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"Mexican war" Topic

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950 hits since 3 Oct 2017
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Clays Russians03 Oct 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

I love 19th century wars, my favorites are Crimean and Acw. Since musket minis are alive again I am tempted to roll onward to project number three since Crimean is done. My question is this, is this conflict a "turkey"? Is there a reasonable reason to believe the Mexican troops ever EVER have a viable chance to win any battles against the Yankees? Rules recommendations? At least a set that may make it historically plausible but at the same time make it possible to actually have a Mexican victory (at least at a tactile level). I have only read one, yes just one, book on the conflict- "Zach Taylors little army". Is this in print anywhere? Uniform guides? Or,,,,,,, should I just chock this off as a goofy novelty and think on the Franco/Italy/Austrian war instead? Suggestions?

Largoras Inactive Member03 Oct 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

Hey there, so, after all these years of the witcher games and books, I've only now gotten around to playing Witcher 3, and I absolutely love.
My friend also got me all of the books written by Andrzej Sapkowski of the Witcher, which is awesome.

SO I got really motivated to paint some Witcher world armies, like Nilfgaard, Temeria, Redania and maybe some smaller ones.

However, I'd like some opinions on which miniature lines to use for 28mm. Currently I'm gonna start with a Nilfgaardian army and I am using Perry miniatures for most of it at the moment,would like some more variation though.
For Temeria I was thinking a mix of Perry HYW/WOTR and fireforge.
I can also make my own flags and decals for this, which is awesome.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Clays Russians03 Oct 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

What the hell?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

Delete everything and start over.

JonFreitag03 Oct 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

In all of the MAW games in which I have participated, RARELY do the Mexicans seem to have a fighting chance. Perhaps the rules, perhaps jingoist bias, perhaps my poor play.

The Mexican uniforms are pretty, though…

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

In our MAW games the Mexicans almost always lose – but not always

If the Mexican commanders keep their heads about them and the US commanders pull a bone headed move/get unlucky (or both) the Mexicans have a chance

Clays Russians03 Oct 2017 11:58 a.m. PST

How much is this chocked up to urban legend? Besides the fact that Mexico armed their infantry regiments with surplus India pattern Besses, and left over French Napoleonic cannon? I know the command quality was even worse than the Spanish on a bad day. Maybe throwing 3 Mexican brigades against 2 US brigades. Or 5 to 3 maybe?

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2017 12:30 p.m. PST

The best board game on the subject, GMT"s Gringo, shows the problems with the period. Namely, poor command and control, low morale, and poor shooting for the Mexican units. Can they win any of the several scenarios? Yes, but it does take some luck. The same with miniatures gaming for the period where if you just rate both sides equally, then it turns into a Napoleonic battle that often ignores what historically happened. If you use rules that reflect accurate ratings and/or shortcomings, then the U.S. forces have huge advantages.

I think it's a very interesting period with colorful units, but I sold my collection of it off some years ago. There just seemed no way to duplicate what historically happened in the campaign as you had to really handicap the Mexican forces.

surdu2005 Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Oct 2017 2:12 p.m. PST

The trick is to handicap the victory conditions. At several battles the Mexicans came close to victory or could have won if a few things broke their way. At Buena Vista, the Mexicans almost defeated Taylor.

In most MAW scenarios you cannot expect the Mexicans to sweep the Americans off the field. What I do is run the historical scenarios but set up the victory conditions so that the Mexicans win if they do better than the historical outcome. They don't need to win the battle, but if they hold for several more turns, inflict more damage on the Americans, or something similar, they win the game.

I love this period and even wrote a set of rules that does a pretty good job of handling the fighting with good results, Santa Anna Rules.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

I have almost started this period several times but, other than a few skirmishes, the Mexicans never won any battles at all, although they did fight hard in some of them. While the Mexican army is colorful and interesting, in the end I decided that the period was not worth the (painting)time and money when it was a virtual certainty that nothing was going to change. Buck's idea does have some merit if you go into the game expecting the Mexican's to lose, and you win if your toys perform better than the actual soldiers.

John Leahy03 Oct 2017 3:46 p.m. PST

Hey Clay. If you are happy doing the Crimean War and have Russians you should be fine with the Mexican-American war. I do both periods too. Just haven't painted my stuff. I use mainly Musket Mini's too.


Clays Russians03 Oct 2017 4:15 p.m. PST

Hey John, you going to Springfield? Is it worth the 3.5 hour drive for me? And that's actually a good point regarding imperial Russians mid 19th century. Poor sods haven't got a chance. I didn't think about that. The Russians can't move in line, everyone but marines and strelk have smoothbores. The history in the pudding tho is that the British fourth division still carried smoothbors as did the French line infantry. Apparently the bureau d'ordinance was stocking up on liege rifled muskets for the upcoming war with Austria. And you cannot discount the Russian artillery service. – you maybe sell your Mexican soldiers unpainted?-

Grelber03 Oct 2017 10:14 p.m. PST

A major reason I'd be interested in doing this was is that I know the junior officers: Captains Lee and Bragg, Lieutenants Grant, Thomas, Picket, Longstreet et al. I'd be interested in a skirmish game because of these personalities, and the Mexicans did win some of the skirmishes.
As mentioned above, the Mexicans came close to winning at Buena Vista.
You might also want to look at some of the strategic factors. The US forces were fighting far from their bases: they didn't need to be totally defeated on the field to have a strategic defeat. Heavy manpower losses or destruction or capture of key supplies might force a retreat, even though they won the battle. I'd don't know if the Red Shadow colonial website is still around, but he did a good job of incorporating strategic consequences, so a tactical win wasn't always a real victory.

coopman04 Oct 2017 5:31 a.m. PST

The best way that I can describe this matchup in Napoleonic terms is veteran troops fighting conscripts. How many times would you expect the conscripts to win the battle? You'd have to get the Mexicans in cover, behind fieldworks, something to even up the odds a bit. In a stand up fight in the open, they'll lose most of the time. And knowing this up front, it may be hard to get players to run the Mexicans.

