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"Question about the Aztec way of fighting" Topic

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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 11:27 a.m. PST

I am a total newbie to the period of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Reading about the Aztec way of fighting in the Osprey titles, it seems that novice warriors fought side by side with more experienced fighters and even veteran fighters. Yet all of the rules I have read separate the Aztec units into groups of the same experience who always fight as one unit. Are there any rules that take into account the mix of warriors in the fighting line?

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 11:43 a.m. PST

Two points :

Osprey doesn't always get it right. The Aztecs were around long enough to have fought in different ways at different times and against different enemies. The Spanish see them at a small window in time so it isn't really representative to use that as typical – even if we have minimal evidence otherwise.

Wargame rules that have a single type of unit with limited 'flavour' aren't going to sell or be played. They may have been an effective army in real battle but they will be a boring one on a wargames table.

To get the 'flavour' you need to be fighting at a scale where the differences can be brought out – large skirmish at the biggest and probably 1 to 1 representation or similar scale. Although it pains me to say it, being a dyed in the wool historical gamer, fantasy skirmish rules may well be the best to look at.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 11:49 a.m. PST

GildasFacit, I noticed that you asked a similar question 4 years ago, and failed to get a conclusive answer: TMP link

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 12:09 p.m. PST

I'd recommend this book


35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 12:10 p.m. PST

Is there really any history as to how they might have fought or organization, other than Spanish documents and some pictures carved on walls?

Eumelus Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 12:11 p.m. PST

Assuming we're talking about Aztec vs indigenous enemy and not Spanish, would it make sense to use the same sort of rules as for Trojan War battles – i.e. the battles as Homer describes and not as they might have been in "real life"? Just as the Achaean army has lots of unnamed spearmen and such but the only thing the poet cares about is named heroes fighting Trojan named heroes, perhaps all we need model is Aztec "knights" and veteran warriors, it being understood that there are lower-class fighters and boys in the wake of the "mighty men" to bulk out the numbers, secure prisoners, etc.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 1:22 p.m. PST

Sorry, to be clear, I am only interested in the Aztec vs Spanish conflict. I don't know if the Aztecs changed their tactics when fighting the Spanish, from what I have read, it doesn't sound like they did, although some authors doubt the importance of taking prisoners for sacrifice when they were fighting the Spanish.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 1:29 p.m. PST

The Aztec army was organized as I recall was organized on the basis of neighbourhoods or regions into units of about 8,000 who in turn were broken down into 400 man unit which in turn were organized in squads of 20 (hint – the Aztecs counted in 20s); there was a strict hierarchy based on experience and how many prisoners you had captured

Battles started with missile exchanges by the lower class troops followed by a charge by the more experienced/higher class warriors; some of the lower class troops actually were forbidden to be in the initial charge – as Eumelus notes, the commoners and lower class troops were sent in afterwards to capture prisoners and mop up

As noted, this was for the "Flower Wars" against local adversaries where capturing prisoners was important. Against the Spanish capturing prisoners was less important than killing them

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 1:44 p.m. PST

Frederick – have you considered how close that description is to how the Spanish fought at the time ? I have already made the point that the Spaniards are unlikely to be a trustworthy source.

Nick : OK, I'm not interested in that part of their existence and I didn't find anything really suitable for what I wanted either. The figures were fun to paint, look great on the table and we did end up using them with a heavily modified form of Irregular Wars. Battles are 'interesting' and fun but not particularly historically based.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 2:01 p.m. PST

As I am not a serious historical scholar, I will happily settle for great looking games that are interesting and fun.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2022 5:57 p.m. PST

I believe there were some elite units that would have been at the same level but that much of the army would have between mixed in experience.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2022 6:46 a.m. PST

Good point about records – as I recall that is from both Spanish and local sources; and Grattan54 is right from what I have read, most of the army were "commoners" with some military training but little experience

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