Category Archives: New World

The Conquistadores

After a gap of a couple of months I finally managed a few DBA 3.0 games. Joel and I had played several games over the summer but late summer and autumn have seen me more focussed on other periods and therefore rule systems. Though that hasn’t been the case for Joel who has continued to play a reasonable number of DBA 3.0 games in Auckland. Anyway, a visit to Auckland recently allowed five DBA games over the course of two days, though unfortunately I took no photos of the games.

In each game we pitted Aztecs against Spanish Conquistadores and their Tlaxcalan allies. It is perhaps simplest to consider these games as a form of a mini-campaign, with two Conquistador commanders each leading competiting expeditions towards the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, its gold, and of course glory…


The first expedition, under Cortés, made solid progress advancing inland from the coast. Indeed, it was soon on the plains of the New World and deployed before them was the first of several Aztec armies. In two hard fought battles Cortés and his Spanish troops were victorious. In both the Aztecs had fought bravely and losses on the great host of clan warriors, rated as hordes, seemed to have little impact on their army morale. Cortés’ cannon had proved useful and his Spanish infantry immensely solid. However, the small group of mounted Conquistadors were clearly his battle winner, be they used offensively or held back as an initial reserve. Yet despite two great victories Cortés was forced to  pause and reorganised his forces. More Tlaxcalans were needed to replace the heavy losses of his allies.

Meanwhile, the second Spanish expedition, under the command of Pánfilo de Narváez, had also been preparing for an advance on Tenochtitlan. Before Narváez’s expedition could advance into the arable areas of the Aztec Empire it was forced to battle in the hills of Tlaxcala by an invading Aztec army. The Aztec commander focussed his attack on the Tlaxcalan allies and gained some advantage until the Spanish broke into his own left and the Aztec army finally broke. Narváez, emboldened by victory now pressed forward into the Aztec homelands where in due course another Aztec host blocked his advance. This time the Aztec commander intended to focus his attack on the Spanish right while delaying the Tlaxcalans. He manouvred a huge portion of his army against the Spanish right and these initial attacks were successful. However, a small body of mounted Conquistadors proved unstoppable and another Aztec army was destroyed. Narváez had now closed the gap on Cortés.

Aware of  Narváez’s progress, Cortés advanced once more. Hoping to seek a quicker victory against the Aztecs in his third battle he echloned his right back in an attempt to draw the Aztecs forward, and hopefully elimanate the Aztec commander. Previous experience indicated the Aztec commanders often fought in the front ranks where he was supported by his elite troops. Simultaneously Cortés planned to avoid the massed clan warriors, and with his small contingent of mounted Conquistadors advance and loot the enemy camp, demoralising the Aztecs in the process. Both outcomes were achieved, but not before his own casualties, especially among his allies, became crippling. Cortés was forced from the field and the Aztecs had proven victory against these foreigners was possible. While Cortés was within striking distance of Tenochtitlan he needed further reinforcements before another advance could proceed. The question was would Narváez get there first? Only time would tell…

In game terms we had five excellent games. Interestingly the Aztec list requires six stands of clan warriors and these can be modelled as either auxilia or hordes. Joel has modelled them as hordes ensuring the army looks sufficiently large. However, DBA 3.0 does not count the loss of hordes towards army demorilisation. These two factors combine to create the feel of the Conquistadors in the New World, at least within the restrictions of 12 element armies.