John Leahy04 Oct 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

I am not going to Springfield. Haven't gone in years. I'd check the Games guide to see if anything interests you. Not much for dealers I believe. But again, they should spell out what's happening.

Nope, I will paint them all up at some point. I am often have a 5 to 10 year plan with some older projects. Can't say that so much with new ones going forward. Not that many 10 year plans left! wink

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Oct 2017 11:50 a.m. PST

Many valid and important points have been made by posters above on this thread. However, as the author of "Gone To See The Elephant," still in its pre-publication subscription until October 10, I can honestly say there is far more to the matter.

Please forgive my evident opportunism, but after nine years of research to produce this book, with the collaboration of such experts as Anton Adams, author of "The War In Mexico," and sources at the US Army libraries at Fort Riley, KS, and Fort Sill, OK, I can honestly say that there is much more to the Mexican and US Armies not even hinted at. Popular histories and "What everyone knows" about the Mexican War do not reflect some of the most important factors influencing the capabilities of both armies.

I'll spare readers an advertisement, but will invite any questions about the rules or the subscription be addressed to

After October 10, a PDF Edition of the rules will be available for fans of the format, but also to make the historical information included conveniently affordable to those looking for that rather than the game itself.

A free set of game components for self-printing/cutting is available upon request to all buyers of the book in printed or PDF form.

The original poster asked about uniform sources, so I can hardly not mention Joseph Hefter's classic "The Mexican Soldier" available via this link

And a new feature at TVAG is a page of US Army uniform plates and color photos of weapons which will always be available through this link which can be bookmarked for easy reference.

More details about the rules and subscription are still on the Hobby News listing on the TMP Home Page.

Let me just say that for all the severe limitations of the Mexican Army--military, financial, political, and not least, social which are reflected in the rules--the shockingly poor quality of its leadership contrasted disastrously against that of the US Army. That said, GTSTE does not make the Yanqui's "Super Troopers," or treat the Mexican's as incapable. It will be up to the PLAYERS to see how well they can wield the weapon each army represents.


Henry Martini04 Oct 2017 4:52 p.m. PST

Historically, the Mexicans generally heavily outnumbered the Americans and still lost.

Perhaps the best way to approach this conflict is to adopt the method sometimes used in colonial games and have all the players competing as US generals with the Mexicans umpire or chart-controlled.

Normal Guy05 Oct 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

Interesting timing on this for me. I had decided to game this period in 28mm; it has always been of interest to me and, has been stated, the uniforms are gorgeous. I knew there would be some challenges in putting on scenarios but decided it will be worth the risk. Currently, I have two US units painted and five Mexican units (2 infantry/3 Cavalry). So, I have a long way to go, but those Mexican units look killer. Henry's idea of chart-controlled Mexican forces also is very interesting.

Garde de Paris05 Oct 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

I recall that the Mexican infantry had cartridges that were too powerful, and were usually firing from the waist, not the shoulder.

On the other hand, the under-loaded their cannon, and the shot habitually bell short.

The US also has "Flying artillery," well-handled and very effective.

There were probably 2 soldiers in the Mexican Army for every officer, and many of the officers were aged, political hacks, and worse.

If both sides are handled well, and fewer that 2 Mexican figures to 1 US, the US probably would win.


Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2017 4:18 p.m. PST

I had similar problem with my Indian Mutiny 28mm collection. So I decided to concentrate not on the big battles but on skirmishes. There were plenty of Mexican War skirmishes, some right here in California, where I live.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART05 Oct 2017 4:48 p.m. PST

Try playing to the strengths of either army. Use the good to your advantage and try to block out the deficits.

ex. They have fire power-you use cover, etc.

Henry Martini05 Oct 2017 5:10 p.m. PST

The Indian Mutiny is a bit different in that many of the larger battles were part of 'race against time' campaigns in which a British column was trying to relieve the besieged garrison of a town or fort before it fell to the mutineers. In those circumstances the mutineers only have to delay the British to 'win'.

IMO the best way to handle the mutineers is to have all the troops that would have been present historically on the table, but limit the mutineer command capacity such that only a small portion of the whole can be activated at any one time. For this Black Powder is the ideal rule set. All you need to do is field multiple mutineer brigades with only one general for the entire army. This will accurately reflect the mutineers' historical command inertia.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2017 5:52 p.m. PST

Henry Martini, sounds like you've come up with a simple and accurate way to represent the Mutiny on the game table. The point I was trying to make, and which I did not state clearly, is that, when played historically, the Indian Mutiny is no fun for the mutineer player knowing that he will always lose, and always to a smaller oppenent's force. That's the parallel I was trying to draw with the Mexican War.

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