Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Mayhem in the maize

On December 17 Kevin Smyth and I ran another test play of our Quetzalcoatl Rampant variant of Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant skirmish rules. We'd played a game with the other two Daves at Meeples Games in West Seattle in August. Kevin also ran a game at the NHMGS game day at the Boeing Museum of Flight in November. For that game he revised some of the values for the troop types to give the Aztecs a bit more of a fighting chance. In both games the Spanish never even broke a sweat while beating Montezuma's minions like rented mules. After the second game, he revised things further. (I've updated the values in my Quetzalcoatl Rampant blog post.)

Saturday's game was still a bit of a walkover for los EspaƱoles, but that may have been due to my extraordinary dicing--a talent I notably lack in most of my gaming adventures.

Kevin and Bailey played the Aztec horde and I played the Spanish. We each had 30 point retinues. I had one unit of caballeros, two units of rodeleros, one unit of arquebusiers, one unit of war-dogs, one Tlaxcalan skirmisher, and one unit of basic Tlaxcalan warriors. (We're toying with some kind of point limit for Spanish units in "Spanish" retinues to make them use more allies.)

The Spanish deployed, caballeros in reserve
Kevin and Bailey's force, as far as I recall, was maybe four skirmisher units, two basic warrior units, two veteran warrior units, and a unit of fearsome eagle knights.

The terrain was a couple houses, some wooded bits, and some maize fields. The terrain worked against the Aztecs because it let the numerically inferior Spanish dominate in the tight spots between blocking or hindering terrain and kept them from being enveloped by the Aztec horde.

I started out cagey. The Aztec warriors are better in attack than in defense (and the Spanish are correspondingly worse at defense than attack). I wanted to be the one attacking, so I hung back with my rodeleros out of 6" range of his troops waiting for him to move within my charge range. I held back the caballeros as a reserve strike force. I used my arquebusiers and Tlaxcalan skirmishers to good effect. I forced one of Bailey's skirmisher units to run (and keep running) on my first shot. The Aztecs didn't really have much luck with their courage rolls, nor with their own shooting.

Improved fearsome boomsticks of war
In our various combats, I managed to roll 11 hits against units a couple times. Maybe that's not too surprising when I'm hitting on 3+, but it has devastating effect on units with "2" armor. Coupled with poor courage rolls, the Mexica were soon in a world of hurt. The vaunted eagle knights rolled so low on their courage test that they clean buggered off the field.

Successive waves of Aztec nastiness
My war dogs were successful, but they'd lost half their number by game's end. I lost two caballeros and, I think, three rodeleros, and a couple Tlaxcalan skirmishers My arquebusiers and the Tlaxcalan warriors were untouched. (The Tlaxcalan warriors never got engaged, actually.)

My initial thoughts for this variant, as I mentioned in the original Quetzalcoatl Rampant post, were that Aztec numbers would offset Spanish quality. However, the disparity is still too significant, I think. I've been pondering some more things that might boost Aztec performance. In brief, these are:
  • Give the Aztecs (and Tlaxcalans) an 8" movement rate. This change would put the Aztecs in better position to charge the Spanish and get the benefit of their Attack combat value (and reduce the Spanish to their Defense combat value). For example, warrior knights or veteran warriors versus rodeleros would be 4+ Attack vs. 4+ Defend. The sole Spanish advantage is a "3" armor compared to the Aztec "2" armor. Things could get a bit more dangerous for the Conquistadors--especially since the Spanish units are 6 figures and the Aztecs are 12. This change might also prompt the Spanish rodeleros to use their Close Order rule and increase their protection to a "4" armor.
  • Give the Aztecs and Tlaxcalans a 12" range if they take the Atl-Atl option. The option costs 1 point, but is pretty useless with a 6" range. In fact, it's unusable since Aztec warrior knights and veteran warriors have the Wild Charge rule. If they're within 6" they can't shoot, they must attempt to attack.
Our next scheduled game is the Drumbeat game day in Seattle on February 4, but I think I'd like to sneak another game in before then to give these new ideas a try. Our ultimate plan is to run a few big games of this at Enfilade! in May. Until then, I have a lot of painting to do...


  1. Your figures are beautiful! The photos do not do them justice. No photos of the war dogs?