. Doubling the size of units, both minimums and maximums, might be one way to do that.

As always, I would love to hear your comments on the blog or the forums.

1 comment:

  1. Really great looking battleboards. While I don't have any Mayans or Aztecs, this is quite tempting. While geographically implausible, it would neat to run the official Skraeling board against the Aztecs. Thanks


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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").